James McHaffie has climbed a hard new rock climb in Wales’ Dinorwig Quarry, and hoisted an Extinction Rebellion banner at the top to raise awareness for the global biodiversity and climate crisis.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is “a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by its government.”

To mark the countdown to the International Rebellion from 15 April, world-class climber James McHaffie completed his new route – named after the mass movement Extinction Rebellion – on 8 April. Outdoor producer Clementine Baude and Wildlife cameraman Rowan Aitchison have made a film of the climb, narrated by Emmy Award-winning ecologist and filmmaker Chris Morgan.

The climb comes a day after banners were hung from the iconic Menai Bridge. One announced the upcoming International Rebellion whilst the other read “the sea levels are rising, rise with us”.

“It’s really important to raise the alarm to the public about climate change and other ecological crises. That’s what Extinction Rebellion is doing, and that’s what I’m hoping to contribute to with this new climb”

Before tackling it, McHaffie anticipated that the route’s grade at E7 6c. It spans about 30 metres in total. The climb follows an arete in the Dinorwig Quarry adjacent to the route known as ‘Dinorwig Unconquerable’ and offers a number of good photo opportunities, with easy access to the quarry for photographers and filmmakers. Dramatic moves in the course of the climb include a toe hook on the arete and a big move away from the gear at the crux of the climb. McHaffie placed gear to secure himself as he climbs and says the route is unlikely to be bolted for sport climbing. The climb will be listed on slate wiki under the name ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and will eventually appear in climbing guides.

McHaffie said: “When it comes to climate change, we’re in the last-chance saloon and there’s a very serious risk at stake. The recent report from the IPCC gave us just 12 years to make very significant changes if we are to avoid the most catastrophic effects.

“It’s really important to raise the alarm to the public about climate change and other ecological crises. That’s what Extinction Rebellion is doing, and that’s what I’m hoping to contribute to with this new climb. I’m not a climate scientist, but I do know the crises we’re facing are grave. This is my way of helping the fight to turn this around. I hope that by publicising the climb, named Extinction Rebellion, ahead of the International Rebellion Week, that I can increase awareness. People need to know about this because at the end of the day it’s about the planet we leave for our kids.”

To mark the occasion, local group Extinction Rebellion North Wales hosted a parade and talks in Llanberis. The family-friendly “parade of animals” alongside Llyn Padarn included instruments and a climate change-themed rap performance, by Eric Madon of Cae Mabon.

“Climbers have a particular affinity with the natural world and we know how much we stand to lose if we don’t act”

The parade was followed by talks from Gareth Roberts, expert in the ecological history of the area. He stressed the invaluable role of trees in flood protection and absorption of carbon dioxide. Gwynnedd County Councillor Catrin Wager then spoke of the council’s decision to declare a climate emergency after pressure from Extinction Rebellion and local school children. She expressed how local councils are at the front line when it comes to the consequences of climate change: extreme weather events are causing school roofs to be blown off, and roads to become flooded, and why it is therefore in the council’s interest to tackle the root of these problems.

“We are concerned about our communities, kids, and the planet,” Cllr Wager said.

James McHaffie’s climbing partner, Mikey Goldthorp, compared climbers assessing risk to responses to climate change, noting that:

“As climbers, we are often seen as risk-takers, but we assess risk and need to fully understand the consequences of mistakes. In fact we are far more precautionary and more in control of the risks we take, than we, as a population are, in relation to the risks of climate change.”

He compared the fear of looking down on a climb and seeing the consequence of falling with the world’s current realisation of the consequences of the ecological crisis that we are facing.

Nuala Gathercole Lam, of Extinction Rebellion, noted:

“As a climber – albeit an amateur – and a full-time volunteer at Extinction Rebellion I am so pleased that the climbing community is coming on board to help raise the alarm about the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Climbers have a particular affinity with the natural world and we know how much we stand to lose if we don’t act.

“Extinction Rebellion are planning an International Rebellion from 15 April and we need people from all walks of life to join us in standing up for all we hold dear and demanding that the governments of the world take this deadly situation seriously. Join us at Parliament Square at 11am on Monday 15 April. We won’t rest until our government takes this seriously.”

About Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion aims to put pressure on governments to address the urgent issue of climate change and ecological breakdown. They say:

“Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.”

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  • The Government must tell the truth about the ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens;
  • The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels;
  • A national Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.

Further events

  • 15 April – International Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion activists in the UK and around the world are calling for a full-scale international rebellion: to demand decisive action on the climate and ecological collapse from governments around the world. Come to stay and book time off work. Facebook event here.
  • Lots more protests and events! There are many other actions and events happening now in London and around the UK due to Extinction Rebellion’s decentralised structure. For the latest news, see the website: https://rebellion.earth/events/ plus also check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ExtinctionRebellion/events/.

Images courtesy of Extinction Rebellion.