Nick Bullock - 2nd ascent of HXS/E9 on Craig Dorysby Jack Geldard - UKC Chief Editor Sep/2011
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The Stigmata Buttress of Craig Dorys is a steep and loose pile of tottering shale-death. And it is home to a medley of lovely climbs, many of which have been enjoyed by Wales-based trad climber Nick Bullock.
Nick has added to his ticklist on this buttress with a repeat of Melody (HXS or possibly E9?), a steep and dangerous route first climbed by Stevie Haston back in 2005. Nick's is the only known repeat of the route to date.
In the photo above there are three distinct vertical grooves. The far right is mainly Cripple Creek (E3), the one in the centre that doesn't quite reach the ground is Rust Never Sleeps (E6) and the one that doesn't reach the top and is on the left is The Gross Clinic (E6). Melody climbs the wall between the two E6s.
Nick top-roped the line prior to his lead, and also placed some additional pegs to back-up the old ones from Stevie's ascent. However he removed all but one of these new pegs before his lead according to the DMM website. Why he had this change of ethical heart is unknown.
The Stigmata Buttress is around 45m high and overhangs continuously. It is split in several places by large, rubble-strewn ledges and has some distinct and attractive groove features running vertically for its entire length. These grooves are tackled by the now 'classic' E6s Rust Never Sleeps and The Gross Clinic, whereas the harder route of Melody tackles a flatter area of wall between these two routes.
Some have said that if the Stigmata Buttress were solid it would be a great cliff, as it is in a beautiful location, is non tidal and has a sunny aspect and large holds.
Interestingly, Craig Dorys has been an arena of ethical debate for many years, with some climbers suggesting a ground-up only approach to climbs here, where-as others have taken a more sane approach and abseiled routes to clean loose rock before climbing. On the Stigmata Buttress itself Rust Never Sleeps was a particularly thorny subject, as it was abseil cleaned and a large amount of pegs were placed from the rope prior to its ascent. These are now in an increasingly dangerous state. The Gross Clinic conversely was climbed onsight by Adam 'mad as a bag of badgers' Wainwright, who did also place some pegs, but only on lead, by carrying a hammer with him as he climbed, cleaning as he went.
Bullock has had a productive summer of trad climbing in Wales so far, with a first ascent of a new E7 on the Anglesey sea cliff of Rhoscolyn (see Nick's Blog) and also the first repeat of a very, very good route (if I do say so myself) on the Llanberis Pass crag of Scimitar Ridge - The Trumpet Slappers (E7 6c) is a 'soft-touch' on the right hand side of the main section of this imposing crag (also see Nick's Blog).