James, known for his ability to undersell his climbing level said:
"It's probably easyish for E8 as long as the crux isn't too hard, but it probably feels like UK 7a for shorties."
James inspected the line, at the very top of the intimidating Cyrn Las, on abseil, and initially thought it would be too hard to climb, but a sequence came together and James decided it was on.
"I found a really funky drop-knee sequence that makes it feel ok..." James commented.
Tower of Midnight starts by climbing the first pitch of the classic route The Grooves, then moves over to follow a new E6 6c pitch called Diffwys Groove that James first climbed back in March of this year. This then leads you to the final and crux pitch.
"I didnt top rope this pitch, I just played about on 2/3 move sequences on my own with a Grigri, so I'm a little clueless about how hard it is, but it felt F7c+, plus or minus a half a grade, actually probably not minus. I didn't know how hard it would feel to link all the bits together. The crux is reachy and fingery and could be anywhere between v5 and v8+ so pretty clueless about overall French grade, really ace pitch though."
"It tackles the thin seam in the wall right of Wrath of Kahn via insecure, fingery and then quite bold moves to jugs and good cams." explained James.
"It pulls up via fangs to the quartz vein which you undercut rightwards to three good holds above the roof as your feet run out and a tricky sequence via a 'guppy' and a kneebar leads you into the groove above and an arete topout."
James McHaffie is one of the UK's leading climbers with many hard trad and sport ascents to his name, and is constantly out on the crags ticking hard routes in a no fuss, onsight style. On a recent cragging day in Pembroke, James ticked Fireball XL5 (E6 6b) and Hindenberg (E7 6c) at Mother Carey's Kitchen then moved over to Bosherston Head for Big Softy (E7 6b) before enjoying a few pints of real ale in the nearby St Govan's Inn.
Well done on The Tower of Midnight James!
James is a full time climbing instructor and coach, you can read more about him on JamesMcHaffie.com
Thanks go to Mark Reeves for the photographs.