Owey and the Cruit Itch

(by David Craig, July 2009)
New-routing on Owey Island, Co. Donegal

Síle and myself travelled to Owey Island for the joint IMC and Colmcille climbers meet. As Gerry described in his article it is a wonderful place to visit but the climbing requires a bit of caution. On the Saturday, as Gerry Niamh and Michael climbed on the Northern end of the island, we partook of an established route on the eastern side in a small bay bound all around by steep cliffs. The route, Call Me Ishmael, was a very pleasant crack that seems to be fairly popular, that is at least three other parties had climbed it since it was put up and possibly more, which amounts to heavy traffic in these parts!

As I sat on the belay while Síle climbed, my eyes could not help but wander over to a crack in the opposing wall. It dropped like a plum line splitting a 30m wall in two and, as we were on the only recorded route in this particular bay, seemed to be up for grabs. An hour or so later I found myself struggling in what looked like the crux of the climb, which I eventually passed to a poor rest at a small overlap and a solid wire. Above me was a stack of juggy looking flakes that appeared to offer an easy layback to the top, however in a moment of uncharacteristic intelligence I gave them a tap before I started to swing out of them. I’m still not sure exactly how these flakes are attached to the wall but thankfully they still are as I decided to swing out of the wire I had just place and deeming discretion to be the better part of valour beat a hasty retreat. Or as Síle describes it, came down gibbering with my knees knocking and my knickers ringing.

There seems to be a huge amount of unclimbed rock on Owey but as you may have guessed by now some cleaning would be required. I can think of worse ways to spend a weekend though, than cleaning and hopefully climbing a route on this very pleasant island and intend to return soon for the rematch (after softening the opponent up a bit by removing the flakes), just as soon as my knickers dry out.

On the slightly less adventurous side of things, a worthwhile alternative if you decide Owey is not your cup of tea, is Cruit island which offers some nice climbing on clean wave washed granite. The routes are short, 10 to 15 meters, but the angle gives you a bit of a workout and there is plenty of potential for new routes. Traderg bay has been developed on the Southern side by local climbers and the Northern side by our own Gerry and Liam. Details can be found on the Colmcille Climbers website in the Donegal guide book section. Sile and myself added some new routes to both areas recently details of which are below.

Albatross Sea Wall

Consolation Prize ,&nsbp;VS (4c)
David Craig and Síle Daly 25/06/09
The crack between Faithless and Kickapoo climbed using holds on the arête.

Traderg Wall area – Tráthnóna Wall

Two Ends of a Middle  HVS (5a)
David Craig and Síle Daly 24/06/09
The first crack in the bulging wall between Iron Man and Joe L’s Jaunt. There are two variations possible, the start is the crux for both. Strenuous moves gain a good ledge to the left of where the crack forks. The left fork can be climbed easily or the right with a tricky move through a bulge near the top. Most tides.

Seggílegge  VS (5a)
David Craig and Síle Daly 24/06/09
The crack to the right of Two Ends of a Middle. The start is the crux. Either make a difficult move off the ground to gain a jug or simply jump up. Climb the crack to the top making copious use of the flake crack to the left. May feel difficult to the vertically challenged! Most tides.

Trio  VS (5a)
David Craig and Síle Daly 24/06/09
A right to left diagonal of the wall. Start as for Seggílegge, gain the flake crack and move up and left into Two Ends of a Middle right hand finish. At a horizontal break, move left into the left hand finish and continue up this.

Grease Lightning  VS (4c)
David Craig and Síle Daly 24/06/09
The crack to the right of the top part of Maamturks Man, climbed from sea level. Low to mid tide.

Grease Lightning and Croithlí Dáithí

Croithlí Dáithí  E2 (5c)
David Craig and Síle Daly 24/06/09
The crack to the right of Grease Lightning. Climb strenuously to a cramped ledge up on the left. Step right and gain the good platform above. Climb the wall to the right of the corner and exit via the small chimney. Low to mid tide.

Traderg Wall area – Poll na Caoineadh, right side

Knickers  Severe
Síle Daly and David Craig 01/07/09
Start 2m left of the square cut overhang of Traderg Tantrum at a bulging flake crack. Climb the crack and follow an easy traverse line leftwards over ledges to a prominent nose. Follow a crack above the nose to the top.

Knickers and Skidmarks

Skidmarks  HVS (5a)
Síle Daly and David Craig 01/07/09
Start as for Knickers. At approximately half way across the traverse a flake crack heads up slightly rightwards to some undercut holds. Use these to gain the wall above just below right end the long overlap. Traverse easily leftwards below the overlap to re-join Knickers near the top.

The Traderg Tantrum

The Traderg Tantrum  E1 (5b)
David Craig and Síle Daly 01/07/09
Start 2m left of The Parting Glass at a corner leading up to the square cut overhang. Climb the corner, crux, then traverse below overhang. Pass the overhang on the right via some interesting flakes and make a long reach up and right to good flake holds via obvious undercut holds. Follow the flakes back slightly leftwards to an exit at a wide crack.

Traderg Wall, right hand side

Síle climbed a fantastic line here on a wall that already hosts a couple of excellent VS routes.

The Cruit Itch

The Cruit Itch  E2 (5c)
Síle Daly and David Craig 23/06/09
On Traderg wall right hand side. Start at an obvious bulging crack to the left of Strangeboat. Climb the crack to an overlap. Mantle a jug above and make a long reach up right to a hidden finger jug. Move up to a horizontal break and finish via a flake crack on the right.