James McHaffie Completes All 180 Extreme Climbs in the UK

Climbing
Climber on rock wall
James McHaffie. Photo: Ray Wood

You don’t just find Ken Wilson’s classic UK semi-guidebook, Extreme Rock. It finds you. This rare collector’s item eventually fell into the hands of a perfect candidate to take on all 180 of Britain’s most challenging rock climbs.

James McHaffie, a.k.a. Caff, has just become the first person to complete this crazy list. The British trad climber finished this great tick list on Revelations (8b) at Raven’s Tor on May 26.

What started out as a book gift in 2012 became a completely bonkers idea. Caff realized that he had done all the climbs listed in the Lake District section and decided to proceed with the rest.

The challenges in Extreme Rock range from E1 to E9 and were right up his alley. Even so, some of those on the list, such as Indian Face, are so highly dangerous they’re dubbed death climbs. As a 19-year-old, Caff almost died on Master’s Wall (the easier next-door neighbor to Indian Face) when he ran out of holds. Revelations is one of the hardest of the 180 routes. 

James McHaffie. Photo: Ray Wood

As a climber, Caff doesn’t do the popular or conventional thing. But he does have a knack for collecting technically difficult climbs. In the past, he has covered more than 100 climbs rated E7, including the Big Bang, the hardest sport climb in Wales, the Longhope, the hardest sea cliff in the UK, and the Meltdown, reportedly the UK’s hardest slab.

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About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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