Living at the outer edge of the hinterland that is the Slievetooey Massif in south west Donegal, Tormore Island at 148metres high is Ireland's highest sea stack. It stands head and shoulders above a large collection of sea stacks and skerries known as the Land of the Giants. Within this collection is both Cnoc na Mara and Cobblers Tower. To the north is Glenlough Bay, Ireland's largest raised shingle storm beach and 3 kilometres to the south is An Port, ireland's most remote public road end. Simply put Tormore is a monster of a sea stack and it lives in a location that is fair to say requires a lot of nautical guile to reach its base safely.
1: Tormore island lives in one of the most remote places on mainland Ireland.
2: The grassy approach slopes are very steep to the raised shingle storm beach at the beginning of the sea passage from the south.
3: The nautical approach to the stack involves a sea passage through a labyrinth of submerged, semi-submerged and tidal islands and skerries. (The coast here is very exposed to Atlantic swells in the south to north range)
4: The rock on the stack is good BUT your situation causes everything to appear a wee bit more atmospheric than it actually is.
5: The ropework on the stack requires a wee bit of thought as it is not conventional esp, as always ensure your descent by inspecting and if needed rerigging the abseil belays as you climb the route.
6: 60 metre half ropes are best, it is NOT possible to get off this stack safely with a single rope, as each abseil is 50 to 55meters long.
7: The summit is a bit of a mindblower.
The view from the summit of Tormore Island
The above are just a few thoughts on climbing this stack, it's location out to sea from the Entrance to Shambalha storm beach and for that matter anyhere you care to launch from is outrageous. It is always worth bearing in mind that the actual climbing is by far the easiest part of your day with the logistics of actually getting to the base of the stack as the crux of your day and getting off the stack can be equally dramatic. It can not be stressed enough that the sea around the base of this stack is a law unto it self and always requires a great deal of nautical guile.
Tormore Island's climbing history is very long and involves very few people, in 1895 WP (Walter Parry) Haskett Smith wrote in his book, Climbing in the British Isles Vol 2, that the stack was easily accessible at low tide and in the 1800's a local man was stranded in the stack for four weeks and eventually died of starvation. The stack has only ever been climbed twice once in 2009 and once in 2014, i was the primary organiser of both these ascents and both were very different adventures indeed.
The first ascent of the stack involved a 250hp rib ride and a very bouncy sea crossing from Burtonport, there were four climbers on this ascent and the day was very much a step up and into the unknown.
Details of The first ascent of the stack
The second ascent of the stack was a much more relaxed affair and involved a little dingy paddle from the storm beach Glenlough to the north of the stack. I like to call this the first free ascent of the stack as we did not use an outboard engine to gain the base thus removing a point of aid from the first ascent above. There were just the two of us on the ascent and we rerigged the abseil belays from the first ascent.
Details of The 2nd Ascent of the stack.
The climbing takes the prominent landward arete which is the most obvious feature on the stack as you approach it from the mainland cliffs from the north or south
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