Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
In 2006, Dave MacLeod became the first person to propose the grade of E11 for his first ascent of Rhapsody at Dumbarton Rock, in Scotland. E11, for those unfamiliar with British trad-climbing grades, is a fearsome number that roughly translates to scary 5.14. Scary doesn’t necessarily mean lethal, however, and subsequent videos of the crux whip have highlighted the wiggle room within the E11 grade.
Fifteen years later, as a 43-year-old, MacLeod returned to the E11 realm with Lexicon at Pavey Ark, in the UK’s Lake District. Lexicon, unlike Rhapsody, is decidedly dangerous. On top of the sustained and low-percentage 5.14 climbing, the crux comes at the very top—the final four moves—while facing an 80-foot fall with a violent swing into the wall below. It certainly didn’t help his mental game that, upon arriving to the cliff, MacLeod watched (and filmed) Steve McClure take that very crux whip.
Now, Dave MacLeod has released a 14-minute video about his ascent. He covers his history with the E11 grade, his training for Lexicon, mustering the courage to tie in for a lead attempt, and the gripping footage of his successful ascent.