Set about half way up the Annalong Valley these cliffs are among the steepest and best in the Mournes. The majority of the routes are south-facing, largely free of vegetation and will dry quickly. The crags have as a result proven to be popular and offer a large number of quality routes at a wide range of grades on invariably excellent rock with positive holds and generally very good to excellent protection.
<display_map zoom="14">54.164827, -5.952069~Lower Cove</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 and continue for 120m to a junction in the track. Take the right-hand branch across the river to gain the crag after about 1500m fairly directly along the good track. About one hour's walk from the car park to the stone sheep-fold below Third Corner Buttress.
The cliff consists of four main buttresses, with the left-hand end of each face having a prominent arete. These `corners' (actually aretes) are numbered from 1 to 4, from left to right.
Left of the four main buttresses are two very much smaller buttresses the left-hand most mini-buttress is a wander at will area giving harder problems on its right - put on the rope if you like. Climbs start on the small buttress, with an obvious rock archway at its left-hand side and lies immediately left of First Corner Gully. The climbs are described from left to right.
Half Corner 18m VS (4b)
R. Cole. M. Smith. 4/12/78.
Although short, sustained and awkward. Start 1 m left of the left-hand side of the above mentioned archway. Climb the wall and crack to the underside of the archway. Move up and left round a roof to the top a ledge and continue easily to the top.
The arete 2m left of Half Corner gives a short problem, Munching Mandy S (4a) (W. Poots, A. Walker 11/9/88.) on the overhanging nose.
Just right of the archway is a short steep wall with a crackline at either end, the one on the right is Kissing Kerry.
Krammed E1 5a Although a poorly protected route it has positive moves and is worth the effort. Start 1m left of Kram and below the arete. Move up flutings to the spacious ledge below a large horizontal flake. Using the flake gain a pinch and small edges above to join the last move of Kram left-hand finish.
Kram 25m VS (4c)
R. Cole. M. Smith. 30/3/79.
A short crux but steep climbing on good holds. Start at a point between the two cracklines in the centre of the wall. Climb the wall to a bulge, surmount this (crux) and climb the blocky wall above. Variation Left-hand Finish VS (4c) M. Smith. R. Cole. 7/6/80. Up the wall to bulge but traverse to the left-hand crack and pull over the top (loose flake).
Kissing Kerry 25m VS (4c)
W. Poots, A. Walker. 11/9/88.
Start at the base of right-hand crackline below the overhang. Surmount the overhang to reach a large ledge. Climb the crack until it fades in a bulge at half-height. A high reach right allows further progress.
Two rather average routes have been squeezed into the wall right of this. They are Reeling Rosie VS (W. Poots, A. Walker. 11/9/88.) and climbs the blunt arete 2m right of Kissing Kerry and Not the Sea VS (K. Lindsay et al. 9/6/90.) which takes wall behind the small holly tree and traverse leftwards to finish up Kram.
New Decayed * 27m S (4a)
B. White, J. Challenor, R. Nickels. 9/1/60.
Start in the middle of the next section of wall that lies to the right of the Kram face, and just left of First Corner Gully. Ascend to a large platform. Climb the wall above (steep) and exit to the left passing an ancient peg.
Left Arete 12m E2 5c
C. Torrans, D. O'Sullivan. 7/11/87.
Follows the left arete of First Corner Gully and the climbing is more imaginative than the name suggests. Climb crack in gully wall. Swing left and mantelshelf up onto ledge. Climb the wall just left of arete finishing up short crack.
FIRST CORNER BUTTRESS
The first three climbs start up on the right-hand side of First Corner Gully.
Tyro 18m VD
B. White and Party.
Takes the groove and chimney half way up the right-hand wall.
North Wall * 30m S (3c)
An exploratory-type route taking a meandering line of least resistance up the wall between Tyro and First Corner (about 2-3m left of First Corner).
First Corner ** 27m HS (4b)
F. Devlin, J. McGrath. 30/6/65.
Start right-hand edge of First Corner Gully. Climb arete up to a ledge on left. Continue straight up (4c) or, more easily and more naturally, step left and up the gully wall 3m and back onto the arete to finish.
Edge On * 25m E3 (6a/b)
E. Cooper, A. Moles. 1989.
A surprisingly well protected exercise in technical footwork. Start the obvious groove just right of arete. Climb the groove, difficulties at its top and straight up the right side of the arete to join First Corner and follow this to the top.
The next three routes start on a grassy ledge just right of First Corner, 3m above the gully floor.
Meat Grinder *** 25m E2 (5c)
P. Douglas, M. Smith, W. Holmes. 7/80.
A fine route which just merits the grade and easing after the crux which is moving between the off-set cracks. Start at wall below obvious crack in the wall 5m right of First Corner. Up the short steep wall to gain the first crack. Climb this to reach good horizontal break and gain the crack above (crux). Then more easily up this crack and wall above to the top.
Salami Rushdie 26m E4 (6b)
E. Cooper, A. Moles. 1989.
A well protected crux and nice climbing. Start as for Meat Grinder. Climb the crux section of Meat Grinder. Move left, feet in horizontal break and climb the wall between Meat Grinder and Edge On.
The Great Treacle Sponge Robbery * 24m El (5b)
E Cooper. 7/8/82.
Start as for Meat Grinder. Climb the wall to the crack. Move right to the arete (crux) and up arete keeping left at top, as for Overdue. Variation Direct Start E3 (5c/6a) E. Cooper, A. Moles. 1989. Start on a ledge 3m off the ground beneath some obvious holes at the base of the vague arete right of Meat Grinder. Climb up and right of these before moving back left to join the original route
Dot To Dot ** E3 (5b, 5c)
E. Cooper, A. Moles. 1989.
Varied climbing on perfect rock with a gradual build up of exposure gives one of the finest traverses in the area. Start as for Edge On.
