The Meltdown (9a/5.14d) a slab line in Llanberis Slate Quarries, North Wales, was bolted by Johnny Dawes back in 1986, but wasn’t sent until James “Caff” McCaffie battled up it in 2012. Now Spanish climber Ignacio Mulero has claimed the second ascent after twenty or so tries.
That Mulero was the one to pull the second isn’t exactly surprising, if you look at his track record. Just last year, the Spaniard made the FA of La Pedriza’s Territorio Comanche (8c+/5.14c) in Madrid, another difficult slab route. In addition to knocking off several bitterly tough trad routes (8b+/5.14a and 8c/5.14b), he recently made the FA of Clandestino (9a/5.14d) in Teverga, Spain, and has bouldered 8C (V15). He recently made the third ascent of Entropía, which, at the time of its first ascent back in 2011, was Spain’s only 8C.
Mulero first tried The Meltdown a year ago with Dawes and McCaffie, before coming back this year and sending the route. Being able to work it with the creator and the first ascentionist, Mulero said “was very motivating.” On his return this year, Mulero was committed to sending the route, and even decided to miss his flight home, “because I had been very close to doing it last day,” he said. “I could not go to Spain in this situation.” He had some trouble finding belayers for his final try, as his friend had taken the flight home. But luckily, on the last day, he met three men who accompanied him to the route, and he finally pulled the send.
Mulero noted that the climbing at Llanberis, and on The Meltdown in particular, “is very strange. The slabs and the slate rock make the movements unique. The shapes of the rocks are very smooth with perfect cuts and very slippery,” he said. “There is no friction, so all the holds count.” Still, Mulero said, “climbing here is very fun. You have to combine balance and flexibility with good footwork technique, and above all with a lot of finger strength. Skin is also very important,” he said, “here, you can lose it very fast.”
Mulero admitted he’s got his sights set back on Spain next, to work some trad climbing projects he has in mind. “Then, at the end of the month,” he said, “I’m going to Rocklands for two and a half months. I left many projects there last year that I want to do now.”
When asked to describe The Meltdown in two words, Mulero simply said, “crazy route.” -Owen Clarke