I don’t go to the Mournes often, but when I do, it’s always amazing. Last time I visited Slieve Beg crag was with Peter, back in 2017. Long story short – we got our asses kicked by the midgies. Full story here.
This time I went with Dave (idmadden) (since Peter has moved abroad). We were joined there by Petra and Jason, who had a similar plan to ours.
Our plan was simple – go for a long day, find Wabash Cannonball and don’t get eaten alive. Half of it worked. While we did find the route, someone was already on it. Instead, we did 3 other routes (Parallel Lines, Shelob, Mourne Maggie, all of them turned out to be top-notch.
The whole adventure, door to door was 16h. Definitely would do it again!
This was my 2nd time ever in this small, unassuming Wicklow crag. The first time must have been some 8 or 9 years ago – straight out Dalkey. It was about time to return, so when Rafal suggested we go check it out, I didn’t have to think twice. We also recruited Weronika and Clodah and made the most of the hot day climbing nice, clean routes at amiable grades the place has to offer.
As planned, the very best of IMC climbers made it to Donegal this weekend. Weather forecast was 100% accurate, meaning we got dry, sunny Saturday, and washout Sunday.
Between the 20+ Members, some guest visitors from Belfast Climbing Club and Youth Section of Fermanagh’s Hanging Rockers club (big thanks for letting us use your abseiling ropes) Malinbeg was quite a busy place!
This was truly one of the best events of the year. We were climbing on all sectors of Malinbeg, where some of our new members took on their leading skills to the new level on some of the best Vdiff and S routes that Ireland has to offer, some were exploring majestic Main Wall and it’s glorious VS/HVS routes. The special ops team of elite climbers made a trip to Sail Rock to give “Roaring Forties, VS4c**” a go.
As they say – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Nobody missed on that trip!
Thanks Artem and Sarah for organizing, and everyone who made it for being there!
Fair Head is not a place for faint hearted. This world class crag has some of the best routes to be found in the part of the world and attracts the most serious climbers. It also had us. The IMC bunch.
The weather worked out as well, and plenty of routes were climbed.
Again I was able to produce a mini video from the event:
This time round Jon was the organizer, and he booked us in to the usual place – Sean’s Farm – but unusually we got to use one of Sean’s guest houses. Perfect! He also arrange for an evening talk featuring Rob Hunter – Local bouldering legend.
The easiest routes start at VS, but even those are demanding. Not a place for our new starters I’m afraid.
Below Girona – goes at VS – Sarah on a lead:
All the pictures here – https://photos.app.goo.gl/RrSW9BpsR38HV11GA
This years Kerry meet had us come to Cronin’s Yard – The usual place for those visiting the Reeks. The Saturday objective for most was to climb Ireland’s highest peak – Carrauntoohil via it’s most adventurous (albeit easy enough, graded at Vdiff) route – The Howling Ridge.
On top of normal photos I managed to take my newest flying photo equipment up the mountain and produce this short:
The June is the usual time for the IMC to bring its new members to a more adventurous, mountain setting. Mourns Mountains is the perfect setting for what we needed. Abundance of routes at all grades, easy enough access (less than 2h drive from Dublin) and famous walk ins.
As usual on these type of meets we paired up the more experienced team members with the newbies and set off to the crags.
Most of the new members wouldn’t have enough experience to lead routes yet, but that’s ok. The idea of the meetup is to learn from tons of experience present.
This time round most of the climbing would happen around Lower Cove.
Some of the groups however opted for Slieve Binnian.
Last week Del and I decided to go on an adventure to a lesser known (at least to me) Wicklow crag known as Glenmalure. Area is located some 30 extra minutes drive than Glendalough. You can read more about it here.
We’ve opted to climb it’s meg-aclassic: GREAT GULLY RIDGE ** 140m HS (4a,3c,4b,4a)
To me the most enjoyable part was the fact that due to it’s relative remoteness the place was pretty much empty.
As we approached there was only 1 pair of climbers high up on the route already, so we had the entire line just for ourselves.
I won’t get into too much detail on how the pitches went, just will say that if you ever decide on doing this route – if you start with pitch 1 and swap leads, you’ll end up with the nice ones (odd numbers).
There are 2 ways to get off the route – abseiling is a possibility, since there are now fixed stations. We opted to walk around and back. One thing to keep in mind is that you will definitely have your feet wet if you decide to walk around. The terrain is boggy to say the least…
Since I enjoy documenting my climbing adventures (now as a proud member of the club, since I rejoined after few years of absence [I originally signed up around 2011]) and tend to take a lot of pictures I though that’s the list I could do to promote the club.
Now, since I don’t really wan’t to make my private blog to be the place of ‘official Club business’, for the events that I take part in that are part of the Club’s official schedule, I’ll just link these posts here (it mostly will be photos with some captions).
The first one is last Thursday’s Quarry night. It’s part of the New Member’s Program. “The goal of the introductory sessions is to give climbing instruction as well as help new members to get to know others and build up some contacts that should help them get out and about this summer and beyond.”
Since I myself am a product of this program, I’ve volunteered to server as a ‘mentor’ for this year’s New Starters (now, I’m not a professional in the field, but over last 7 years I’ve learned enough to be able ‘show the ropes’), a role that I really enjoy to be in (Over the years I’ve actually mentored a lot of interns and graduates at work [I’m in IT field] as well).
So, the last Thu: Nothing serious was climbed, as the main focus was put on getting new members used to the basic outdoors climbing skills that will help them survive next weekend’s final meeting in Glendalough.
Anyway, below is my inauguration post (all pictures taken by me).
