McHaffie adds E9 to Llanberis Pass

25 April, 2016
James McHaffie clipping one of the 'nest' of hooks above the overhang on the 1st ascent of House of Talons. © Ray Wood

James 'Caff' McHaffie's new route spree in north Wales continues with the addition of an E9 6c to Dinas Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass. Aside from the big grade and its obviously serious nature, the route's protection is also remarkable, in that Caff placed an assortment of 12 skyhooks to protect the insecure climbing.

"Tired and scared," was Caff's comment when he reached the top. Comparing the 15 metre route to the Ogwen Valley E9, Gribin Wall Climb, he described it as harder and pumpier.

McHaffie said: "Not having top-roped the climb beforehand and having only looked at it on a Grigri I didn't know how tired I'd get linking the wiggy moves. It didn't help that my arms hadn't fully recovered from a session on Rainshadow two days before. I could have done with another rest day but Saturday was the best forecast."

Even then it turned out it was only just warm enough and the sun disappeared as Caff tied-on for the lead with the threat of rain in the air. Climbing to the top of the groove he placed a couple of hooks before reversing back to the ground to tie the hooks down. Calum Muskett kept his duvet on to follow and as he reached the top he was greeted by a hail shower.

Caff added: "There's next to no gear protecting the crux sections apart from the skyhooks which can easily fall off or be knocked out. Placing the hooks off the fragile undercling under the roof feels precarious as you don't want to pull too hard on it in case it broke."

House of Talons starts above the Cromlech's main walls at the foot of a shallow groove a few metres left of Rumblefish. Stepping out right from the top of the groove, British 6c climbing leads to the small overhang at around half-height. Pulling over this another difficult section follows to reach an obvious hold close to the right arete and relatively easier climbing, moving left to finish.

So far this year Caff has already added a new E8 and a couple of E7's to north Wales. And he still has a few more new lines in mind that he's hoping to get round to trying.

McHaffie on the 1st ascent of House of Talons