Back to Logbook Archive for 2010 | Back to Home Page

Another Winter's Day in Donegal

Date: 10th January 2010
Submitted by: Columba McLaughlin
  And then there were 4 + Dog. Today, Alan, Marty (I wonder if Mary has found me crampons and me lid), me and Valli and her dog headed up the Errigal back road to Maumlack in search of climbs put up by Karl McGee and Patrick Tinney and other climbs by Iain Millar. Valli and Alan decided to go up by the Croloughan Slabs or thereaboutish. Meanwhile, Marty and I decided that Croloughan Gully looked appetising. It was full of good quality snow. So off we went but found that the centre was cluttered by huge boulders and the gaps between them were covered with soft snow bridges. One hole I looked into seemed about 4 metres deep. So we adjourned to the right hand side and thought that it would provide more interest and something more tangible to dig our ice axes into. We certainly made good use of our Ice Axes but did not use ropes and as Marty did not have crampons, I decided to sympathise with him and not to put mine on. Please note that anyone else taking on this climb in similar winter conditions should think very carefully about their need for a rope and their need for crampons. 

 This climb was steep with lots of deep unconsolidated snow and a few bits of frozen turf. It did provide some entertainment on the way and Marty played with some frozen ice on the right hand wall. As we neared the top of the climb, a 12cm deep and 3m long section of windslab gave way under me. However, luckily enough there was not enough snow to create an avalanche. You just don’t think of avalanches in Donegal, but had a fresh layer of deep snow landed on this windslab and there was no consolidation of snow layers, then conditions would be perfect for avalanches. Others in the future might wish to consider this possibility on Donegal winter routes where there is a steep slope and unconsolidated snow layers. 

 To top out from the gully, requires a short descent from the right hand wall and then up the centre for about 30 metres. However, Alan and Valli had crossed the top of the gully and we met up with them at the base of the ice climb ‘Brain Freeze’. This wonderful ice climb is at the top of Croloughan Gully on the right hand wall. Alan led the 1st Pitch and took Valli and I up to the belay stance and then sent his crampons down to Marty. Marty then climb through and up to the summit. What an exit and a brilliant finish to climbing Croloughann Gully. We met Martin Bonner on the summit with his SARDA dog. All of us descended safely to the valley floor and Marty had to have a wild walk on the frozen Loch Croloughan. All too soon we were at the cars and then onwards home. What a brilliant weekend and as good as any Scottish Winter weekend. I hope it is not another 20 years before similar winter conditions occurs again in the Donegal Mountains. I can’t speak for the others but I had a smile on me face for the rest of the week J  

29 Jan 2010
Columba McLaughlin

Pic shows Alan Tees leading the 1st Pitch of the frozen waterfall 'Brain Freeze'. A brill ice climb.

Photo of Route