The Longhope Route - Exclusive

Article by Matt Pycroft
Tuesday 12th July 2011

 

At the end of June 2011 Dave MacLeod and Andy Turner followed by a sizeable support crew - including film maker Paul Diffley of Hot Aches productions, Lukasz Warzecha and Matt Pycroft - travelled to the isle of Hoy where Dave and Andy's aim was to free the Longhope route.

 

The route follows a line up a huge 500m wall at St John's Head, the 9 pitch route sees grades of HVS through to what Dave has graded at least E10 at the top pitch, stating that it's ‘definitely harder than Rhapsody'.

 

The following article has been written by Matt Pycroft who was filming on the expedition to free the Longhope route and includes exclusive behind the scenes video.

 

 

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

 

 

'A team of us (climbers, filmmakers and a photographer) have spent the last few weeks on location with Dave Macleod who was attempting to put up a new route that is a direct finish to the originally partially aided Longhope route at St John's Head on the isle of Hoy.

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

Dave shows Andy the route for the first time.

 

 

 

Dave has been projecting the route for a few years, and has made over ten trips to the island to try and complete the challenge of putting together the sequence for the long, run out last pitch that comes in at a whopping F8c+.  8c+ is a pretty admirable grade to be climbing, but when you throw in the additional factors of the route such as it being protected entirely by traditional gear (what there is of it) and the crux pitch being located at the top of the route after approximately 350 metres of sustained E5/6, it puts the ascent in to an entirely different league altogether. Dave has yet to finalise his decision on the grade of the route, but states that it is definitely harder than Rhapsody.

 

 

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

Dave on the crux pitch with 2 cameraman and a photographer working around him.

 

The ascent of the route was not the only reason for us all to travel out there however, as Hot Aches productions are producing a film that documents the ascent, as well as the history of St John's Head and the limited amount of routes that have been put up there.

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

The incredibly imposing St John's Head protrudes into the sea.

 

The route itself is rather inaccessible, with access to the base of the climb being either from abseiling down the face (which took the first people to climb the face 2 days) or from climbing down a steep overgrown gully where you have to use handfuls of grass as holds to stop you careering down the slope towards the cliffs below. The guys all agreed that it's likely that more people have stood on the top of Everest than have spent time on the beach at the base of the cliffs.

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

Dave and Andy descending into what became known as ‘the Lost World'.

 

Filming the route was even more of a trauma. There is nowhere to place solid gear at the top of the route, and with three people looking to be working on ropes we needed bomber placements. We ended up taking three metal stakes that we hammered in, and created numerous rebelays on the face itself.

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

Paul Diffley hanging in his filming position above the crux pitch. At one point during the trip he sat there for 6 hours.

 

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

Dave MacLeod sorting out over 50 cams for building the numerous belays we needed.

 

The filming itself went very well. Dave completed the route on his first attempt this trip, and with three cameras pointing at him we have picked up footage that we are really pleased with. Being out there for two and half weeks meant that we had lots of opportunities to shoot additional footage and shots such as timelapses and a few clips of the team getting dive bombed by Bonxies.

 

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

Paul Diffley jugging back up to the top after rigging ropes in preparation for the following day's climb.

 

Along with us on the trip was Lukasz Warzecha who came to shoot stills of Dave's ascent. Lukasz was working alongside us on the ropes, and has bagged some incredible stills from the send. His pictures from this trip have already been published in The Times and a few local newspapers, and it's highly likely that his images will appear in the more well known climbing magazines.

 

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

 

Towards the end of the trip, Ed Drummond, the first man to climb the face flew over from America to meet Dave and to walk the five miles in to St John's Head to see the cliff again. Ed suffers from Parkinson's disease, and it took an impressive display of willpower and determination to walk unassisted to the overlooking peninsula.

 

The Longhope Route - Isle of Hoy. Dave Macleod and Andy Turner - Matt Pycroft

Ed, Lukasz and Diff have a quick snooze on the way up to St John's.

 

Overall the trip was a huge success, and it seems that everyone involved had an incredible time. The film itself is currently in production, and is scheduled for release late this Autumn.

 

For more information check out hotaches.blogspot.com

http://hotaches.blogspot.com/

 

All images and video - Matt Pycroft

www.facebook.com/mattpycroftmedia

 

 

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