Annual Reviews of Donegal | Donegal 2023

Rock Climbing in Donegal 2023

 And so, with 2023 being a contender for the wettest summer in the last 20 or so years, with many, many cancelled days and constant daily rain from pretty much June to September. Thankfully, with an outstanding twist of fate, when it was not raining, the sun was out, having it large. This year, it was pretty normal to paddle out to one of the uninhabited islands and climb a new route as the sun set in the late evening because it had lashed rain all day. And Sho, against all probability, 2023 was an excellent year for playing on unclimbed rock, even though it occasionally did not rain.  


 Owey Island continues to get the lion's share of development attention for another year, with a good number of routes developed on its sea cliffs and sea stacks all around its coastline. The lesser visited stacks on the western and eastern sides of the island received the most attention. Alas, this year, weather played its part in stopping troops from visiting Uaigh, especially UK-based climbers. I predict this island will be a bit busier next year if of course, the weather plays ball.  

For more information, download the Free Uaigh Guidebook Download

Rock Climbing on Owey Island, Donegal, Ireland
Darren Ryan and Lisa Murdiff playing on Tor Glas

Tor Glas, at the end of April, Darren Ryan, Lisa Murdiff, and my good self circumnavigated Uaigh looking for a reasonably calm sea landing and sunny rock. We landed on Tor Glas, just off the southwest tip of Uaigh. Three new lines were climbed on the island's North face, with Darren leading the tricky "Not all Jugs are friends E2 5b *." A few months later I returned to the south face of the island with Eoin Cahill and we added "An Radharc is Fearr S 4a 20m." 

Rock Climbing on Owey Island, Donegal, Ireland
Playing alone on Uaigh Bhig

Uaigh Bhig, just to the north of Tor Glas lives Uaigh Bhig; its landward face is a perfect wee wall on immaculate marble quality granite; 13 years ago, I did a couple of lines on this landward face of this stack with Noble B|rother Stephen "Jock" Read. This year I made a couple of visits I mo aonar adding eight new routes up to about VS. Returned with Fiona Nic Fhionnlaoich to climb the slightly bolder "Cois  Mara VS 4c **."   

Owey sea stack climbing totp
Topo for Uaigh Bhig

Sea Stack Climbing on Owey Island, Donegal, Ireland
Climbing on the landward face of Uaigh Bhig with Fiona Nic Fhionnlaoich

 In May steely steely-fingered Scottish climbers Tim Rankin and Guy Robertson played for a few days on Owey. During their visit to the island, the weather was on and off awful, with a northeast cold wetness in attendance. Not to be put off by a bit of seasonal dampness, they added "Biting Easterly E4/5 20m ***" at the Nordkapp Slabs. At the opposite end of the island on the Wild Atlantic Wall, they added "The Old Man and The Sea   E6 6a/6b   30m   ***."

Rock Climbing information on Owey Island, Donegal, Ireland
Nordkapp Slabs topo

Árainn Mhór

 A most excellent year of play on the slightly neglected Árainn Mhór. First off is a route like no other in Ireland, "Dawn of Hope E1 5b 35m ***." This line takes a 35m arete running parallel with a 35m free hanging waterfall at the seaward entrance to Uaigh na Róin. Lisa Murdiff and I made the connection between Poll an Reithe and Uaigh na Róin The exit point of this cave system took us to the surreal Poll a Chopper and the mother of all aretes. A month or so later, Yosef Dvores and Stephen "Jock" Read got the first ascent just as winter weather was arriving. This ascent of the arete gives Árainn  Mhór the third and final piece in its trifecta of world-class rock climbs. 
 Around Rinnaróis at the opposite end of the island, ten or so new lines were put up, mainly around Céimeanna teach a t'solais and the amphitheatre around the stack just to the north.  

Details are in the free Árainn Mhór guidebook.  

Playing in Uaigh na Róin with Lisa Murdiff

World class Rock Climbing in Ireland
The Aréte

The Cave of the Seals
Darkness into light at the exit of Uaigh na Róin

Freesolo climbing in Ireland
Belayed by the Reaper


 A couple of additions to Cruit Island with Warren and George Poots climbing the steep and thin crack to the right of centre on The Lost wall, "Georges Wall HVS 5a 17m." On the sea walls of the Albatross Zawn, a huge block was removed over the winter, alas removing a couple of excellent routes. The cleaned gap the removal of the block left was climbed "Book of Fate VS 4c 10m" and "Kickapoo HVS 5a 10m **." The first route was a freesolo, and Kickapoo was climbed with visiting German climber Marcus Zimmermann.

