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Monday, 9 March 2015

Rock Climbing in Donegal


 The mountains, coastlines and islands of Co. Donegal offer some of the most beautiful and unspoilt scenery you will find anywhere in Ireland. What these outstandingly beautiful places offer the adventurous rock climbers is many lifetimes of world class rock climbing. There is more available rock climbing in Donegal than the rest of Ireland combined and in this article we will show just some of the highlights of what Donegal can offer you.


Ireland’s Most Developed Climbing Venue
 Cruit Island sits at the western tip of The Rosses area of western Donegal. It is one of the most developed rock climbing venues in Ireland containing a tad over 350 recorded rock climbs from very easy climbs to climbs graded extreme.
 The climbing on Cruit is on over 20 different granite sea cliffs located around the islands rugged coast line. The immaculate rock is characterised by it's mixture of coarse granite crystals and it's pristine smoothness where the sea has scoured it over the centuries. In the main the cliffs are 10m high with the largest cliffs at 20m high being found in "The Albatross Zawn" climbing area. Climbing is possible at all tide states and in all sea conditions as the multitude of cliffs on the island have many orientations allowing climbing on lea cliffs whilst other are being battered by the monsterous seas that frequently roll onto the island from the Atlantic Ocean.

 Cruit Island is an outstanding location for a family visit with the coast line comprising immaculate granite sea cliffs and separating these sea cliffs are some of the most beautiful sandy beaches it is possible to imagine. Download the free rock-climbing guide to Cruit Island and go and explore this beautiful island.
http://www.uniqueascent.ie/cruit_island_guide




Ireland’s Highest Sea Stack
 Tormore Island is a gigantic leviathan, a sentinel of the deep standing guard at the nautical gates to the Slievetooey coastline. At 150m at it's highest point above the ocean it is Ireland's highest sea stack. This huge square topped stack can be seen for many kilometres along the coast either side of it. It can even be clearly seen from the Dungloe/Kincaslough road some 40KM to the north.
 Access is a very involved affair and entails gaining the storm beach as for Cnoc na Mara, Lurking Fear and Tormore Island. From here it is a 500m paddle around the headland to the north of the storm beach and a further 250m paddle through the outstanding channel separating Tormore Island and Donegal mainland. At the northern end of the land ward face there is a huge ledge just above the high water mark.
 In 2008 a team of four climbers took a 250HP RiB and landed on the land ward face of the stack. Two members of the party had made several  attempts to land on and climb the stack in the past. We were aware of the story of the man who was buried here. During our climb of the stack we searched any possible place where someone could be buried and found no possible burial site or any trace of the passage of people on the stack prior to our ascent. We found no evidence or trace of previous visitors on the summit. To get off the summit back to sea level we made four 50m abseils leaving behind two 240cm slings and 4 pegs as abseil anchors.
 The route we took to the summit was climbed in 5 long pitches following the easiest line up this huge feature. The descent was by 4 50m abseils down the route back to our start point on the huge ledge above the high water mark.
 This is without a doubt one of the best and most adventurous rock climbs in the country.



Ireland’s Longest Rock Climb
The Sturrall Headland is one of the most outstanding sea cliff features in Ireland it is a true monster of a headland sitting isolated and very far from anywhere in the real world. It sits equidistant between Glencolmcille Village to the South and the An Port road end to the North. The ridge is approx 800m long and 180m above the Atlantic at it's highest point.
 The first recorded climb to the summit was by WP (Walter Parry) Haskett Smith in about 1890. His route ascended the skyline ridge from the landward side and provides a very exposed 400m mountain ridge scramble to this excellent summit. The second ascent of the ridge
 The Sturrall Headland is an extremely inaccessible and foreboding place to visit. Access is by a steep scary scramble down the north spur followed by a 300m sea passage deep into the realms of chaos.
 The ridge is climbed in two very distinct parts. The first being from sea level to the summit which follows a 350 meter long knife edge ridge. The second half is an airy scramble along the ridge towards land, from the summit follow the ridge past several towers and maximum exposure for approx 350m of outstanding alpine ridge climbing back to land.




Ireland’s Longest Ice Climb 
Overlooking Dunlewey from the south is the Poison Glen a huge and extremely beautiful valley of unspoilt granite mountains. At the furthest reaches of the glen is a 300 meter high wall of sheer granite known by climbers as Bearnas Buttress. This huge North facing wall is home to most of the longest mountain rock climbs in the country and contains rock climbs more alpine in nature. Running up the centre of this face is a cascade type waterfall, in January 2010 this waterfall froze solid and was climbed from the valley floor to the lofty mountain summit 450 meters above. Winter climbing conditions are a rare commodity in Ireland but when they do come, the Irish mountains are transformed into an amasing winter wonderland of snow and ice, and solitude is guaranteed.






Ireland’s most Popular Sea Stack


Cnoc na Mara is one of the most iconic sea stacks on earth, its sits 100 meter out to sea in an outrageous amphitheatre of 250 meter high sea cliffs. It is safe to say this stack represents all that is great about adventure climbing. It's impressive soaring 150m long landward arete provides one of the most rewarding and adventurous rock climbs in Ireland. It is easily an equal to the mighty Old Man of Hoy off the Orkney Islands in the north of Scotland.


 Gaining the summit is like being reborn into a world where anything is possible it truly is a surreal and magical place to be. The whole world falls away below and around you, as you are perched on a summit far from anything else. The descent back to sea level is an involved affair and involves two abseils and great deal of care and guile. This sea stack requires a great deal of care and attention to detail as the potential for epics are huge but the rewards are even greater.



http://www.uniqueascent.ie/ have spent the last 5 years exploring the better and lesser known climbing locations thoughout the county and have developed and recorded over 500 new routes in all areas of Donegal.They have explored and developed the Island of Cruit, recording over 300 rock climbs making Cruit Island the most developed rock climbing location in Ireland. They have played on the previously unclimbed sea stacks creating some of the most adventurous and atmospheric rock climbs in the country.

 What they offer at Unique Ascent is the opportunity for people of all abilities to visit and climb in places of outstanding natural beauty where solitude and a truly great outdoor experience is guaranteed. We offer a full range of experiences, courses and holidays with the goal of maximizing your potential and knowledge by building on your previous experience and knowledge. Our goal with every client is to educate, instruct and guide you to allow you to reach, achieve and fulfil all your rock climbing and hill walking ambitions.