Thursday, 29 November 2007

A Muerte 9a

A Muerte 9a 'To The Death'

Dave MacLeod commencing the crux sequence of A Muerte. Copyright Hot Aches Images

The Hot Aches team were back in Suirana, Spain last week to catch up with Dave MacLeod who had been out there for some time attempting to climb Rich Simpson’s A Muerte.

Filming on A Muerte. Copyright Hot Aches Images

Our blog readers may recall that Dave had tried this line in the past. The route is a steep and relatively short line. Just 21 moves take the climber up first through f8b climbing, then into a 6-8? move crux sequence, before reaching a jug and shake-out. Thereafter it is only f8a to the top. As Dave said, you won’t be pumped when you reach that point, because if you are pumped you won’t reach that point. Simple?

Dave MacLeod below the crux sequence of A Muerte. Copyright Hot Aches Images

This filming schedule was going to be super tight. Only 3 climbing days were available for Dave before he returned home. Filming routes at this kind of level is always going to be a real gamble. But if you’re not prepared to gamble then you never get any really interesting routes filmed (unless you want to re-shoot them after the event – but that is somehow never quite as good).

On our first day out we rigged the route and filmed a couple of failed redpoint attempts. After that we all had two days of ‘work’ at the Torrello Mountain Film Festival.

At least one of us 'working' at Torello Mountain Film Festival. Josune Bereziartu and Dave MacLeod. Interestingly Josune is more motivated by mountain trad that by hard sport climbss (if the audio translation was correct). Photo Hot Aches Images.

Work in this case seemed to involve 4 hour lunches and copious amounts of wine. The Catalans certainly seem to have perfected the art of hospitality.

Dave MacLeod mid-crux on A Muerte. Copyright Hot Aches Images

After that it was back to the crag and Dave’s enforced rest period had clearly paid off. On his first attempt of the day Dave dug deep, and not distracted by tracking cameramen being winched around on pulleys he quite literally sprinted through the 21 moves to arrive at the shake out.

It was freezing cold, even too cold for the Scotsman. He spent a while at that rest trying to warm his fingers and regain sensation before launching into the top section. Emma was a very nervous belayer at this point, quite literally shaking. But there were no mistakes, of course. And so Dave MacLeod has now climbed his first 9a. A fantastic route and a test-piece that has spat off many accomplished climbers over the years.

We think this is the fourth ascent. The line was bolted by Tony Arboles several years ago. In fact Tony says that is was the first line to be bolted on the famous crag of Campi qui Pugui. And whilst routes there such as Anabolica 8a have had over 500 ascents, this line remained unclimbed until 2006 when Rich Simpson grabbed the very prestigious first ascent.

Dave MacLeod making the final crux move on A Muerte. Copyright Hot Aches Images

One note on the climbing sequence. Dave had made some interesting progress using a different sequence to the previous ascentionists. A horrendous looking two finger match, when it worked, allowed him to bypass 2 of the holds on the crux section. But by the time we arrived Dave had decided that this method just wouldn’t work and had gone back to the normal method.

I asked Dave about the relative level of difficulty in comparison with his other routes. I’d prefer him to put these in his own words rather than paraphrase, but ‘not much harder than Rhapsody’ [his E11 at Dumbarton] was one of the several interesting comparisons that he made.

Dave MacLeod. cold hands at the shake out on A Muerte. Copyright Hot Aches Images

Congratulations to Dave. It was a great piece of climbing to witness. The footage is destined for one of our current film projects, probably for inclusion in Committed Volume 2 which is featuring a range of different climbing disciplines at locations around the world.

So what did we do with our spare day at the end of the trip? Well, we had plenty to film, of course, and Mr MacLeod had another even harder line to inspect. La Rambla 9a+. We shall see…

Filming on A Muerte. Copyright Hot Aches Images

Dave / Paul

ps. thanks to Emma and Caroline for all he help in rigging and belaying.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Award for Committed

The autumn round of major film festivals is almost over. The Hot Aches team have been flitting around the world, to USA, Canada, Kendal in the UK and then this week to northern Spain.

No less than 6 films that we have been involved with have been playing around the world:

E11 continues to pick up awards, and we will be screening this at the prestigious Torelló festival in Spain next week. Dave MacLeod will also be giving a lecture (in his best Catalan!? should be interesting).

'Ice Mines'
had it's world premiere at Banff and was really well received. This Will Gadd film is about an underground ice climbing expedition (yes, subteranian) in Sweden, and was filmed by Dave Brown and Slackjaw's Ben Pritchard. Gadd himself is in the UK at the moment, lecturing and judging last week at Kendal, and then to Dundee Mountain Film Festival this week.

On set in Will Gadd's Ice Mines: Photo copyright Christian Pondella

'To Hell and Back' had it's big screen premiere at Kendal. Watching this certainly brought back some disturbing memories. This 60 minute program is edited for TV, and I will check up on the latest news on plans for it to be broadcast nationally on BBC.
Meanwhile you can download the full movie at reasonable resolution here.

Dave MacLeod leading the second pitch, Dave Brown filming. Photo copyright Claire MacLeod

Committed is now playing to audiences world wide in various incarnations;

A 60 minute edit from the DVD has been played at Banff and Kendal. A short edit is touring northern america on the 60+ date ReelRock Tour. Committed:To Grit is now playing many dates on the Banff World Tour.

And finally, Committed:Keen Youth picked up the award for "Best Short Film" at Kendal Mountain Film Festival.

A young James Pearson wearing his first harness (From Keen Youth,
© James Pearson)

Wow, it's been a busy autumn. One of the great things about the autumn round of film festivals is that it gives us the chance to re-charge our batteries and enthusiasm. The ideas are flowing; lots of plans for new movies (plural). Lots of big decisions to make.

So we head to Spain on Wednesday to start rolling the cameras again for the new season; hopefully some interesting news to blog about. We'll see...