Blue Lough Buttress
J325246 A fairly high and extensive crag which is well worth a day's visit but the number of really good routes is unfortunately not proportionate to its size. The cliffs are either marred by large acreage's of vegetation or formed in such a typically Mourne fashion - very steep to overhanging walls of pretty featureless granite with the few cracks being either merest little seams or impossibly flared - that the scope for quality climbing is limited.
<display_map zoom="11"> 54.15451, -5.97135~Blue Lough Buttress</display_map>
From the car park (345219) at the bottom of the Carrick Little Track follow the track to the farthest edge of the forest. Follow the left branches of the Track until directly below the crag which overlooks Blue Lough. About one hour's walk.
Facing the hill, the crag is characterised by a steep elongated upper section which starts just to the right of the Binnian Lough River and which after a few hundred metres merges into the more extensive more rambling right-hand section of the crag. Whilst the upper section has been named, South Buttress on its left and Pinnacle Buttress on its right, the nomenclature is of limited interest or use, since there is only one good route (Banner) to tempt those interested in clean rock but the others would attract the assiduous gardener. All the good climbing is to be found on the steep or slabby 30m lower wall of the right-hand section of the buttress. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of seepage and in a bad year some of the routes will be persistently damp. Nevertheless a week of good weather in spring or summer should be enough to dry out most of the routes.
Routes are described from left to right.
Damocles 30m VD
P. Gribbon and Party. 2/56.
Start at the very left-hand end of the crag is a steep gully. Climb mainly on the left wall.
Banner * 55m VS (4b)
M. Curran, J. Forsythe. 12/7/83.
Start at the left-hand end of the crag about 10m right of a small rowan tree and below a detached triangular flake.
1) 30m Go up to ledge level with the top of the flake. Make a difficult mantle up or, easier, move right 1 m to just above a grass ledge and make a difficult step up to easier ground. A very long traverse now leads up and left to good grassy belay ledges below and left of the vertical crack splitting the upper wall.
2) 25m Climb the diagonal flake crack rightward (across the base of the vertical crack) and follow the fault out right. Belay is 15m back.
Pinnacle Gully 40m VD (H. C. Elliott, M. McMurray. 1/19/56.) is a chossy route up the obvious gully that splits the upper crag roughly in two.
Bottleneck 52m S (4a)
J. Forsythe, M. Curran. 3/6/79.
Start this takes the obvious curving crack on the right wall of Pinnacle Gully and is rather scruffy.
1) 45m Climb the crack (crux at 25m) and continue up to a grass ledge with bushes overlooking the gully. Traverse right below this along grass ledge to the base of a chimney crack, best seen from the ground.
2) 7m Mantelshelf onto a ledge and climb on an embarrassment of jugs first outside, then inside, the chimney.
Another route has been made up Pinnacle Buttress to the right of Bottleneck at VS, but has been derided by the first ascensionists.
The lower section of the right-hand side of Blue Lough Buttress is characterised at the extreme left by a triangular slab apron. Left again is a slabby buttress which has the following route:
Wet Sunday Surprise 35m VD
J. McClenaghan, A. Blair. 15/10/88.
The crux is well protected. Start in the middle of the slab at a clean, left trending groove that goes the full height of the buttress. Follow the groove (crux at half height) to the final ledge. Directly up short wall on good pocks to belay 5m back. The routes on the triangular slab, because of its nature and the profuse vegetation at the top, are forced to finish by three exits - The Rainbow, Warrior and Hercules. Hercules is a poor route which starts at the lowest point of the slab and continually scuttles left to avoid difficulty with a chossy finish near the left edge of the slab. The Rainbow starts at the extreme left of the slab goes diagonally right crossing Hercules to gain obvious right slanting fault/crack. The exit for Warrior is the left slanting groove in between these routes. On top, the best belay is up and to the right of Rainbow at a block and descent is along vegetation and ledges leading well to the left.
Nubian Sundance 30m El (5b)
l. Rea, P. Holmes. 27/6/88.
Start up the left bounding gully of the slab and directly below a small roof. Climb out right around the roof and gain a good jug. Move up left and gain the ledge above. Move up right and then traverse horizontally across the face to finish at the top of The Rainbow.
The Rainbow * 30m E1 (5b)
l. Rea, M. Rea. 5/10/86.
