Donegal Rock Climbing
The County of Donegal in North West Ireland contains more climbable rock than the rest of Ireland combined boasting two major Irish mountain ranges, over a thousand kilometres of coastline, one hundred sea stacks and as many diverse climbing mediums and locations as you will find in the rest of the country. Donegal currently plays host to several lifetimes worth of world class rock climbing in some of the most beautiful, remote and unspoilt locations in Ireland.
There are currently a shade under 3,000 rock climbs recorded throughout the length and breadth of the county. These climbs include Ireland’s longest rock climb, Irelands largest mountain crag, Irelands longest ice climb and Irelands highest sea stack as well as many more standard single and multi-pitch venues above the sea, by the road, on the islands and in the mountains.
What Donegal provides for the visiting and resident climber is a collection of outstanding rock climbs in some of the most remote and unspoilt locations in Ireland and for all climbing tastes. From “Beyond the End’s of the Earth Crag,” at the most remote point of land on the Irish mainland to the Albatross Zawn on Cruit Island, with its’ 10 second walk in from the car there is a location to suit every pair of walking legs. There is a good mix of grades from three starred Diff ’s to uber classic three starred E6&7’s with the average grade of the entire guide at VS, there a lifetime of classic rock to play on for all grades of climber. Off course, if there are not enough routes at your chosen grade, climb some new ones as there is also an abundance of unclimbed rock.
Scattered along the western coastline of Co. Donegal live a collection of nearly 100 towering sea stacks in some of the most remote, inaccessible and foreboding places in Ireland. There are currently over 150 recorded rock climbs to the summits of these isolated towers of rock with a large range of difficulty from a gently scramble to the extremely dangerous XS graded rock climbs. (http://www.uniqueascent.ie/sea_stack_guide)
The Islands of Cruit, Arranmore, Gola, Umphin, Owey and Tory provide many lifetimes worth of outstanding sea cliff climbing and between them are home to a further 20 or so, superb Granite sea stacks. These islands are a step back in time with an idyllic setting, unchanged in many ways as the rest of civilisation marches with modern pace.
Cruit Island, in the heart of the Rosses, provides over 350 rock climbs on its many immaculate granite sea cliffs and separating these sea cliffs are some of the most beautiful sandy beaches it is possible to imagine. Cruit Island rock climbers guide download this free guide and go and explore this beautiful Island.
Gola Island in western Donegal is the epicenter of the Donegal climbing scene with well over 200 single pitch routes from Diff to E5 on the Granite sea cliffs and inland outcrops scattered throughout the island. In the main the rock is immaculate sea washed granite with only some of the sheltered zawns containing sections of loose rock.
What Gola Island provides is outstanding rock climbing in a wild, remote and truly beautiful setting. The island sits far out in Co Donegal's rainshadow and it is not unusual to be climbing on the island in bright sunshine and blue skies whilst the rest of the county is under a deluge of heavy rain. The guide for Gola is here, http://www.uniqueascent.ie/gola_island_guide
What makes the islands off Western Donegal so appealing is not only do they provide outstanding rock climbing but they also live in the rainshadow of the Derryveagh mountains and as such they receive very little of the rainfall sometimes experienced in the Donegal uplands. The guide to the islands of Donegal is http://www.uniqueascent.ie/donegal_islands. This online guide list and describes all the islands from the very easy accessible and inhabited to the most remote and difficult to visit pieces of rock in Ireland.
The two main mountain areas of Donegal, the Derryveagh mountains in the Rosses and the Bluestacks in the South East of the county. The rock climbing history of both these mountain ranges stretches back over 50 years, with routes being climbed in the 1960’s. The Derryveagh mountains provides the highest mountain cliff in Ireland situated at the back of the beautiful Poison Glen at Dunlewey at the base of Errigal, the county’s highest point. During the cold winter of 2010 a 450m high ice cascade was climbed up the highest cliff in the glen providing Ireland’s longest and highest recorded ice climb.
The online guide to Donegal’s sea cliffs, sea stacks and mountain crags contains 27 free downloadable PDF guidebooks covering the entire county is http://www.uniqueascent.ie/undiscovered_donegal.
Iain Miller is a rock climber living, working and playing on the sea cliffs, sea stacks and mountain ranges of county Donegal. He has a unique set of skills gained for over 30 years as a mountaineer and as a marine engineer for 20 years. He has explored the mountains and coastline of County Donegal since 2007 resulting in a unique and in-depth knowledge of the geography and features of the area. This has allowed him to put together a collection of adventures and packages, which coupled with his unique knowledge of the geology and upland environment of Donegal to create a unique and compelling visitor experience for those seeking a new level of outdoor adventure. He runs a mountain guiding business based in Falcarragh, his website is http://www.uniqueascent.ie