Sunday, 21 April 2013

Skye Cuillin Ridge Training in Ireland

 And Sho, having traversed the mighty Cuillin ridge in Skye two and a half times in the past 11 years and having played out on the summits and faces of all 11 of the main Cuillin ridge Munros on many more occasions. It was opportune that noble brother Ciaran Wilson made contact to enquire about the possibility of a wee bit of vertical training prior to his expedition to said, Skye and the mighty Cuillin Ridge.
 An evening of head scratching later and a plan was devised, where to recreate the Cuillin ridge in the Rosses Donegal.  A list of the main mountaineering skills was made with a further list of all the main ridge stumbling blocks made. The Thearlaich Dubh Gap (TD gap) abseil and lead, the Inaccessible Pinnacle climb and abseil, Am Basteir Tooth and the many KM's of very exposed roped and unroped mountaineering ground in between.
 An sho, we went to play, on the first day we met at Cruit Island and using several of the near 400 rock climbing routes on the island we recreated many of the mountaineering features of the ridge. Now, this involved several one to one conversations with Neptune rather than the big air experience of the main Cuillin ridge in Skye. But by the end of the day we were ready for a wee visit to somewhere with a modicum of big air.

North Face of Errigal Mountain

 Tower Ridge on Errigal Mountain is by far the most outstanding way to the highest point in Co. Donegal. This was our objective for day as big air and a suitable amount of roped and un-roped scrambling at a suitable grade, was the order of the day.

Dunlewey, Donegal, Ireland

Tower Ridge, Errigal Mountain

Scrambling in Donegal, Ireland

Ireland Mountaineering

 We started at the abandoned house on the main road directly below the West face of Errigal, and micro navigated into the base of the North Ridge of the mountain. It was here sheltering from an un-seasonal horizontal down pour we suited, booted and racked up for the task that loomed above us. Standing on our huge crater filled platform at the base of Errigal's North face looking up into Mordor is a tad surreal and quite unlike the more normal and much more frequented south face route of the mountain. 
 Donegal Mountaineering

 A couple of hundred meters of steep ground and we were onto the base of Tower Ridge and with increasing exposure we ascended towards the very definite crux pitch approx 150m up the route. The crux pitch is 40m meters long and very, very exposed indeed. It was at this point high on the ridge we sheltered behind each other whilst a 3 minute hail storm lashed our lofty and exposed perch. A wee bit of grunting and we were up and off the steep crux pitch and onto the summit ridge.   

Crux Pitch on Tower Ridge

Mountaineering in Ireland

The Summit of Errigal Mountain, Donegal

 A most excellent weekend of playing out on Donegal's lesser known places whilst training for Scotland's greater known places. :-)
 And Good luck to Ciaran Wilson on his noble quest of a traverse of the mighty Cuillin ridge on the island of Skye. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Return of Spring in Ireland

 An Sho, with the snow finally retreating upwards in the Irish uplands and Spring has made a return in the form of torrential rain and hurricane winds. But all is not lost to the elements as the ever dry Cruit Island has came up trumps over the last two weeks with 4 different groups of people requiring instruction into the vertical world. Four different groups with four very different remits and goals, ranging from first time rock climbers through to a couple of gentlemen heading to distant lands for something very spicy indeed.

Rock Climbing Courses in Donegal

A happy climber

A busy Donegal Beach

Jock's Wall, Cruit Island

Jock's Wall

Crack 'n' Slab HS 4b

 It's been a funny old couple of weeks with a couple of near misses with nearly appearing on television and very nearly jumping out of a plane. But it's the hits that count and the very final touches are being added to the very soon to be released Donegal guidebook, with graded lists, graded colour bands, an introduction page and a major rechecking of many of the routes and grades. 
 There are now 17 free PDF downloadable Donegal rock climbers guidebooks on the Unique Ascent Website, I've just got the Inishowen PDF to finish and upload and they are done. There are several further definitive guides to be finished such as Owey, Tory and Arranmore Island but alas I still require calm seas to get a few of the sea cliff topos pictures.  
 Got out to play with the depressingly talented noble brother Kevin McGee and another three new routes were added to Cruit island's New Dawn Wall, and with very strong rumours that noble brother Hugh Hennessy has been quietly filling in a few gaps on the island over the last few weeks, Cruit Island is far from the end of it's development stage. :-) 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Adventure Climbing in Ireland

 And Sho, hailing from the depths of Hereford, Geoff and Sarah Corbett arrived in the sunny County of Donegal with a single express mission in mind and that mission was to paddle off the End's of the Earth.

Adventure in Donegal

 And so, to Cruit Island for a day of vertical pleasure, we arrived to the usual Cruit Island welcome of bright blue skies and a shimmering seas. We spent the day in the company of a very calm and relaxed Neptune and went about our task of safe adventure climbing practice. Half a dozen routes later and a wee visit to a ringside seat  at the deep and we were all set for the task at hand, for the next day was forecast to be a wee bit emotional.

An Port Bay, Donegal

 The following day we arrived at the portal to the other world dimension that is the Port road end and began the clifftop walk north to the view point over looking the mighty Cnoc na Mara. The entire Slievetooey peninsula was in outstanding condition with the clearest brightest skies and massive vista's in all directions. 
 We descended into Glenlough Bay and arrived just beyond The Ends of the Earth Crag to arrive at our goal.
 The Ends of the Earth Stack is an excellent 30 metre high sea stack sitting approx 300 metres out to sea in one of the most remote location on the mainland of Ireland. 

Donegal Sea Stack Climbing

Geoff arrives on the Sea Stack

 A swift sea passage and Geoff alighted onto the landward tip of the stack, a further swift sea passage and Sarah was duly transported onto the same wee platform. Alas, this meant we were still a wee bit of a coastaleer away from the base of the parent stack. Between us and the base of the End's of the Earth Stack was a subsidiary summit and a superb wee sea ridge joining the two summits. So we made our way over the first summit and crossed the sea ridge on to the base of the End's of the Earth sea stack. We were now standing on one of the most remote and mildly scary points of land in Ireland. :-)    

The view from the stack back to Donegal
Sea Stack climbing in the sunshine

  At this juncture the North winds were indeed beginning to freshen and the northerly motion was starting to liven, and thus haste was the key. We all raced up and onto this very remote piece of land and watched as the legions of the damned approached from the north.

The summit at The End's of the Earth

 A quick abseil down the landward face of the stack and a re-tracing of our steps on the sea ridge and we were back at our ferry boat launch pad. Alas by now the winds were funneling and nautical navigation through the skerries was a touch emotional. :-) 

Sea Stack Climbing

 There are very few places on earth where you can have a true adventure without travelling through time zones and spending a fortune. Off the coast of Donegal sit a collection of summits that fewer people have stood on than have circumnavigated the Moon or jumped to Earth from the edge of space.