Wicklow Ways

(by John Duignan, May 2011)
A Wicklow climbing diary.

Joe on pitch 1, Curved Air, Luggala

Against an azure sky, the peregrine silently circled Joe (Reville) on the descent to Luggala. A good omen. We chose the two-star VS route Curved Air that rises above Conifer Terrace. The top ramp pitch is as exciting a climb as there is at this level on the crag as it curves and rises improbably. A quick romp up Pine Tree Butress ends a great day’s climbing.

End of day: Joe on Pine Tree Buttress

Days later, Seán (Barrett) is back in Glendaloch after a few months abroad. To celebrate we choose a line that is rarely dry, Lag Mara. It winds its way up the crag beside the waterfall alongside Forest Rhapsody. Our line is governed by what is dry rather than the guidebook and we take an arete parallel to the guidebook description. We are rewarded with some fine granite, stunning views and interesting rock challenges. Chockstones and one ancient tape show that early climbers knew this line. It is well worth an outing after a dry spell.

Seán on third pitch, Lag Mara

Luggala draws us back for more before the midgie season starts. Barry (Denton)is puzzled by the guidebook description of the three-star VS route we plan; how would any of us unravel the puzzles of the lines on this crag without Gerry Moss’s introduction? Today the delicate beginning moves of All Along the Watchtower are bone-dry. We split the first pitch in two as it winds first to the right, then left and back again. The second pitch – a descent backwards down a ramp with the rock wall trying to push you off and a gap to step over at bottom of the ramp – is a very memorable passage. I lose concentration as I climb the wall above the ramp and find myself flying backwards through the air to swing to and fro fifteen feet below the ramp. Barry looks relieved as I cackle manically, coming back through the gap in the ramp. "The Flying Doctor service", I joke – very relieved at getting away with a few scratches. The final pitch is equally delightful clean granite. The views from the Woody Wall of the lake below and the peregrines in flight are beautiful.

Barry backs down the ramp on All Along the Watchtower

Thanks Joe, Barry and Séan for these great days. We are so fortunate to have these gems at our doorstep and great rope mates in the club to share them. If the recession is affecting your chance of a trip away this year, there is great granite a short hop down the road.