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Caff on The Cairn (8A) photo: Si Panton

Gleaming the Cube (7B+) photo: Peter Herd

…and Lockdown Fatigue (7C+) photo : McHaffie collection

The recent round up of 2020’s highlights missed some late but important entries from James McHaffie. Before the Covid travel restrictions tightened up Caff managed to knock out a series of brilliant new lines in the Nant Ddu section of Dyffryn Mymbyr, an area originally probed by Paul Higginson in 2003, then further developed by Mark Dicken.

Initially Caff focused on the Bertlemann Slide block (see page 304 of the 2nd edition of the NWB guide). First he climbed the left hand aręte direct to give a superb problem. Golygfa Wyddfa rates 7B. Then he grabbed the prize of Gleaming the Cube (7B+), an outstanding direct start to The Bertlemann Slide.

Next up Caff went for a sniff around the nearby Quack Crack boulder and noticed the obvious steep line breaking out left from Quack Crack. After a bit of a tussle this became Lockdown Fatigue (7C+), a short but action packed line.

Finally his attention was drawn to the project prow left of the Big Bad Bari offwidth (also mentioned on page 304). This tremendous line did not go easily, partly because the upper section was affected by winter drainage, but also because the crux is very nuanced. In the end the subtleties revealed themselves and Caff climbed it from a match on the slopey shelf at 7C and then the full 8A sds version (start with right hand on a good edge, left on slopes. No footblock at the back). The Cairn is a terrific addition, sure to attract a lot of attention once the Covid restrictions ease.

Caff also added a few other variations, here, the best being Doom Scrolling (7B) (which swerves right out of Big Bad Bari to exit via the adjacent finger crack and slopers.

Full details can be found in the 3rd edition of the guide: North Wales Bouldering Volume 1: Mountain Crags - which is due in V12 and other shops at the end of February.

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