New 12-Skyhook E9 by James McHaffie: House of Talons

© Dave Turnbull

James McHaffie has added a new E9 6c - House of Talons - to Dinas Cromlech​ in the Llanberis Pass. The fact that a bold new route has been sought out at such a popular crag is newsworthy in itself, but the cherry on top is surely that James' new line is protected almost exclusively by a staggering 12 (!) skyhooks...

James McHaffie making the first ascent of House of Talons  © Dave Turnbull
James McHaffie making the first ascent of House of Talons
© Dave Turnbull

James told UKC:

"It's a line I'd seen many years ago. A groove fading into a blank rib and wall left of Rumblefish."

James inspected the 15-metre line by abseil last Sunday and was unsure if it was feasible. He returned on Monday night after work and found some critical skyhook placements, although due to work commitments decided to leave it until Saturday, when he re-abbed to check the gear and moves and then led it. 

James commented:

"I was unsure how pumpy the link would be as I'd just played on two-move sections on my own. The first groove is pretty easy and I climbed up and stretched to place two hooks which I tied down with a rope and down climbed to re-warm. The other gear isn't good and is too low so you are reliant on the hooks."

James McHaffie: House of Talons  © Dave Turnbull
James McHaffie: House of Talons
© Dave Turnbull

He continued:

"You re-climb the groove and do a precarious layback up right to a sidepull where scary and wild moves lead to a very hollow undercling and a pumpy position. You can place a bad wire in a loose flake and three hooks here. A hard rockover up left to a sidepull leads to precarious moves back up right to a big jug and easyish climbing back up left to a crack and the top."

James adds House of Talons to a list of recent hard first ascents in North Wales, including The Gravity Wave E8 on Anglesey (UKC News Report) and a couple of E7s in the Llanberis Pass (DMM News Report). Regarding the difficulty, James remarked that the climbing feels harder and pumpier than its Ogwen Valley counterparts, including Gribin Wall Climb, E9.

Anyone interested in repeating the line should take heed of James' advice:

"Placing the gear/hooks is quite pumpy and care should be taken with the sidepull after the groove and the hollow undercling for anyone keen."

James is sponsored by: DMM, BorealRabSterling Rope and is a BMC Ambassador.

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25 Apr, 2016
Impressive ascent of such a bold sounding route, most would have worked it to death before going for the lead. Sounds like this was basically a matter of 'yep, it goes' and then does it
25 Apr, 2016
Wow impressive stuff from James. So quick from first checking the route to getting on the lead. Well done.
26 Apr, 2016
Now, that's a good "by"
26 Apr, 2016
We watched Caff on his new E7 at Trem (ivy flame) a couple of weekends back; v impressive. He seems to be on fire this season ;)
27 Apr, 2016
Is this some sort of cleansing route after getting dirty with 9a sport?
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