Dawes' Coeur de Lion repeated 28 years later

10 April, 2015
James McHaffie starting the crux section of Coeur de Lion on the initial pitch. © Ray Wood
Coeur de Lion on the Quarryman Wall of Twll Mawr has had to wait 28 years for a second ascent. The time served north Wales 'slateheads', James McHaffie and Pete Robins, rose to the challenge and came away awed by the Johnny Dawes creation: particularly the bold and difficult first pitch.

Afterwards, James who led the initial two pitches, said: "At the time in 1987 it has to be a contender for one of the hardest routes of its style in the world."

"Starting off it's E7 6b to reach the second bolt and then you have a V8 crux middle section followed by more 6c climbing before you join The Quarryman. After an E6 6c middle pitch you've then got a soft E6 pitch to finish with a committing move near the belay protected by an old bolt. Overall it's E8 7a with F8a+ climbing on it."

The crux section is based around getting to and laying away off a smooth shield with very poor footholds, a long way above your last runner.

Johnny Dawes describing the Coeur de Lion crux in his biography, Full of Myself, writes: "A dramatic swinging leg kick is the only way to move at all: a kick that jolts you for a moment into the heart of a maelstrom where there is potential to move on."

James and Pete had first checked out the Dinorwig Quarry route in 2003/4 but it was only recently that James returned to have a look at the moves on abseil before deciding to go for the lead. Interestingly, in the 1992 Slate guidebook it was only given E6!

In 2012, James completed Johnny Dawes' great unfinished project on the Quarryman wall, The Meltdown, reckoned to be at least F8c+ and Britain's hardest slab climb.

Pete Robins on the tricky start to the third pitch of Coeur de Lion. © Ray Wood