Donegal 2018 | Annual Reviews of Donegal

Rock Climbing in Donegal 2018

A review of Donegal Rock Climbing in 2018


 And Sho, 2018 comes to an end and it's been an outstanding year

Winter Climbing in Donegal, Ireland

 Winter of 2017 into 2018 was a very brief affair, lasting approx 3 days with the arrival of Storm Emma at the beginning of March this year. Emma was a particularly short and very cold spell of winter weather which approached Ireland from the east. Whilst pretty much the whole country was under up to 20-foot snowdrifts, western Donegal got a short-lived icy blast of Winter climbing conditions. I battled the normal 12-minute drive for over an hour to get to the base of this 150m icefall, "Crock of Cold" grade III. This is the main waterfall on the North Side of Crocknalaragagh, it starts steeply and eases nicely as it enters the perfect ravine above. This fall was first climbed by Alan Tees and Paul Robertson in February 1991 and it is quite unlikely that it has been climbed since.

Storm Emma Ice Climbing

Dukes Head 

 A week or so later at the end of March went for a wee play on the unclimbed Dukes Head sea stack just of O'Donnell Head by Marble Hill Beach. This nice little 20-metre high sea stack took three visits with Fiona Nic Fhionnlaoich over three days to stand on top. The photo below is taken from inside the huge tidal cave that looks out onto the Stack. More details of the Dukes head climb are in the Donegal Sea Stack Guidebook

Dukes Head Sea Stack
Dukes Head Sea Stack

Owey Island

Several visits over the summer by visiting climbers have added to the tally of the harder routes on the island. First up is Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll & Emeline Son, who were on Owey from July 2nd to July 6th.

Greater Leap Isles (Tor LiceRiseagh)
Climbed one route on the South Face of the left stack as you face the sea, up the centre of the face facing the other stack or isle.
approach: abseil down to the ledge above sea level
Description: HVS Climb up the overhanging groove, step left onto the face and follow cracks upwards and stepping right at the very top.

The Crows Nest
Approach: Abseil approach to the sea level ledge.
VS?: 20m, follow the line of weakness, cracks and ledges to the top
HVS?: 20m, Step left and climb twin cracks to top.

Flutted Zawn 
Approach: abseil down to sea level ledge.
E1/E2? 30m Obvious dihedral on the North-West face of the thin zawn. Follow dihedral.
E4? 35m From the same ledge, traverse left on big dubious flakes and climb the steep pumpy groove. (potentially this is Lumpy Space)
E5 35m see picture Flutted Zawn2, this line is left of the two previous ones on the steep face. Approach by abseil with directionals for steepness. Climbs the wide crack furthest left on the North-West face of the Zawn.

Holy Jaysus Wall 
Approach: abseil into the gully.
E7 6b, 40m. Start from the gully, climb the obvious thin black streak on the right-hand side of the Holy Jaysus wall. Start climbing with hard moves on the dubious sugary rock with difficult to find gear placements. Once you reach the obvious ledge, the climbing eases but the rock quality stays questionable…

Bereeved (E5 6b), down on Lic an Earraigh on the West Side, about 2-300m south of the Holy Jesus Wall.
John Roberts, Andy Reeve June 2018

 Much more details in the Owey Guidebook

 Ricky Bell and Michelle O' Loughlin have been playing out around the county with E8 and E6 grooves and aretes being climbed on the Fanad Peninsula. The Basalt Vein running up the north face of Cnoc na Mara got an ascent at a hefty HXS (E5 in old money) whispers of exfoliating blocks and a mangled vessel set the scene for a good nautical adventure. 

Poisoned Glen

 Kevin McGee and Patrick Tinney climbed a new major line on the left side of The Western Buttress. Belladonna follows the steep slabs through the prominent roof to the left of the huge Nightshade Deirdre at E3 5c and 220 metres long. Kevin McGee has spent a huge amount of time cleaning and exploring this face, nice one Sir.
More details in the Poisoned Glen Guidebook

Poisoned Glen Rock Climbing
Pat Nolan, Kevin McGee and Gerard O'Sullivan on an early repeat of Gallowglass

Malin Beg

 Martin Kocsis climbed the obvious open groove right of Moby the Eunuch at Malin Beg. If you keep to the line and don't have massively high side runners in Moby then you're looking at E3 5b, with side runners you'd still swing but you wouldn't hit the deck.


 The uninhabited islands of Inishillintry live to the east of Cruit Island and comprise two separate islands joined together by a non-tidal sandbar. The tidal inlet between the islands contains an excellent wee wall above a deep channel. The free mini-guide to the island is a download here, Inishillintry guidebook 

 This island is only the second place in Donegal that I have found any safe deep water soloing. The other location is Tor na  Dhumhcha sea stack in the Gweedore Guidebook

 Both these locations allow safe deep water soloing if the sea is behaving itself and close attention to the tide state is required to ensure a deep wet landing. I've put a lot more information in this Deep Water Soloing blog post.


 Sea Stacks

 The summits of many of the sea stack seen considerable action and ascents this year with Cnoc na Mara seeing 6 ascents during the summer.

 Nikki Bradley made an ascent of Bristi Sea Stack in April, this was the first in a series of training climbs leading to a very cunning plan we intend to climb in 2019. 

Nikki Bradley Climbing
Nikki Bradley on the summit of Bristi Sea Stack

Nikki Bradley rock climbing
Nikki on Bristi Sea Stack

 The realm of the Senses sea stack was climbed by 6 year old Isla Halls with her dad Monty, this was filmed for Donegal Tourism as part of their 10-day visit to the county.

Monty and Isla Halls sea stack climbing

Monty and Isla Halls Donegal
Monty and Isla on top of Realm of the Senses sea stack

  Eleven-year-old Eve Roden came to play in Donegal for a week this August with her dad Eric, Neptune and Gaia conspired to stop play as the Donegal summer temporarily came to a halt. With visits to the summits of Cnoc na Mara, Center Stack on Tory and an ascent of Roaring Forties on Sail Rock. An outstanding week of play whilst avoiding the nautical rage that Neptune kindly provided. :-)

Sail Rock Donegal
Eve and Eric Rodden playing on Sail Rock

Tory Island Rock Climbing
Eric And Eve on Center Stack Tory Island


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