And sho, with 2014 coming to a close and with the summer but a distant memory it has been a most outstanding year on the sea cliffs, sea stacks and mountains of Co. Donegal. Below is a few of the climbing highlights of the year.
The winter in Donegal at the start of 2014 lasted for a very short while with one huge dump of snow and average temperatures hovering around zero for less than a week. The bulk of the snow disappeared within 36 hours with the north face of Muckish holding onto it's snow just long enough for good consolidation and excellent climbing conditions. Alas these climbing conditions lasted for one day and with several teams out on Muckish for that day, three fully formed gullies were climbed. The following day the temperature rose to 10 degrees, the rains came and winter was over for another season.
Climbing on Muckish Feb 2014
Beyond the Ends of the Earth Crag
Fast forward to March and the summer climbing season kicked of with a visit to the most remote rock climbing location in Ireland, Beyond the Ends of the Earth Crag with Louise O'Connor. A high line traverse to accompany last years low line traverse was the order of the day. This crag was visited several time over 2014 and now has 5 excellent and very atmospheric routes living on its off vertical face.
Beyond the Ends of the Earth Film
Donegal Rock Climbing
Crag with a view
This small wedge shaped stack had a multitude of visits over the course of the year with four good routes filling the gaps on the landward facing vertical wall. This stack was first climbed by Steven Young and J. Leonard in 1973 and then again in 1988, the routes put up this year all take the remaining unclimbed features on the stack.
Berg stack was also the location for a pretty good tyrolean traverse for Columbia Clothing and Outsider Magazine in June, with 12 international journalists and perfect weather the day could not have gone any better.
Tyrolean Traverse in Donegal, Ireland
The development of the seaward faces of Owey Island carried on from last year at it's very busy pace with Paul Swail and John McCune making many visits to the island over the summer with many climbing partners. Owey Island currently has three main new crags each providing very hard and suitably adventurous climbs. The main newly developed crags are The Nose, with mainly two pitch routes up to e5. Wild Atlantic Walls wildly overhanging single pitch crag with routes upto E6. But the prize for the wildest/hardest routes are on the aptly named holy Jaysus Wall, where John and Paul put up two e7 routes.
The current Owey Guidebook download has details of all the crags on Owey Island.
Owey Island Rock Climbing
A series of uber calm sea states allowed for three visits to very hard to reach locations on the Donegal coast. The first was a visit to the sea ward face of An Bhuideal with Louise O'Connor where we climbed a new route up the sea ward face of the stack at a very exposed Hard Severe.
Sea Stack Climbing
The second visit to the further was with Leman Lemanski where we did the second ascent of Tormore Island and the first free ascent as we removed the need for an outboard engine. We gained the stack from Glenlough Bay by wee dingy and massive smiles.
Tormore Island Film
Tormore Island Summit
View from Tormore Island summit
The third visit to the further was a solo quest to Bothanvarra sea stack off Dunaff head in Inishowen, more information on this stack here, Bothanvarra and the original blogpost.
Inishowen Rock Climbing
Inishowen Sea Stack
High on the north face of Muckish Mountain there is a huge very exposed boulder known as Balor's Pillar. This 10 meter high boulder sits on a precarious ledge above Balor's Buttress and creates an excellent micro summit. A LOT of climbers have looked at possible ways to it's summit and pretty much everyone came to the same conclusion, it's too hard. This summer Marek Przybylski, Patrick Tinney and 11 year old Adam Tinney, climbed two new lines to it's summit at e1 and e2.
Whilst on Muckish, Marek and Patrick took advantage of the very dry weather to fill a few of the harder gaps high on Balors Buttress, three excellent routes at HVS, E1 and E2, all following hand cracks and all cleaned and climbed this summer. (images hand stolen from Patrick Tinneys FB page)
Muckish new routes
Details of the new routes on Muckish, Muckish Mountain guidebook download.
Donegal Guidebook 2015
The future Donegal Guidebook is currently approx 65% edited and on 22 separate in-design folders, I am aiming to have the guide ready for printers by the start of January 2015. The guide is coming out as two volumes with this off course being volume one. Alas I am very much a novice book writer and am still finding new ways to make the guide better and better. Anyone who uses in-design, I salute you. :-)