Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Rock climbing on Gola Island

 Went for a two day visit to Gola Island with 20 troopers commonly known as the F.A.S. collective. The 18 trainee instructors have now completed their Mountain Skills Assessments, Single Pitch Award training and a multitude of kayaking qualifications and are now about to be scattered to the distant corners of Ireland to do two months work experience at various outdoor centers.
 And so we went to Gola Island for a wee two day rock climbing session. We set up a tent city campsite at the South East tip of the island and headed to the newly discovered Easter Wall.
 No sooner were the tents pitched, we headed to the crag, I had printed the 40 page Gola Island chapter of the forthcoming Donegal climbers guidebook and this was it's inaugural testing of it's accuracy and ease of use by it's harshest critics, fellow climbers. Success, the troops found the crag and located all the routes, much to my relief, and they set about leading every route possible, with all the sub extremes at Easter Wall getting led in fine style.

Easter Wall, Gola Island

Racking up at Easter Wall

Climbing on Easter Wall

Climbing on Easter Wall

 Early evening came all too soon and the inevitable call was made "Wheres the unclimbed rock?" and so we descended to sea level to climb three new 15m lines at Hard Severe, Very Severe and HVS 4c. An outstanding performance from a team that 6 months previous had never rock climbed before! Watching the troops climb new rock with a massive amount of enthusiasm and enjoyment I kind of felt responsible for assisting in creating a mini 18 strong, rock climbing army who have a definite preference for unclimbed rock!
 The future of rock climbing in Ireland is definitely looking bright!

Unclimbed rock on Gola Island

      New routes in progress

Pulling through the 4b crux

 And so, as the sun began to set in the late evening and with new routes in the bag, we returned to the tent city campsite for a spot of Aprés climbing.

Gola Island. Aprés climbing

 The following day a tour of the island was called for by the new routing monsters and clutching the guide we traveled the coastline finding along the way several lifetimes of unclimbed rock and a world of possibilities to play in the vertical world on this outstanding Donegal Island! 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Donegal at it's Finest!

Check out this film, it's the best yet!!

                                                           Playing in the midnight sun

 Noble brother Wolfgang Schuessler arrived in Donegal from Germany and we immediately departed to the great outdoors. A swift morning visit to Cruit Island for a wee play on a new crag and five new routes later, a call for something a bit spicier was made. It was the longest day and the sun was beaming down and so we headed to Arch Stack, a little known stack found just to the south of Maghery Village. We paddled out and climbed a new route to the summit on the sea ward face. Above is the film of the evening on Arch stack, which is a wee bit different from the stack's only other ascent.

                                                       The first Ascent of Arch Stack

Monday, 18 June 2012

Toralaydan Island

 I've edited a couple of films shot last summer on the An Port coastline.

 The first is of an ascent Baby Dan Stack an outlaying island of the huge Toralaydan Island. Access to the stack involves a very committing 1KM sea passage from the Port road end, through the collection of road end stacks and a further 500m open ocean sea crossing to the landward face of Toralaydan Island. A further wee sea passage takes you to the base of this stack, it's location is a bit of a mindblower.

Baby Dan Stack

 The second video is of an ascent of Toralaydan Island, this island has a huge flat grass summit and maps of the area from 1800's show sheep pens on the summit. it must have been epic getting the sheep to and from the island. The view from this islands summit back to mainland Donegal is outstanding and is the main reason for editing this wee film.

Toralaydan Island

Friday, 15 June 2012

Discover Donegal

 It's been a funny old week in the sun kissed uplands of Donegal, a hectic start to the week with a race around all the remaining rock climbing locations being photographed while the skies remained blue, for the forthcoming Donegal Rock Climbers guidebook.

 Come Wednesday and Patricia Choque arrived in the county having taken an epic bus journey from Co Cork. She had heard a wee whisper that the sun was shiny in the far north west and came to play out for the following three days.
 First up on the itinerary was a Dunlewey to Dunlewey horseshoe circuit of the Poison Glen. The normally boggy approach through the glen floor was baked dry and so we raced dry footed through the glen and up into the hidden corrie below Ballaghgeeha Buttress. No sooner had Patricia mentioned the possibility of seeing any deer than a herd of 20 trotted by about 30 meters away, whilst a couple of stags bellowed in the distance and so, we pressed on.

Errigal from Poison Glen

Descent into Poison Glen from the South West

  We arrived at the far end of our circuit on the summit of Slieve Snaght to an outstanding view in all directions with a crystal clear view down the coast to Tormore Island, Ireland's highest sea stack and I strongly suspect Co Mayo in the far, far distance. 

Approaching Slieve Snaght summit

 The following day a call for vertical pleasure was made and so we headed to Cruit Island for Patricia's first ever outdoor climbing experience. After romping up the first a half dozen V.Diff routes, a request for something a tad more taxing was made and we ascended a further 4 routes up to hard severe. The ante was raised on the last two climbs by adding a modicum of atmosphere in the form of an abseil above the ocean and a hefty jug haul through a 40 degree overhang. 

"Aquamarine" above the flat calm Atlantic

"Splits" Far West Buttress

Top Out of the overhanging chimney

Coiling the rope whilst Oscar observes

Post crux on "Crackn Slab"

 And so, having properly romped through 10 routes with massive smiles all round, we went for something entirely different, we went underground. "Subterranean Innovation" is a route devoid of holds, gear, stylish climbing or a view. Once again the ever smiling Patricia thrutched up the ever narrowing groove to the summit.

Squirmfest climbing

 The following day a visit to Shambhala was the order of the day, and sho, a coastal walk along Ireland's most outstanding coastline of An Port to visit the viewpoint overlooking Cnoc na Mara and Glenlough Bay was our mission.

An Port Bay, Donegal

 Mid afternoon we were joined by Brian Forrest of North West Sea Kayaking, and so Brian and Patricia went for an ocean paddle whilst I stayed on Terra firma guarding the coffee and towels! :-) 

 A most excellent three days in the Donegal uplands was had, with Patricia currently planning her return visit as Cnoc na Mara once viewed is now very much on the menu. :-)





Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Donegal Sunshine continues......

And Sho, another week of glorious sunshine beams down of the western freeboard of Donegal, would have been rude not to go out and play.
 Nipped up to Eglish for a wee nosey around the numerous crags, discovered another couple of potential new crags and a LOT of unclimbed rock.

Eglish in the sun

 Went for a wee look at a potentially unclimbed sea stack in the far south of the county. Alas strong eastern winds meant a sea passage would be a tad tetchy and so another day called.

The currently unclimbed?

 Sliver Strand in the sun.

  Whilst on Cruit one evening sorting out a few of the unclimbed lines as the sun set there was an eerie glow from the North. Gola island's Western sea cliffs were glowing orange in the last chinks of sunlight, and so a trip to Gola the next day was the only thing to do. In the picture below the clouds on the right of the picture clearly mark the edge of the Rosses rainshadow, the day the picture was taken inland Donegal was a wee bit damp. 

Cruit Island. South Face

 Caught the ferry to Gola for the next three days, in the company of 30 Scouts and a wee tent village. We had a good look round the Western edge of the island finding many lifetimes of unclimbed rock. 
 We decided to climb the 6 best sub Extreme routes on the island and they were all absolutely outstanding. Climbed a new route up a stepped groove on the left of the main face at an amiable Severe, the routes either side of the groove both weigh at E3 and access is at the low ebb of the spring tide it kind of gives the location and climbing a spooky feeling. 

Gola Island. tent village

Looking down "Pride of Gola."

A very tidal belay ledge.

Gola Island in the sun.