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Date: May 2009
Submitted by: Stephen Read

A full carload from Belfast (Emma, Jonny, Francesca and the grand master McManus) landed into Glencolumbcille nice and early around 1 am on Saturday morning. Greeted by our fellow happy campers we quickly established base camp and the party tent warmed up for a rather prolonged Saturday morning drinking session (apologies to the neighbors).

Sunshine and fry's were the order of the day on Saturday morning and the Jordanstown crowd split to go crag hunting. Two carloads went off for a tour of Malin Beg and Muckross, although climbing options were limited due to a very angry sea. The B team headed off to Skelpoonagh bay and spent the morning soaking up the sunshine in zawn four. This was the fist time any of us had climbed on this particular slab and we thoroughly enjoyed watching the crazy swells and the opportunity to climb in Donegal sunhine. I pottered my way up two lovely routes (Lee Shore and Heathen) quickly followed by Emma and John. We went off the beaten track for the third route and might have completed a nice new line (Keep off the grass) at about HS working from the right hand side of the slab and bridging up the blocks that form the edge of the crag.

Sufficiently warmed up John and I headed to paradise in a picture house - described as the most fantastic pant changing route for the grade in Ireland - it certainly looked like it could live up to the billing. I have been threatening to do this route for some time now but keep putting it for a rainy day. Unfortunately, the sunshine departed and the sky over the Atlantic turned an ominous shade of black as we scrambled down to take a look at the quartz crowed line. At the bottom, we were joined by our Italian and French caving friends (Damien and another Francesca). About three meters off the floor, the heavens opened. It appeared saving this route for a rainy day was not sure a good idea after all. I made a quick detour and exited up the lovely v diff on the left hand side of the crag. Topping out completely soaked to the skin, marveling at the schizophrenic Donegal weather and buzzing after an excellent if not slightly damp climb. Once at the top a minor communication breakdown ensued between myself and John on the belay. The wind and rain were howling so after lots of frantic arm waving and shelter-seeking John decided he could climb in the rain and scuttled up to safety marveling at the 360-degree exposure from the sea, sky, rock and rain. Our European friends had long since scampered and after a damp cigarette we were quickly back at the car thinking about dry clothes and beer.

And so to the camp site, more beer, Sh!te talk, camp fire, excellent pyrotechnics, a spot of sand dune Olympics and plenty of craic and banter before bed. Day II - heads were a bit worse than the day before and all the eager folk had scampered early to Skelpoonagh. The B team was feeling special and eventually managed to scrape the backside of the car over to An Port. Armed with some inspiration, topos and epic tales from brother miller we decided to dip our toes in the water and make a beeline for Berge stack. After a steep descent to the cove opposite the stack and a few cigarettes, we were ready to go. With only the one wet suit between five and some descent amongst the troops I figured we would only manage to get one or two bodies across to the top. So after a quick swim for myself and a not so quick tyrolean rig I was joined on the stack by Jonny. Shortly afterwards we were off for a great May Day climb on the appropriately named - ‘mayday mayday’. A fantastic route on surprisingly good rock in one on the most beautiful spots I have ever climbed in Donegal. Unfortunately, the clock was ticking and the wet suit was chafing so we figured that we only had time for the one route. Jonny sped back across the tyrolean and I shivered for a bit but warmed up after another dip and a dander back to the car.

Back to Glencolumbcille and the hospitality of John’s parent’s camper van. From here on all I can remember is a messy night of Guinness and abuse in biddies. The next day was a complete washout. After a quick tire change (courtesy Ryan and Mark), we finally managed to drop camp around lunchtime and headed off for a long tired drive back to Belfast. Thanks as always to the CCC folk for another excellent climbfest and a great change of scenery.

06 Aug 2009
Iain Miller

Exshellent Shir, I believe the day in question @ An Port Neptune was indeed in the building! :-)

Photo of Route
Keep off the grass - Climbfest 2009 -Zawn 4 Skelpoonagh Bay