Sunday 8 November 2015

Another Magic trip

Magic night in the Wood from Dave MacLeod on Vimeo.

The last two weeks have been my third time in Magic Wood in Switzerland. The place is packed with some of the hardest and most iconic boulder problems in the world and for that reason it’s a great testing ground of your level in bouldering.

It’s still a long term ambition of mine to climb a Font 8C, but fit this into my normal all-round climbing life of trad new routing, winter climbing etc. I’ve always admired the Chris Sharma creation ‘Practice of the Wild’ and have this as a lifetime climbing goal.

It’s a little tough as a goal, not just because it is 8C but also because sometimes one particular boulder problem that’s above your current limit might not match your strengths. However, it’s not just about the grade - I’d just love to one day climb that line. For to happen I know I’d need to be doing a lot more bouldering than I do now. Coming from a summer of big wall climbing and a bit of trad, I felt totally weak on it when I arrived two weeks ago. Just nowhere near even doing the moves.

So I tried some other projects. First I went into the Darkness Cave and spent a couple of sessions on Dark Sakai 8B. I almost got it about 5 times and felt quite confident that I might manage it after a rest day. Unfortunately I woke the next morning to realised quite badly tweaked my finger (strained lumbrical) on the nasty pocket at the start. I went back to it but immediately realised I’d have to leave it for this trip - my finger was not happy.

I sat out some wet days and then started from scratch on another dream line I’ve been wanting to do for a few years - One summer in Paradise (8B). I worked out the moves over a couple of quick sessions when it was still really damp. Although I could do the moves, I wasn’t feeling very confident about my power level.

Yet on the third session and around two weeks into my trip, I finally started to feel some strength returning to my fingers and after a warm-up in the encroaching darkness, I climbed it pretty easily first try. I was absolutely delighted to feel like I was moving well on the rock and feeling like I could actually do something.

I was expecting to be trying the line all evening so I headed down to the famous Riverbed 8B which I’d played on a little previously. I was enjoying just working out the moves in a kind of relaxed fashion and started thinking I would probably return to it. But when I started from the start I found myself climbing the whole thing. As I climbed through the crux I realised I better really concentrate and try and do it, but relax at the same time. There were some exciting moments as I hadn’t placed my torch to shine on the upper headwall and ended up groping around in the dark trying to find the finishing jugs.

Brilliant! I was over the moon to climb two dream 8Bs in a night. Like so many climbers I watched Dave Graham doing the first ascent of Riverbed in the Dosage films and was inspired to visit Switzerland for bouldering. 

I had one session left and decided to return to Practice of the Wild. It was still really damp (it’s in a deep cave and seems rarely totally dry) and on warming up I almost just left it because the holds were quite slippery. But curiosity basically drove me to keep trying and after an hour I finally managed to do all the moves. I couldn’t do any more than that, but I was ecstatic. For me that feels like a real breakthrough and a tentative thumbs up for some changes in my training picture recently.

It’s definitely put some extra fire into my motivation to train specifically for bouldering and return to Magic Wood with the confidence that this climb is actually a possibility for me.

For now we are off to Spain for a week or so to go back to the sport climbing. Hopefully at least I will be able to pull on the holds, although no doubt I will be pumped by the third bolt.


  1. Tjee Dave, you make the boulders look easy. love to see you climb, seems almost effortless.

  2. Brilliant climbing. I also enjoyed the music. What was it?

  3. I noticed you did One Summer in Quantums. Can you elaborate on that shoe choice? Has your relationship with Scarpa come to a close?

    1. I just like them Ryan! Yes I left Scarpa a few months ago.