PERTEX presents their latest film, 'A Feather in the West', produced by Peak District based production company, Coldhouse.
In September 2019, a team of talented Irish climbers [Chloe Condron, Kevin Kilroy, Michelle O'Loughlin and Conor McGovern] travelled to the small island of Owey to explore sea cliffs that local guidebook writer Iain Miller claims, have "enough new routing potential to last at least twelve lifetimes". 'A Feather in the West' is a film about their trad climbing experiences and the relatively niche pursuit of first ascents, set on the Wild Atlantic Way, off the west coast of County Donegal. Each of our climbers tries to find a new route project that holds meaning for them as an individual. As they explore the island, we discover what it takes to seek out new, uncharted climbs and turn them from a piece of salt-soaked, lichen-lined granite into a world-class three-star route in a guidebook. Owey Island has an ethereal otherworldly charm that harks back to a peacefulness and simplicity of life in bygone days; and our climbers soon discover an environment and community that is uniquely wondrous, beguiling and unforgettable.
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For climbers, Owey Island, off the west coast of Donegal, western Ireland, offers a tantalising paradise of high class climbing and tremendous new route potential at all grades. Acres of wave-blasted, pristine and aesthetically beautiful granite are waiting to be explored, and for the adventurous UK based climber, that's a very attractive, extremely rare gem ripe to be picked. No need to fly half-way around the world, no need to scour Google Earth mapping images trying to find the exciting topography of undeveloped locations thousands of miles away: there's a dream destination right on our doorsteps. But, and it's a big but, there are a few barriers which will serve to protect the island from a clamorous surge of eager climbers.
If you want to climb on Owey, you need to remember there are no AirBnB's, no campsite, and no hotels. There is a 'hostel', but it's a rudimentary bothy, that sleeps a maximum of 5, and has no running water or electricity. You can only stay there with prior permission, and provided you can navigate the complex ferry system:
Ferries involve asking one man (first task: find his phone number - it's not on the internet, he doesn't have a 'page'); then being turned away because the accepted protocol is that you must ask the other man first; The other man will turn you down because it's just the protocol - he doesn't really do it anymore and he'll direct you to re-ask the first man (although now with his blessing). First man will then take you, but it might require a bribe, he's already checking out whether or not you pass his fit and proper person character test. So you persuade him, and he'll take you. But not until Wednesday when the winds die down to a safe level. That's cost you two days of your precious annual leave week and you're not even there yet. If the winds die down, and you sail, you'll unpack and rush out to explore. At that stage you'll need to hope and pray that the crags aren't wet from sea spray, and that there's no rain forecast.
Owey Island is a rare sanctuary of old world calm, cut off by nature from new world madness, and resolutely kept that way by it's inhabitants wisdom.
No electricity or mains water, no building development save for repairing old structures and no access for large chunks of the year.
But it's a dichotomy in some ways too: it's not that calm for a start. Huge Atlantic storms ravage the island and it bears the brunt of all the enormous swells that roll across the ocean. So the way the prevailing weather affects ferry crossings and accessibility, is one of the main reasons it's managed to remain a somewhat tranquil oasis.
It is steadfastly intent on remaining so as well. There have been opportunities to have electricity and mains water, but the inhabitants have declined. Likewise, tourism could easily be swollen, after all - how many of us hanker after a back to basics lifestyle, especially in such gloriously wild scenery. But developing extra accommodation, or more ferry crossings, are not in anyone's plans. The island locals know very well it's charm and want to keep it that way.
'A Feather in the West' is about climbing on Owey Island, an Atlantic frontier island off the west coast of County Donegal. Many British & Irish climbers assume they have to travel long haul to find aesthetically beautiful, pristine condition, virgin unclimbed rock that's ripe for new routing. There is a perception that the opportunity to etch your name into the guidebooks by [making your contribution to] developing a world class crag, is basically gone, that all the good lines were climbed years ago.
But the reality isn't so: In September 2019, a team of talented Irish climbers [Chloe Condron, Kevin Kilroy, Michelle O'Loughlin and Conor McGovern] travelled to the small island of Owey to explore sea cliffs that local guidebook writer Iain Miller, claims have "enough new routing potential to last at least twelve lifetimes". Despite its proximity to the mainland, Owey retains an ethereal otherworldly charm that harks back to a peacefulness and simplicity of life of bygone days. It's also home to majestic granite sea cliffs that have been scoured pristine by huge ocean swells leaving awe-inspiring coastal crags for adventurous climbers to relish.
Each of our climbers tries to find a First Ascent project that holds meaning for them as an individual. As they explore the island, we discover what it takes to seek out new, uncharted climbs and turn them from a piece of salt-soaked, lichen lined rock into a world-class three-star route in a guidebook. The climbers themselves discover an environment and community that is uniquely wondrous, beguiling and unforgettable.
Pertex was founded in 1979 by Hamish Hamilton. The brand is now a staple in the wardrobe of any outdoor enthusiast having established partnerships with some of the most reputable brands in the world.
Peak District based film production company Coldhouse creates authentic film content for leading brands in the outdoor industry.
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