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Retreat on Errigal

Date: 19th November 2006
Submitted by: Columba McLaughlin

 What? I hear you say - Retreat on Errigal. Never. Well it happened and it happened on Sunday 19th November 2006. How did that occur - well here I go with my feeble excuses. As is usual in November each year myself and Joe Ferris take a group of student nurses up Errigal in lieu of Charity Fundraising. We have been doing it for a good number of years and this year was no different. The charities were Zest and the Beacon Centre. We earmarked the date in advance to give the students a chance to raise the funds.

  On the morning of the 19th the sun was shining when I got out of bed. The forecast was good until the afternoon with Gale Force 9 predicted by the late evening. We would be up and down in time or so we thought. Anyway the brave few (or the silly fools) met in Magee Campus of the University of Ulster. There were Ashleigh Moss, Joe Ferris, Lisa Gallen, Seamus Crossan, Emma Thompson, Roisin O'Donnell, Grace Barrett, Martin Gallagher and myself. When we arrived at the base of the North North East ridge the wind had got up and it was gusting. There was a very good dusting snow but it was not frozen. We made it up the initial scree slope but a few were knocked over by the wind. At times it was difficult to stand up.

 We headed over towards the North North West ridge and managed to gain the first shoulder. The wind was gusting even more so then. We optd to go up into the great gully between Tower Ridge and the NNW ridge but only made about 50 metres in height when one of our group was knocked over by the wind, took a tumble and hurt his knee. We got togther on the open slope just below the Great Gully and the concensus was 50/50 about going on. As we had a casualty and he had difficulty in walking I made the decision to retreat.

 On our way down I was helping Emma Thompson. It was her first time on the mountain. Suddenly, a very powerful gust of wind completely lifted me off my feet. Only for the fact that Emma held on to me I would have had a very bad tumble. Also, the gusts knocked over a few of us on the way down. It was if the wind was giving us a two fingered salute as we retreated. Anyway we made it down to the safety of the cars and the comfort of the Glenveigh Inn. The students commented that they enjoyed it and found it both high adventure but soemewhat dangerous. Nonetheless, they made a promise for a return visit in more calmer conditions. Joe and I wil next be on Errigal on the 1st Jan 2007.

Slán agus beánnacht,



Photo of Route