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 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.
"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."
"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."