Nightmayer E8 6c by Emma Twyford

Emma Twyford has made the 5th ascent of Steve Mayer's Nightmayer E8 6c on Dinas Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass. The route features sustained technical climbing, long run-outs, some iffy gear and a tricky high crux. It was made famous by a video of Belgian climber Nico Favresse taking a huge lob from the top crux, which was also written about by Nick Bullock (UKC article).

Emma keeping composed on a wet Nightmayer.
© John Bunney

Emma told UKC:

'The book case corner of the Cromlech is one that has held my attention for many years. It's a rite of passage for any trad climber and is steeped in so much history. Until yesterday I had one line left on the Cromlech that I desperately wanted to climb, Nightmayer (E8 6c). I first looked at Nightmayer two years ago with Alex Mason just before he nabbed the third ascent. I was away working and with it being a classic seepage line it got wet and I gave up my hopes till the year after but then work got in the way again.'

This summer Emma returned, but conditions weren't ideal. Emma and James Taylor were surprised to find a wet streak in the worst possible place on the bold section of the route called House of God, after a bit of rain but a long spell of dry weather. Both climbers had a quick look on top rope and Emma checked out the gear. Wet holds weren't the best preparation for a bold lead, however. Emma commented:

'We tried to towel dry the holds as much as we could, which only seemed to work briefly and give us faint glimmers of mad hope. James set off first, announcing that the holds before the porthole on the dangerous bit were wet. He took some time to commit and then went for it, making it to the safety of the porthole and some decent gear - to my relief. He put in such a stunning effort on the headwall, making it most of the way through the crux with some try-hard noises before falling three metres from the top.'

Technical moves with spaced gear: Emma on her way to an ascent of Nightmayer.
© John Bunney

Emma was psyched but nervous about having a go, knowing that the bottom section would feel dangerous. She described her climb as follows:

'I set off with some apprehension climbing like a bit of a spanner on Lord. What if I fell off the dangerous bit - would the kit hold? This kept running through my head. As soon as you start up House of God you are committed into an irreversible situation, the holds were truly soaking including some of the footholds, but I had to put my head in a place where I stayed calm and went for it. I made it to the porthole and to decent kit, where I relaxed and got my head together for the next run-out. To my surprise the holds on the ramp at the end of the run-out were now wet too, which threw me a bit and I went into a half-calm but half-tensed-up phase where I knew I didn't want to slip otherwise I'd be on the ledges.

Emma high on Nightmayer, thankfully not taking the famous lob off.
© John Bunney

'I made it to the ledge that breaks up the final crux of Lord and Right Wall, finally placed some good kit and had a breather where I could dry my shoes off and gear myself up for a fight on the headwall. I made it through the first run-out to a bomber piece of kit and I relaxed; I knew the top was hard but relatively safe with some big air-time potential if I did fall. I broke it into sections, all I had to do now was make some tricky moves to the crux with a little commitment and a small run-out to place the final crucial wire. I got it in quickly and I knew I was safe to make the crux moves by the kit; I wouldn't fall far at this point. Finally I was at the pockets a metre from the top. I placed the skyhook contraption James had made. I felt safe and I could relax, but I knew if I fluffed the final few moves and the skyhook blew thatscarp I would be taking one hell of a ride down the wall, while hoping the wire beneath on the crux would hold. I rested just long enough to make sure I was ready to try hard on the last few tricky moves, then I hit the top and let out a big whoop of relief.'

All in all a memorable day of climbing for Emma as she ticked her final route on the Cromlech. Summing up the line, she told UKC:

'I'd made it without testing the falls up this iconic face savouring every sweet technical move and enjoying the beauty of some brilliant climbing with good but spaced gear. I love that the route has two halves to it; bold and technical then hard and safe. I'm glad to put this obsession to bed, but I'll remember it for years to come.'

Emma adds Nightmayer to her growing list of hard trad ascents, two of which are E9s: Rare Lichen in 2013 and Once Upon a Time in the South West, which she climbed last month.

Watch Nico take the whipper:

Emma is sponsored by: Climbskin, DMM, Friction Labs, Patagonia and Scarpa

Forums 13 comments

I doubt there's more than a handful of E8s put up on sight or even ground up. Hardback Thesaurus was the first I guess and there was a strong OS ethic at Range West (where Steve Mayers put up a couple of E7s) and on the...
That's interesting, how many E8 were tried to be onsighted back in your day?. I actually have no idea, I know Steve Mayers put this one up in 92 which is pretty impressive, but I assume it was pre-practised. I can't...

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