 More details in The Cruit Island Guidebook

Rock Climbing topo Cruit Island
Lost Wall Topo Cruit Island

Cionn Caslagh

 Derek Aherne has updated the Cionn Caslach guidebook by adding the roadside Carraig an Aifrinn Area which he has been developing this year. Nice One Sir

 More details in the Cionn Caslach guidebook 

Tor na Dumhcha

 A new pitch was added to the "Nature Always Provides" traverse with direct exit pitch "Poppypoptart HS 4b 15m." This new line was climbed with Judy Fan, a visiting American climber. 

 More Details in the Tor na Dumhcha guidebook 

Irish Sea Stack Climbing
Judy Fan playing on Tor na Dumhcha.

Na Beanna Gorma

 Warren Poots has been busy at the less visited areas of The Bingorms, adding an excellent collection of lines on a new wall at the furthest north of this collection of mountain crags. At the northern end of the Eastern Section, Gavin Williams, Colin Coles and Mr Poots added, "Groundfall E2 5b ** 190m." this huge line takes the steeper, more exposed rock where the the mountainside swings around to face north. 
 There can not be many places where a crag has only had ascents from the 1950s and 1960, with the following new line being in 2023, a time gap of about 60 years. Nice one Gents

 More details in Na Beanna Gorma guidebook

Málainn Bhig

   When not playing in na Beanna Gorma, Warren Poots has been leading the change on the strangely neglected south end of Málainn Bhig. Warren put up routes in Málainn Bhig in the 1980's and has been play here over the last few summers developing many crags both new and previously played on. He has been through the Málainn Bhig guidebook and made many many, many changes and corrections. Nice one, Sir 

For More Details download the Málainn Bhig Guidebook 

Malin Beg Rock Climbing
Developments to the south end of Málainn Bhig

Cionn Mhucrois

 Muckross Head on Donegal's south coast has been climbing since the 1970's. In the early 1990s, there was an intense burst of new routing up to E6, with most of the longer routes in the E grades. Since the 2000's, a slow trickle of routes from E3 to E7 was established , with climbers' eyes being drawn to the harder and steeper parts of the crag as the years went on. 
 This year, three new lines have been added to the prominent faces at grades available to the mortals. First up is "Blue Toad E1 5b", climbed by Greg Morrow, Paul Timmel, and Alvaro San Miguel. This route takes a much more direct line up the face of the long-established arete taken by "The Joy of Frogs HVS 4c." Again, in April , J. Ramsey and P. Timmel added, "Cans and cams E1 5b 20m", which takes a right-hand route, avoiding the Asparagus Tips E4 offwidth. J. Ramsey, P. Timmel returned in July and climbed Stay with her Johnny HVS 5a, which takes a line to the right of Nuts and Berries—excellent climbing at amenable grades. 

 More details in Cionn Mhucrois guidebook

Iompainn agus Tor Uí Arragáin

 I paid an uber-calm ocean visit to Iompainn and Tor Uí Arragáin with Elena Mirela. Three new lines were added to a new wall on each island.

 More details in the Iompainn agus Tor Uí Arragáin guidebooks

Mac Uchta

 Abe Acheson added a new summer line to the north face of Mac Uchta. The north face of this mountain is sectioned by deep gullies that are all taken by grade I winter routes. Alas, using Abes' description, I have yet to find the line; this quest is not over.

Treoirleabhar Todhchaí Dhún na nGall

   Táim beagnach críochnaithe ag athscríobh mo Threoirleabhar Dhún na nGall 2015 féin. Tá an oiread sin láithreacha nua agus creagacha den scoth forbartha ó threoirleabhar 2015. D'athraigh mé leagan amach na láithreach go dtí seo chun speictream i bhfad níos leithne de chlocha agus bealaí a cheadú. Chinn mé go leor de na carraigeacha agus láithreacha a thabhairt ar ais chuig a mbunainmneacha Gaeilge, go háirithe áiteanna i nGaeilge. Is próiseas leanúnach é seo a bhfuil baint ag go leor úinéirí talún agus scairshealbhóirí sna réimsí go léir lena mbaineann. I mBéarla a bheidh an treoirleabhar seachas na bunainmneacha Gaeilge.

 Sun Set in Ireland
Sunset over Errigal

Rock Climboing in Donegal Ireland
Bhí me ag imirt ar an Balla Trá Dherg

Irish Sea Stack Climbing
Bouncefest in the Mid Realms

An Port Donegal
Approaching Stac an Bhig

Irish Adventures
Playing on Stac an Bhig

Errigal Mountain

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