New Dave Birkett E9 – The Real McCoy

by Alastair Lee click to enlarge Despite the recent wet weather, on Friday 20th July Dave Birkett sent his latest project at Cam Crag, Wast Water, weighing in at E9 6c . Dave reckons it´s by far the hardest thing he´s done this year. The route takes a plumb line to the left of the striking arête of Cam Crag which Dave first climbed three years ago (Nowt Burra Flee´in Thing, E8 6c). The climb is a very serious affair with only dubious protection for the first half of the line which also contains the hardest climbing in the form of a series of steep, strenuous 6c movies from under-clings, side-pulls and the odd gnarly crimp. Dave commented that placing the no.4 wire on lead at about 12m (which is the first good protection) is as hard as the crux sequence lower down and puts tremendous strain on the left arm. From there the angle eases slightly and the protection is good but well spaced amongst the sustained 6a/b reachy climbing to the top. We´d all been getting pretty frustrated by the weather as Dave had been raring to lead the route for the past 10 days. Countless attempts were cancelled due to rain then on Thursday 19th we took the 90min nightmare scree/bramble fest only for heavy rain and rising mist to render the route unclimbable. 24hrs later we were all back and this time everything went according to plan. It was clear Dave was pretty gripped for the first half as he was breathing very heavily, his mental strength kicked in though as he kept it together in impressive style. Video frame grabs of Dave on this new route here and here and here You can see and hear Dave working his new route, as yet unamed, prior to his ascent here at A short video of the actual ascent will be online at in the next day or so.Dave´s CV of hard routes is impressive, most unrepeated, they include: If Six was Nine E9, Talbert Horizons E9 6c, Return of the King E9 6c, Welcome to the Cruel World E9 7a, Impact Day E8/9 6c and include repeats of routes initially graded E10 such as Breathless and Divided Years, and Dave MacLeod´s Holdfast E9 7a. Many new E8´s, an E8 onsight, Fear of Failure at Dove Crag and he is no slouch when it comes to sport routes making a repeat of Mandela 8b at Kilnsey Crag last year. This year he established Sky Wall E7/8 6b near Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye and repeated The Brothers Karamazov E9 6c at Pembroke. Dave Birkett is sponsored by Scarpa and Wild Country.