Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Arranmore Island. The Lighthouse Stack

  Arranmore, (Árrain Mhór) Donegal's largest and most populated island provides a huge seaward face of outstanding sea cliffs and monster sea stacks. From Stac an Iolar at the islands south west tip to Torneady Point at the north west point this 10 kilometre coast line provides a very wild rock climbing location.

The Lighthouse Stack film 2014

 Over the last few weeks we've made three visits to Arranmore with a view to several cunning plans. The first of which was simply a revisit to the summit of The Lighthouse Stack at Rinrawros Point. This superb 50 meter sea stack sits below the spectacular lighthouse at the southern end of the Giants Reek Cauldron. First climbed in July 2009 then again in Aug 2010 and in keeping with these first two ascents it would have been rude not to solo the stack for a third time. 

The Lighthouse Stack Film 2010 

 And Sho, armed with clifftop photographer Aidan Mc Ginley and Oscar we took the early morning ferry from Burtonport with Arranmore Ferry company. A swift drive across the island and we were once more overlooking the abyss at the Rinrawros Lighthouse. 
 The cunning plan for the day was to climb the landward Arete of the stack, this 85 meter long route climbs the very obvious ridge on the stack. This climb is one of the best Diff graded rock climbs in Ireland, with tetchy nautical access, an adventurous location, considerable exposure, immaculate rock and a general sense of commitment.

The Lighthouse Stack

 The first task at hand was to gain the base of the stack, alas the southerly winds had arrived 12 hours earlier and the south facing cliffs around the stack were bouncing a wee bit white. After over an hour of seeking the best exit point I was finally afloat and immediately headed straight out to sea to avoid the inshore whiteness at the base of the cliffs. A 300 meter paddle took me the the channel around the stack and once more to be dwarfed the giants.

The sea passage to the sea stack

Base of the Sea Stack

 Once in the channel between the stack and the land the sea calmed it's self greatly as I was now in the lea of Arranmore Island and landing on the stack was a simple step off. A swift change of attire and it was now simply a case of following the jugs and immaculate rock to the summit of the stack. The line take the soaring landward aréte and provides considerable exposure as you ascend the knife edge aréte. 

Climbing the Stack

Sea Stack Summit

 And so, once more onto the summit alas during this time the southerly winds had increased and the sea and my mainland exit point were under attack from the legions. A 500 meter paddle along the innaccessible coastline to the south of the stack was necessary to arrive at the mini harbour built for supplying the lighthouse in the days long before regular ferry service to the island.
 It is now at this juncture that the proceeding become a wee bit surreal. Inland of the harbour is a huge 80 meter long sea arch and as I was afloat anyways decided to paddle through it. On the return journey through the arch I met a naked Italian swimmer who looked very much like Jesus. :-) An outstanding end to an outstanding day. :-)

Jesus in a Sea Cave  


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