Angus Kille has completed Johnny Dawes' rarely repeated, four-pitch Twll Mawr classic The Quarryman E8 7a in the Llanberis slate quarries, North Wales. The line breaks down into an E6, E5, the '8a' Groove and a 7c+ slab to finish.
Angus was fortunate to have two home boards to train on during the strict lockdown in Wales, and a training plan from Dave Mason to go with it. His choice of the Quarryman was the result of a poorly-timed finger injury. He told UKC:
'I actually injured my right ring finger the day before lockdown eased, so needed something that didn't have too many holds on it. Quarryman Groove was an obvious choice, but since most of the holds on the other pitches are so small, I managed to find a way to climb it only using two fingers on my right hand.'
Being local to the slate quarries, the route was an obvious target for both Angus and his partner Hazel Findlay.
'It was the perfect project - Hazel and I would fix a 100m static and swing around on it, belaying each other when we needed it. The quarries are within five miles of us and we could still be practising when we weren't allowed to lead climb.'
Commenting on the quality of the climb and its variety, Angus told UKC:
'I really rate the route. It was the first on that wall and it looks like Johnny linked together the best climbing, rather than the most obvious line. I think the Quarryman has some of the best vertical, slabby and esoteric slate climbing around, so it really showcases slate climbing in one unusually long route.
'The bottom pitch is particularly impressive, it's the perfect balance of hard moves, delicate climbing and spicy run-outs. I only fell once, in the Groove, and the rest went smoothly. It was dead windy on the top slab, I was glad I didn't get blown off. It used to be a 7a move but it can't be more than 6c now.'
While working the line, Angus replaced most of the bolts. 'They were only 1cm deep into the slate, which is dead soft and friable anyway, and even the anchor you ab in on was unreliable.'
Hazel managed to send the Groove on Saturday too, 'despite forgetting what to do,' as Angus commented.
'If she ends up climbing the whole thing that'll be dead impressive, it's a lot harder if you're any shorter than me.'
Angus adds The Quarryman to his growing list of hard UK trad ticks, including Indian Face E9 6c and Gribin Wall Climb E9 6c, in addition to a free ascent of El Corazón on El Capitan last autumn.
Please note: Do not travel to the slate quarries (or anywhere in Wales) from England while the Welsh local travel restrictions remain in place.