VIDEO: Autumnal Headgames - Hard Trad in Northern Ireland

Today we have a video featuring a few routes from a blustery autumn in Northern Ireland, climbed by John McCune. It includes a rare ascent of Tolerance E8 6c on Binians North Tor, with its "harrowing mantel"; the first ascent of Duais Arete E7 6b at Fairhead, running it out to the top with a cluster of gear at half height and the second ascent of Ricky Bell's technical slab The Peace Donkey E7 6c/7a on Spellack.

"I guess it shows three quite different routes and styles on varied but quality crags in Northern Ireland." - John McCune

John gave us some descriptions of the routes:

""Tolerance" is a John Dunne route. Its fairly similar to something you might find on the grit, except it's granite, and it's on the Tors on top of Slieve Binnian 747m, which is a solid hour and a half walk in There's a lot of very fine hard routes on Binnian North Tor but it's really special and quite rare to get a day with suitable weather for climbing up there. This was one of those perfect days and as anyone can see the setting is stunning. The climbing is quite technical and then leads into a scary mantel. The fall would be crippling as it is onto a very uneven slab. On the first ascent John Dunne soloed it, as in reality the gear is fairly meaningless. 

"Duais Arete" was a little route I spied from the boulders. I could see a crack running out to the arete at half height and then it looked like a nice clean cut arete to the top. I gave it a good clean on abseil, and then shunted it. There was a flake at 3/4 height I hoped might take gear, but it was totally loose and dangerous so I just trundled it, this left a run out of 22 m to the the very top of the crag. The 6b moves are in the first 10m above the half height gear and then it's steady 5c/6a to the top. Topping out on Fairhead with a probable Groundfall was a memorable experience!

"The Peace Donkey" Is a route Ricky Bell climbed earlier in the summer and is a great route up the most direct line on the mountain crag Spellack with a tricky rockover sequence on a tiny granite crystal. The gear protecting the crux isn't exactly totally bomber either. Ricky gave it a slash grade E7 6c/7a. I don't know what it is and initially thought 7a seemed fair. However looking back I think we both feel 7a is a big number on trad, and 6c is probably more accurate. In retrospect I shouldn't have put 7a in the video. I thought it was well hard anyway."

Read more about John's ascents on his blog.


John is supported by: Scarpa

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