Steve McClure Repeats The Quarryman (E8)

Steve McClure in the desperate slate chimney groove of The Quarryman, 68 kb
Steve McClure in the desperate slate chimney groove of The Quarryman
© Tim Glasby
Despite damp conditions in North Wales, Steve McClure has managed to make the probable first 'all pitches in one day' ascent of The Quarryman (E8) in the Dinorwig slate quarries, Llanberis.

The four pitch route was first climbed by Johnny Dawes and has seen perhaps a handful of repeats in different forms, mainly just of the top two pitches.

It is thought that Steve's repeat of all four pitches in a day is the first time the route has been climbed bottom to top by one climber in a single day. Others, such as Pete Robins, have come close, but with no cigar.

Steve first attempted the route early last week, but a late start and extremely tiring climbing in the famous 'groove pitch' stopped his ascent.

Last Friday he went back with Neil Mawson and managed to climb all the pitches free. Neil also had a good stab at the route, but split a tip and didn't succeed on the fingery final pitch.

The route breaks down like this:

Pitch 1: E6 6c - A bold and often underestimated pitch that weighs in at around F7c+ with blind, technical and scary bits. No push over! This pitch has rarely been repeated due to rumours of it 'falling down'. No such luck I'm afraid - get down in that hole!

Pitch 2: E5 6b - A short traverse is the 'easy' pitch of the route. It has one hard move, which is easier to lead than second due to the position of the gear.

Pitch 3: F8a?! (ha ha ha!) - 'The Groove' is the most famous pitch on Slate and was captured on the classic film 'Stone Monkey' starring Johnny Dawes back in his prime. This pitch is jokingly graded F8a, but is a flared chimney of buffer smooth slate that stopped McClure on his first day on the route. Despite the relatively amenable grade of F8a (the pitch is fully bolted) do not think this is easy. (I personally have attempted the whole route several times, climbing all other pitches with relative ease, but being shut down on this glassy horror show). This pitch is really impossible to grade, but interestingly, lest we all forget the ability of the original 'Stone Monkey' - I heard that Johnny Dawes went back on the groove on a top-rope the other week and easily climbed it first try. Go Johnny!

James McHaffie on the final (4th) Pitch of The Quarryman E8 7a, 242 kb
James McHaffie on the final (4th) Pitch of The Quarryman E8 7a
© Jack Geldard, Aug 2008
Pitch 4: F7c+ ish - An extremely fingery boulder problem in the sky. Johnny thought this was the hardest move on the route, but perhaps it is height dependant. 20m of F7a+ish climbing leads to a "bionic dyno off two one-finger mantels" and an E4 finish. Hard to do after you have squirmed your way up the groove.

  • Read a full destination guide to the Llanberis Slate Quarries here: UKC Article.

Steve was visiting Wales on the Marmot Rocks trip, which saw Jorg Verhoeven onsight Strawberries (UKC News), Markus Bock flash the hard finger crack of Over the Moon (F8a) at Lower Pen Trwyn and Sarah Seeger make a quick ascent (after falling off right at the top on her onsight attempt) of Statement of Youth (F8a) also at Lower Pen Trwyn. Interestingly, Sarah Seeger, who had never placed trad gear before, did her first ever trad lead at Tremadog on the E4 finger crack of Fingerlicker.

She commented:

"I got very pumped." - I bet she did!!

  • Lucy Creamer has blogged about the trip, including Steve's ascent of The Quarryman on the Marmot Blog.

Steve McClure is sponsored by Marmot , Petzl , Beal , Five Ten

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