I) From the top of the groove, move left to flake on arete and continue up as for First Corner to a small ledge. Traverse right past a good handhold, some pockets and make a tricky move to reach Meat Grinder. Continue easily to the ledge above Overdue and reverse the Dot's Delight traverse to belay at the peg under the overhang.
2)Move up and right passing a good flake to good holds in a horizontal break. Traverse around the blunt arete and make exciting moves across the overhanging wall to a crevassed ledge. Continue to another ledge below a flaky wall which leads quickly to the top.
Overdue * 30m E2 (5c)
A. McQuoid, M. Henry (One aid point). 5/79.
T. Irvine, J. McGarry (First free ascent). 6/79.
Well protected and a crux requiring a long reach i.e. a one move wonder for the tall or dynamic moves for those of normal height. Start 10m right of left edge i.e. First Corner, and about 5m below the starting ledge of Meat Grinder. Climb ledges and up a crack in the back of a small recess to an obvious overhang at 9m. Step left around overhang (crux) to gain a series of good flakes and easily to a large ledge. Move left and up arete to finish.
Dot's Delight ***39m HVS (4c)
P. Kavanagh, F. Devlin. 29/11/64.
Cunning route finding, continually thoughtful climbing in exposed positions and an exciting crux combine to make this one of the best routes in the Mournes. A steady lead is required and take time to find the correct line. Care needed with rope technique to protect the second.
Start at the same point as Overdue. Follow a slight depression in the wall diagonally right to a small ledge at half height. Move left (peg runner/belay) and up to a thin traverse line (crux). Follow this left to a large ledge (as for Overdue) and continue easily but airily up the wall or arete to top.
Variation Dot's Delight Direct * 39m E2 (5b)
S. Reid, M. Manson. 17/6/83. Low in the grade and not technically difficult but although the runners are good they are spaced which only enhances the air of seriousness. Begin the traverse as normal until in line with the left-hand end of an overhang. Climb straight up and surmount overhang (crux) and continue to top.
The following two routes finish at the peg on Dot's Delight. Either abseil off or to maintain the standard finish up Dot to Dot.
Physical Graffiti * 40m E2 (6a)
S. Mcllwaine, 8. Stewart. 30/8/86.
Crux is near the top of the crack and is protected by a peg - if you can get that far. Start just right of Dot's Delight below two faint cracks rising from a ledge at 5m. Gain ledge at left-hand side on thin holds. Move right and up left-hand crack. Continue up to peg on Dot's Delight.
Altered Image * 43m E3 (6a)
S. Mcllwaine 8. Stewart (One aid point). 6/9/86.
P. N. Ward (First free ascent). 19/9/86.
Takes the right-hand of the two cracks which is sustained and poorly protected before flake. Crux protected by a peg runner. Gain ledge as for Physical Graffiti. Move right and boldly up a shallow diedre on ever-decreasing holds to gain the sloping flake. After a suitable pause, climb crack above past a peg and up to peg on Dot's Delight.
Wee Mark 37m HVS (5a)
M. Smith, R. Cole. 4/79.
Although a variation on the original route it is the superior line. The start is scrappy but worth doing for the energetic crack. Start 15m right of Dot's Delight at an obvious line in the middle of the face capped by overhangs.
1) 15m Climb grass and ledges to a stance beneath the overhang.
2) 22m Take the crack in the overhang and up to massive flake. Follow up right to top.
The original route Glory Be 37m S (8. Rogers. M. Orr. 3/1/66.) moved right avoiding the overhang and gained the massive flake from the left but is rarely done.
Right of Wee Mark is a shorter wall starting on a higher level. Four climbs exist on this wall
Watersign ** 20m E2 (5c)
J. McDonald. P. Mallon. 8/86.
Start at a shallow corner/crack near the left-hand end of the wall. Climb this crack and make a short step right to below a steep wall. Climb this (crux) to a right-trending crack near the top of the wall. Climb this to top.
The We'an 18m E1 (5a)
D. Stelfox, G. Murray. K Quinn. 8/86.
Takes the short corner capped by an overhang right of Water Sign. Up easily to the foot of the corner. Climb the wall on the right of the corner to the overhang and through a break in it to the top.
To the right of The We'an and about 9m before the end of the wall are two parallel vertical cracks which is the line of Maya.
Fair Play to Mooney * 16m E2 (5c)
S. Reid, J. McDonald, P. Nolan. 6/84.
Start at a crack about half-way between The We'an and Maya. Climb the short steep crack and on up the wall above (crux) to a short corner. Up this and the wall above to top.
Maya * 18m E3 (5c)
S. Reid, J. McDonald. 6/84.
Start at the wall below the parallel cracks. Climb easily up to the right-hand crack. Follow crack until it terminates. Then continue up a short steep wall (crux) to top.
SECOND CORNER BUTTRESS
This buttress is characterised by its impressive south facing wall with its bands of horizontal roofs. Left of this is a detached broken buttress which is separated from Second Corner Buttress by a gully and is climbed by The Water Margin VD but is not recommended. However the right-hand wall of the gully forms the west face of Second Corner Buttress and provides good, steep climbing which is more delicate than strenuous. WEST WALL The wall is characterised by its curving roof system and at its left-hand end a prominent crack (Gynocrat) starting above a series of small overhangs. The first route is located slightly farther up the left-hand end of the gully wall.
The Arkansas Chugabug 20m E2 (6a)
N. Grimes, E. Cooper. 25/9/90.
Start just left of the small overhang left of Gynocrat. Climb up and across just above the overhang (hard) to a small flake. From here continue up using pockets to a leftwards trending diagonal flake. Then climb up to another good pocket, and gain the sloping ledge. Move rightwards along the ledge to Gynocrat and up the left hand finish to top.
