by Mick Ryan Dave and Claire MacLeod Brits are such a cynical lot and often fail to recognise true talent and genius amongst them. With Dave MacLeod we have a truly world-class all-round climber; he boulders V14, redpoints Fr8c+, headpoints E11, winter climbs XI and M11, has soloed Fr8b, headpoints hard grit routes and this summer has established an E10 in the mountains. Yet still there is still cynicism from some and the old rumour-mill whirs round. „He´s good but……“ It is about time we collectively recognised what Dave MacLeod is. One of the best climbers of all time to come out of Scotland and the UK. More than that he gives us a unique insight into his psyche, his reasons, his motivation, his training, his trials and tribulations via his very public blog. Then we can actually witness his ascents by watching the Hot Aches documentaries of all things MacLeod. There never has been a more public and accessible famous climber – he even posts on UKClimbing.com. The good thing is that it looks as he is only just starting to reach his potential and will no doubt raise the bar further than he has already. And he just doesn´t stop. Using his hard earned 8c+ fitness from a summer establishing hard sport (Ring of Steall, 8c+) and trad climbs (To Hell and Back E10 6c) he found time to knock off some Dave Birkett routes in the Lake District.First it was If Six Was Nine E9 6c at Iron Crag: on his third day, grade confirmed („solid E9 6c“). Then Dawes Rides a Shovelhead E8 6c, Raven Crag: done in an afternoon, grade confirmed. That´s the third ascent this year after Klemen Premrl (Slovenia), Stefano Staffetta (Italy) in June. Caution E9 6c, Gillercombe Buttress: second day, proposed E8 6c rather than E9.Then the next day MacLeod repeated…, Impact day E8/9 6c, Pavey Ark: again done on MacLeod´s second day, the first of which was an hours look, proposed E8 6c rather than E9. This climb nearly saw on a onsight flash by Ben Bransby who fell from the finishing moves. You can read the full stories of these ascents illustrated with photos by Steven Gordon and Claire MacLeod at www.davemacleod.blogspot.com Birkett routes remaining: Talbert Horizons E9 6c, Return of the King E9 6c, Welcome to the Cruel World E9 7a………and an E8 onsight at Dove Crag On the forums there is an active and popular thread discussing these recent ascents, one forum celebrity Norrie Muir asked a very pertinent question,“What I can´t understand is why so few climbers are repeating Birkett´s routes?“ Tom Briggs, no slouch at climbing hard himself replied: „Because there aren´t many people capable of climbing F8a comfortably who are interested in putting the time in and potentially risk hurting themselves. Most people operating at that level would prefer to stick to safer routes or prefer to try and on-sight. In short, few people are motivated to do what the Daves do. Simple innit?“ You can join the discussion here:www.ukclimbing.com/forums