Something Different

(by Gerry Moss, July 2012)
New-routing in forgotten corners of Glendalough.

In a stop/start summer, such as the one we are enduring right now, it can be difficult, sometimes, to keep the interest alive. But I have found, down through the years, that there is nothing to whet the appetite more than the prospect of climbing some new lines.

So, on Saturday, in the aftermath of Friday’s heavy downpours, the question of where we might find some dry rock, while avoiding the same-old, same-old, exercised our minds. I hit upon a spot where I had climbed only once before, and that was twenty years ago. Squeezed in between Hobnail Buttress and the Upper Cliffs at Glendalough, there are a number of interesting outcrops and buttresses. In the early days, while the larger cliffs were being developed, these smaller buttresses were, understandably, overlooked. But there is quite a substantial amount of unclimbed rock there, awaiting the curious climber. Climbing with Emily, on a cold winter’s day in 1992, we put up a worthwhile HS and vowed to return but, somehow, we never got around to it.

So, on Saturday, Jane, Joe, Cearbhall and myself wandered up the pleasant miners’ path, that zig-zags its way up through the forestry plantation and on across the slopes beneath Hobnail Buttress, to where it ends at the ruins of some old mining huts. From there we struck straight uphill to the spoil heap above, where we set up basecamp. The buttress I had climbed on previously, and one of the largest hereabouts, was, not surprisingly, suffering from considerable seepage after all the recent rain. We did a bit of scouting around, however, and spotted a nice, steep slab of dry rock.

Cearbhall opted to give it a go, and it proved a delightful pitch, on excellent rock, seamed with deep, friendly cracks that provided good holds and gobbled up gear. A good start to the day!

Immediately above this, there lay a stretch of steeper rock and Joe wasn’t long getting stuck into it.

Then we spotted an interesting and amenable arête just above to our right, and it was Jane’s turn to lead. It proved to be deceptively difficult and stopped Jane in her tracks for a while. But she persevered and got the better of it.

We were high enough up all day to get full benefit of a light breeze, so we had no problems with midges and enjoyed pleasant sunshine as the weather improved by the hour.

There followed some intricate and involved scrambling and downclimbing until, eventually, we reached a stout tree, from where a 45m abseil took us back down to basecamp, at the end of an interesting and successful day.