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Fairhead – A Practical Guide @HikeandClimb The Elephant in the Climbing Gym
2016 has been a very good year for following a curiosity and seeking out new adventures with the very best of people.
In February Rob Hunter (one part of the MyTherapy Physio and Performance Team) ran a strength and conditioning session for the Irish Mountaineering Club in Awesome Walls Dublin. Rob delivered an excellent and thought provoking session complimented by his undeniable enthusiasm and experience.
March proved to be a very interesting and surreal month indeed! Picture standing on a small pier in one of the remotest spots in Ireland, wearing a VR headset and watching U2 perform in concert! How did this happen you ask? Well, as it usually happens, I receive a call from Iain and say yes. Was wearing a VR headset the most surreal situation on that cold day in March? No it was not! Picture this – an inflatable dinghy, a ridiculously expensive 3D rig, an Orcadian, a rather large drone and a sea stack… I’m still not sure if it actually happened or if it was a crazy dream!
In early April a group of 4 headed to El Chorro to warm our cold bones. We were very fortunate to stay with Catherine and Martin (Old Granary Hostel) in the heart of El Chorro. It is not an exaggeration to say that both Catherine and Martin made the trip extra special……. highly recommend. We climbed for 6 days straight (not planned)….. route of the trip for aesthetics and climbing was Quasimodo in Turon…. fantastic route ***.
May was the start of what turned out to be an amazing Summer of climbing. Jason Ahern was my partner in crime for a few memorable adventures in Donegal. Somehow, I‘m not sure how… I convinced Jason to join me for a climb on Cnoc na Mara… a full adventure ensued! Picture the scene – a gent who can’t swim, soloing on choss, fulmers trying their best to puke on us, a trundle, a burst dinghy, an escape and a van on it’s side in a ditch… one of the most memorable days was had. Later in the month we also frequented Muckross Head during a blistering days climbing…. amazing venue if the weather plays ball. May also kicked off what was to be a bumper year of climbing in Fairhead.
June kicked off with a really enjoyable trip to Wales for the Mountain Instructor Training in Plas y Brenin. The instruction lasted for 9 (intensive) days presented by excellent instructors in a fantastic area with a cool group. I arrived on the day of a mini-heatwave… the midges were bloody nuts as displayed by Col wearing a midge net to lead a route! We made multiple visits to the Northern Dolerite for lots of memorable experiences… must mention Sean…. what a gentleman.
July and August provided superb weather for many trips to Fairhead and Donegal… we started to get a real feel for Fairhead for the first time…. what a venue and setting. It’s easy to see why some fall in love with this place….Donegal also provided us with ample adventure with the highlight being a first visit to Sail Rock. Another beautiful and wild situation in Ireland.
September was mostly focused on Donegal with visits to Muckross, Cruit Island and the storm beach looking onto Cnoc na Mara. The seas were rather large during several visits… and restricted access to some locations but we had fun regardless
October and November followed on from the amazing Summer providing lots of adventure. One of the highlights of my year was watching (from the 4th pitch belay) Cillian Russell onsight his first HVS 5a pitch…. the classic crux pitch of Sarcophagus in Glendo… what a battle…. it’s was amazing to watch Cillian fight for the clean send…. which he bagged. The trad season was coming to an end…. time for the blocs. November brought me into the Wicklow hills again for several courses… and the IMC were put through their paces at night.
And here we are….. December has been a cracking month with cold, clear and crisp days of exploring blocs in Glendo, Scalp, Cloghoge and Mall Hill…..with a brief return to Cruit Island. What a year… and what a country…. if one had the willingness to follow a curiosity in Ireland there lies adventure around every corner. Finally and perhaps most importantly, a big thank you to all those I had the pleasure of sharing this adventurous year with… to witness an amazing landscape/seascape or climbing a stunning line in an incredible location can be an incredibly fulfilling personal experience but sharing it with like-minded folks makes it all the more special and whole.
2017 is going to be a whopper year…… hold on to your hats…. and remember to follow a curiosity… you never know where it may lead.