Mournes Bell Ringing
|Date: 29 Aug 2010
Submitted by: Anthony Feeney
Last week I did an interview on the club with a journalist from City Of Culture magazine and while answering one of his questions “What is it that gives you the passion to climb?” I realised I was missing a good session on the rock. PJ and I were both a little stir crazy after some working and child-friendly weekends so we headed to the Mournes avec tent, sans children. Fairhead nearly got a rattle, George reminding me of a long overdue date with Good Morning Judge but in the end the lovely Meelmore setting won out.
Saturday was very wet and we only got as far as buying the beautiful new Mournes guide. George had recommended Lower Cove so we decided on that area for the Sunday, which turned out gloriously sunny, despite an early morning downpour. We’re big fans of the oul multi-pitching so tramped over to Fourth Corner having read of a “must do” line 45m Brewer’s Gloom (S 3c, 4a, 3c) and it was a delight, especially the airy step round the corner.
We abbed off some tat, leaving behind a screwgate as I fancied a go at Cartilage (VS 4b, 3c) which had the same finish as Brewer’s but changed our minds as George had raved about First Corner (HS 4b) way over on the other crag. So it was I ended up hauling on the rope like a first rate bell ringer. “What’s the proper term for a bell ringer?” asked PJ. “A ding-dong-ologist??” I suggested.
The screwgate was retrieved via a solo up Fourth Corner (D) then we started over to First Corner stopping to admire some climbers on Dark Side of the Moon (E1 5b) and the huge Cove cave. Around the corner was the 2 pitch Pillar Variant (S 4a) a 3* line described as a HALL of FAME severe and so First Corner was abandoned for this lovely face line. From below it looks quite blank but once you’re on it the holds open up and I finished the 1st 25m pitch with a big grin. The 2nd pitch has no gear whatsoever but the friction was so good I just ran the whole 15m out.
We had dinner booked at the Maghera Inn so scooted back for that and stayed so long that the bar only had about 3 people in it. Then who should walk in but Paddy Kielty? I did my best not to stare and only told PJ in the car park outside because she had her back to him. Of course she had to go back around for a wee stare in the window and an excited yelp.
Bank Holiday Monday saw us heading to Bearnagh Slabs in beautiful sunshine but of course this is a south facing crag and was quite cool underneath. Plenty of walkers about with one poor frazzled man stuck with 2 indecisive ladies. “Where are you off to?” I asked. “I go where I’m told and when I get down I’ll know where I’ve been!” Anyway we started off on the 72m Hypothesis (S 4a) with PJ taking the 1st and 3rd pitches. Nice slab climbing with a testy crack in the middle that really squeezes the feet.
Next up was Crescent (VS 4b) and the sun had now swung round the warm us. Unfortunately that also woke up the midges. Gear was a little short on the first pitch but again the friction was superb so I ran it out almost to the belay point. The 2nd pitch got steeper with small holds along the neighbouring wall and then steeper again after a step up at half height. By this stage the midges were having a good old chomp on me and it was absolutely maddening trying to hold on and not being able to wipe my face. I swear I heard one whisper “Hello from our Ailefroide cousins!” I suppose it did cut down the faffing time so I was forced to climb rather than search for elusive gear placements. PJ led the final section and then it was time to go home.
By the way the correct term for a bell ringer is a campanologist. Every day’s a schoolday!