Annual Reviews of Donegal

Rock Climbing in Donegal 2013

  At the end of 2012 Donegal got its first E7 with Sean Villanueva 0'Driscoll and Ben Ditto climbing Sideswipe at Muckross Head and thus created Donegal's current hardest route. This route takes the huge roof crack and up the steep headwall above crossing Paul Dulops E5, 1:1.618 at the lip of the roof.

Muckross Head Rock Climbing
Sideswipe E7  Pic. @Ben Ditto

Winter Climbing

 The winter came a wee bit late to Ireland at the beginning of 2013 with several monster cold fronts hitting Donegal in January and March. These cold front were short but harsh enough to produce perfect winter conditions all be it for a very short time. Due to the North Atlantic Drift being a tad warm and a temperature inversion in the Poison Glen, Muckish Mountain was the only location in the county to produce the white goods. Kevin McGee and Patrick Tinney climbed a new mixed route on the Nutcracker Buttress, Comfortably Numb at winter-grade IV. The depressingly talented Kevin McGee, Patrick McDermott and my good self made a previous attempt at this route in the film below. The free Donegal winter climbing guidebook is HERE.

Winter Climbing on Muckish

Winter Climbing in Summer Conditions

Donegal Ice Climbing
Irish winter Climbing

Donegal Ice Climbing Ireland
Winter Climbing in Donegal, Ireland.

Donegal Guidebook 2013

 In May the latest Donegal rock climbers guidebook was published as an App available for both Android and I Phones. It is a select guide and covers a shade over 1000 routes throughout Donegal all 1000+ routes are shown on picture topos. The definitive on-line Donegal guide lives at Undiscovered Donegal with over 2800 routes all available on 20 free PDF downloads. The most popular download so far is Cruit island with over 500 copies so far downloaded. For more Donegal climbing App information CLICK HERE.

Map of Donegal Ireland
 Western Donegal Rock Climbing Venues

Cruit Island

 The development of Cruit Island continued throughout the year with another two new crags getting developed. Over the course of the year, an additional 32 routes have been recorded on the island with Cruit Island getting it's first E3 and E4 on the steep rippled wall on the seaward face of Schalpachore Wall. I kind of think this is the start to the harder lines getting done on the island as there are many steeper and blanker sections awaiting the steely fingered. :-) The Cruit Island guidebook now has over 370 routes and 75 pages. Cruit Island was also the venue for this years Climbfest, organised by Alan Tees and CCC massif, the weekend was very well attended by both climbers and unfortunately, lashing rain. As is always the case, come Monday morning and with most of the visiting climbers having returned home the sun came out again.

Cruit Island Rock Climbing film

Rock Climbing Cruit Island
Cruit Island Rock Climbing 

Owey Island

   Steely fingered troopers from Belfast, namely John McCune, Kevin Kilroy, Ricky Bell and Clare Strawson made several visits to Owey Island and came away with a superb collection of new routes, mostly in the extreme grades. These new routes climb the larger, steeper and very exposed Atlantic walls on the seaward face of the island. With a grade range from VS to E5 and a mildly intimidating abseil approach, the climbing development of Owey took a large step forward this year. Spider-sense tells me the exploration of the Donegal Islands and their wilder unclimbed crags is set to continue with whispers of unclimbed walls on Arranmore, Umphin and Tory. 

owey Island topo
An Sron Wall

Owey island View
Donegal from Owey's Summit

Crohy head

   A dozen or so new routes have been added to this pretty much-forgotten corner of the Rosses. Aidan McGinley, Louise O'Connor and my good self made several visits over the summer adding new routes to two previously unclimbed crags and another couple of longer routes to the looming main wall at the far end of the crags. Why the main wall remained unclimbed until this year is a bit of a mystery as the rock was perfect and access was a leisurely abseil to a huge non-tidal ledge. HURRAH!

Crohy Head rock climbing film

Crohy Head view
Crohy Head South

Maghery Climbing
Aidan Mc Ginley on Belay

Maghery Climbing
Louise O'Connor above Neptune

Crohy Head Climbing guidebook
Crohy Head Guidebook

Horn Head

 A new 200 meter, 6 pitch route was climbed up Horn Head's highest face by Hugh Hennesey and Mark Keogh, "Vertical Hillwalk" at 205m long and graded SVR 4a this route follows an obvious line of weakness up this very intimidating face. Nice One Gents!


 The development of Malin Head continues with a steady stream of routes on several new walls by the local troopers, Alfie Conn, Alan Tees, Bill MaGowan and Trevor Hartley. There are a many developments currently on the go at Ireland's most northerly point regarding access and a planned new visitor center for Fáilte Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way route. At Kinnego Bay John McCune and Kevin Kilroy made rare repeats of Niall Grimes and Al Miller's, Ocean Atlantic Wall an E4's from the early 90's, reports of 3 star climbing for this route. :-)

Sea Stacks

 It has been a truly excellent years on Donegal's sea stacks with 100 summits stood on by a shade over 150 people. Most of the previously rarely visited stacks got an ascent and off course, a film made. Three new stacks got their summits visited and 12 new routes were climbed on other previously climbed stacks. It would be impossible to pick a highlight or two, but outstanding days out were had on Pyramid Stack, several visits to Cnoc na Mara's summit, Slieve League Stack, Arch Stack (Na Bristí), Gull Island, Tent Stack and many, many more. The summer in Donegal kicked off on the 28th of February in Glenlough Bay with Josie McGee with a visit to the summit of Tent Stack and continued to a superb finish on 24th October with a paddle out to Owey Island.
 Perhaps the most notable new route/summit was Cobblers Tower, Donegal's highest free standing tower, with Noble Brother Stephen Jock Read we climbed an amicable 100m Diff route up it's North face to a very scary summit. What made this an outstanding day out was the UBER calm nature of the sea which allowed us to circumnavigate the mighty Tormore Island and land on this tower in a place normally under attack by the white legions. Another excellent fact about Cobblers Tower is there is no other sane route to it's summit! HURRAH!

Donegal Sea Stacks 2013

Gull Island Donegal
Standing on summit of Gull island

Glenlough Bay
Standing on the summit of Tent Stack

Glenlough Bay
Standing on the summit Sea Stack Climbing

Mick Fowler in Donegal
Mick Fowler on Vertical picnic

Cnoc na Mara
Cnoc na Mara from Cobbler's Tower summit

Cobbler's Tower Film

 A slightly unusual new route was on the previously unclimbed "Beyond the End's of The Earth Crag," which funnily enough is just beyond The End's of the Earth Crag in one of the most remote places in Ireland. Joining my good self on this occasion was noble brother Peter O'Tool and a mildly tetchy Neptune. DJ Locker is an 80m rising traverse at about severe and was excellent if a little scary fun. :-)

Beyond the End's of the Earth Crag

Roll on 2014!

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