An Sho, another outstanding year on the coast, out on the uninhabited islands and in the hills of Donegal with Cruit and Owey Islands having a steady stream of climbing visitors from March to November.
In this annual review, I have focused on new routes and new locations being developed, with this year being the first time in Donegal climbing history where mid E grades have dominated the annual new route tally.
By far the most development in Donegal this year has been on Owey Island with a steady stream of troops from all over Ireland and the UK paying visits over the summer. The bulk of the new routes have pretty much all been in the E grades with the Holy Jaysus wall now sporting 4 routes from E5 to E7. In September this year whilst filming with Coldhouse Collective for Pertex five new lines were climbed from E3 to E7. Conor McGovern climbed an E3 and an E7 around and through the incredible roofs of An Sron Wall, whilst above these pitches Kevin Kilroy climbed the stunning exit groove at the top of the same wall at E6 6b. Michelle O’ Loughlin climbed The Temple of Boom at E7 6b taking the steep and sustained wall to the left of the blunt prow climbed by Mega E6 in the Black Spink. On the seaward face of Owey on the Wild Atlantic Wall, Chloe Condron climbed Feather in the west at E5 6a with superb climbing in an outrageous location above the rage. All five pitches were given 3 stars and are a sample of the quality hard climbing currently found on the island, the up to date download is found at Owey Island Guidebook
Chloe Condron on Feather in the West E5 6b ***
Conor McGovern on FA Midnight Lobster, E7 6b ***
It has been an outstanding year on Donegal's sea stacks with the First Ascent of Chaos Stack being this year's major ascent. Chaos Stack had taken several attempts over several years to get Irelands last big unclimbed sea stack finally climbed. This was the first day of a week-long visit to the county by Canadians Will Gadd and John Price. Their mission was quite simply to visit and climb as many new sea stack routes as possible. A 3 star 2 pitch line was climbed on the seaward face of Pyramid Stack (Enchanted Islands) and Lighthouse Stack on Arranmore.
For much more details and a few of Will's thoughts on where we played during their week in Donegal see this blog post,
Chaos Stack below Mullaghtan Head
Climbing Chaos Stack
Will Gadd on the summit of Chaos Stack
Standing on the summit of Pyramid Sea Stack
Find the two climbers on Lighthouse Stack, Arranmore
On Berg Stack to the south of An Port Iain Miller and Lisa Murdiff added Game Face at E1 5b *, this line takes the aréte between the Wedge and Groove Fest. The route involves a bit of a run-out up the arete to the salvation of excellent gear towards the top.
Back on Owey Island, three new lines were added to the northern stack of the Greater Leap Isles (Tor Lice Riseagh) with Lisa and Matt Robertson.
Lisa Murdiff playing on Berg Stack
Kevin McGee continues his good form in the Poison Glen, in April this year he climbed (partnered by Patrick Tinney) the 170-metre long Gaeil Uladh which weighs in at E3 5c. This route takes the ground to the right of his previous first ascent Michael at E1 5b. The dedication, time and effort that is required to find, clean and finally climb new lines on these north-facing walls is in the realms of legendary. Nice one Gents. More details about this line and the other on these monster north-facing walls, the download is at
On Errigal, Iain Miller and Lisa Murdiff climbed four new lines on a 25-metre high slab of immaculate quartzite. This excellent wee slab lives on the east face 80 or so metres below the south summit. It provides excellent climbing up to VS 4b and requires lots of medium to tiny gear. Easiest access is simply to walk up Errigal from the roadside car park and just before the south summit, descend the steep scree slopes to the base of the crag.
The view from the high crag on Errigal
Lisa Murdiff climbing a 2 starred VS on the high crag
Will Gadd climbed two last very obvious unclimbed lines in the Albatross Zawn, the off-width roof crack to the left of Gretel "Trouser Rippers Suck" E3 6a *** The other line took the roof crack to the left Ronan Browners E4 Suspended 3.8, Hipsters at Play E3 6b **.
Kevin McGee climbed the two remaining lines on the wall left of Frugivorous Fault on the Green Gully Crag both lines at HVS 5a. Whilst he was there Kevin climbed 3 in 1 at E2 5b/c in the obvious gap between "Ecopunk" and "Dont Call Me Rooney" in the hidden gully in the Albatross zawn.
On the Far West Buttress Iain Miller and Lisa Murdiff climbed the steep groove to straighten the original line of Fireslab, Fireslab Direct HVS ** was the result. A swift early morning play at morning Wall gave the fill-in line of Facebook Live S 4a
This year Climbfest is being held at Maghery Community centre which is a stone's throw from Bristi Stack and Crohy Head climbing venues. The Crohy Head guide got a bit of a tidy up, during which Fiona nic Fhionnlaoich and I did a couple of new lines on the big wall just before the coast turns to rubble.
Playing on Crohy Head
Aine playing at Beyond the End's of the Earth Crag
Climbing new routes on Owey Island
Cave Belay at Beyond the End's of the Earth Crag
Developing a previously unclimbed crag
On Holiday at North Gaulton Castle