|Date: 24 - 25 April 2011
Submitted by: Anthony Feeney
PJ and I headed for Skelpoonagh for a couple of days of outdoor goodness, arriving early afternoon through some sprinkling showers. There was plenty of "blue sunshine" on offer at the bay though and we parked just at the corner from “Peter’s House” as described in the Donegal Guide. Who the hell is Peter?
It was obvious from the ice axe leashes still attached to my harness that I hadn’t done any rock climbing nor visited a wall since probably Ailefroide last year, so we weren’t aiming for any routes with a “V” or “E” in the grade. Oh wait a minute… V.Diff has a V in it. Yes, we went for the hilariously named “Midges Down Your Diddies”. Well you’ve got to with a name like that!
No midges but not much gear either, great handholds in the flared cracks but try getting a nut or a cam in there! Nice exposed move to finish and then a desperate search for anchor placements made me wrinkle my nose a little at this route. The online guide seems confused about whether the route we did is actually Midges. We climbed the line indicated in the Chris McDaid’s photo and what the guide book had described but it did feel harder than V.Diff. Maybe I was just rusty?
Back in the zawn we hunted for Half Brick (S) and Two Half Bricks (S) but couldn’t really match the rock to the descriptions. Crunchie Bar Climb (S) on the end of the Midges wall was more obvious and we scuttled over. The initial ledges require a little balance and then there’s a bouncy smeary move up through the flakes (that felt about HS) to gain the big ledge. From here it’s an undignified mantle onto a shelf that’s very reminiscent of Cheating Bitch (S) at Dunmore. Slightly exposed moves up left then, with big jugs and shelves to finish. Very atmospheric with the crashing sea below.
It was early evening by then and the sunshine had faded leaving things a little chillier so it was time for hot food and cold beer / wine round a scavenged wood and turf fire. In a smug display of “Leave No Trace” we set the small fire on a huge flat stone, which we then put back in the morning. You’d never have known we were there. It was an amazing spot for camping on a flat depression just back from zawn 1, great views, no wind and the dull roar of the sea in the background.
After a long lie in next day we were back in the zawn chatting to a Mr R. Hanvey (of St Patrick’s Fleas (S) fame, Dunowen), his mate, 3 trilling girls and their yapping dog who were on a tour of the area, having just come from Malinbeg. Culdaff was coincidentally on their agenda next weekend but they were oblivious to Climbfest so we passed on the word and pointed out the stuff we’d done the day before.
We’d already planned to try zawn 4 so headed over to have a go on Lee Shore (HS). The crux is at the start as you smear up into a sloping corner but there’s a great big hold at the top. It’s followed shortly after (if you’ve a long reach like me!) by a shelf about 3” deep and 2’ wide that’s easily mantled. Thankfully so because my one crappy nut placement popped as I reached it but the rock had great friction and I wasn’t overly worried. From there it’s just smear and step left up the slab. Without the twin ropes we had though, there’d have been horrendous drag from the bulge you move under.
We could have climbed all day, so good was the weather and rock but family duties called and we had to be home by early afternoon. So we waved a sad farewell but we’ll definitely be back. If you haven’t climbed at this little gem, make a point of doing so.
26 Apr 2011
So the Climbfest is on then? I was worried, after Alan's last missive, that it might be cancelled.
27 Apr 2011
Think it only applies to access for Brazil Rock / Himalayan Wall. The rest should be OK. Might make Dunmore a bit crowded but we're going to encourage people roudn to Finbarr Wall and there's always Malin Head etc. for those with transport.
27 Apr 2011
There's still time to build a walkway around the coast just above sea level...