Dance of the Tumblers, Luggala North Buttress

(by John Duignan, August 2012)
Autumn is here – a great time to visit this majestic crag on days there is a breeze to help with the midgies.

Luggala – the crag in the sunshine

Jason shared my interest in Dance of the Tumblers – a three-star E1 in Luggala’s less-visited North Buttress. Steve Young, now living in Canada, a veteran IMC climber with his names on climbs all over Ireland including much-loved Dalkey Quarry outings, has goaded me on to do this climb; I point out to no avail that it is above my grade. His enthusiasm is catching and I will lead the easier HVS pitch.

Dance of the Tumblers – the ramp

Despite yesterday’s rains, the south-facing granite ramp is bone dry and an easy start. Before long the rock steepens, the holds lessen and the crux entails getting into balance and swinging out on a hold on the arête to gain the platform above. Jason does it effortlessly, slinging the spike as he does the crux move. The move looks familiar as it is on the cover of the present Wicklow Guidebook and was also in the previous guide.

Jason on the crux

A delicate traverse leads to a hanging belay in a crack below the next pitch. I follow and find the moves at times delicate or strenuous – but on beautiful clean granite.

Delicate moves above the crux

The pitch above has fine layaway moves to start. A wet traverse into a chimney which surprisingly has beautiful exit moves onto wall holds and a spike above – and I come out into the sunshine. Exiting the climbs in this part of the North Buttress is challenging as seepage, wet grass and moss compound the difficulty. I sling a mossy granite protruding hold that is covered with damp lichen. As I step up the hold breaks and I join the other tumblers on the route. The main damage is to my pride. I finish the route with extra care.

A long free-hanging abseil brings us down to the gully, well satisfied. The climb well deserves its stars. Other areas in Luggala do not have this same difficult exit problem and early Autumn or late Spring is the best time to visit this superb crag. At VS level, I know no finer mountain crag in Ireland – a quick trawl through Gerry Moss’s write-ups will give plenty of inspiration and information.