Monday, 23 June 2014

Donegal Rock Climbing

 Summer has arrived in Western Donegal with a vengeance, blistering sunshine, flat calms seas and a multitude of nautical summits to be stood on. We've been out to play pretty much everyday and this months highlights include a vertical kicking on a potential new route in the Poison Glen, a new route on An Bhuideal sea stack, several visits to Owey Island to collect photographs, 4 other sea stack summits and a day out filming for German Television.
 I've finally finished the paperback version of the Donegal Guidebook, 1000+ routes and 200+ photo topo's compiled, edited and sorted. All sections are currently complete with one more big push out to Owey Island to get the last three remaining seaward face crags. :-) All that really remains to do then is to populate the topos and sort out the scenery and action shots and we are off to the printers. HURRAH!
 Anyways, went for a wee play with Louise O'Connor to the outstanding An Port Bay. The cunning plan was simply to once again stand on the summit of An Staca. This 23 meter sea stack is known locally as Búd an Diabhil (The Devil's Penis) was first climbed in March 2011 by a superb route up the seaward face. A couple of anonymous climbers climbed a bold route up the landward arete the following year and since then the stack has been pretty much left alone. 

An Staca Film 2014

 Sitting at the end of a 20 km winding b list road and living in one of the most remote locations in Ireland is An Port. This little known and very isolated road end is outstandingly beautiful and residing either side of it is a truly excellent collection of gothic leviathans in the form of 36 very isolated and mildy scary sea stacks.

An Staca Film 2011

 Access to An Staca is by a swift 500 meter paddle directly out to sea from the road end to land on the landward side of the sea stack. The normally tetchy Atlantic Ocean was like a mill pond was we gently paddled out to our nautical oasis.
 We racked up in the shadow of the stack in baking sunshine with the rock under our bare foot being almost too hot to stand on. At a modest grade of VS 4C the sea ward face route begins with very easy stepped climbing with a slight increase in steepness with every move. This takes you to a niche just below the summit, alas between you and the summit is a big steep bulge and off course the 4C move. With my good self at the sharp end it was with several ups and downs and a bit of a grunt to arrive on the summit. Louise off course, floated up the route and wondered what all the fuss was about. :-)
 A most outstanding climb, location and summit, the last time I stood on this summit the stack was surrounded by 20 footers and a modicum of white water. The two films above show the difference in a calm and a bouncy day out sea stack climbing.    

An Port Bay, Donegal

Launching the mighty vessel

Landing on the sea stack

The view from the base of the stack

The Summit

The view from An Staca Summit

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