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Bring on the tents!

Date: Easter Sunday 2010
Submitted by: Anthony Feeney
The planned climbing for Saturday was called off due to the morning's rain but PJ and I took the kids to Culdaff anyway in the Easter holiday spirit. We cadged a bed at Alan and Margaret's while a troup of gypsies parked their caravan on the drive and offered to tarmac it for €200 (and they were cutting their own throats). Keith and Sandra eventually evicted the gypsies and took over their caravan. While the girls went for a girly walk, the muscley men went over to Dunmore to shift a few wee stones to make a better path along the bottom of the crag. Much grunting later Alan was dispatched to enlist the help of son Peter and his surfing buddies while I showed Keith a few routes he might like to tackle for his SPA. When the burly boys arrived we got the first stone planted with the help of a rope, an iron bar, a pickaxe and a crowbar. A second stone further along was abandoned because the boys were now deep in the frigid surf and us 3 feebles couldn't shift the bigger weight alone. The day was drying up nicely and if it hadn't been so late in the day we might have gotten a route or two in but the pub, dinner and hot tub beckoned.

Easter Sunday morning saw a few rough heads among the surfing fraternity (and sorority - think there was at least one girl) so it was left to Bill, Alan, Keith, PJ and myself to head to Warm Bay Point and that horrible heathery descent to the base of the climbs. Alan and Bill were already mid-route when the 3 of us arrived and a few shouts directed us to "Awristocrack" on the very left, adjudged to be about Severe. I led off and in true rusty fashion for the first lead of the year stitched it like a well made shoe. I sweated up the blank section at mid height which we 3 thought to be about VS and thought we'd fallen for a "Tees Special", i.e. a route declared to be beguilingly easy and only afterwards correctly graded. For example "You should try that wee line there, it's about Severe, no bother" and "HVS you say? Well I never! Must have been thinking of..." Anyway we were dismayed to find that you could step up and right gripping the outside edge and then step left again, thus avoiding said sweaty crack, as ably demonstrated by Bill.

A typically Warm Bay heathery scramble above this line led to a crack which rose to the flat top of a pillar. An easy start it had echoes of Anorexia at Dunmore when you tried to gain the pillar and I tried unsuccessfully to squeeze through the gap between the pillar and ridge on the left. Even PJ couldn't fit her slim form through. Keith never even tried. Having gained the pillar though he led off up the ridge of Mitteleggi Blues, an interesting climb unlike anything else in Donegal. The rock looks unstable but is solid enough and you finish by "riding the horsey" along the last few feet. Oh for a camera. An easy scramble up some blocks finished the route. Alan and Bill had completed Mitteleggi and were already down to have a go at Awristocrack followed by Garwallagh. The latter has a delicate traverse after the first pitch to gain the spike and a solid sling placement followed by a heathery fight to the next pitch.

We'd promised to return for Sandra and then climb at Dunmore so slogged up to the car and back to Culdaff for lunch. At Dunmore I suggested Keith try Diversion (HS), though there was some disagreement on where the start was. I thought it was about a foot or so left of the Grecian start and up over the block but PJ was pointing to a much bigger overhang about 4 feet further left again. That looked MUCH harder than HS though. Keith's guidebook wasn't much help having been sellotaped together with the middle bits now at the back. Confusing. Anyway he started up my line while PJ and I went to Orange Blossom (HS). Well it is traditionally the first climb of the year. I laboured over the start, blaming my "skier's thumb" for my unathletic form and brutish style. Keith was at the top long before me and was trying to coax Sandra up on a tight rope to no avail.

PJ and Sandra swapped second places but Sandra fared no better on Blossom's bottom and lowered off. Just when I was starting to think about how to retrieve my gear who should come riding out of the near-sunset on a white charger but brave Sir George? A Sunday "absolutely no effing climbing all right?!" drive around Donegal with Ivorine had led him strangely to Culdaff where he was in no way expecting to find climbers. Despite the email that went out to the club mid-week. Imagine his surprise when, not only did he find climbers, he found a harness and rope all ready to go. It was very good luck on my part I can tell you. The bugger had to make it look easy in trainers though. Bah!

So that was the climbing account opened for 2010. Bring on the tents, sunny weather, fine lines and great craic!

07 Apr 2010
Peter Cooper

Your climbing year has started 4 months later than last year, what happened to the gung-ho-spirit of 2009? Shame On You Feeney! There is another ride-the-pony finish on one the Culdaff Main Face climbs, it's, just, up in the E grades; a spot of top-roping will keep it clean.

07 Apr 2010

I was drawn like a moth to the flame, i just couldn't help myself.

07 Apr 2010

Bit of a cheek to talk about a tees special, when advice asked of the Bogside bard as to a nice HS, was sent up (set up)Master of Puppets and thankfull went up top section of diversion to finish!!

08 Apr 2010

Apologies KM but you were well able for it. You should be doing the proper finish of Puppets before the summer's out!

Photo of Route