Break for the Border

(by Gerry Moss, May 2010)
A leisurely day on the classic Virgo, on Pigeon Rock in the Mournes.

With our man at the Met Office promising the best of Saturday’s weather for the Mournes, we decided to wing our way up to Pigeon Rock for a day’s climbing. A journey that is little more than a hen’s race these days, given the fine road system heading North. So, Padraic, Peter, Joe and myself left the Spawell carpark at 8am, and pulled into the carpark below the crag at 9.30. With only a 15 minute stroll to the foot of the crag we were ready to rock by 10am. Sure, you couldn’t do better in Wicklow.

Our first target was the classic VS of the crag, the four-pitch Virgo, contender for the title of the longest VS in the Mournes.

The crag and the climb were dry as snuff, and squeaky clean too, thanks to the efforts of local guru Ian Rea, who was busy in the background, giving Lunar Wall a spring clean even as we climbed.

While the crux of the climb is elsewhere, the traverse on the third pitch is perhaps the most memorable section, being increasingly more exposed and airy the further you travel away from the belay ledge.

For Joe, coping with shoulder problems and the removal of recalcitrant runners, this thought-provoking sequence of moves proved to be a deeply moving experience, in more ways than one.

In fact, he was so gripped by the pitch that Padraic, a man noted for his suspicious nature and keen sense of smell, and ever a stickler for personal hygiene, insisted on Joe changing his underpants before being allowed back in the car. Well, one was so embarrassed, one just didn’t know where to look.

Not to worry, all’s well that ends well and, sporting types that we are, we repaired to the Sportsman’s Inn for refuelling, happy that a delicate situation had been satifactorily resolved.

Or had it?