10 years ago (9/4/2006) I filmed Dave MacLeod making the first ascent of Rhapsody (E11) at Dumbarton Rock on the outskirts of Glasgow. I’d been following his progress on camera for just over a year, this became my first major film ‘E11’.
This route and film has had a massive impact on my life. When I started filming Dave, I was still working fulltime in my IT desk job (VB programmer if you are interested!). I was bunking off work and calling in sick in order to film MacLeod’s attempts on the route. I remember the day after he made the first ascent, I was back at my desk, fully recovered from by imaginary stomach upset, but I was feeling really down after the highs of the day before. Two months later I was still in the same job, still depressed. Then one warm day in June 2006, I was on my lunch hour lying on the grass in Princess street gardens, when I decided to quit my job. I didn’t even give notice, I just walked back into the office, pulled by team leader into the corridor and told him that I was going to call in sick tomorrow and I would not be coming back!
It is hard to sum up the last 10 years, but it's fair to say I’ve have some fun, I've been to some cool places, I've met some lovely folk and I've got to create films, some of which I am reasonably pleased with, but it has also been incredibly stressful and sometimes depressing. Keeping Hot Aches running and producing films has definitely meant scarifying my own climbing, my financial status and even my health to some extent. Hardly seems worth it… its just filmmaking after all and just films about climbing FFS! Yet I felt compelled to continue. Will I still be doing this in 2026? I doubt it… but then I’ve still got a few films I need to make.
Since 2006 I’ve been back to film Rhapsody a couple of times, firstly I filmed Sonnie Trotter climb it in 2008 and then James Pearson in 2014. I think it is still a very impressive piece of climbing, and I think it may prove to be seen as futuristic for 2006. Since then there has been very few new trad routes with such hard climbing (French 8c / 8c+).
You can now watch the first ascent of Rhapsody online for free for the first time here:
Or if you would like to keep me in business for another year, why not buy the download of the full film:
Or watch the film of James Pearson climbing it to achieve his own personal ‘Redemption’!