Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ireland's only mobile adventure center

 Being a mountain instructor I sometimes get a call for slightly more unusual work and so stepping back for a day to a previous life as a marine engineer went for a wee survey of Ireland's only mobile adventure center. This extendable tower packs into a compact wee trailer of easy transportation, once erected the tower provides 4 different rope orientated activities a leap of faith, crate stacking, net climbing and Jacob's ladder.   A unique concept with the potential to be traveling and in use all over the country.
 The unit is owned and operated by Gortin Community center and 4 Elements NI.

Ready for transportation

Ready for use

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Women With Altitude

 This coming weekend, 21st & 22nd April, Gartan OEC are hosting this years Women with Altitude weekend. Cruit Island is set for it's second invasion in as many weeks with a full rock climbing itinerary forecast with beginners intro, learn to lead , multi-pitch instruction and of course many, many routes to play on. But let us not discriminate against non climbers as the weekend caters for all mountaineering, climbing and hill walking needs. The surrounding uplands of Derryveagh provide outstanding hill walking and mountaineering adventures for all abilities.

Cruit Island Climbing: Albatross Sea Wall

Cruit Island: Far West Buttress

Cave Rave

Subterranean Climbing

Donegal Mountain Leader Training

 Having recently passed their Mountain Skills Assessment four eager troopers embarked upon the five day Mountain Leader Training Course. All four of the troops are members of the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team and so we began a tour of the sun baked county of Donegal.
 The first half of the course was based in Ardara and the little known Slievetooey Peninsula was our first port of call. Two days of steep ground group management, micro/macro day and night navigation and a long session on ML emergency rope work, we were ready to up sticks and move to the uplands of Derryveagh.
 For the second half of the course we paid a day visit to the north face of Dooish and we spent the day with each person taking turns to seek out single contour features amid steep ground with myself being an extremely unhelpful client. After a further rope work session and many silent curses aimed at my good self we were back at sea level and preparing for the final component of the ML training syllabus, the two day expedition.  

Errigal from summit of Dooish

Single contour feature navigation

Team on Dooish Summit 

Steep ground group management

 The final part of the training course involves a two day expedition with an over night wild camp and so, with rumours of a temporary cafe on Donegal's highest point, we ascended the north ridge of Errigal with our huge overnight rucksacks in search of Fat Chef Slim. Alas by the time we had traversed the mountain the hordes had eaten all the stew and so we defaulted to our sandwiches! 
 Our campsite for the evening was the majestic Lough Altan, and so after lunch we pressed on over the Mackoght and Beaghy summits to descend to our temporary home for the night.
 An evening rope work session and a midnight navigation exercise in our glorious surroundings and it was time for bed.
 The following day we walked out via Procklis seeking out further micro and macro features to arrive back at the vehicles in the mid afternoon, just as the rains arrived. Our timing could not have been better as we had spent the previous four days in baking sunshine. :-)
 A session in the rain on river crossings and a debrief and our four happy troops are now preparing for their assessments.

Errigal North Ridge 

Errigal North ridge, steep crux

Lough Altan campsite

Campsite with castle

Classic Aluvial Fan on Aghla Mor

Friday, 13 April 2012

Cruit Island: New Dawn Wall

 And Sho, the baking sunshine and mildly tetchy showers continue in Western Donegal. Taking advantage of the current spring low tides went for a couple of wee plays on the newly discovered New Dawn Wall.
 First up was the "FAS Collective," an excellent 2 pitch Severe skirting the mildly tetchy white water up the southern end of the crag and climbed as a team of seven in series, culmination in a never ending sea of smiles and grunts as the happy troopers pulled through the steep crux top out and bagged their first new route.
 Went back in quieter times and climbed a further four new two pitch routes with partner in crime noble sister Caoimhe Gleeson, who tends to impersonate a horse whist engaged in the act of climbing. The best route was the 2 pitch "Greedy Pig Groove" at VS 4c and a high grunt factor on the steep juggy crux.
 Five new two pitch routes and 7 stars between them, Cruit Island definitely is the gift that keeps on giving! :-)
 After a further wee walk about on the island tend to think the route tally will top 400 by the end of the year! :-)

New Dawn Wall

Greedy Pig Groove

Greedy Pig Crux

Pitch 1 "Racing The Waves."


Monday, 9 April 2012

Cruit Island invasion.

 After almost five weeks of rock splitting sunshine on the island of Cruit, a small army of climbers descended upon the island on Saturday and with them came the rain. The rain bearing army comprised of members of both  the Colmcille Climbers and the Irish Mountaineering Club.
 Saturday was the driest day with Albatross Zawn and the Outdoor Climbing wall being by far the most popular venues.

A busy Cruit Island.

 An early start was required on Sunday as the monsoon was forecast for noon, so for quick escape back to the cars, most climbers opted for the Far West Buttress. A morning of frantic climbing was had by all and at noon it began to pour and Cruit Island emptied of climbers.

A busy Far West Buttress

The crux of Cave Rave

 It was excellent to see Cruit Island rock getting climbed on and even better to see the free on-line guide being used. Any amendment or grade errors just let me know and I'll change the guide.

 Once the rain soaked army had left the island a wee walk at the spring low tide revealed a further three unclimbed cliffs and the potential for another 20+ routes! HURRAH :-)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Wee Adventure Film Festival

Donegal Sea Stacks

 Many Many thanks to John , Ruth and the wee army of volunteers at Wee Adventure Film Festival who helps make the evening possible. An excellent selection of short films one of which inspired my 14 year old Playstation guru son to go canyoning!
 We have a very cunning plan for next years festival! :-)

A version of of festival entry. 

 On a slightly different note our original climbing film on you-tube has just reached and breached 5000 views, which is pretty cool for a previously unknown unclimbed piece of rock in one of the most beautiful, remote and unspoilt places in Ireland.

An Staca

Monday, 2 April 2012

Irelands longest rock climb?

The Sturrall Ridge.

 Living equidistant from Glencolmcille village to the south and the Port road end is the mother of all ridges. The Sturrall Headland is an extremely inaccessible and foreboding place to visit. Access is by a steep scary scramble and a wee 300m sea passage deep into the realms of chaos. 
 The ridge it's self is approximately 800m long starting at the sea ward tip and travelling landward over the summit and along the ridge to where the headland joins the mainland. 
 This is the second of five monster ridges to be climbed in Donegal in the last few years, the first being The Realm of Damocles on Arainnmhor Island
 What these ridges provide are outstanding journeys into the great unknown in very special, committing and untraveled locations.   

Sturrall Ridge Film