M10+ Solo in Scotland

Dave MacLeod´s blog is reporting the quite incredible achievement of a M10+ solo – Fast & Furious in Birnam Quarry. At this point you may think this is another fine climb by Dave but instead it is not Mr MacLeod but Kev Shields who has pushed the boundaries. Fast & Furious resides in Birham Quarry, Dunkeld, an old slate quarry / cave which overhangs 60 degrees with the cave roof lying above a parallel slope which is 20-25 feet above the quarry floor throughout.An M10+ solo is a stunning accomplishment but the climb becomes even more impressive when you realise that Kev Shields has no left hand and is only able to use an ice axe with a prosthetic attachment developed by Glasgow University Prosthetics Department.

Kev Shields soloing Fast & Furious carrying his ´lowering rope´ on the back of his harness. Photo courtesy of Dave MacLeod blog

Dave MacLeod states that: “Tooling at that level is an insecure experience. It feels scary enough just figure-fouring when your leg goes over the rope when it?s clipped to a bolt right beside you. How it would feel to know that if your tool levers a centimetre too high on that hook you are dead, sends shivers down my spine. It implies a degree of physical awareness, mental control and inspired motivation that you don?t see every day, even among the most accomplished climbers. So even more impressive that Kevin has achieved this level with the disability he has. Having done the route, I would estimate that soloing it would certainly feel like an E9 lead, and I have two hands!” The quarry is quite strange in that it has sport and dry tooling routes residing beside each other. It´s also the scene of another previous hard solo – Dave MacLeod´s soloed Hurlyburley, F8b, in 2003. To reach the floor after a solo in the quarry you need to be lowered off on a rope. For his solo, Kev had to carry the rope on the back of his harness. All in all, a fantastic achievement! Source: Dave MacLeod blog>>