Gynocrat ** 30m HVS (5a)
D. Stelfox, A. McQuoid. 2/80.
Start below the prominent crack. Climb up and surmount overhangs to gain a ledge at the foot of the crack. Ascend the crack and wall easily to a good ledge. A difficult move off the ledge leads to easier ground. Either step right below an impending headwall to finish (original route) or step left and climb the wall above (5a).
Autocrat *** 30m E3 (5c)
S. Reid, A. Whitcroft. 26/4/86.
A bold route where a confident approach tempered by a smattering of caution should assure a successful ascent. Start as for Gynocrat. Climb up and traverse right on a curving line to gain the right-hand side of the roof at its lip, then back left. Follow the obvious line up the wall past a peg which `protects' the crux 2m above and continue with steadiness required to the top.
Glass Onion ** 35m E4 (5c/6a)
E. Cooper, N. Grimes. 9/90.
A committing high quality climb taking the roof and wall between Autocrat and Purple Haze. Start as for Gynocrat/Autocrat Follow Autocrat but continue traversing right under the roof to an old peg. The roof is taken direct then left to a flake (as for Purple Haze). Difficult moves gain a narrow foot ledge and a poor pock on the wall directly above. More technical climbing leads past a break and a short crack to easy ground leading to the top.
Aristocrat ***35m E1 (5b)
A. McQuoid, A. Currans. 27/4/80.
Just merits the grade and takes an intimidating line up the edge of the buttress Start 4m in from the arete. Move up and begin a delicate traverse right across a line of small holds and undercut flakes to reach a groove line near the buttress edge which eases with height, stepping right to a good grassy ledge (possible belay). Climb the steep wall directly above the ledge with one difficult move leading to the easier but poorly protected ground above.
Purple Haze ** 35m E2 (5b)
S. Reid, J. McDonald, S. Mcllwaine. 8/86.
Although really only a variation second pitch of Aristrocrat the climbing is excellent - continually interesting and technical but with good gear. Start 1m in from the arete on grass ledge. Gain a triangular ledge and continue directly up to join Aristrocrat and follow this to the good grassy ledge. Traverse left around corner onto gully wall and continue left to a flake. Up a few moves and back right to gain a crack on the arete and follow this to top.
(It may be desirable to belay at the good ledge to avoid possible rope drag on the finishing arete but can be done in a single pitch with careful rope management).
An excellent combination is to follow Glass Onion to where it joins Purple Haze at the large flake and finish up this, E2 (5c) **.
A traverse of the face from left to right ending up Purple Haze has been climbed by S. Reid and J. McDonald.
Variation Abdication 35m E3 (5c)
E. Cooper, P. McArthur, P. Dunlop. 30/7/95.
Start just right of Purple Haze at a groove leading to a roof. Climb the groove. At the roof go straight up to good holds. Continue with difficulty to dyke (good wire on right under roof). Balancy moves, straight up, gain holds leading to Aristrocrat which is followed to the top.
SOUTH FACE The true Second Corner (gives the line of Abdication and Aristocrat) forms the left-hand edge of this face and should not be confused with the route Second Corner Wall which lies about 30m to the right.
Joyride *30m E5 (6a)
E. Cooper, P. McArthur, P. Dunlop. 30/7/95.
Start on a grass ledge about 5m right of Second Corner below a vague groove (Primitive Dance) and an obvious diagonal crack. Up past a mini-cave to left-slanting overhanging crack which is followed with difficulty to the ledge. Fingery climbing leads over two overlaps (peg runner) to better holds. Continue quickly! to top and belay on grass ledge of Aristocrat.
Primitive Dance * 47m El (5b, 4c, 4c)
I. Rea, M. Rea. 30/10/89.
Although the first pitch is the technical crux don't underrate the traverse of the second pitch which gives intricate route finding and requires a confident second. Of course a confident leader would also prove useful. Start as for Joyride on the grass ledge.
1) 12m Take the groove with a tricky move up right to gain a large belay ledge in a cave.
2) 20m Go right and step down off grass ledge to make traverse under roof, then climb up and make a long horizontal traverse to belay beside the next grass ledge and a semi-detached block.
3) 15m Continue right to next roof. Make a long step downwards under this roof and traverse right onto a ledge below the corner/crack of Cumulus. Up the corner/crack to big grass ledge and belay. From here either walk off right, finish up Cumulus or Blink or better still via The Gumbo Variations.
Pitch (1) climbed a few years previously by P. Holmes and M. McNaught.
Black Window * 40m E3 (5b, 6a)
E. Cooper, A. Moles. 1989.
1) 12m As for pitch 1 of Primitive Dance.
2)28m Follow the right edge of the cave until a leftwards traverse leads to a line of weakness through black rock. Climb this line, over a bulge, move left and continue more easily to the top.
Control Zone * 32m E5 (6a, 6b)
E. Cooper, P. Dunlop. 30/7/95.
1)12m As for Joyride to the ledge but traverse right to the belay cave.
2)20m From the left edge of the cave climb directly to a good undercut. Move straight up to a poor peg at two pockets. Difficult climbing leads to a confidence testing last move to gain good holds and an easy traverse left to the belay of Aristrocrat.
Graffiti Limbo ** 47m E4 (5b, 6a)
E. Cooper, A. Moles. 9/90.
The combination of highly technical moves and steep perfect rock make this one of the best routes on the cliff.
1) 12m As for pitch 1 of Primitive Dance.
2)35m From the right edge of the cave move up and right to a good resting spot below a white hanging slab topped by a roof. Gain the slab with difficulty and traverse left into a corner. Climb the bulge above (strenuous) to reach horizontal breaks which are followed right to a large grass ledge. Follow a blunt arete above to reach the top.