A good pitch with a short hard crux and excellent protection. Start to the left of Hercules at the extreme left of slab, 3m right of grass ramp. Go up diagonally right to cross Hercules and gain obvious slanting fault/crack trending right. Climb this and finish directly up white grooves.
Warrior * 35m E2 (5c)
P. Clerkin, S. McCoy. 14/9/86.
Start just left of the start of Hercules. Follow the faint pock marks running leftwards (crux) to reach obvious break in the slanting crack of The Rainbow at a prominent thread runner. Climb wall above on good holds to finish by left slanting groove.
Hercules 37m VS (4c)
J. Ferris, P. Wilson. 17/6/59.
Start at the lowest point of the slab. Make a line up and left via mantelshelves to a little notch in a horizontal quartz band (remains of old peg). Continue delicately left on the lowest obvious line crossing heather ledge to finish on dodgy vegetation. Variation Direct Finish HVS (4c/5a) M. Rea, R. Bankhead. 9/9/89. This combination gives a reasonable route. From the little notch climb direct to top finishing up left slanting groove of Warrior.
Touch of Grey 25m HVS (5a)
l. Rea, P. Holmes. 27/6/88.
Start just to the right of Hercules. A thin seam leads to a ledge and then another grassy ledge above. Take the left-hand of two right trending pocketed seams and gain another ledge. Traverse horizontally left on a good foot ledge and finish up The Rainbow.
The triangular slab is bounded on the right by a grassy fault and then a very steep blank clean wall. Two climbs, Great Northern VS and New Northern HS are recorded in the general vicinity of the grassy fault but :hey are so overgrown and unpopular as to merit attention for the record Dnly. The thin crack just right of the vegetation has been climbed but apart from this the steep blank wall has no routes. Next right is the prominent seepage line of the winter route Blue Lough Ice-fall. Aphrodite VD has been recorded in the easy-angled area right of the great seepage line but again it is of no merit. The next feature to the right is the long clean Waterspout Wall. The very prominent right-leaning corner/crack at the left end of Waterspout Wall gives Plus Gas.
The Fox Cub 30m VS (5a)
K. Quinn, P. Clerkin. l5/88.
Start a few metres left of Plus Gas directly below an obvious wide crack. Climb this strenuously to a ledge on the left and the obvious crack in the wall above.
Plus Gas ** 35m HVS (5a)
R. Cole, M. Mills. 1981.
Interesting climbing and good protection up the right-leaning corner which saves the crux for the top.
Maverick ** 30m E3 (5c)
G. Murray, 8. James. 5/8/95.
Start 10m right of Plus Gas below two parallel seams. Climb the right seam to the black scoop. Traverse left 1.5m and climb the wall to the top groove. Hard moves up the slanting groove lead rightwards to the top.
Right of Maverick the very steep wall is unclimbed but some distance to the right a slight buttress protrudes just 1 m proud of the rest of the wall.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot * 18m E1 (5b)
S. McIlwaine, B. Galway, B. Stewart. 11/10/86.
A short gymnastic crux. On the wall left of Chuckles is a prominent Y-shaped crack. The route takes the right-hand diagonal crack.
Chuckles 30m S
W. Jenkins and Party. 2/6/68.
Takes the corner that marks the left-hand side of the slight buttress.
Bokies 34m S (3c)
C. Torrans, D. Bruce.
Takes the vegetated corner which marks the right-hand side of the buttress and 8m right of Chuckles.
On the wall to the right of Bokies are a number of quartz veins. The two m the right share a similar start but soon diverge to form independent lines. About 3m left of these is a prominent vein, easy-angled in its lower half then becoming steeper and running almost straight up to the top in its upper section. This gives the following route.
Vertebrae ** 34m E1 (5b)
P. Clerkin and Party. 20/7/86.
A delicate crux which requires confidence but protection is available. Climb easily up the quartz vein to a ledge at half height. Once committed to this upper section, difficulties ease with each move.
Life Line * 32m VS (4b)
P. Clerkin, S. McCoy. 20/7/86.
The left-hand of the two previously mentioned diverging faults.
Diploma 30m VD
C. Torrans and Party. 2/6/68.
A good little route taking the right-hand fault via a small pulpit to the top.
Another route, Can You Help Me HS, has been recorded in the general vicinity of Diploma and going straight to the top of the crag but it is of no merit. Similarly, Pigeon Ring D has been recorded as taking the fault at the left-hand end of the overhanging nose at the extreme right of the crag, but it is rarely if ever done and probably best left to posterity.