Hardest slab route in the world? Franco Cookson climbs The Dewin Stone (9a+)

31-year-old Brit Franco Cookson makes the first ascent of his slab project at Twll Mawr in the Dinorwig slate quarries in north Wales. The Dewin Stone (9a+), if the level of difficulty is confirmed, will henceforth be considered the most difficult slab climb in the world.

Franco Cookson is a proven specialist when it comes to extreme slab routes with tiny holds and sloping steps. With Meltdown (9a) he repeated the infamous test piece at Twll Mawr in 2022. A little later he made the first ascent of The Meltdown Extension (9a+). In his latest coup, The Devin Stone (9a+), it is also a variant of Meltdown - but with a more direct start and exit.

Meltdown opened my eyes to endurance slab climbing and gave me a taste of what the future could hold.

Franco Cookson

The best on your doorstep

After tackling the most difficult slab climbs abroad, Franco Cookson returned home with the realization that the best slabs were right on his doorstep.

What we have here is world class – in terms of difficulty but also quality.

Franco Cookson

At Twll Mawr he found two exciting projects just like Meltdown: “The one on the left is persistent and really hard, the one on the right is incredibly futuristic.” The Dewin Stone (9a+) follows the left line and, according to Cookson, contains four sections:

After eight meters of easier climbing, 12 tough moves follow, the last of which is the hardest of the entire route. “I fell here dozens of times,” remembers the record specialist. After the famous crux of Meltdown, you are faced with a more dynamic section with very powerful pulls on narrow ledges. “These can be quite heavy when you’re pumped.”

That's 17 more moves, meaning that by the time you reach the stand, you've already made 41 hard moves in a complete flow state.

Franco Cookson

The Dewin Stone: “Significantly harder than Meltdown”

He was able to make the individual moves on this route relatively quickly. It was extremely challenging to manage one's own energy carefully, given the persistently tough climbing. "I felt like I was using a completely different energy system here than I was in Meltdown - I was just completely destroyed at the end, screaming and calling out everything I had."

To me, The Dewin Stone feels significantly harder than Meltdown, the only route you can really compare it to. More than a degree harder to be honest.

Franco Cookson

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Credits: Cover picture Brit Rock Films

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