Achilles * 64m E2 (5b, 5c, 4a)
I. Rea, R. Bankhead. 7/4/l990.
Start near the middle of the wall at the base of the diagonal crack, down right of the big grass ledge.
1) 30m Trend right up ledges to a short corner. Up this and continue out right to long ledge. Traverse diagonally right to roof. Make a long step downwards under this roof and traverse right to belay on a ledge at the foot of Cumulus corner.
2) 12m Trend left across the wall (on the left of Cumulus) to gain good hold then up and left to gain ledge and good rest. Move up and right across the wall until below jutting block. Move up directly to this.
3) 22m As for The Gumbo Variations.
Short, Sharp, Shocked ** 45m E4 (6b)
E Cooper, R. Young. 1990.
Start As for Achilles. Follow Achilles to long ledge. (Possible belay). Move left to a flake. Using this climb rightwards to a small ledge and a good rest. Traverse right to a pocket and climb the impending wall above (crux) until possible to swing along a horizontal break and up the wall above. Cross the traverse of Gumbo Variations and continue up the wall above passing the final overlap on the right.
Second Corner Wall * 54m E1 (5b, 4a/4b)
R. Cowan, R. Greene. 11/74.
A good route with an obvious but committing start and a thoughtful finish. Start at a point 8m right of Achilles below a grass/heather ledge which is about 5m off the ground.
1) 32m Up ledges to this grass ledge. From its left-hand side make a high reach for a hold on the wall, pull up strenuously and move left to gain ledge. Then up past bushes, trending right until below a small roof. Traverse right on a horizontal break to where the roof recedes. Pull up on a flat but positive ledge and gain a huge flake on right leading to a large grass ledge.
2) 22m Either finish up pitch 3 of Cumulus or (better) move left and follow Pitch 3 of The Gumbo Variations to the top.
Variation Zakopane E1 (5b) E. Cooper, P. Lucock. Circa 1980. An alternative start to the previous route. Climb the corner which starts from the middle of the grass ledge to the right-hand end of the large overhang and then traverses left under the overhang and up the crack to bushes on Second Corner Wall.
Cumulus 48m VS (4c, 4b, 4b)
G. Earnshaw, C. Moore. 10/5/64.
A bit broken but a good earnest route for the grade. Start as for Second Corner Wall.
1) 21m From the right-hand end of grass ledge climb steeply up big flakes stepping left and up to ledge (possible belay). Continue up corner/crack to the large grass ledge.
2) 15m Up the wall until possible to traverse left using horizontal cracks and gain the grassy ledge by the right-hand side of the jutting block. 3) 12m Climb the crack on the right to the top.
The Dude Abides 50m E1 5c,4c,5b
I Rea, D Crawley & K Dewhurst
Start 4m left of Gumbo Variations.
1. 20m. Climb diagonally up right across a series of horizontal breaks to the left side of a ledge halfway up gumbo. Avoid Gumbo by making a hard mantel out left. Up to roof which is crossed at an undercling. Finish up a pocketed seam.
2. 10m. As for Gumbo Var.
3. 20m. Just before the step down on Gumbo climb up, difficult to ledge on the back wall. Go directly up back wall to flakes, easily turned on the right. Belays well back.
The Gumbo Variations * 42m HVS (5a, 4b, 4a)
I. Rea, M. Rea, C. Cartwright. 8/12/85.
Although a disjointed route the last pitch is one of the best for its grade in the Mournes. The route can easily be joined at the start of the second pitch, from Third Corner Gully, to give an easy VS. Start 6m right of Cumulus.
1) 12m Up an obvious line of pockets to a roof. Climb directly over this to a big grass ledge. (Possible to walk off right.)
2) 8m As for Cumulus.
3)22m Step down and make a long easy traverse across the upper cliff in a superb position to a prominent grass ledge. Up directly to top.
Blink-" 12m VS (5a)
I. Rea, M. Rea, G. Murray. 10/6/95.
Start on the big grass ledge 20m right of the top of Cumulus pitch 1. Climb via flakes to a large clean ledge. Up short, left leaning crack to a bulge and step right to finish up hand crack/flake (crux).
THIRD CORNER BUTTRESS
This is the most distinctive feature on the crag owing to the entrance of Cove Cave lying just to its right. A small amphitheatre exists at the back of the cave and this may be reached by scrambling through the cave, or by simply walking up Third Corner Gully. Three climbs and an aid route exist in the amphitheatre.
Call Up 20m HVS (5a)
D. Cunningham, G. Thompson. 1971.
Start towards the left-hand end of the arena at a rock flake. Follow a vein of resistant rock diagonally left through the overhangs to the top.
Demob * 22m HS (4a)
C. Torrans, C. Moore. 12/2/67.
Strenuous and sustained climbing in a surprisingly good position. Start as for Call Up. Climb over a large block and move right to a vertical wall. Pull up onto a ledge and climb the corner on the right.
Big Dipper (A2) S.
B. Moorehead. C. Stead. 25/8/67.
Gain the grooves directly above the cave exit, via a crack on the left.
Transistor 24m HS (4b)
G. Earnshaw, C. Moore. 6/64.
Start at the right-hand edge of the amphitheatre. 1) 9m (avoidable) Climb the deep green groove and then up the wide crack.
2)15m Up overhanging blocks, then climb either vertical cleft to the top.
The next four routes are on Fourth Corner Gully wall.
Agag's Wall ** 30m HS (4a) S. B. Moorehead, C. Stead. 18/6/67
A necky route which can feel handy or scary depending on mood and/or ability. Start 15m up the gully from Third Corner directly under overhang at the top. Climb just in from the left edge to a ledge and step right. Then up more or less directly to a horizontal break 2m below right-hand end of overhang. Either continue straight up and climb past the overhang at its righthand edge (4b) or traverse right to finish up Democrat. Alternatively, pull out over over the roof by its right hand corner on good holds (4c).
