European climbers Barbara Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher recently travelled to Scotland to take on trad climbing routes on Dumbarton Rock. Inspired by a viewing of the movie E11, following eccentric Scottish climber Dave MacLeod’s exploits in Dumbarton, they braved the Scottish weather and the perils of trad climbing to revisit some of MacLeod’s most famous routes.
MacLeod’s best known “Dumby” route is Rhapsody, graded E11 7a and, when posted in 2006, considered the toughest trad climb in the world. It is, as Zangerl notes, “a route infamous for one of the biggest whippers you can take in Scotland.”
Larcher was desperate to take on the climb and began establishing protection on the route but Zangerl admits she found it hard to summon the “motivation” to climb in the cold conditions and struggled with the difficulty of Rhapsody.
Instead, she turned her attention to a route only previously climbed by MacLeod: Achemine, graded E9 6c. Like Rhapsody, Achemine’s biggest challenge is the lack of protection the climber faces on the difficult final section. It’s “not an option to fall when you’re about 13 meters above the last cam,” Zangerl notes. “In the last meters I really had to keep it all together and stay calm.”
The embedded video captures the tension of the final stretch of Zangerl’s climb. With Larcher watching from the bottom with obvious concern, Zangerl digs in and propels herself to the top with great effort and, finally, exhilaration.”
Larcher was “a little bit pissed,” Zangerl notes with a giggle, but all’s well that ends well. Zangerl sent Achemine for only the second ever time and Larcher sent Rhapsody for its fifth.