PJ and I got word that Ivan Krella, Dave Millar and Kevin McGee were heading to Gola for the weekend and arranged to meet up for the 11 o’clock boat. Jimmy’s ship seemed to have shrunk a bit as he was driving (sailing?) a 5 man rib that took 2 trips to get the 5 of us and our gear across. Turns out he still has the big boat but some churlish bugger got him in trouble with the law, taking a picture of his overloaded boat and ended up with him having a €1750 fine, so he uses the small one as and when.
It pissed down all the way from Derry but, as is the way with Gola, once on the island things were merely a bit cloudy while the mainland got drenched. We set up camp and, after a bit of difficulty with Ivan’s one-man conundrum of a tent that took four of us to sort out, were off to the walls.
PJ and I settled for Mhachaire na nGall wall and did Bootleg , Wendy Raindrops and Alan’s line (all Severes) before joining the boys on the main wall for something a bit harder. While Ivan and Kevin had a go on Ship Wrecked (E2) we abseiled down Kept Woman with the plan to do Metric Tonn or The Plagiarist (both HS). We didn’t account for the tides though, couldn’t access the climbs and ended up back on the main wall for Lunch Money (HS). A cracking wee short route, very technical move in the middle as the corner leans out, exactly what you don’t want it to do!
So it was teatime and back to the camp for the usual cooking and fireside shenanigans, involving large quantities of beer, Guinness, wine and Czech poteen. There were a bunch of Queen’s students there too, on the tail end of a 10 day trip but they kept themselves to themselves and left the rowdiness to the older generation. Maybe they’d run out of supplies by that point? We took full advantage of the beachside fire ring they’d built though, a lovely spot to spend the evening.
Hangovers intact we headed to the walls again next day, the boys doing Asgard, Ceol na Maire and probably other E2s while PJ and I tried to decipher the descriptions for the routes on the east wall of the Narrow Zawn. We finally gave up and headed to the old staple Gripple Wall and a run up Pride Of Gola (S).
The blue skies finally arrived though I’d been pretty well toasted the day before because of the light cloud cover. So we rounded up the day with a rattle on Gripple Wall, a supposed VDiff that had a testy bit on the middle more reminiscent of HS routes.
We retired to the harbour to soak up the sunshine as we waited on the boat and got chatting to the Strabane Ramblers, many of whom were having a swim, and who’d enjoyed a day out touring the island. They knew PJ somehow, name-dropped Marty McGuigan and were well aware of Climbfest.
Once again Gola didn’t let us down, it’s always worth the trashed hands from the granite to sample such fine climbing and scenery. Unbeatable.