Category Archives: Logbook

An entry in the CC logbook

Fair Head Meet 2016


The Fairhead Meet for me started on Friday afternoon. I met Geoff Thomas at Sean’s car park before heading over to Farrangandoo, which turned out to be a good choice, not being anywhere near as busy as the Prow.


Gerard joined us later, just in time to see me being humbled by ‘Slittery Slat’ which was a bit more committing and run out than I bargained for.


On Saturday morning I met Kevin McGee, we headed over to the Ballycastle decent gully to meet Gerard and Geoff who had just climbed ‘The Brat’. The popular routes were very busy so I suggested ‘Odyssey’ a multi pitch VS which to me is every bit as good as ‘Gerona’, ‘Taoiseach’ or ‘Chieftain’.


Kevin and I considered ‘Blockbuster’ and other multipitch options but the queues waiting in line kept us walking to beyond the Gray Mans Path. A route called ‘The Vital Spark’ which Kevin was keen to lead was free so we jumped on that. After which we joined the line for ‘Toby Jug’ which was a good route to finish the day.


Back at the campsite we bumped into Marty McGuigan, Patrick and Adam Tinney, Ivan and Karen, not a bad showing of CCC types and I know there where others around over the course of the weekend.


The Alex Honnold talk was excellent; he even tailored his presentation to mildly pock fun at Irish climbing ethics, suggesting the occasional bolt might not be a bad idea in place of sketchy gear or sky hooks held in place with Blu tack. He came across as a nice guy as well as being a wildly talented climber.


The next morning seen Kevin and I heading back to ‘Blockbuster’ this time we managed to be ahead of the crowds and where the first on the route. It is a full on adventure giving sustained and interesting climbing for most of the route. We then headed to the Prow to meet up with Gerard, Marty and Ivan who had done a few climbs and were packing up to try for a route in the Ballycastle decent gully hoping it may still be in the shade as the Prow was becoming way too hot for comfort.


Kevin, Patrick, Adam and I headed to the Small Crag for a relaxed late afternoons climbing in the shade.


I headed home on the Sunday evening but I believe Patrick and Adam were keen to do ‘Blockbuster’ so Kevin was back on it again on Monday morning, a true glutton for punishment.


I didn’t think I would ever see so many climbers at an Irish crag, apparently the numbers where somewhere in excess 450. The exceptional weather, the world renowned guest speaker and the excellent hosting by Paul Swail backed by MI all went to making this years meet such a success. Not forgetting Sean McBride and family for opening their land and farm to hordes of climbers, making everyone feel welcome and putting so much into making it such an excellent event.


Admin Note: Photo credit is Martin McKenna, borrowed from UKClimbing story here:

Great Gully Ridge

Whilst in Dublin for the weekend, Sarah and myself headed to Wicklow in search of some warm rock. We decided to avoid Glendalough due to inevitable bank holiday madness that would come with the great weather. Dave Flanaghan’s Ireland guidebook only lists a single route in Glenmalure, but it sounded like a good one, so we were all set.

Despite a treacherous approach through near vertical heather, the route is a great day out. Great Gully Ridge is 5 enjoyable pitches (could be done in 3 probably) on great rock, in a great situation above Glenmalure. Pitches 2 and 4 are more of a scramble, but the other pitches provide nice climbing, no harder than HS. An adventurous route with great views, highly recommended!



Peregrinations and a Goshawk


Back to Muckish again, for the umpteenth look at the Colossus, the big pillar off to the right of the miners track- but this time we had a plan…


So much for the first bit of the plan, (that the evening sun would come around and bathe the north face in benign warmth).  The cloud was down.


Part 2 was the erection of a bomb-proof belay on the short side of the pillar.  We would attempt it on the long side, and when/if the leader (Marty) got to the top, he would untie and drop the end of the rope down the short side to the belayer ( me) who had scuttled back around.  The rope was secured ( no need for a desperate search for an ab point on top), and we would ab back down the long side.


Part 3 was a fixed line across the exposed ledge to protect my peregrinations* back and forth.


This went to plan and soon we were across the ledge, me belayed, and Marty climbing up into the mist. From the belay climb into an unattractive corner, and swing out left and continue up on sloping spikes etc to a big ledge.  He had been to the upper ledge before, and made short work of the first bit.  Sounds of hammering echoed from the cliffs as he placed two pegs up on the ledge ( there was nothing else) something he learned from his last visit.   I craned my neck to catch glimpses of my noble leader as he went this way, then that, then this way again, managing to place a good cam high on an overhanging crack before retreating.  Then he traversed left around the corner.  “Slack, Slack”, I was giving him slack as best I could,  but the rope was going through the high cam, then back down, under an overhang and around the corner.  I kept playing out and gradually it became taut.  Suddenly he was on top.  The rope was flicked over, no more drag, and he went up the final step to the top, untied and dropped the rope down the short side- to which I had peregrinated*.  I tied it to the belay and peregrinated back across the ledge.