Variation: Direct Start VS (4c) An alternative harder start climbs directly to join the above line at about third height.
Pillar Variant *** 40m S (4a)
S. B. Moorehead, C. Stead. 18/6/67.
A HALL of FAME severe. Takes a line up the prominent detached face forming the right edge of the gully wall. Start a few metres left of the obvious left-facing corner which forms the left edge of the detached face.
1) 25m Up easily to ledge at base of dirty corner, move right and up the face (well protected) to the obvious large ledge at the top of a chimney (Third Corner.) (A poor variation climbs the dirty corner).
2)15m Delicate climbing up the arete (as for Third Corner) to top.
Democrat 40m VS (5a, 4c)
D. Stelfox, A. McQuoid. 24/11/79.
Really only a harder finish to Pillar Variant and could be climbed as a single pitch. Start directly below the obvious left-facing corner.
1) 25m Climb a rounded layback crack (crux) to join Pillar Variant at the ledge at the foot of the corner. Follow Pillar Variant to belay ledge.
2) 18m Move horizontally left and with a gymnastic move gain a small square-cut hold. Move left again to gain the left-trending fault. Follow this to top.
Burning Hope 40m HVS (5b, 4a)
I. Rea, R. Bankhead. 7/4/90
Start below the right arete of Pillar Variant at a flake on the wall. Up flake to gain ledge. Step left and move onto small narrow ledge. Delicate moves past finger slot to gain good holds. Follow arete to good ledge (possible belay). Either finish as for Pillar Variant or Democrat.
Third Corner * 45m HS (4a, 4c, 3c)
P. Gribbon, C. Boyd, B. White. 2/1956.
The arete provides a fine finish but before that there is the notorious chimney. It will only feel the grade on a good day with the wind behind you. Otherwise its desperate! Start 5m left of the edge.
1) 21m Gain the edge by a delicate horizontal traverse right to reach white ledge. Continue up blocks to the foot of the chimney.
2) 9m Thrutch into vertical holdless chimney (beware of jammed helmet) and gain the large ledge.
3) 15m Finish delicately up the arete.
Trog's Trot 49m VS (4b)
C. Torrans, C. Moore. 12/2/67.
The second pitch provides a sharp gorse bush (avoidable) and sharp exposure (unavoidable). Start just right of Third Corner.
1) 25m A tricky step leads to a white ledge, then follow a series of ledges to the first belay of Third Corner.
2) 9m Traverse right under an overhang until above Cove Cave (exposed). Continue up to a ledge.
3) Finish delicately up the arete as for Third Corner.
Ways of Escape * 45m E1 (5c, 4b)
I. Rea, R. Bankhead. 7/4/90.
A short, steep looking but delicate crux. Start just left of the entrance to Cave in miniature niche
I) 30m Go left then up ledges and up through blocky nose to below roof. Up right then straight through overhang to belay on ledge.
2)15m To the right behind the ledge is a thin crack. Up this and then climb the fault 3m to the right of the arete of Third Corner.
D. Dick, C. Moore, E. Wilkinson. Circa 1963.
Takes the central cracks in the roof of Cove Cave starting at the blocks at the back of the right-hand wall (looking up) and finishing at the right-hand lip of the cave.
Cracking Up 40m VS (4b)
R. Cole, A. Carden. 26/8/78.
Worthwhile for the first pitch but becoming vegetated which is undeserved. Start at the base of the double vertical grooves just right of Cove Cave.
1) 25m Climb left into the crumbly groove and ascend to a large heather ledge level with the top of Cove Cave (from where it is possible to walk off to the right.)
2)15m Climb left into the groove, ascend for a few metres and move out left to finish beside the groove.
The next two routes end on the huge heather ledge mentioned above where it is possible to walk off to the right. Sundowner * 25m E1 (5c)
E. Cooper. 8/4/83.
A technical little test-piece which takes the obvious groove and dyke on the wall right of Cracking Up. Climb easily to a heather ledge at the foot of the groove. Up the groove with increasing difficulty to a horizontal break. Delicately gain the dyke above (crux) which leads to the huge grass ledge.
Right of Sundowner is a greenish steep wall about 6m wide. At the right-hand end of this the wall changes direction slightly in the form of horizontal rock bands.
Dark Side of the Moon ** 30m E1 (5b)
E. Cooper, T. Craven. 8/4/83.
The route described follows a later finish but is the normal ascent, providing interesting wall climbing and a hard but safe finish. Takes the obvious weakness up the centre of the green wall. With a delicate move gain a large pocket. Moving slightly left, continue up past the overhangs to a ledge. Traverse left and climb the wall leftwards to an arete. Up ledges to a pocked crack. Climb this to a ledge. Mantelshelf with the aid of a good but hidden pock on the ledge. From the ledge at the top of the green wall there are two alternative finishes.
Variation a) Original Finish HVS (5a) E. Cooper, S. McCrory. 10/5/80. Move up a right-trending crack (as for Fox's Tiers), until it is possible to climb the wall on left.
Variation b) E2 (5b) P. Holmes, G. Murray. 12/4/86. Move right to higher ledge. Step right and climb wall by an awkward mantelshelf.
Fox's Tiers * 37m VS (5a, 4c)
R. Cole, A. Carden, M. Smith. 8/10/78.
Worth doing especially for the second pitch which is sustained and strenuous. This pitch can be easily reached along the large grass ledge which runs rightwards into Fourth Corner Gully. Start right of Dark Side of the Moon, at the base of the diedre which marks the change in direction of the wall.
