All posts by Columba McLaughlin

Malin – a walk on the wild side

Sunday 2nd Oct 2016

 While the CCC were having their AGM and meet in West Donegal (Apologies sent), the sun shone on Malin Head and there was wall to wall blue sky. I had a couple of hours to spend so off I went.

 I headed for Banba’s Buttress and descended ‘Malin Head Shuffle’ and went out towards the water’s edge to get a closeup of the waves and the western entrance to ‘The Chasm’. Then it was up the start of ‘Malin Android’ to commence ‘Skywalker’ traverse. To escape I climbed ‘Yoda’s Staircase’ 

 Then it was on to the 1st Headland. I don’t know the name for it but it is the one with a Cross on Top. I down climbed one of Bren Whelan’s climbs on the southern corner and then crossed the narrow 1st Zawn and climbed ‘Freebird’. It was drier today unlike yesterday (Saturday). 

Then it was on to the Knobble Amphitheatre. Descent on the slabs on the northern wall to a point at the end of the large rock pool. From here the slightly rising ‘Amphitheatre Traverse’ always entertains me until I am forced up by (Alphie’s) triangular slab and then on to the very obvious fault line and to escape the amphitheatre I climbed up ‘Land  Ahoy’.  

  On the way back to the  car park I descended ‘Grainne’s Ledge’ crossed the floor of the 1st Zawn and  scrambled up  ‘The Edge’  on the northern side of the cross (1st Headland). Then it was back home  in time for dinner. What a way to whet one’s appetite.

Banba’s Buttress Visit

Beam me up, Luke 02

 You just couldn’t plan for sunshine at Malin Head. However, luck would have it and the sun (unexpectently) came out for a wee while on Friday evening so I thought a good chance to try out a high level traverse of ‘Banba’s Buttress’ that I had in my mind for some time. I had traversed from the ‘Malin Head Shuffle’ to ‘Yoda’s Staircase’ and back again on several occasions but not past that. So after an entertaining descent down the ‘Malin Head Shuffle’ to a point below the ‘Millennium Ramp’  and then commenced a 40m meandering traverse right across to ‘Vader’s Corner’. Great friction, big air and  awesome views. ‘Skywalker’ (V.Diff).

 Whilst there I abseiled down ‘Falcon’ and ended up disposing of loose rock and giving a basic clean to a new climb. There was a good ledge above the narrow zawn and about 3m right of ‘Falcon’, so I climbed a broken line just left of ‘Vader’s Corner’. A very pleasant, somewhat airy ascent and steep in the final 10m – ‘Beam me up, Luke’ 22m V.Diff . 

 All in all, an unplanned but brilliant evening.


Highland Fling

Martin Boner and I met up in Glasgow airport and off we went to Fortwillian (Bill’s Fort). It was a nice journey up but that all changed when we woke next morning to persistent drizzle. Nonetheless, being the foolhardy souls that we were we headed off to see if anything was possibility on Ben Nevis. By the time we got to the CIC hut – we were soaked through. So we opted for a reconnaissance of Observatory Gully. A challenging struggle up the scree slope but were rewarded with close up views of all the major lines. (It didn’t rain all the time – just most times). What made it worthwhile was that the small glacier in the upper region of Observatory Gully had melted underneath and it was possible to walk under it. We came across submerged waterfalls that came directly from 0.5 Gully and other main climbing (drainage) lines. We had a close up inspection of Dave McLeod’s climb on Echo Wall – hey major respect.

Saturday wasn’t that much better so off we went to Glencoe. Martin had it in his mind to climb the South Face of A’Ceallaigh. There was much vertical heather to cling to but there were short rock obstacles as well. The dry one’s were good fun but the wet faces were avoided by the line of least resistance. When we got to the upper cliff tier, the rock provided very enjoyable scrambling with a nice finish. Neither of us fancied downclimbing the almost vertical heather so we opted for a ridge walk to Am Bodach (Start of the Aonach Eagach ridge) and a descent from here. At least I we can say that we have now completed the Aonach Eagach Ridge from start to finish.

Sunday was home day but the sun shone and we thought we had enough time to climb North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mór in Glencoe. We started out at 9.30am and were on the summit by 1.00pm. A highly recommended must do climb. Most books describe it as a scramble. However, it’s steepness and exposure is very sustained right from the start. There are 4 identifiable pitches but really the entire route is one very long and sustained pitch. In my opinion, it is more serious than Curved Ridge and would certainly challenge the difficulty sections on Agag’s Groove. Others will have their own opinion but sure that’s OK too. For us, it was a fantastic outing on an iconic mountain. Total time from A82 Carpark to summit and back to carpark was 5 hours. We even had time for dinner in Tyndrum on the way to the airport. Youtube video in 2 parts

North Buttress – Part 1:

North Buttress – Part 2 :