"With hindsight the uncertainty on the outward journey was the most intense I have ever experienced. Will I make the long inescapable sea passage? Will I be able to climb the stack? Can I then get back down off the stack's summit? These were three reference points of top end mental anguish which faded upon reaching this summit. This stack is the second last of the unclimbed monster stacks in Donegal, with only one left and summer fading fast, it looks like next year for a return match with fear!"
Watch a video of the ascent below:
Within an hour's drive of my house there are nearly 2000 recorded climbs, 40 monster sea stacks, 2 mountain ranges, 6 islands surrounded in pristine granite sea cliffs and enough unclimbed rock for many, many lifetimes of play.
Why sea stacks in particular?
Sea Stack climbing involves a wide spectrum of different skills especially regarding nautical access. The stacks that live in very difficult to access locations require a lot of planing and logistics to gain their bases. This is the primary reason they see very little attention from climbers. Finding an unclimbed stack in a terrifying and very difficult to access location is the very beginning of the process. The following blog extract sums up what I seek:
I have a few wee rules or guidelines to follow when I solo, no-one knows where I am or what I am doing, I carry no means of communication and using an outboard engine is not acceptable as it is a major point of aid. These simple rules ensure that when you "solo" you are totally and utterly alone and no outboard engine ensures that you are on for a very committing journey into the further. The two short films below are memorable days out and for me summarize sea stack climbing.
What inspires you to make first ascents?
I tend to use making first ascents on conventional cliffs as training for being alone on unclimbed sea stacks and as everything is climbed onsight then it is all excellent mental preparation for being alone and very scared. What tickles me about making first ascents is that it is all in your judgment and nothing is certain until after the fact, a wee journey into the unknown, the more committing the journey, the deeper you will travel.
What's next for you?
I have one more unclimbed monster stack off the Donegal Coast to attend to, which due to its location I'll leave until next spring. Up til now I have simply found in most cases the easiest way to the summits of Donegal's sea stacks, it's now a case of returning to each stack to climb the not so easy routes to their summits.
Watch some videos of Iain's sea stack ascents below:
More information can be found about Iain and his climbing on his blog.
Donegal Sea Stack Guide available to download here.