1) 22m Climb the diedre to a slight overhang. Climb overhang by moving left (long reach) to a usually wet ledge. Continue up a right-slanting crack, to a huge vegetated ledge.
2) 18m Climb the wall 1 m left of the edge on good holds passing jutting block to heather ledge and large boulder. Up right arete moving right after 3m and continue right then up to finish.
Fox's Brush 35m HS (4b)
M. Mills, J. Forsythe. 4/83.
The obvious problem crack 4m right of Fox's Tiers finishing on the huge heather ledge.
As previously mentioned at the top of Sundowner/Dark Side of the Moon there is a huge heather ledge. The following pitch is on the short steep wall above and to the right of the top pitch of Cracking Up and provides a better finish to that route.
Ridicule Wall 15m HVS (5a)
P. Mallon, A. MacFarlane. 3/89.
Start at left side of wall. Climb straight up to right facing crack and niche below small roof. Out left and up to big ledge. Scramble out left or right to finish.
Up and right of Ridicule Wall is a short wall on which at least five short problems have been claimed. Stoker 20m D (J. McConnell, D. McMillan. 22/6/63.) which climbs the obvious angled corner at extreme left of the ledge beneath the upper wall. The best is:
Fairy 15m S (3c)
J. Archer, A. Costley. 22/6/63.
Start there is a horizontal platform in the middle of the upper wall. Gain the platform at its left-hand end, past a diamond-shaped chockstone, then left to hand jam the wall above.
FOURTH CORNER BUTTRESS
This buttress is the distinctive steep face clearly visible at the right-hand side of the crag on the approach. The most obvious feature is a triangular recess half-way along the face with a compelling crack line directly above the line of Praxis. The rock is excellent and offers varied routes with a fair amount of exposure. The first two routes start up Fourth Corner Gully on the left-hand side of the buttress.
Too Late to Fly the Flag 20m E2 (5b)
G. Murray, A. Carden. 28/5/87.
Protection is available but may not be of any use at the crumbly crux. Not the place for a shaky leader especially if falling! Start at the crack up the middle of the wall left of Fourth Corner. Climb crack to good ledge and last runner before the crux. Up groove with difficulty to the top.
Fourth Corner 25m D
H. C. Elliott, M. McMurray. 16/12/56.
Follow the arete at the base of Fourth Corner Gully to a choice of finishes.
Last Post 32m VD (R. Popplestone, L. R. Carew. 1/9/60.) is a poor route climbing the arete and vegetated gully right of Fourth Corner, eventually finishing up Fourth Corner.
Elvis 12m E3 6a
Ricky Young, Chris McKelvey, 12/06/01.
Starts under a roof at the corner of Fourth Corner buttress and the gully. Climb the easy back wall to the roof and swing out to large jugs on the lip. Move up and left using the next couple of horizontal breaks avoiding the crack and large sticky out flakes that emerge from the small corner and gully to the right using these drops the grade to E2 5c?). Continue up the horizontal breaks until forced right below another bulge followed by a couple of mantle-shelves to the top.
To the right of Fourth Corner are two obvious diedres running parallel which start from a height of 3m above the ground.
Brewer's Gloom *** 45m S (3c, 4a, 3c)
P. Grindley and Party. 18/11/61.
A magnificent route weaving its way up the face in superb positions to a thrilling finish. An absolute must - so just do it! Start in the recess on the well-cracked wall left of the diedres.
1) 18m Either climb this wall and move right around the edge to the lefthand diedre or climb the front wall, just right of the edge, to the same point. Ascend the diedre and move right to belay.
2) 12m Mantelshelf right (delicate) and traverse right around an airy corner to belay on a ledge below a steep wall.
3) 15m Climb the steep wall above on good holds, moving left at top.
Variation a) Brewer's Droop * S (4b) S. J. Crymble. W. Morrow. 1965. Start 2m right of the edge of Brewer's Gloom. 1) Steeply up the thin crack and step right to the right-hand diedre. Climb this to belay as for Brewer's Gloom.
Variation b) Brewer's Corner 10m E1 (5c) E. Cooper, T. Snaith.
Short but sharp. From the top of the first pitch on Brewer's Gloom or Droop scramble left to a large grass ledge below an overhanging corner/crack.
2) Climb the overhang using the crack and make a long awkward reach to a high horizontal break. Continue to top.
Given To Fly E3 6a.
Martin Manson, Mark Rocks, Eddie Cooper, 10-Jun-2001.
This quality route offers excellent climbing up the right arête of Brewers Gloom. Start as for Praxis, but continue straight up to a good stance at the base of the wall. Small wires or 00 cams useful here. Step up and left to gain the base of the arête. Climb the arête entirely on its right hand side, past a peg, to finish on the grassy ledge. The peg is good, but will require a tie off which can be easily arranged on the lead.
Praxis ** 45m E1 (5b, 3c)
T. Ingram, K Shelly. 19/11/61.
Although a steep route it is not overly strenuous except for the crux chimney which is both. This demanding crux, intricate route finding and exposure all combine to give a memorable outing. Start 4m right of Brewer's Droop below a small niche.
1) 30m Climb right passing niche to good ledge at base of shallow corner. Step up this to just below horizontal crack then step delicately right to ledge above small roof and continue up and right to a chimney passing an old peg. Squirm up the chimney and strenuously pull out at the top. Move right to belay ledge as for Brewer's Gloom.
2) 15m As for Pitch 3 of Brewer's Gloom.
No Highway ** 40m E2 (5c, 5a)
E. Cooper, T. Craven. 30/11/83.
Another excellent and demanding outing which takes the shallow scooped corner, at the top of the steep wall, half-way between the diedre of Brewer's Gloom and the chimney crack of Praxis. Start directly below this shallow corner and 1 m right of Praxis.
