Nick Bullock - 2nd ascent of HXS/E9 on Craig Dorys

'Melody', Stevie Haston's HXS/E9 from 2005 gets its first repeat:

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.

The awesome Stigmata buttress of Craig Dorys, Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales © Jack Geldard
The awesome Stigmata buttress of Craig Dorys, Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales
© Jack Geldard

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 Bullock at Gogarth © Jack Geldard
Nick Bullock at Gogarth
© Jack Geldard, Nov 2009
Nick, known for falling off where he really shouldn't, did just that on this exact route in an attempt a year ago and plummeted 50ft down the crag after snapping a hold. Luckily some terrible gear saved his life (again) and he has been able to step back up to the danger-plate and have another go.

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).

  • You can watch a film of Nick climbing The Trumpet Slappers here: DMM Website

Nick Bullock is sponsored by DMM, Mountain Equipment, Boreal and Samsung


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3 Sep, 2011
Well done Nick, makes a great round up for the summer for you by the looks of things. Must be easier than Vulcan then!!
3 Sep, 2011
Nuff respect for getting back on it - very manly.
3 Sep, 2011
Nick's blog has a great write-up by the man himself: It sheds some light on why he chose to remove some of the extra pegs he placed... "We reached the crag and found Stevie hanging half way down Melody. He was not pleased with my pegs and after running from the bottom of the crag to the top in a very quick time, (he was training for a massive endurance running race at the time and could run very quick), he gave me some words of wisdom about my pegs and the line I was taking so we decided it was best to leave the crag and forget about Melody." Reading between the lines it sounds like Haston gave him a bollocking for placing the pegs and attempting a non-direct finish to his line.
3 Sep, 2011
His blog post is a good read. Quality effort.
6 Sep, 2011
Great effort from a man who I think is also pregnant.
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