Friday, 28 September 2012

Donegal Climbers Guide Books

Just finished guiding a week long walking tour of Ireland following the sunshine through the counties of Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Londonderry, Down, Louth and Dublin.

   Northern Donegal

The Rosses


Muckish Mountain

Down Hill Strand Antrim

Fair Head

 I've updated the climbers guide to Cruit island adding 6 new crags and over 50 new routes, there are of course still many gaps and potential for new routes especially in the extreme grades. :-)

 Whilst I was chained to the laptop I updated the Donegal Sea stack guide making it a tad more interactive by live linking all the u Tube films to each stack and linking each stack to the appropriate section in the on line guide. There is also several new stacks and another 20 or so new routes added.

  The remaining 24 sections, 2000 routes, 300 topos of the Donegal guide are currently being PDF'd, edited and shuffled into place to make a working guide.
 The finished guide will, I feel be my legacy of a mid life crisis! :-)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

An End to the Donegal Summer?

 And so, are we at an end to the endless Donegal Summer sunshine? The north Atlantic drift's South West winds have arrived in abundance and the seas around the western coast of Donegal have taken to their autumn garb.
 It has been a most outstanding summer season with over 200 people being introduced to the vertical delights that only Donegal can offer.
 Cruit Island has become a tad busy over the summer as on two separate occasions there were over 30 people climbing around the island's crags and it has become common to meet other climbers, which, for Donegal is very uncommon! :-)

Rock Climbing in Donegal, Autumn Sea

Supervised Rock Climbing in Donegal

 The last few weeks have been extremely busy and as varied as the rest of the summer with many visits to Owey Island, Gola Island, An Port, Tory Island and off course, Cruit Island. 

Abseiling in Donegal

A Donegal View

 Ran a slightly damp Connemara based Mountain Leader training week and in glorious sunshine a Sligo based  Mountain Skills Assessment both courses were full and all the participants are currently working towards their next goals! :-)

 Steve McCann was duly returned to Gartan OEC to finish his FAS outdoor instructor course after spending a month with Unique Ascent, a most excellent gentleman to have at the other end of a rope.

FAS work placement

 Over 100 new routes have been added to the forthcoming Donegal Climbers Guidebook, with all photo topos completed and with many visits to the little known rock climbing locations in the county, it is finally nearing completion. 

Malin Beg Rock climbing, Donegal

Cruit Island Climbing

Cnoc an Affrain Climbing

 With over 2500 routes recorded on over 1000 A4 pages and 200+ photo topos covering the entire county it is nearly time to start the mammoth edit to get a suitably sized guide that does not require a wheelbarrow to carry it.

 Donegal Sea Stacks

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Tory Island rock climbing. Donegal, Ireland

 Tory Island lives 10 KM off the west coast of Donegal and is the most remote inhabited island in Ireland. The North East coastline of Tory provides nearly 5km of outstanding adventure climbing in a truly wild, remote and beautiful location. This coast line has everything a rock climber could wish for from single pitch slabs, an excellent collection of Sea Stacks right through to terrifying 90m cliffs and it is almost all currently unclimbed. :-)
 At the far eastern tip of the island lives a true anomaly of rock architecture, pointing north and running for 400m out to sea is the mother of all sea ridges. The ridge is on average 50m high and joins the Anvil summit at it's southern end and the mighty Tormore Summit, Tory's 2nd highest point at it's northern end. It was this ridge that drew us back to Tory Island for yet another adventure.
 Travelling as a team of four, Aidan Mc Ginley, Caoimhe Gleeson, Stephen "Jock" Read, myself and Oscar the dog arrived on the island after a mildly tetchy crossing on the wee ferry and immediately made our way east across the island to arrive at the headland overlooking the mother of all ridges.

Tormore Ridge Film

Gearing up on Tory Island

The Anvil Tory Island

The first big drop

 Jock and I racked up in silence as the south winds blew across our headland as 100m to the east of our location the ridge looked suitably atmospheric and mildy daunting.
 Due to Jock's fine performances in the leading department over the past couple of outings it was decreed that it was "my lead," and so a monster rack was deposited on my harness and we set off. Aidan, Caoimhe and Oscar in the meantime settled themselves in different locations to take pictures and ponder the foolish ways of rock climbers.   

The first vertical step

 Over the couple of recces that had carried out of the ridge we decided to move alpine style roped together as much as possible and pitch any vertical sections as we came across them. 
 The first 150m were covered in this manner until a couple of very exposed vertical sections were pitched at about severe. It was extremely atmospheric to be scrambling one minute and the next to be poised over a 50m vertical drop the next, thankfully the rock was excellent and presented many opportunities for good gear and belays.   

Tormore Ridge Tory Island

Half way along the ridge

Tormore Ridge Tory Island Donegal

Looking back towards Tory Island

 And so after several short exposed pitches and 370m of airy scrambling we found our selves at the final head wall below the true Tormore summit. Jock rigged a belay and donned the helmet cam as I led off up an excellent leaning ramp, groove and a roof above, again climbed at about severe. 

The final Pitch

 Standing on the summit of Tormore was quite simply outstanding, as all around us were huge drops, big air, Atlantic ocean and falling into the middle distance was the huge expanse of Tory Island.

The summit of Tormore

On the summit of Tormore, Tory Island