1) 25m Up steeply on flat holds to a small ledge below this shallow corner which is climbed (crux) to a large ledge at the end of the difficulties. Belay in the corner.
2) 15m Move right onto slab, as for Brewer's Gloom, and continue up left slanting crack above corner. When this crack ends trend right to ledge and on up the wall to top.
Route 66 E3 6a.
Eddie Cooper, Martin Manson and Ricky Young, June 2001.
Enjoyable steep climbing up the obvious cracks and groove between No Highway and Swing Low. Climb up the thin crack and groove to a bulge which is climbed with difficulty. Continue steeply to jammed boulder which is used to reach the horizontal break above (crux). Small friends and wires are useful for the protection at the start.
To reach the base of the next route either continue right then step down and across a mossy slab (prone to dampness) or a short scramble up from the base of the broken ground starting at a short corner almost directly beneath the gothic recess. Swing Low *** 43m E1 (5b, 3c)
M. Smith, R. Cole. 9/9/78.
This route directly gains the Praxis chimney to give superb climbing which is steep, strenuous and `out there'. Well protected but high in the grade. Start in the gothic arched recess. 1) 28m Bridge up recess moving left at its top to ledge. Gain the steep crack and follow this with increasing difficulty to enter the chimney of Praxis. Continue up and belay as for Praxis. Alternatively start 2m left of the gothic recess and climb delicately on flat holds to the ledge at top of the recess (original start).
2) 15m As for Pitch 3 of Brewer's Gloom.
Pressure Point E6 6c.
Eddie Cooper, Martin Manson, Paul McArthur and Ricky Young, 17/06/01.
Takes the obvious clean wall right of Swing Low. Move up to groove, arrange some protection before swinging up and right to a narrow sloping ledge. Climb straight up to a break and a knife blade (peg). Move up to good hold (crux) and continue up thin crack to ledge. Step right, then back left to top.
The base of the next route can be approached as for the previous route but continue a bit further right to a ledge. However it is much better to take the first pitch of Yukon.
Cartilage * 36m VS (4b, 3c)
S. Rothery, J. Sloan, J. Milligan. 13/5/62.
An innocent looking little pitch but with a `big' feel. Start 4m right of the gothic arched recess on a comfortable ledge.
1) 18m Up a series of steep ledges into a small corner and up this to ledge on right. Climb directly up short wall and swing up on crack/flake (possible belay). Continue left on grassy ramp to belay in corner as for Brewer's Gloom.
2) 15m As for Pitch 3 of Brewer's Gloom.
Yukon * 65m VS (3c, 4b, 4b)
I. Rea, l. Dillon. 2/91.
Start at the lowest point of Praxis buttress, some metres up and left from the large boulder field. 1) 15m Climb up the obvious cleaned line through the overlaps to a belay on the ledge 8m right of Cartilage and below a prominent blocky overhang.
2) 35m Step up right and climb the fault between the overhangs. Move up right to the edge of the massive slab and step into a small triangular niche before going horizontally right, across the slab, to belay at the base of the small corner/crack.
3) 15m On up the corner, swing out right, and finish easily up the overlaps.
Eureka * 55m HVS (3c, 5a)
I. Rea, l. Dillon. 2/91.
Although the finishing slab is easy it's still no place to relax with the exposure gnawing at your left-hand shoulder. The first pitch can be avoided by traversing right along the ledge from Cartilage. 1) 15m As for Yukon.
2) 40m Climb the wall immediately left of the blocky overhang, then traverse right onto a big ledge to cross Yukon and gain the edge of the big slab. Follow the left edge of the slab to a jammed block at the base 132 of some overlaps and step left, then back right, to finish over a few bulges.
The Far Country * 58m E2 (5b, 5b)
I. Rea, G. Murray. 30/8/93.
Start 10m right of Yukon and right of a large block 2m above the ground.
1) 40m Go steeply up for 2m then traverse left to the block. Gain ledge above block, then work directly up shelves to big ledge below an overhang. Climb the white wall left of the overhang then up and right to gain the big slab above. Belay in the corner as for Yukon.
2) 18m Traverse left, up slab for about 10m to base of obvious right trending flakes. Follow this and the wall above to top.
Two old routes, Ligament and Grips followed the next area of broken, vegetated rock and finished up vegetation on the now cleaned slab taken by the previous routes.
The Uncouth Roof 42m VS (4c)
R. Cole. 5/9/76.
Start just before Fourth Corner Buttress turns round to the East Face are two parallel vertical cracks. 1) 13m Climb broken rock to the left of the cracks and step right round the corner to a ledge on the East Face.
2) 7m From the right-hand end of the ledge move over the overhang and pull up the gently overhanging wall. Considerable exposure.
3) 22m Either walk up grass to top, or walk across to the base of a slab, and move up from a sheaf of blocks against the wall, keeping to the nose above and to the right above that.
The East Face lies to the right and round the corner of the Fourth Corner face. It is very impressive, somewhat lighter in colour and vegetation free, extremely steep and has much prospect for future high grade routes.
The French Connection 30m E5 (6b)
E. Cooper, P. McArthur, R. Young. 1997.
It is advisable to arrange as much unsatisfactory protection as possible before climbing the arete. Start as for "The French Route". Move up and left to ledge at base of arete. Climb the arete first on the right then on the left to roof. Right, around roof and continue to top moving rightwards over the final roof (contrived but fun.)
Les Jeunes Filles en Jupes d'Ete ** 30m E2 (5b)
A. Currans, A. McQuoid. 4/5/80.
Although not technically demanding for the grade it is a strenuous and sustained route in a superb situation. a.k.a. "The French Route". Start at the left-hand end of the wall. Move up and right fairly easily but strenuously to a ledge and peg at 15m. From here move up and left to the ledge below the obvious overhang. Finish by this, starting from the left-hand side of the ledge.
