Taking the Long Road out west

(by John Duignan, May 2012)
An Bóthar Fada in rare dry conditions.

Half way up the Shranalong valley, An Bóthar Fada bisects the cliff wall

Looking up at the first pitch of An Bóthar Fada last February I shook my head in wonder – how could such a route come into condition? What I could see of the 416 metres of a cleft in the Shranalong valley cliffs formed by a waterfall showed smooth wet compact rock and no possibility of gear placement. Hugh Sharkey, who loved the wild mountain routes often spoke of this route as a gem.

Back there this Saturday with Barney Crampton (there should be a law agin the amount of free time these teachers have). The rock as dry as sandpaper and with the same friction. A small trickle of water on the first pitch easily avoided. Bomber boulder chockstone you could anchor a ship atop the first pitch. After the first few pitches, we move together on pristine rock – an absolute joy, with a warm breeze and great views.

Looking down the first pitch of An Bóthar Fada

Coming back down to the valley, up Scamaill Thuas to finish a great day following the sun around the valley.

Easy cranking on Scamaill Thuas, Shranalong Valley

I suspect there are few years this route is in condition. If An Bóthar Fada – or any of the long mountain routes out West – are on your list, now is the time.