Fairhead and more

By Paul Swail

Fairhead and more, exploring Northern Ireland's rugged coastline and climbing cliffs.

Well, where do I start! It has been a busy month.

It started with Mountaineering Ireland’s Fair Head Climbing meet. I started organising this 3 years ago and it seems to get more and more popular every year! One thing that always seems to be on my side is the weather - without that, no one would show up! The meet generally takes place over the first weekend of June and this year attracted over 150 climbers from all over the UK, Ireland and a few from Europe. There is entertainment on the Saturday night, usually starting at about midnight when all the climbers are off the crag - and as it’s rural Ireland, this takes place in a cow shed! This year Greg Boswell gave us an insight into hard Scottish winter climbing; here is the UKC report of the meet.

My highlight from the meet was finally ticking Paralyzed Power (E6), a route I tried 2 years ago and didn’t manage, so chuffed to lay that beast to rest. I was also lucky enough to hold Andy Marshall’s rope on Halloween including the Arete. The route breaks down into 100m of E4/5 with a hard sequence of 6b moves, to finish in a wild position! Andy wanted to do the crux – 40m of E4 on Halloween followed by the arête finish and to cap it all off, climbing the route with a single 70m rope. It was super cool, because he placed hardly any gear, got a mega pump on and had to fully power scream until he reached the top! Andy and I have a trip planned out to the states in September/October so he called this route his training! I have also attached a wee picture of me taking flying lessons on Above and Beyond!

To be honest after the FH Meet I haven’t really had the chance to climb much due to (very annoying) powers out of my control , but along with Craig Hiller I managed to get out last week and climb a new line at Pigeon Rock in the Mournes. The route took a lot of cleaning (8hrs) and we pretty much unearthed a new section of rock! Well anyway, it left the Mournes with a really good VS that is pretty much roadside. It is nice to open a wee route that most people in the area will enjoy; only time will tell if the effort put into the cleaning makes it into a classic.

It is now only 3 weeks until I head out to the Alps. I got my PipeDream 400 last week. It is very light, compact and the fill seems great on it. Looking forward to getting a good nights sleep in it during the bivi’s that are planned! I should have some cool pictures for when I come back, but what I am most excited about is my trip to Yosemite with Marshall. Our tick list is only short 4 routes, but if they were all to go down it would be the trip of a lifetime!

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