First ascent of Satan's Scream (E8 6c)

15 November, 2013
James McHaffie making the first ascent of Satan's Scream (E8 6c), Red Wall Promontory, Gogarth. © Ray Wood

James 'Caff' McHaffie has succeeded on an old Gogarth project that has largely been ignored for over twenty years. Satan's Scream (E8 6c) starts down at sea-level on the lighthouse side of The Promontory that divides Left-Hand Red Wall and Red Wall. The route takes a compelling line up a thin crack and seam, to the right of This is the Sea (E5) and a few metres in from the seaward arete. A couple of pegs low-down, probably placed by Paul Pritchard, mark the line.

The difficulties are concentrated in the initial ten metres, with a succession of English 6c moves to an overlap. Above, it eases to a wider hand-jam crack for three metres, before moving right to the arete and the top of the promontory. James got the route on his first attempt after checking out the gear and moves from an abseil rope.

James said: "The climbing suited me but it felt pretty chunky placing the gear on the lead. It was all a bit touch and go at the start with the very poor footholds. I wasn't expecting to get it on the lead so quickly but I found a couple of brass micro-wires that gave me the confidence to give it a good go. Reckon it was worth F8a."

Conditions can be fickle on that part of the crag but on the day James was fortunate to find the route dry, helped by a strong breeze. Adam Wainwright recalls coming very close to completing the route in the early nineties but was stopped when he pulled off a crux hold in the process.

Adam explained: "I thought it was a really good route and technically around F7c+ up until I broke a hold off. I kept the hold and I remember at the time being in a bit of a dilemma about whether to go back and glue it on or not. As it happened I never got round to it but I think I've still got the hold somewhere."

You'll find a topo showing the lines of Satan's Scream and other routes on The Promontory, as well as descriptions of Left-Hand Red Wall routes, on the Gogarth wiki.

In the fading light on Red Wall Promontory after the first ascent of Satan's Scream (E8 6c). © Ray Wood