New North Wales E8: Katie's Delight by Alex Mason

Alex Mason has climbed a new E8 6c named Katie's Delight at Craig y Forwyn in North Wales. The line shares a start with Manhattan E5.

Alex in belay mode, 112 kb
Alex in belay mode
© Alex Mason

Alex first saw the line a couple of years ago when climbing Manhattan. He told UKC:

"I remember thinking it would be too squeezed in between the adjacent lines it looked really hard and it would probably need a bolt. Plus, the crag was still banned at the time so it wouldn't be worth getting a big, noisy drill out as you'd probably end up with an angry farmer on your hands!"

Returning last Friday, Alex had arranged to meet friends at the crag but they couldn't make it, so he soloed some routes and looked at the line whilst abbing back down: 

"The climbing looked like it might go apart from one really hard bit and there did appear to be gear. I jumared up the route and tried the moves. When I attempted the hard looking bit a tiny flake broke off and left behind a nice first-joint finger edge, this ended up being the foothold for the crux too, very fortunate indeed. I got to the top and was pretty sure I'd done all the moves, the climbing was fantastic and totally independent barring the first eight metres or so. It was on and I was buzzing about it."

Having spoken to some friends about the route, it appeared that more than one of them had looked at the line before; one had even intended on going to bolt the line since access had been agreed:

"I knew I had to get back very soon or someone else would see the chalk and get on it."

Alex returned on Monday with some friends and his fiancée Jemma. He top-roped it once more and the moves felt a little harder with less rope-stretch assistance. His friend also tried the route and found an alternative line up a groove just to the left of where Alex had gone direct:

"It seemed like a more natural line so I didn't know which way I was going to go. It was time to go for the lead; tying on I realised it was my first lead this year and suddenly it all felt very scary. Going through the relatively easy moves on Manhattan I felt rattled and shaky. I was going to bottle it...

"After clipping the old peg and bolt I decided to move up a bit higher to 'acclimatise' before backing off, but, I got there and just kept going. The crux rockover felt even harder again with even less rope-stretch assistance and I thought I was coming off right at the end of the first run-out. 

"This was the first time I had linked any of the sections together so I was starting to feel the pump much more than expected, I plumped for the groove option obviously. I got up to the final hard sequence and tried to place the RP but I was too pumped to tug it in so it just fell out. I could hardly tell I was holding on anymore. I lashed for the top flatties and fortunately held it. Then I realised I'd only done the top moves feeling fresh, nonchalantly bouncing between the flat holds, yet again, I thought I was off, it would be typical to get to the top and pump off the massive flatties. Luckily, I managed to stay calm and recover enough to flop onto the top."

Regarding the grade, Alex commented: 

"In terms of difficulty it's around 7c/+ I think. It's akin to Gathering Sun at Nesscliffe but slightly harder and a fair bit more run out. It's just really good fun climbing, safe and airy. A bit like Space Mountain, an E5 at Craig y Forwyn."

He added: "It might turn out to be E7 yet, I don't know, but I can't imagine anyone onsighting it in a hurry...maybe James McHaffie?"

The route is named in tribute to Alex's Grandad who recently passed away and is the name of a folk song and dance which he co-wrote and composed.

Watch a video of Alex on Katie's Delight below:


Alex is a professional routesetter and is sponsored by: Beta Climbing Designs, Climb On and Tenaya

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