Night Stalker at Craig Doris got it's 2nd and 3rd ascents recently from Bangor University student, Oli Grounsell and fearless German Benno Wagner respectively. Originally climbed by Stevie Haston who declined to give a grade, Oli and Benno thought it would weigh in at around E8.
Oli first headed to Doris a few weeks ago with Benno, Calum Muskett and Rob Greenwood, when Oli climbed Tonight at Noon, E6 6b, as his first Doris experience. Rob then informed him and Benno what went through the roof left of Tonight at Noon, Oli didn't think anything more of it due to the steepness added with the rock quality found at Doris. Benno was not put off however, and although they did not try the route that day Benno was keen from the word 'choss'.
Despite Benno's keen-ness, it was Oli who claimed the 2nd ascent checking the route out and climbing it second go on the same day after breaking a hold low down and falling onto a rusty in-situ wire. Oli commented on doing the route:
"It took me an afternoon. Which is I guess why I was a bit apprehensive about going for it. It went from incomprehensible to very much possible in a really short space of time. In the end though I decided I couldn't be bothered to have it play on my mind so went for it and it all worked out! Was a great experience."
UKClimbing.com asked Oli a few questions about his repeat of Night Stalker:
So Benno inspired you to start trying Nightstalker? Did he begin trying it before you?
Oli: Yeah I had heard Benno had been trying it. I didn't really think much at first but when we decided to head down and he told me a little more info on the drive I started to get psyched as it sounded more and more likely.
Night Stalker takes the roof to the left of Tonight at Noon. Is the climbing similar just notched up a couple of levels?
Oli: Kind of, they are both steep and pumpy. But Night Stalker is much more bouldery. The crux is basically a series of crimps and pinches straight through the roof to a wild slap! It's really cool and unlikely, would make a great sport climb!
Oli: Yeah the rock is quite loose, but basically the first time I went I was ready for absolute choss so in the end it didn't seem that bad. The area of rock is very loose I guess, but if you pull on the right holds it doesn't seem that bad. But then again it's hard to tell, everything could have been fractions away from breaking. In fact first time up something did break on the easier lower section, but thankfully I was alright.
Before starting uni in North Wales, you were known for hard gritstone climbing - how do these hard Doris routes compare - easier climbing obviously but a similar mental challenge?
Oli: It's a different type of insecurity. Snappy rock and positive climbing instead of clean rock and precarious on-off climbing!
What has attracted you to Doris? Why don't you go to Gogarth?!?
Oli: I have been to Gogarth! I don't know really, I've only been to Doris twice and both times I've been climbing in the sun and had a great day, so I guess that's the draw. It's also not very intimidating. You just walk down a grassy slope and can lounge around in the sun at the bottom. It's really pleasant.
Benno, who recently made the 3rd ascent of Melody, also E8, (UKC News Report) returned on Thursday 27th March to lead the route, having inspected the gear and the moves on the route a number of times previously. Benno commented on his ascent:
"I was very nervous but I knew I could climb it, so there was no reason not to give it a try. I climbed just under the roof, placed the gear and tried to calm down at the good rest there. The good rests are the most difficult I think. I just never know when it’s the right time to go on. I rested for a couple of minutes. And at one point my mind was in a completely different place (thinking of Bavarian Lager). I focussed again on the route and began climbing.
I executed my program of holds and it felt not too bad. It is an amazing feeling when you jump to the lip and your hole body swings out as well. Woo! Just the clipping of the piton after the crux was very pumpy because its so close to the rock it is hard to fiddle in the carabiner. When I reached the top I was screaming with happiness! Thanks to Calum for the support."
UKClimbing.com asked Benno a few questions on Night Stalker and why he likes UK trad so much:
What inspired you to climb Night Stalker?
Benno: The first time I was at Craig Doris was on the International meet in 2011 with Rob Greenwood and Sam Underhill. We had a great day. I managed to climb my first route there Tonight at Noon. I asked if there was a route through the roof. They told me that Stevie had climbed something there, but no one knew exactly where the route goes or how hard it is. I was curious what it would be like to climb through that roof. From below it looks nearly impossible.
When I found myself back in the UK with more power and more time to try harder things, Doris is one of the most beautiful places and the roof looked so exciting I had to give it a go.
How did Night Stalker compare to Melody?
Benno: Night Stalker is a different game to Melody. The climbing is much more overhanging and powerful. But the gear is better than on Melody. The first half of Melody is much looser than on Night Stalker, you have to climb there very carefully.
You have been on a number of trips here previously, what is it you like so much about climbing in the UK?
Benno: I really enjoy the trad climbing. Especially when the routes are adventurous. Adventurous can mean a bit of loose rock as well. Not necessarily but you know just another dimension to the climbing. Or when the routes are located in a beautiful place like Craig Doris, where you don't just have a wall to climb. There is the sea with sometimes big waves, the crag is very exposed so you have a great view all along the coastline. But I have to stop there... otherwise it will get too crowded...
Thanks to Mike Hutton for supplying the photo of Benno on Night Stalker, you can see more of Mike's excellent photography here: MikeHuttonPhotography.com
Benno Wagner is sponsored by: Five Ten