Monday, 9 February 2015

Donegal Rock Climbing Guidebook 2015

Donegal Guidebook 2015

 The future volume 1 Rock Climbers guidebook to Donegal is currently in it's final stages of proof reading and grammar correction, to say it has been a bit epic getting the project to this stage, would be an understatement of biblical proportions. Gathering the new route information from lines completed since the previous guide involved 100s of e-mails and PMs to many different climbers mostly following vague rumours and whispers. This information was used to build the free on-line PDFs for each section and location found around the county, Donegal on-line guide.
 Due to the vast and dis-connected nature to almost 3000 of the recorded rock climbs in Co. Donegal it was necessary to first decide how much rock to actually put into a guidebook. It eventually made sense to produce two guides each detailing two very separate climbing mediums and locations. 

Volume 1
 The first guide covers Belshade to Tory Island by simply following the coastline clockwise and jumping on and off and island or three. This volume covers vast areas of new locations, crags and islands. Having been heavily involved in the development of many of these areas it made the process both very easy and very difficult to decide what to include/exclude. For example, having met an angel at the base of a remote sea stack on a solo first ascent mission, does this influence the inclusion of the stack in a guidebook? Thankfully this stack provides a world class rock climb, so the decision to include was an easy one to make.

 An Bhuideal Sea Stack Film

Volume 2
 In the second guidebook we travel inland and visit the uplands of the county in both summer and winter. With visits to Ireland’s largest mountain crag and Ireland’s longest ice climb both of which live in the Poison Glen in the Derryveagh Mountains. We then head north over Errigal and Muckish Mountains to Kerrykeel. Our final destination is Malinhead at Ireland’s most northerly point on the Inishowen Peninsula.

Muckross Rock Climbing

Owey Island Rock Climbing
 Volume 1 covers a vast collection of areas on many different mediums, starting on the established two mountain granite venues in the Bluestack Mountains, Belshade and Eglish Valley. We then simply follow the coastline clockwise to Tory Island. The locations around the coast of South and West Donegal contain a perfect mix of previously published venues such as Muckross, Gola Island and Malinbeg. Over fifty percent of the guidebook is previously unpublished information on locations and routes such as Ends of the Ends Crag, and the Slievetooey Coast. Where perhaps the largest change in routes from previous Donegal guides are on Cruit, Owey and Tory Islands where development since the previous guide has been a bit prolific. These sections are much larger by a country mile than any of the previous guidebooks to the county. And finally there are off course the sea stacks, with far too many climbed stacks to possibly ever put into a standard and sensible sized guidebook. What I simply did was choose a good selection of outstanding and in several cases world class sea stack climbs from Diff to XS from all along the coast and islands.       

Cruit Island Rock Climbing

Gola Island Rock Climbing
 In the past year or two, three Irish guidebooks have been published one was in the form of an App to Donegal created by me. (Donegal rock climbing App). It was most definitely a wee experiment in Irish guidebook writing and several parts of it are recreated in a slightly different format in these two hardcopy Donegal Guidebooks.
 The next was the Fairhead guide, edited by Craig Hiller and Ricky Bell. Craig being a professional photographer and Ricky being Ireland's best rock climber, their guidebook raised the standard of Irish guidebooks considerably. It was the first to use all colour double page spread topos and it was also the first to be edited and indesigned by the authors and not a publishing house.
 Then came Dave Flannigan's select Guide to Ireland, a huge undertaking to not only choose but to fit all the best rock climbing in the country into one book. It raised the already high bar set by the Fairhead Guide up a notch or two and currently sets the standard for Irish climbing guidebooks. It should be noted Dave had already began raising the Irish guidebook standards in 2009 with his first guidebook "Bouldering in Ireland."
 With "Rock Climbing in Ireland," currently setting the Irish guidebook Gold standard, any guide coming out now at a lower standard is alas doomed to fail. With this in mind I returned to many venues around Donegal at different times of morning and evening to get the best crag shots. It is the modern crag shot topos and clear directions to the crag that make a guide user friendly to the first time visitor to the areas described.
Ends of the Earth Crag

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