James McHaffie conquers the Meltdown in Wales' Dinorwig slate quarries

Big news comes from the fresh Dinorwig slate quarries in Wales where British climber James McHaffie has freed an old project which over the years had come to be known as The Meltdown project.
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British rock climber James McHaffie
Simon Panton

The route in question takes a line within the immense, austere Twll Mawr mine and had initially been attempted towards the end of the '80's by Johnny Dawes, one of the true masters of slate climbing. As the name suggests, the climbing takes place in quarries which produced tiles exported worldwide for the roofs of houses and while the mines were closed down at the turn of the last century, they are now frequented pretty much by climbers only. Dawes, who has routes to his name such as The Quarryman, Dawes of Perception and The Very Big and the Very Small, managed to climb a significant portion of the project (8c in its own right) but unfortunately failed to redpoint the line.

The Meltdown project was soon forgotten about due to the extreme difficulty of the moves coupled with the arduous access via tunnels and abseils down into the enormous hole. In recent times the hyper-technical slab located just right of The Quarryman caught the attention of James McHaffie, best known for his hard trad on-sights. Last summer "Caff" as he is known to friends also confirmed to be on excellent sport climbing form by making the first repeat of a super test piece (unrightly little known) The Big Bang 9a located at the seaside crag Lower Pen Trwyn

Evidently this mix of trad ability and physical, true athletic fitness proved key as last night, after circa 50 attempts (many of which in complete solitude) the big moment came. Belayed by Jimmy McCormack, Simon Panton explains "Caff surged through the difficulties and made it to the lower-off.... The Meltdown had finally been conquered and a new chapter in slate’s rich history was complete.." Grade? 8c+ which smacks of 9a.


James MacHaffie vs The Quarryman


Rock climbing in Wales - a choice selection
- Dinas Cromlech - some of the best extreme rock climbs in the entire UK.
- Cloggy - Clogwyn Du'r Arddu - the shrine of British rcok climbing.
- Vivian Quarry - the most popular slate crag in Wales
- Rainbow Slab - arguably the jewel in the crown of Llanberis slate.
- Gogarth - one of the best sea cliffs in Britain. Fullstop.
- Lower Pen Trwyn - simply the best sport crag in North Wales.
- Huntsman's Leap - one of the most popular sea cliffs in Pembroke, South Wales.


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