Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ireland mid Winter

 It is safe to say the winter weather in Donegal in the last 10 days has been truly outstanding with mid summer sun and bright blue skies. And so, it would have been rude not to venture forth and have a wee play while the sun shone.
 Met up with Josie McGee and we paid a visit to one of the most remote places in Ireland, Glenlough Bay at the far sea ward tip of the Slievetooey Peninsula. We arrived at the An Port Road End at an unsociably early hour and walked for an hour over the monster sea cliffs to arrive at the viewpoint overlooking Glenlough Bay.

Glenlough Bay

Slievetooey Peninsula

 Our cunning plan was an ascent of Donegal's highest freestanding tower, alas this unclimbed tower sits in one of the most inaccessible locations in Ireland and as such the emotions were forecast to be high.
 The next stage in our plan was a steep descent to sea level and from previous visits we follow the only sane way to the beach down a huge steep gully.

Descent to Glenlough Bay


 Once at sea level we coastaleered our way south for about 600m through a moonscape of house sized boulders and ever increasing wave action. We finally arrived at a very deep zawn and raging white water to a place where you are about as far from the real world as it is possible to be in Ireland. An outstanding and slightly scary location surrounded by giants and angry white water. Our tower was a no go and we retreated back to the storm beach and went for a play on Tent Stack.

Donegal's highest free standing tower

 And sho, we coastaleered our way back to Shambhala and continued to the base of Tent Stack. Tent Stack is a 60m sea stack with a short tidal approach, it's only been climbed once before in December 2008. The detail are in the Donegal Sea Stack guidebook.

Donegal Sea Stacks

 Alas by now, neither time nor tide was in our favour and we boulder hopped onto the stack and made a very quick ascent of the 90m Diff route up it's landward face, in two pitches.

Coastaleering in Ireland modeled by Josie

Tent Stack Summit

 Our exit from the stack was a little less stylish as we were now surrounded by angry white water and so a very choppy swim was the order of the day to land us back onto terra firma. 
 An outstanding day out in the winter sun. :-)

An Port Western Donegal

Glenlough Bay


Monday, 18 February 2013

Donegal Winter Adventures

 And so, Donegal has had it's 5 days of winter conditions and the ambient air temperature has shot back up to low teens and it seems very unlikely that the snow and ice will return to the uplands of the county, this winter. Just before the end of our short winter I ran a mountain skills course in Donegal and caught the last of the snow and ice in the North West of Ireland.

Donegal Winter Mountains

A Frozen Glenveagh

Ireland Winter Mountains

 As soon as the mountains were back to being green again, it was over to Cruit Island to run a mid February, weekends Rock Improvers Course. Since 1st January 2013 we have been on Cruit four times leading routes up to HVS in glorious sunshine and on one occasion it was mentioned it was beginning to get too hot. :-)

Donegal rock Climbing Course

 It is also the time of years to stand in front of large groups of people and talk, this winter I have did talks to the Irish Mountaineering Club in Dublin and at UCC for Kerry Climbing. Doing talks is a surreal activity and pretty much as scary as soloing a sea stack. The sponsor for the Cork talk was Alpine, have a wee look at their site for very competitive prices their huge range of mountaineering equipment.

Cork Mountaineering Talk

 No sooner back from Cork and it was into the Donegal hills once again, this time spring was very much in attendance.
 Ran a Mountain Leader Training Week based out of Ardara with 5 troopers on the course and a huge mixture of weather in the five days of training. 

Mountain Leader Rope Work

Mountain Leader Client Care

Mountain Leader Group Management

Mountain Leader Steep Ground

ML Expedition Campsite

Tormore Island 

 All in all a very varied two weeks in the great outdoors and with the diary pretty much full for March there are a few perhaps more unusual activities in the pipeline! :-)