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Trotter Fires Second Ascent of Rhapsody

Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Rhapsody (E11 7a [5.14c R], 35m), climbed first by Dave MacLeod in 2006 and repeated by Canadian Sonnie Trotter on June 9, ascends the center of the slightly overhanging face. Trotter also managed to find an easier and more direct variation, Direquiem (5.14a R), which he climbed first try. [Photo] Hot Aches Images

On June 9, Canadian Sonnie Trotter made the second ascent of Dave MacLeod’s Rhapsody (E11 7a [5.14c R], 35m), Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. Trotter had attempted Rhapsody–the first climb to receive an E11 grade, and known as one of the world’s most challenging traditionally protected routes–without success last year, but he returned for four weeks this spring to finish his project. In the process he also established Direquiem (5.14a R), an easier and more direct variation of Rhapsody.

Rhapsody begins on Requiem crack (E8 6b [5.13c/d], Cuthbertson, 1983) then transitions into a V10/11 boulder problem with huge fall potential near the top. Dumbarton local MacLeod headpointed the climb in 2006 after spending seventy days on the rock over the course of two years. Since then it has been hailed as the United Kingdom’s ultimate crag testpiece.

“After 4 and a half hot and sunny weeks, 14 enduring days, 24 fifty foot falls, 47 snickers bars, and 113 emails to Lydia, I finally made the second ascent of Rhapsody, yes the original Rhapsody,” Trotter wrote in his June 9 blog entry.

A week prior Trotter sent–on his first try–Direquiem (5.14a R), a direct finish up the headwall above Requiem. Although pleased to make a first ascent at Dumbarton, Trotter remained focused on Rhapsody and extended his stay to finish the project: “I wasn’t here for [Direquiem]. I wanted a challenge above and beyond, something to make me try harder and climb better, something beyond or at the edge of my current level of fitness.”

The “escape line[s]” that provide logical exits to Rhapsody easier than the original, like Direquiem, have recently caused a buzz regarding Rhapsody’s contrived, eliminate nature. In response Trotter wrote, “You see, Rhapsody may be an eliminate, but it is still Rhapsody. There is a tremendous amount of logic behind what Dave [MacLeod] did and that deserves a pile of respect I think. He saw the line, and climbed it to the top. The only rule is don’t bail left to the arete (a cop out), stay on the face and the line is very much obvious. And yes, very hard… It deserves three stars in my books.”