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Fairhead Frolics

Date: 10th May 2009
Submitted by: Anthony Feeney

George, Mike, PJ, Sean and myself made our various ways to The Prow on Sunday to chat about the approaching Alpine trip and get some of that lovely crack climbing done. As I approached the coast the skies overhead were clearing to a lovely summery blue and I even went as far as to break out the sun cream.

I think Sean had a brown trouser moment when he spied the headland from Ballycastle but who doesn't have a fearful memory of their first trip to the Head? He had a bit a disco leg on the abseil too but no matter how many times I've gone over that edge it always unnerves me. I'm glad George left it to today to tell me it might be time to retire the old "thinning" abseil rope!

George went off to lead The Fence (VS 4c) with Mike and PJ belayed me on Black Thief (VS 4b). Despite all my bravado and reassurance to Sean I was a total bag of nerves, all the faffing the week before knocking my head right out of the game. I found myself about 1/3 of the way up having placed about 5 bits of gear. When PJ noticed me placing yet another about 2 foot above the previous one it was time to take stock. "Ya big girl's blouse!", I scolded myself and then climbed about 10m without placing anything. The actual climbing, though pumpy, was going nicely and although I ended up near stripping the rack (12 pieces of gear!) I was in a much more jovial mood at the top.

George and Mike had topped out so they brought Sean up Fence too, on a pretty tight rope. There was much huffing and puffing and at one point a desperate cry of "There's nothing there!!" but he soon learned how to jam and tiredly topped out. As I brought PJ up Mike was already down and leading his way easily up Fath Mo Bhuartha (E1 5b).

PJ had some trouble getting a couple of my friends out and after a snack I was going to abseil / lower to retrieve them. But the sunny weather had climbers out in droves and a familiar face in Ciaran was already on the route and his friend got the gear for me. Happy days. I had to keep up the momentum now so decided to do Good Morning Judge for my first ever HVS 5a at Fairhead. I dunno if it was all my grunting, sweating and cursing that unnerved Sean but as I gained the big block at the start he decided he'd rather scramble out and enjoy an hour's sunbathing at the top.

You always know when you've been climbing at Fairhead because your arms are 3 inches longer the next day and the backs of your hands are flayed raw. Judge is just one of those routes where you hang on the arms a lot, reaching deep into the cracks to find an edge to get up, while your feet are squeezed in sideways at unnatural angles. I was thoroughly enjoying myself now, even if the pictures Mike took of me might show a concentrated grimace. Once more PJ had trouble with one of my "well placed" friends but she lowered me and a bit of fiddling sorted it. On a top rope now repeating the last 8 moves was a delight and I'd wished we'd had more time, but there were kids to collect, feed and prep for school so it was hometime for us.

George and Mike were on another E-number near the usual abseil point and I'd be very surprised if that was the last route of the day for them. I'd lay money on them having walking out with head torches nearly, it was such a perfect Prow day.

11 May 2009
Michael Hassan

Surprisingly, we finished up early too. George had done Railroad, which was fantastic and I finished on Midnight Cruiser which is also brilliant. I think the sun sapped our energy a bit!

12 May 2009

Confession: It appears I took the "easy" start to Judge round the back of the pillar and not the scary step onto the crimpy face. Gotta do it right next time.

12 May 2009

A minor route finding error, but your honesty is to be applauded.

Photo of Route