James Mchaffie and Pete Robins have made the second ascent of the three-pitch route Coeur de Lion (E8 7a) E8 7a at Twll Mawr in North Wales, 28 years after it was first climbed in 1987 by Johnny Dawes.
The route was originally given E6 7a in the 1992 North Wales Slate guidebook and according to James was done so "perhaps as a joke!"
The pair first looked at the climb ten years ago and returned this year, with James abbing down the line to clean it and check the moves: "I was gobsmacked at how good it was and how nails the crux sequence was."
Feeling in good shape after onsighting a few E7s in Pembroke - and following redpoints of Megalopa (8c+) and Mind Control (8c), both 8c+ - James was ready to return and Pete was keen to join in on the attempt, despite being unimpressed by the abseil in. James commented: "It's tottering slate death at the moment!"
James led the first two pitches - including the crux pitch at the beginning - and Pete led the final pitch. Describing the first pitch, James told UKC:
"It's of a similar level to End of the Affair to clip the 2nd bolt at 10 metres but more serious. Then a runout, desperate crux which you can't hesitate for a second on. Really wild. It was a gorgeous evening and we were both pleased to repeat it. Fairplay to Johnny. I've done some tough E6s but this one was pretty special."
It seemed necessary to ask first ascensionist Johnny Dawes about Coeur de Lion. In his autobiography - Full of Myself - Johnny describes the crux as follows: "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."
After hearing the news of the repeat, Johnny told UKC:
"I hope their ascent encourages people to explore the big holes routes. It's amazing it took 28 years as it's only 15 minutes from Pete's Eats and perfect climbing. A beautiful mini big wall with exotic mineralised rock on the third pitch and some unique knee bar lay backing on pitch two.
"Coeur de Lion's first pitch was my best find. Super dynamic, just hard enough to be interesting. It took three days as I remember to do the first pitch. It was in the same period as Hardback Thesaurus (E7 6b) onsight which is E8 too I am sure, in retrospect.
"I think I never did the three pitches together. I was trying Blockhead (E7 6c), Adam's searing central line too. I loved hanging out there, swinging around like in the key film El Capitan trying to catch features at the end of pendulums to inspect."
When asked which routes he would point James towards next - now that he has climbed The Meltdown (9a), Johnny's unfinished 8c+ slab project as well as Coeur de Lion - Johnny replied:
"He's got plenty on his plate. I've not finished either."
James is sponsored by: Boreal, DMM, Rab and Sterling Rope
Pete is sponsored by: DMM, Evolv and prAna