It’s that time of year again, when damp conditions in the mountains drive the North Wales crew down to the coastal crags in search of dry rock. Porth Nefoedd on the Lleyn Peninsula has seen a flurry of activity resulting in a few of the riper project lines getting plucked.
Yesterday Pete Robins (despite being in recovery from a broken finger sustained moving a heavy block in the slate quarries) was successful on a particularly stubborn line on the Hell’s Mouth block. The sds to the Number of the Beast arête saw a lot of attention last winter from Jon Ratcliffe; Jon got close (using a hard roll over sequence taking the gaston with his left) but in the end had to walk away empty handed. This winter he has been dogged by injury so had not made down for a rematch.
Ripe projects like this don’t last long and last Friday Pete Robins and Rich Hession gave it a go. Both looked like they could do it (Rich was especially smooth on the big move up to the gaston) but it wasn’t to be. Yesterday Pete returned and tried the line again – this time a touch of residual dampness on the back side of the boulder meant that the big move sequence from Friday didn’t work. Pete was forced to find a new method and after a bit of head scratching found a new way that worked, albeit tenuously.
Several frustrating attempts later he finally stuck the lower sequence and managed to stay cool on the exit moves. Number of the Beast sds rates 7C but it is worth noting that it has a very specific start position: right hand on the obvious crimp and left on a slopey pinch on the arête with a thumb sprag. With the current boulder level it is only possible to start sitting like this if a few pads are used. A lower start could possibly be done but this is likely to be a grade 8.
On the same day Pete also climbed the Knockin’ on Nefoedd’s Door arête all the way from the deck on its right side, reckoning that despite the techy, barndoor weirdness it was still only worth highball 7A. He has suggested the amusing Knockin’ on Nefoedd’s Barndoor for a name.
Other new problems of note at Nefoedd have come from Owen Hayward. Thin Atlantic 6C+ is, as the name suggests, a super thin line on the far right side of the Atlantic Slab; holds in the adjacent groove are out of bounds. Owen also climbed the left arête of the block left of the Bat Cave from a standing start. Bane 6C+ features a feisty slap for the lip and a ‘memorable’ top out, rocking up onto the sloping shoulder of the block. And finally, he nipped along the slopey lip line on the seaward side of the main cluster of boulders in Area 1. The Cure for Man Flu rates 6B although care is needed with the ‘exciting’ landing.
Other points of note for Nefoedd fans: the left hand starting hold on Speak of the Devil, Pete Robins 8A on the front side of the Hell’s Mouth block, snapped off in Gavin Foster’s hand on Friday. There is still a useable hold underneath, not quite as good but closer to the next hold. The line has not been re-ascended yet but it looks likely that the grade will not have changed much. The rather good 6B+ End of the Line, down at Graig Ddu has disappeared, presumably in a winter storm.
Number of the Beast sds 7C FA from Simon Panton on Vimeo.