My turn.  The first bit was a bit awkward and exposed, and my hands were cold, but ok, about 4b, to the upper ledge.  Then I had to recover Marty’s cam in the high crack, and back down. The traverse left was easy and there was this lovely wall with good holds, but then there were no more.  How Marty got up that with drag is beyond me, because although it was only a couple of moves and the friction was good, it was quite ballancy, and  totally devoid of protection.  I found it unnerving enough on a top rope.


We abbed off ( a free abb) stripped everything and were back in the pub for 7.30.


A great day and a great climb, Goshawk HVS 4c ( or 5a)  see what anyone else thinks.  I had been looking at this for almost 40 years. 


Poisoned Glen

Kevin McGee, Geoff, George and myself met at the car park at the upper end of Glenveigh for some climbing at Ballaghageeha Buttress on Sunday.

With three of us having never climbed there before, Kevin assumed the role of local guide and crag expert.

Although the sun was making a good attempt to stay out, the crag was in the shade and the wind was blowing, making things pretty chilly…

Fittingly, George started with Patagonian Summer (HVS 5a), cruising it despite the frozen fingers. Meanwhile Kevin led The Mistress (currently HVS 5a), seconded by Geoff.

Myself and Geoff then both led Pebbles (HS), a decent route but without much gear and some serious run-outs… As someone later said ‘the gear is only there to stop your corpse from rolling down the face’.

The sun finally made it around to the front of the crag as George reached the top of The Mistress, followed with difficulty by myself. A cracking route, the difficult sections are interspersed with only marginally less difficult sections. In my opinion the route should be upgraded to E1 5b, as the difficulty is a step up from any HVS 5a I have climbed recently.

Kevin was on Tooth Fairy at this point, which appeared harder than anything else climbed that day, but still graded HVS(?). While the rest of us stood around in the sun taking pictures, Patrick and Adam Tinney arrived, fresh from attempting some other hard routes in a nearby gully. When Kevin reached the belay, we realised that someone needed to second him… Geoff wasn’t feeling keen, so George took up the challenge.

The Tinneys were starting on Patagonian Summer and George was making Tooth Fairy look easy as I left for the trip back to Belfast.

A good day’s climbing on a great crag that doesn’t see much traffic.


Culdaff International Climbfest.


Culdaff International Climbfest.


Well, that what it was.  We had citizens of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Iran, Wales, England, Scotland, (and probably a few I have forgotten) with a much higher proportion female than ever before.


The beginners’ session at Dunmore started late due to morning rain, but was well supported with 40-50 at the crag.  It was getting mobbed, so I took a group of 12 who arrived from IMC around to Finbarr wall, which was sheltered and sunny.  There were other groups at Brasil Rock etc at the same time.


The top ropes at Dunowen were a great success, maybe we could setup more next year?


It stayed dry for the barby for a change.


Sunday also started wet, but cleared after 9.00, and Pinnacle bay and Brazil got a lot of traffic, before the forcasted rain arrived about 3.00.  People were pretty climbed out, so some packed up and went home, while others went to McGrorys for a bite.


Just a few climbed (plus a couple of late arrivals) on Monday, which was bright and blowy with a few short sharp showers,  before the site was cleared.


We are missing two kiddies body harnesses, possibly a DMM harness of Anthony’s, a pair of green rock shoes belonging to Valli, a screwgate belonging to Gerard, and I have a couple of harnesses I don’t recognise in the kit bag + a 9mm rope possibly Geoffs.   Let me know if you have some of this, or are missing anything.


A concern was people not wearing helmets, particularly belayers.  Whilst the routes had been mostly checked for loose rock, you can never be sure, and particularly so when the climber strays off route.


Thanks to everybody who turned up and helped, the feedback I got from all our visitors was great, they all loved it.


Finding Climbfest

For those that haven’t visited Climbfest before here is a little guide of how to find the campsite and most of the top ropes.

Bunagee pier can be found by taking the R238 right through the village then turning right over the bridge towards the filling station. Carry on along this road for a mile or so then turn right at a sign for the pier. A further mile brings you to the pier. Please remember to park tidily as this is a still a working fishing pier.

The Saturday morning session is at the main crag at Dunmore Head. This can be found by following the shore road from the village.

Dalkey Dash

With the forecasted rain/sleet failing to materialise in Dublin on Saturday, and Sunday morning still being dry, Sarah and I shook off our hangovers and headed out to Dalkey Quarry for a couple of routes on Sunday afternoon (as we happened to be the neighbourhood..).

We started off with Yorkshire Pudding (HS 4b), to clear out the cobwebs. We were then joined by some former UCD Mountaineering Club pals, Aoife, Dermot and John.

It was chilly enough with a stiff breeze blowing off the sea, so belay jackets were staying firmly on for climbing. Sarah and myself then did Fang** (HVS 5a), while Dermot led Oggie (S 4a).

After realising that the other side of the valley was in the sun, and would be sheltered from the wind, we headed across, and both parties led Street Fighter** (VS 4c) in much more pleasant conditions. After the UCD contingent did something else on the Eliminates Wall we decided that was enough excitement, and retired to Glasthule for coffee.

A fortuitous afternoon’s climbing considering the horrendous forecast for the weekend! Dalkey is a great spot, definitely worth a trip down the road for those located in Belfast, especially since you can escape easily to any number of climbing walls, gear shops or pubs if you get rained off!


