James McHaffie

Prolific north wales based trad machine who's also a very capable sport climber. One of the best onsight climbers in the UK with over a hundred E7 onsights to his name. He's also completed some impressive challenges, such as the 100 lakes extremes in a day.

On the 26th May James climbed Revelations at Raven Tor, the last route of 180 on his way to ticking every route in the book Extreme Rock. This incredible effort demonstrates a huge breadth and depth of experience, from relatively pedestrian climbs such as The Strand at Gogarth (North Stack And Main Cliff) to bold and intimidating leads such as Johnny Dawes' Indian Face and Jerry Moffatt's Master's Wall.



Interview with RockClimbingUK

Interview with March Langley on UKC


Mission Impossible (E9)
Added at 09:01 on 09 January 2021
GreatNess Wall (E10)
Added at 09:01 on 09 January 2021
Divided Years (E9)
Added at 13:01 on 14 January 2021
Big Bang (9a)
Added at 11:01 on 24 January 2021
Big Bang (9a)
Added at 17:01 on 26 January 2021
Longhope Route Direct (E9)
Added at 07:02 on 09 February 2021
The Meltdown (9a, FA)
Added at 13:05 on 10 May 2021
The Tesseract (E7, FA)
View this post on Instagram

Added at 20:07 on 25 July 2021
Sea of Tranquility (8c+)
Added at 09:07 on 03 July 2021
GreatNess Wall (E10)
Added at 22:08 on 07 August 2021


29 recorded ascents.

Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
The Meltdown 9a (Lead) 01 May 2012 (approx)


Guessed the date based on the blog post.


Big Bang 9a (Lead) 30 Jul 2011 (approx)

He went back a few days later for some pictures and threw down a quick lap!





Megalopa 8c+ (Lead) 01 Apr 2015 (approx)

Third ascent.


Sea of Tranquility 8c+ (Lead) 01 Jan 2016 (approx)


Bat Route 8c (Lead) 06 Apr 2012
The Beast 8c (Lead) 01 Jan 2015 (approx)
Unjustified 8b+ (Lead) 06 Aug 2011

In a day and same day as Predator!

Predator 8b (Lead) 06 Aug 2011

In a day and same day as Unjustified!

Supercool 8a+ (Lead Onsight) 01 Jan 2015 (approx)
Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
GreatNess Wall E10 (Lead Did not finish)



House of Talons E9 (Lead) 01 Apr 2016 (approx)


Dark Religion E9 (Lead) 01 May 2016 (approx)


Moonrise Kingdom E9 (Lead) 01 May 2017 (approx)



Indian Face E9 (Lead) 09 Jul 2013 (approx)



Divided Years E9 (Lead Ground up) 22 Jun 2015 (approx)

Without doubt it’s one of the best single pitch routes, sport or trad, that I’ve ever done. It’s physically around 8a+, safe and straight-forward to get the gear in. The rock is immaculate and the moves are great. The climbing was a lot better than I expected with a lot of cool and varied moves. A great route with a great name.



Face Mecca E9 (Lead) 06 Jun 2016 (approx)


Once Upon a Time in the Southwest E9 (Lead) 01 May 2018 (approx)
The Walk of Life E9 (Lead) 01 May 2018 (approx)
Longhope Route Direct E9 (Lead)

Swapping leads with Ben Bransby. James led the crucial crux pitch.


Rare Lichen E9 (Lead)
Gribin Wall Climb E9 (Lead)
Mission Impossible E9 (Lead)

Second ascent.


The Rathlin Effect E9 (Lead)


Gravity Wave E8 (Lead) 14 Feb 2016
Dawes Rides a Shovelhead E8 (Lead Onsight) 01 Aug 2011 (approx)
Coeur de Lion E8 (Lead) 01 Apr 2015 (approx)
The Tesseract E7 (Lead) 24 Jul 2021 (approx)


Master's Wall E7 (Lead Did not finish) 01 Jan 2000 (approx)

James had an epic whilst trying to onsight the route:

After a few tough sequences leading up right to get stood up in semi balance on crimps I thought I was ‘in’, a small amount of euphoria started to arrive. Unfortunately the handholds went dry, just having those ‘only for balance’ type hand holds. The move was obvious, put your left foot high onto a small edge and spring for what was hopefully an edge above. I was pretty baked from the effort so far and could see the feet went shit beyond. Half an hour of failing to progress via any possible option and the invincibility had worn off with the pain of reality soon to become the biggest epic I’d ever had in climbing dangerous routes. I think the sun had hit me before I’d realised I’d have to drop the ropes and it was 2 hours or so later before the ropes, 2* 9mm’s tied together got thrown blindly from Adam Wilde out over Cloggy to rescue my absolutely fucked body and mind from the clutches of the black cliff.

The situation had been horrendous for both of us, he was looking at having a teenage kid die on him and I had assumed for some length of time I was going to die as my tendons had been ebbing away in a really terrifying manner. I also knew my family would be devastated and I knew it was stupid. I remember thinking so fast about everything. Everything I wouldn’t ever be able to do. I was so sure I was a dead man. I’d pleaded with every god I could think of for a miracle and tbh when I sailed down to near the base of Vember on that line it did feel like I’d received one. [1]

[1] http://www.jamesmchaffie.com/caffs-blog/masters-wall-extreme-rock

Master's Wall E7 (Lead) 28 Jun 2018

I was drawn up there almost unconsciously. I’d justified it to myself, partly through listening to Jerrys take on the route. I’ve always loved treading in the footsteps of heros [sic] and this was another opportunity. It wasn’t about the quality of the route, it was about the experience it offered. It was also a mental block and I hate the thought of those, they just shouldn’t be allowed.


I’d done more than 200 routes of E7-9 and this bastard felt amongst the most serious few leads I’d ever done. It was more than just my history with it for sure, the way Jerry went was really dangerous and if Leo went that way as a 17 year old in shit shoes it’s just extraordinary and shows the mental audacity he had in the late 90s. From reading into Jerrys account of his ascent I’m pretty sure this is where he went and I’ll just throw it out there and say I think he did an E9 in 1983 and I don’t feel too bad for having a total fucking epic on it as a teenager. [1]

[1] http://www.jamesmchaffie.com/caffs-blog/masters-wall-extreme-rock

Climb Grade FA Ascent Date