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. 

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