When Rob told me that the roof to the left of Tonight at Noon had been climbed by Stevie Haston I didn’t believe him. It just didn’t seem feasible. I hadn’t yet climbed at Doris at this point, but I knew of it’s reputation. Stood below this roof I just couldn’t imagine it being climbed, or why anyone would want to put themselves in such a position. When taking pictures on the lip I try to imagine what it would be like to find yourself here. The idea quickly disappears.
However, in comes Benno who is not as easily deterred. A month later, inspired by the man himself, I find myself again standing under this terrifying roof, and again also, in glorious sunshine. Now however the idea of leading it is frighteningly on the agenda. It all seemed too good to be true. It had gone from a ridiculous proposition a very much possible proposition too fast. Was I missing something?
Half of me thought about waiting and coming back with fresh arms. But then the other half of me thought about how I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it if I walked away now. There was nothing else to prepare, learn or check. I thought I may as well get on with it, and Benno, well, Benno obviously agreed!
Setting off through the easy start I am concentrated and calm. Yet suddenly I find myself falling. The rusty insitu wires catch me and I come to a stop a few metres off the slab. A little shocked I do a body check. I was fine, but was this a warning? Was the rock telling me that yes I had missed something, and no you shouldn’t climb me?
In some ways the fall had settled my nerves, making the experience seem less serious. After a brief contemplation I begin again. This time I arrive successfully at the rest before the crux. I place the gear, chalk up several times, and consider. I consider for the next 5 minutes, chalk up another several times, imagine the elation of getting through the crux, and then decide to go.
The crux sequence is powerful, committing and and culminates in a wild slap to a jug. It felt wrong to be here. Not because I felt out of control, but because I was so frightened of this roof a few weeks back. It was all working though, and I flow through the first crux moves feeling strong. As I swing my feet through I make sure my body doesn’t sag on the right hand crimp, and then bump my left hand again. I get my fingertips perfectly in the final crimp, bring my right foot through and prepare for the final slap. Without thinking it happens, and I am greeted with rusty pegs and jug hauling. Nothing felt wrong anymore.
It was quite a surreal experience, as like I said it all happened so fast, becoming possible in just one afternoon. I don’t know whether I have overhyped it, or on the other hand not given it the respect it deserves? Who knows. Climbing Night Stalker was an awesome experience and an impressive FA from Stevie, I would have never thought it possible.
Finally thanks Benno for the inspiration.