Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Fairhead - The best climbing in the UK?

Having been told by all Northern Irish people I had met that this was by far the best crag in the UK, I thought I should probably go and find out if I agreed. I climbed with Kevin for a couple of days this winter in the Cairngorms and having had lots of fun and adventures we hatched a plan for a trip to Fairhead. Kevin was the perfect guide, knowing the crag well with inside knowledge of the fairhead grading and what was clean. This is something I would recommend, local knowledge is definately helpful at Fairhead or I would have jumped on a few things that are far out of my abilities and spent much more of the day trying to work out where to ab into my route. He also picked me up, provided food (thanks to Tollymore), sleeping facilities, transport so I just packed harness, helmet, shoes and chalk and plenty of psyche.
We started gently on the bally castle descent gully and soon got on a route which was not totally of fairhead style, Run fast run free E3, with a jump in the middle and a strange eliminate start.
Kevin getting gear before the crux on Run fast, run free.
I was loving the interest and long sustained climbing at fairhead, so was keen to get on the longest face... Am Bealach Runda it was... meaning the secret way and it definately was. Most of my chimney moves and squirming has been in winter, so I put it to practise on this route.

Kevin seconding the first chimney pitch inside the amazing hexagonal pillars.


Me pulling some chimney drop knee moves.
This was a great start to the trip, we finished, ate and made excited plans for the next day.

Me on the fantastic Hurricane putting in a struggle as I found out Kevins hand jams were off widths for me. I resorted to some strenuous laybacking up the crux of this one.

As if we hadn't done enough at six in the evening we thought we would just ab in for another 3 pitch route, with the rain spitting, above... ah it will clear up!
So some of this route had fallen away last year and been upgraded to E2, we think we actually did the second ascent after the rock fall and regrading. Kevin was keen to get on this crazy offiwdth chimney, I was keen for a challenge as long as the rope was above me on this pitch. Very excited to see the size 6 cams in action.

Kevin starting up the chimney pitch with the rack of gods. This was a crazy route, I used every move in the book and more and the upper section turned to an ice rink in the rain. Awesome lead by kevin, we came out stinking of pond and throughly shattered. Fish and chips and beer in Bally castle were in order.

The next day at The Prow was an active rest day after leaving bally castle at 1am in the morning and waking to find every muscle and more were aching. Whilst at the crag we met a friendly pigeon and Kevin tried to teach it about off widths and cams.

And the proceeded to get on another one... there is unfinished business there.

The last day started on the Stoat, which i decided needed some cleaning attention before I was going to make further progress on, so we finished up Hell kitchen before the rain set in. We got away with alot of threatening spitting all week but it properly rained this time. Thankfully we were tired and satified so enjoyed the cafe.
So to answer my initial question, I think so far it might have to be, there is so much potential at fairhead and totally absorbing massive steep strenuous different climbing. I will definately back! 

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