Mountaineering Ireland (MI) hosted the first Fair Head climbing meet over the weekend of 4th - 6th June. The meet was a massive success with over 100 climbers attending the weekend. With Fair Head's remoteness on the north coast of Northern Ireland, it was incredible to witness such a big turnout.
It should be noted that although most people that attended the event were from Ireland, quite a few travelled over from the mainland UK, Italy, Spain and even further afield.
Fair Head is a massive expanse of dolerite, situated next to the sea and rising up to 100m in places. The cliff stretches for over 3 miles, sporting over 400 routes. Many of the routes follow crack-lines meaning gear is most often 'on demand'. The physical nature the climbing makes for great battles and can often leave you felling rather beaten up!
The event was organised by Paul Swail with support from many volunteers including Geoff Sommerville and Ciaran Kinney, with the aim to gather and introduce climbers to Fair Head. These volunteers all chipped in supplying the guests with route beta, approach recommendations and crack climbing techniques!
The meet officially kicked off with a BBQ on Friday followed by plenty of evening conversations about routes to be climbed. On both Saturday and Sunday climbers flocked to the crag, some for the first time and some for the 100th time. There was a real buzz and walking along the crag top there was the sound of hexes and tin whistles, plus a web of abseil ropes to access the more remote middle part of the cliff. By the end of the weekend most of the classics were well chalked and people left smiling and satisfied!
Entertainment on the Saturday night was in the form of a screening of Irish/Belgium Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll's latest adventures in Asgard - 'Asgard Jamming'. The local farmer, whose fields are now the official Fair Head campsite, kindly cleaned out a huge shed for us. The venue was quite bizarre but created an amazing ambiance along with a strong smell of manure and some great action on the big screen - the evening was enjoyed by all!
Overall the weekend was a huge success with a great turnout and standard of climbing. The range of grades spanned from VS –E7.
There were climbers everywhere, with many notable ascents like Primal Scream (E6), Paralyzed Power (E6), Talking Heads (E4), Track of the Cat (E4), Salango (E3), multiple ascents of The Wall of Prey (E5) and Face Value (E4), some of the lesser climbed routes got a bit of traffic like Back to the Future 8 (E4), The Icarus Gun (E4) and X-Men (E3), plus the mid grade classics Girona (VS), Hell's Kitchen (HVS) and An Bealach Rúnda (E1) to mention just a few.
One of the highlights of the weekend was Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll's ascent of a new route on the Rathlin Wall. Sean had attempted to onsight Where the Grass is Green (E7, 6c), but after not finding the crucial gear placements, decided to back off and inspect the line on abseil. He quickly spotted a 12m section of new climbing that would take him into Where the Grass is Green. With no cleaning, just a quick check to make sure it would go, he quickly tied on and sent it leaving Fair Head with yet another 3* route in the high extremes.
The whole weekend went very well, with lots of people getting a great introduction to what the crag has to offer.
A big thanks to everyone to helped with the weekend and a special mention to both Sean the Farmer and Sean Villanueva. Hope to see everyone there next year!
You can find out more about Mountaineering Ireland and sign up for next year's meet by checking the website: Mountaineering Ireland