To Eglish with Alan T. Great first day excepting horrid walk in (not long, but tussocks, hags, pipes, streams, glar etc. etc.). We got Incy Wincy on way in, a perfect slab we couldn’t pass (955 844) and on arrival explored a previously unclimbed buttress, now designated Emelyn Buttress (957 889). This gave us Gift Aid and Philanthropist – see online guide. Finished off with Twp Paghals and a Spraghal, excellent route – A. Tees and V. Russel. Stashed gear for return the following day – a mistake: conditions as per photo. Home. Still plenty more to do.
Sandra and I headed for Cairngorms for St Paddys week, a couple of hills climbed behind Newtownmore and then a days skiing/ ski mountaineering on Cairn Gorm , digger at top digging out Ptarmigan
Restaurant which was completely covered, then days cycling around Glenmore due to mad winds up high,
An Socach near Glenshee and a final day on Mount Keen. All repeats for me but Sandra now passed half way mark.
Hailstones were bouncing off the road as I left home. I put my climbing gear in the car just in case the weather might fair up. I arrived at Culdaff at about 10.30 and the sun was shining. I was surprised to find some people already there working like beavers. The purpose of the exercise was to clean the crag and the paths at Dunmore Head, Culdaff in preparation for the climbfest which is held every year on the first weekend of May, the Mayday bank holiday. About ten of us were there, all armed with weapons such as hedge clippers, slashers, billhooks, pruners, scrapers and brushes. Alfie Conn brought the heavy duty stuff, a two stroke hedge trimmer. Ivy, clay and sods of grass rained down from the crag. Alfie and I decided to clear the path from the bottom of the crag to the top. Alfie went in front with the hedge trimmer and I came behind and cut the branches that were too big for the trimmer. Our teamwork was nearly as good as when we are climbing. Alfie’s a dab hand with the hedge trimmer but I made sure to keep my hands back incase I lost a few digits. Everyone took a break for lunch and we sat around in a circle with sandwiches and flasks. A guy called Andy who has just started outdoor rock climbing was there with a brand new MSR whisper lite petrol fueled stove. Now, I have a passion for stoves and the snore of this little machine was music in my ears. This baby can boil a litre of water in three minutes compared to other stoves that take four minutes. You might think one minute would not make much difference but for George Carlton that would mean he could get another route climbed in the minute he saved boiling the water. Anyone who has climbed with George will know what I mean. At these lunch breaks you need to be able to tell a good story and some climbers excell at this. Gerard O’Sullivan can make leading a severe sound a bigger epic than the first ascent of K2. After lunch Andy, who was now energized on super noodles, wanted to lead a route so I agreed to belay him. Andy led the route well and I followed. To use ones knee in rock climbing would be considered bad technique. I didn’t think anyone would see me so I used a sneaky knee to help me over the crux. Hawk eye Tees saw me and I suffered a bit of banter as a result. To finish off the day Alan Tees invited us back to his house for tea. As usually Alan and Margaret made us very welcome in their home. Alan put the kettle on and one of the climbers cut a cake that he had baked. The cake was set on the table and nine of us circled round the cake like wolves around a fresh kill. Someone said, just help yourself, and the cake was gone. I can’t be a hundred per cent sure but I think Maeve McKeever took two pieces of cake. Well I suppose she deserved it as she cleaned two routes all by herself, hanging on her harness for ages. Well done Maeve By this time it was six o’clock so we said our goodbyes and left for home. I really enjoyed my day, good weather, good company and a good job done cleaning the crag and paths. It was good to meet up again with friends I hadn’t seen all winter and I’m looking forward to the Climbfest. Hope the weather is kind to us. Trevor.
We were represented by our chair, Geoff, Dennis, Gerry, Margaret, Maeve, Valli, Ivan, Maeve was elected to the MI board, congratulations to her, as CCC continues to punch well above its weight in the national mountaineering scene (I was kicked out).
Saturday was dry, but the crag at Happy Valli was wet (no wonder after the winter) so we top roped 4 routes. As well as Geoff, Valli, Ivan and self, we had 2 from the Hanging Rockers, who had never climbed outside before. Geoff was convinced they would be put off it for life, but they were made of sterner stuff, and really enjoyed it (so much they are coming to the climbfest). Karl Boyle (MI CEO) also climbed, and was hugely impressed by both the crag, and Valli’s hospitality during the rugby match. In fact he was quite hard to shift out of Valli’s kitchen and back to the MI meet. Happy Valli has now a powerful friend. Martin and Mary joined the party.
There was the usual dinner and stuff, and the AGM and workshops in the morning, and in the afternoon we did King’s Gully, yet again, in the wet. Always worth doing.
Finbarr joined the party. On Monday, we went up Glenade, behind Eagle Rocks, a lovely walk in lovely conditions. A very spectacular place with huge cliffs, I’ll post a couple of pics. Spotted a really dramatic place for a tent, with a abseil descent. Look out for Extreme Camping coming to a website near you!
On the 13th February Maeve, Gerard, Mike G, John H, Seamus and I headed to Onich for a long weekends climbing and to overlap with the MI meet.
There was a lot of snow on the mountains and avalanche warnings were high, especially in the main climbing areas. On our first day we settled for The Zig Zags, on the North Face of Gearr Aonach which is a reasonably low level route. It was a pleasant and relatively short day on the hill allowing plenty of time for coffee and cakes in Glen Coe Cafe.
The next day saw similar conditions and a report for worsening weather in the afternoon so we settled on Dinnertime Buttress on the west face of Aonach Dubh. It is another route low on the mountain with a steep but short walk in from the road. It turned out to be a really nice route under firm snow and offered a couple of interesting sections near the top.
Once on the top we navigated our way into the lower section of Stob Coire nan Lochan from where we walked out to the road. We could see the main crag was well plastered in snow but a few brave souls were making their way up in the hope of getting something done.
The forecast for our last full day was looking good and the avalanche risk had reduced significantly. We were up and away early, and in the North Face car park of the Ben before 7.30am.
The plan was to get up to the CIC hut and assess the conditions, before making a decision on what would be a feasible objective. On reaching the hut Ledge Route seemed like the best option so off we went.
On the approach we could see climbers on The Curtain, one of the best known ice routes on the Ben. I had been on Ledge Route twice before and given the opportunity was keen to do a route I had not done before. John volunteered to join me so off we went while the others continued on to Ledge Route.
It is a fantastic climb with lots of exposure, especially on the upper section where the ice gets quite steep. A second 60m rope and a few more ice screws would have been helpful, especially as I had to bypass the first belay due to it being occupied.
We caught up with Maeve and Gerard who had gotten stuck in a queue behind a number of large guided groups. We continued to the top of Ledge Route together, from where Maeve, John and I continued on to the Summit as it was Maeve’s first time on the Mountain.
The last day being wet and windy was spent in the Ice Factor, where Maeve and Seamus climbed on the ice wall and Gerard, Mike and John spent the morning on the indoor climbing wall, while I sat in a comfy chair drinking coffee and reading climbing magazines. Then in the afternoon it was down the road to the airport and home.
Met Finbarr at the Kingshouse Glencoe, on Sunday night, and we overnighted in their car park. The forecast was appalling for Monday, so the Aonach Eagach was off, and we set our sights on Meall a Bhuiridh, easily accessible from the top of the chairlift. The chairlift was not running, so plan B followed plan A into the bin ( no changes there then) and plan C was considered. Beinn Mhic Chassgaig is a Corbett in Glen Etive, not far off the road, and good for the short ( and wild) day that remained after our previous set backs. 6.5 hours later we staggered back in the fading light, Margaret and I nursing injuries that threatened to finish our Scottish trip.
Tuesday we recovered, while Finbarr used the better day to revive plan B and climb Meall a Bhuiridh from the ski lift.
Wednesday we drove to Inverness, had lunch with Jimmy and Mairi, picked up PJ, Ant and Fergus and went to Kinlochewe.
Thursday I was still concerned about my knee so I settled for a Corbett called Ruadh Stac Beag with Margaret. It reminded me of climbing Slemish ( from Ballymoney). Knee Better though! The others did Deep South Gully on Beinn Alligin, where they found less snow than they expected.
The forecast was quite good for Friday, so we did the Liathach traverse from Mullach an Rathain to Spidean a Coire Leith. Superb. Finbarr, PJ, Ant, Fergus and self had one of those special winter days in that are, sadly, all too rare.
Elated, we decided to forsake the Ireland v Wales game, and tackle Fuselage Gully in Beinn Eighe on Saturday. Finbarr, Fergus and self followed Sandra and Dave into Coire Fhearchair, and while they tackled Morrison’s Gully, we climbed ” Fuselage” through the wrecked Wellington and into a white out on top of the mountain. It was only temporary, and we found our way along the ridge to Spidean Coire nan Clach, the high point of Beinn Eighe in pretty wild winter conditions.
Sunday, we left Fergus PJ Ant back to Inverness airport ( after another lunch with Jimmy). Finbarr went home, and we followed on Monday.
Connemara January 2014.
6 NWMC members, 5 Colmcille Climbers and 2 IMC members ( total 8) stayed in the Bard’s Den Letterfrack, 18th 19 th January for the usual winter weekend’s walking/scrambling in the Wesht.
We had a big day out on the Saturday over Ben Baun, Benbrack, a big drop to the col at Maumnascalpa and a brutally steep climb to Muckanaght, Bencullagh and Maunmonght. Getting out wasn’t that easy either, but a great clear day,( if a mite cauld!) This rarely walked horseshoe was one of the routes submitted for the “Irish Peaks” and very good it was too!
Rory arrived on Saturday night, just after the rugby, but in time for a fine feed in the Den, but on Sunday the weather didn’t look quite so promising. When we arrived at the bottom of Benchoona, those still nursing the emotional scars from the previous year’s experience on that mountain, were wary of repeating the trauma, and while Fergus, Aoife, Rory and Alan dithered, Geoff and Helen fled, leaving only El Finbarr who wished to do battle with the Ogre. Margaret wanted to go to Tully mountain, so we did. It was a good decision, as the route given in the new Collins guidebook was excellent, keeping us below the cloudline with great views on all sides. Quite a rocky mountain, a bit like the Urris, but more spaced out.
The fun wasn’t over however, as Fergus indulged in a bit of extreme parking ( in an 8 foot deep sheugh) and had to get rescued. Although it appears that the car is a write off, fortunately no one was hurt, and we were able to run Fergus and Aoife to Galway on Monday, where they hired another car to get them home. Finbarr also apparently struggled to get home, his van developing mechanical problems.
All in all, an averagely successful weekend!