Our climb of the most coveted peak of the Picos de Europa started with a breakfast negotiation at 6am with the stoic Spanish cook in the Refugio de Urriellu. Early starts are not the norm in the Spanish mountains apparently) After eating our hard won basket of cake and rich tea biscuits we set off just before dawn, heading for the South face and a 14 pitch route called La Cepeda.
As it turned out, La Cepeda was a popular one – 2 people were already on it and 4 or 5 others were waiting at the bottom.
The night before we had made friends with a solo Spanish climber called Fernando – and again we met him at the base of the East face where he asked if he could join up with us and we agreed. Even though our Spanish was terrible (unless we needed to order beer) and Fernando’s English wasn’t much better, we somehow managed to communicate reasonably well. So we decided to climb a route called Amistad Con El Diablo – slightly harder than, but ultimately joining up with, Cepeda towards the top. Interestingly the name translates as “friendship with the Devil”….
I jumped straight on P1 which was a nice easy pitch to start. Although I did climb past the belay and belayed Michael and Fernando off a spike instead.
Fernando raced up the slightly harder P2 with ease. So far so good- the rock was beautiful and the sun was on its way around the corner to warm us.
P3 – Michael was up next, he led the hardest pitch yet and looked solid. The theme so far seemed to be a lack of bolts and a lack of places to place protection…
P4 was going to be the hardest pitch on the route (until the 6a overhang portion after we join La Cepeda, which it turns out was bolted well).
The grading was V+/ 6a – a sort of mixture of trad with an odd bolt at hard portions which were impossible to protect. E1 seemed appropriate for us Irish climbers. It being my turn to lead, I set off from the belay and the climbing got progressively harder until I reached the crux. I was on my limit and slipped on the slightly polished footholds a couple of times and only just managed to stay on! There were 3 bolts for 30m of climbing and not many options for trad gear…After quite a bit of faffing, procrastination and little motivational chats with myself, I was relieved to reach the next belay and had developed a new level of respect for Spanish climbers.
Up came Fernando with ease, followed by Michael – whom I was glad to see struggled a little at the crux! Fernando sped off again, making easy work of P5, which was not quite as hard the previous one, but sustained and run out climbing nonetheless.
When we were all safely at the next belay Michael decided he wasn’t in the mood for anymore scary leads, so it was my turn again.
P6 was graded in the region of V (maybe HVS or E1 but again the grades are hard to compare). A large roof blocked my way about 5m up, so the route went straight up and traversed left below the roof and then up its side. The traverse was super scary – from the belay for the first 5m (part of it a traverse), I placed one crappy cam, which was practically useless but provided some psychological reassurance nonetheless. I reached the roof and continued up fantastically runnelled limestone with more spaced out climbing to the belay above. (I couldn’t find the proper belay so I made one)
The traverse was super scary – from the belay for the first 5m (part of it a traverse), I placed one crappy cam, which was practically useless but provided some psychological reassurance nonetheless. I reached the roof and continued up fantastically runnelled limestone with more spaced out climbing to the belay above. (I couldn’t find the proper belay so I made one)
Now we would join Cepeda.
Michael had gotten his mojo back at this stage and was up for a lead. P7 turned out to be a beautiful climb with lots of bridging and uncharacteristically there was gear on demand.
It was now time for Fernando to showcase his Spanish sport climbing skills so he took the gear and cruised up P8 until a small overhanging section graded at 6a slowed him down. He struggled his way up the polished overhang, slipping and almost falling once or twice and soon he was near the top of the pitch disappearing from view. Thankfully there were a few bolts in in all the right places…
Michael and I were soon climbing and I was pleased to climb the crux cleanly, although it would have been a difficult lead. Kudos to Fernando, our favorite Spaniard.
The Pitch finished with a squirm though a hole, through which Michael only just fitted, which brought us out onto the South face (we had intersected the ridge between south and east)
The ropes were packed away and we scrambled the remaining 150 or so meters to the South Summit of the Naranjo de Bulnes. A nice little ridge walk to the northern summit and we were shaking hands and taking pictures after what was an incredible route on a spectacular mountain…
The decent consisted of multiple abseils down the now quiet South face direct route. Soon we were back at the Refugio de Urriellu for celebration beers, just in time to see the dreaded mist approach from the valley.
Day 3 in Picos had us again at Fresnidiello wall. This time we opted in for a route called Los Capitanos. It goes from right hand side of the crag, thought the roof up the black streak. It’s a bit shorter than what we’ve done previous 2 days, but still a lot of fun.
I started from a dodgy grassy base, which went pretty much unprotected. I got to say it wasn’t hard, but smallest mistake would have me decked with broken legs…
Next was the the roof itself. It has good holds and a bolt in the right place, but it’s missing pro for next 6-7 meters. That was the real difficulty, as it was intimidating and challenging. Peter experienced that on the sharp end of the rope…
From there It goes more less up, with another harder pitch, that this time was very well protected (2 bolts and a peg). Again, it happened to be on Peter’s lead.
Last 3 pitches are easy but super run out. It’s fun when dry and luckily we managed to catch it like that (except for the last 20m of last pitch when it’s started to rain).
Luckily it wasn’t as desperate as yesterday and we made it to the top. (and safely back, although a bit wet).
Overall, we are very happy as we got 2 great days out of what supposed to be wet weather (reality is that Spanish wet is the same as Irish summer). For me personally leading big run-outs is still somewhat intimidating, but I get by.
Tomorrow we have a ‘day off the walls’, as we have big walk in to the mountain hut by Naranjo de Bulnes, where we will stay for 2 nights and attempt to climb on the East face.