Good old NI-Wild strikes again. I happened to see a thread of some folks looking to meet up and try some outdoor climbing. This is something I definitely want to get into this year, so when the date was set as my day-off, I added my name to the hat. The bus got me to Newcastle early so I managed to catch the group before they left the car-park, and we all set off together up to Eagle Rocks in the Glen River valley.
(the ice-screws were included as a joke!)
We crossed the river and clambered up to the base of the crag. Guidebooks were consulted to make sure we were at the base of the right bit of rock for the climb that had been picked: Resonant Flakes. It’s a nice VDiff for us beginners, receiving a star rating in the guide as a quality route. Everybody geared up, and BigE was keen to have a go at leading. Fair play to him. He took his time, kept a clear head and made it all look relaxed and easy. Very impressive for his first lead! While he was climbing I took the time to play around with my nuts and hexes to practice placing them in whatever cracks and nooks I could find.
The rain was holding off but the wind was whipping and gusting rightly. We were regularly knocked off balance just standing at the bottom, so it added an extra bit of spice hanging on the rock. Everyone took their turn to tackle the climb, some whizzing up, some more puzzled by the moves, but all successful and enjoying it. I have to say, I was in the later group. The mix of slabs and cracks was completely new compared to the indoor wall so I took my time exploring the options. The hollow thunk on some holds backed up the route’s name. I pulled a muscle on a large step up so took pause for a photo. It’s a great location with views down the valley to Newcastle and the sea. The newly refurbished Glen River trail was clear to see the changes, and we watched the hoards of people shuttling up and down it like a hiker highway. If they even saw our bright jackets hanging onto the grey cliff over the way they probably thought we were doing something harder than we were!
Back down, rain threatened and we were getting cold, so decided to call it a successful day. I parted with the group at the Ice House to run back down to the bus. 19mins to descend Donard Park and go the length of the town, with a pack of rack. I was just in time. Can’t do better than that.
Many thanks to Ed and Alan for showing us the ropes. Hopefully it won’t be the last time I get out this summer. Here’s a video Mourneman took on the day: