Spanish climber Ignacio Mulero has made the first repeat of James 'Caff' McHaffie's The Meltdown (9a) 9a in Twll Mawr, Llanberis Slate Quarries. The intimidating slab line escaped even slab connoisseur Jonny Dawes, but was eventually claimed by Caff in 2012 (UKC news report).
Talo Martin is a friend of Ignacio's and has sent through a short interview with him.
Who is Ignacio Mulero?
Born in Madrid and now aged 28, Ignacio climbs anything and everything. He is one of the most well-rounded climbers nowadays as he's ticked Nacho Sanchez's Entropía 8C, freed an aid route and made the FA of Clandestino 9a (the 9a attempted by Steve McClure recently). Meanwhile, he'll be bolting a new route and destroying your beta on a project while he finds a thousand tricks and kneebars, one of his top skills. Last year he made the FA of one of the most difficult slabs in the world, Territorio Comanche 8c+ in La Pedriza (Madrid), a crag where he's pushing the limits as one of the up and coming young local climbers.
Ignacio has also freed an 8b+ and 8c on trad gear and a classic 40º roof bolted ex-aid route from the 60s, grading it 8c and appearing on the cover of a Spanish magazine. Add to all of this some gut wrenching 8A+ high ball first ascents. With no driving license yet (because it's time wasted if he's not climbing) the day before Ignacio climbed The Meltdown, he walked an hour to the crag, abbed down from the top of The Quarryman and checked all the moves of the route on a single rope. He had one last hurdle to overcome: finding a belayer. Caff sent out a Facebook appeal for someone to hold the ropes.
One year ago, Ignacio went to Wales for the first time and tried The Meltdown alongside its creator Johnny Dawes and its first ascensionist James McHaffie. It was a great experience that made him return a year later to do his project.
What attracted you to the line?
I wanted to compare it with the slabs in La Pedriza but as soon as I watched the video of The Meltdown this idea just went out of my head. The grade didn't matter anymore, nor did comparing it. The day I tried it with Caff and Johnny it blew my mind and I wanted to come back ever since then. Slippery slate slab, weird moves...perfect! There are not too many places in the world to climb on rock like slate.
How much time and effort did you spend on it?
I just tried it a couple of times a year ago and maybe 20 times this year. Because of the weather, you don't have many decent days in Wales so you have to be more efficient. On some days it was raining, or too warm, or raining again. Also, the access to the foot of the crag is an adventure in itself!
What else would you like to do in the UK?
I have nothing planned yet. I would love to have a longer trip and climb at more crags around the whole country. There's a lot of historic routes in the UK and I would like to try and send them. Next month I'm off to Rocklands for 3 months.
What did you make of the grade?
It's very hard to grade this route. Slabs are very hard to grade and if they're as weird as The Meltdown, then it's even harder! You can't compare it to anything else.
Watch a video of James McHaffie on The Meltdown below: