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Two Days in the Valley

Date: 21/02/09
Submitted by: Michael Hassan

The valley in question was the Annalong Valley in the Mournes, where I've managed to get some climbing done in the last two weeks thanks to the Feburary heatwave. The first day was actually last weekend, Sunday 15th, when I was with Maeve McKeever, Chris Boomer, Hazel Clarke and Fred Maddalena. The goal was an ascent of FM** VDiff. Chris and Maeve went together, while I paired off with Hazel. We felt confident enough to climb it in boots despite the numerous streaks of wet rock. It must have been a 60m rope when I did this before, because as I was powering to the first belay, a shout came from below that there was just 1m of my 50m rope left. I looked up and saw that the belay was about 3m ahead. Frick! The second pitch of this was probably the most interesting. It was delicate going, but I just had to trust in the friction, and knew that all would be well. And so it was. Hazel led the last (and most vertical) pitch, traversing through a river of slime on the way. By the time we had all finished, it was too late to do anything else, so we headed down the slopes of Lamagan to find a short cut to the path. On the way we found an old WW2 shell, which hadn't exploded. The top had just been knocked off it.

Day 2 was on Saturday 21st. Someone Maeve knew was concerned about the shell and said that we really should have reported it, which Maeve duly did. The police/army wanted to know exactly where it was, so back it was again to the top of Lamagan. We chose the most direct route to the top - a steep slog through knee deep heather. A solid workout though. Anyway, we found the shell, took some coordinates, drew a smiley face on it and then retreated to Lower Cove. Maeve top roped Tyro VD and North Wall* S,3c with Fred, while Chris was happy to second with me. First up was First Corner** HS,4b. This is a straight forward but enjoyable climb and I prefer it to the VS's that are close by. After that I was really psyched to try something hard and was eyeing up Edge On E3,6a but I wasn't sure. Chris then suggested the route next to it. It had 3 stars in the guidebook - Meat Grinder E2,5c. So I went for it instead. Wow. What a cracker climb! Lovely moves with lots of balance needed. I gave out a yelp of joy upon reaching the top - I had broken into the E grades at last. Fantastic. After a celebratory mars bar, we headed to second corner buttress, where I wanted to do Gynocrat HVS,5a. This is a 2 star route and it's certainly worth it. That signalled home time, but what a great day. I do like the Mournes!

24 Feb 2009
Anthony Feeney

I remember when you were a baby faced beginner at the ClimbFest 2 years ago. *Sniffle* How things have changed. Good on ye!

24 Feb 2009
George Carleton

Good effort Mike, there will be no holding you back now. Your the man.

25 Feb 2009
Peter Cooper

These are the reports I expected to see a year ago, what took you? Fine effort Mike. Hopefully you can give us all a lesson.

25 Feb 2009
Iain Miller

"Broken into the E grades" he uttered modestly! Smashed into the E grades would be more appropriate! The force is strong in you, young Jedi.

07 Mar 2009

Yep great effort , I remember failing to top rope that route about 12 years ago when stu and me where in the mournes for a course, stu flashed it on the top rope and has never let me forget it! Nice one man.

Photo of Route