Sunny Spain

After a winter indoors the flying four of Gerard, Seamus, Kevin and Geoff set off to enjoy the delights sunny Spain. Or at least that was the plan.  The weather had other ideas. An atrocious forecast for the Siurana area saw us heading south to Alicante. A last minute phone call from the Ryanair check-in queue and Gerard had found great accommodation in Finestrat. Our plan was to stay in that area for a few days then head for the hills but the weather changed our plans once again and so we stayed where we were.
The climbing was always great and we did sometimes see the sun. We visited a different crag every day with styles ranging from the steep pockets of Gandia to the slabbier Sella.

Spain 18

Other attractions were Alcalali, Guadalest, Reconco and Olta. Gerard and Kevin romped up loads of 6b+s and Seamus and I managed many 6a s. Altogether a great week -same time next year lads?

Crag Cleaning at Dunowen

Got a good crowd on Sunday.  Access paths cleared, Bogged til the Oxters, cleaned by Damien, Jericho, Thessalonians, Utmost Good Faith and Aries cleaned by Jim, Andy, Yours truly and Frank. The crabs Claw climbed by Margaret etc plus ascents of a number of routes.  Plenty of sunshine on top, alas in the shade below.

Scottish Winter Meets 2016, Onich(MI), and Ullapool (CCC)


Scottish Winter Meets 2016, Onich(MI), and Ullapool (CCC)


I pretty much missed the first one, having arrived in Onich,( fresh from a fine traverse of Ben Cruachan), on Friday, the last night of the MI meet.   Also almost managed to miss Keith, Billy and Alex on Ben Cruachan, over a combination of changes of plan, and lack of a phone signal.  I caught up with them on the way down.   Weather was fine but the snow was soft and tiring.


We had a sociable night in the Inchcree centre, joined by Sandra and Dave and the remaining MI contingent.  I was pretty bushed, so decided not to join the other 8 on the ring of Steall on Saturday, which I thought was a bit ambitious anyway, given the conditions.  Went to climb Buachaille Etive Beg, my last remaining Munroe in Glencoe, only to realise when I got there, that I climbed it last year.  Plan B was to hire a mountain bike at Aonach Mor ( there were none), so it was plan C, coffee and the rugby.  Alas!  Still, the others were soon blown back to Fort William and a congenial evening had by all.


I thought we had a plan to do Ledge Route on Sunday, but my lack of a deodorant must have kicked in, with most preferring to go somewhere else or stay in bed.  Mercifully Sandra took pity on this Johnny no friends, and we had a great day out on this easy*** classic route.  Co-incidentally this was the day the young couple disappeared from their tent behind the CIC hut, but we were unaware of the tragedy about to unfold.  An added bonus was the lift we got from the top car park back to the Hobbit.


 I went on to meet up with eldest son Chris in Aviemore,  in the morning, picking up the line manager at Inverness Airport, and staying with my brother Jimmy and Mairi.  Had an afternoon walk on the Cat’s Back’ a local hill, and the next day we were joined by Chris, in the aptly named Dufftown, to climb an easy Corbett called Ben Riness.  Easy my ****!  We had to abandon it in the most extreme wind I have ever experienced .The zip pocket in the top of my rucsac blew open twice, with the contents taking off over the Cairngorms so fast I didn’t see them go.  Two hats, goggles, gloves, an iphone bag are missing, presumed lost, (sofar).  We crawled off.


Having been entertained to another fine dinner by Mairi, we left for Ullapool and Finbarr.


Wednesday dawned wet, but cleared nicely in the afternoon, so Margaret, Finbarr and self had a trip up Stac Polly in lovely conditions, then we moved around the coast to Gruinard Bay for an early start for Ben Dearg Beg.  This is a remote and dramatic peak in Fisherfield with a 3 to 3.5 hour walk in to the base.  We left at 8.00 on Thursday, and did the traverse over the 3 summits dropping to the col at the far side by 2.45.  It took us to 8.00 PM to get out to the road, with the last two and a half hours in darkness. Epic or what?  A great mountain though.


Our late arrival caused some consternation amongst the gathered hoardes of Colmcillers who had arrived at the rented house in Ullapool, as apparently some elderly people were reported on Scottish radio to have got into trouble. I don’t know what all the fuss was about as It couldn’t have been us, as we are not old.


Keith was back, this time with Sam, and at the house, Sandra, Dave, Les, Ivan, Gerry, PJ and Anthony.  The weather forecast alas was dire, so while we exhausted young folk took a rest, the others tacked Stac Polly in fairly challenging conditions.


Saturday’s forecast was no better, but a party of six trogged up the valley and climbed a gully in Ben Dearg with chest deep spindrift.  There was some discussion as to whether it was Orangeman’s gully or Papist’s Passage, before someone lodged a’ Petition of concern’  a decision could not be made, and the matter was put in abeyance.


The other six, ably led by ‘Keith the snowplough’, conquered another Corbett called something beginning with E. 


The weather, being no better on Sunday, I headed South towards home.