Variation Right-Hand Finish 30m E2 (5b) E Cooper and S. McCrory. Move right from the peg at 15m to gain the flake crack of A Winter's Tale and finish up this.
A Winter's Tale ** 30m E3 (6a)
E. Cooper. 1/11/88.
Worth checking out the condition of the pegs before an ascent. Start 5m right of Les Jeunes Filles. Follow a line of pegs leading to a ledge (crux). Using the flake crack above gain another ledge. Move up and slightly left until forced back right to good holds from which the top is gained.
Infidels *** 35m E4 (5c, 6a, 4c)
S. Reid, M. Manson, A. Whitcroft (One Rest Point). 7/86.
E. Cooper, A. Moles (First free ascent). 4/5/88.
Start about 20m right of Les Jeunes Filles, below a large ledge at 10m, above which is the obvious flake/crack feature of the crux pitch which terminates in an overhanging bulge after 15m.
1) 10m Start directly below the ledge, following a leftward-rising flake/crack feature poor at first, with minimal protection. Belay taken on ledge.
2) 17m Layback up flake/crack to overhanging bulge. The crux is gaining the ledge above using holds on the right wall. Continue straight up 10m to vegetated corner and take belay on conspicuous long ledge on the left.
Easy Lover E7/8 6c. 25m.
A.Marshall, D.O'Neill. 19/10/08. (headpoint)
Starts at the bottom of a flake line approx 5m right of Infidels. Climb the series of flakes trending rightwards until a small overlap. A long step up leads to a series of flakes were an assortment of gear can be arranged. From this point a long reach leads to the next break were a hard and technical traverse rightwards leaves you at a pocket and undercut. A hard move up and right (crux) leads to a wee bit more exposure until the bottom of another flake system is reached. A short rest bite and continue to the top with relative ease.
Sleezy Lover, E8 6c, 25m ***
R Bell, A Moles 18/4/10. (headpoint)
A perfect example of what the East Face of Lower Cove has best to offer. Steep bouldery climbing with a safe feel. Climb Easy Lover to the juggy rest at half height then continue straight up on undercuts to the sloping rail. Holds up and left lead to some respite before another bouldery section to get stood ontop. Good cam in resting slot.
The 5th Ape E5 6a. ***
D.O’Neill 12th October 2008.
Steep, positive climbing with good gear. Start under a ledge and plinth to the right of Infidels. Gain the plinth with care and backhand into the thin, right-facing layback flake on the left. Climb this to a good rest, gear. A tricky move gains the huge ‘bird’s beak’ flake up and right. Make a crux mantel onto the jug above using flat undercuts. Stretch up to the break and trend leftwards into the hanging groove.
Rokkenjager, E7 6c. ***
S Villanueva, A Marshall & R Bell 5/4/08 (Headpoint).
A scary line with a long runout through some bouldery climbing. Start up the crack in the back of the niche and move left with difficulty onto a big ledge. A bouldery sequence from the left end of the ledge leads up to the terrifyingly hollow flakes above.
The Dark Crystal, E7 6c, 25m ***
R Bell, 10/4/10. (headpoint)
The best wet streak in the Mournes, except maybe for the Sheaugh on Buzzard’s Roost! Start 3m left of The Rokkenjager. Bold moves up the black streak lead to good cams and a line of steep jugs which finish at the ledge below a short hanging corner. No 2 nut in flake out right protects the bouldery finish.
At the right-hand end of the east face is an obvious detached pillar with two almost parallel cracks on its right and a distinctive crack running from its left-hand side to the top of the crag. Two old aid routes, Mayday and Requiem are described in this area but have been superseded by progress or covered in vegetation.
Skelator ` E4 (6b)
E. Cooper, I. Moles, A. Moles. 15/6/88.
Start at the base of the crack on the left side of the detached pillar. Take the crack past a ledge until it turns nasty at two pockets just level with the base of a thin, pocketed crack in the right wall. Make a hard move to gain this and follow it to the top.
Old Bones and Echoes 35m E3 (6a)
C. Torrans, I. Rea. 9/86.
Start on the right side of the obvious detached pillar. Climb the right-facing corner to the top of the pillar. The crack/seam above is climbed to the top with a step right into Crack of Doom just after it becomes too wide for jams and then immediately back left again to gain the upper niches by some very strenuous laybacking.
Crack of Doom * 35m E2 (5b)
S. Mcllwaine, B. Stewart. 23/7/86.
When dry well worth the effort with a crux section, just below the overhangs of sustained interest but well protected. Start below the crack right of Old Bones and Echoes. Climb the broken overhangs to gain the crack and continue up this past small ledges. Commit yourself at a shallower part in the crack and on to the broken overhangs which are climbed on the right until it is possible to exit left via a good flake.
Fat Boy Slime E5 6a.
Seb Grieve Adam Wainwright 3rd July 2003 . Climbed on-sight, ground up on-sight with no falls.
Climbs the left facing crack at the right end of the east face of Lower Cove.. Start on a sloping shelf below a right facing crack which does not quite reach the ground. Clip an old aid peg with a stick. Climb wall and crack (often wet) for 40 foot till just below a ledge on right and second old aid peg. At this point the crack is so full of slime that it is impossible to climb.
Traverse out left past a small overhang (small wires and RPs) to a sloping ledge. Once standing on sloping ledge move up to in cut break and traverse back right to the crack. Climb this to the top.
The next route is found in a gully at the extreme right-hand end of the east face.
Thirteen Stone Weakling 17m E2 (5b)
I. Rea, G. Murray, G. Henry. 8/91.
Start at the lowest point of the right-hand gully wall. Move up the crack on the left of the rowan tree. Step onto the tree and then go left across the wall to finish up the steep flake.