Coum Dubh Location: Map ref. 8168
Approach: Across the centre of the coum at mid height (about 400m.) there is a barrier of rock. Below the rock is a grassy ledge, and below this again a steep slope of slimy rock and vegetation, very awkward to climb except about halfway along where there is a grassy nose. Above the grass ledge, a little to the left of the grassy nose there are three ribs, each ending in a vertical cut off, and each cut off having a crack or chimney as a possible means of access. The right (west) and central ribs were climbed on Easter Monday 1973, together with the slab on the right of the central rib.
The right rib is:
GOAT WALK 63m MS
Joss Lynam, Claire Sheridan. 23.4.1973
Start at the foot of the rib.
1. 13m. Climb a short groove to the foot of an open chimney, defended by a small overhang. Stand on boulder, pull up into the chimney, and continue to a ledge on the right (belay below and to the right).
2. 12m. Traverse across the wall to the right, and climb a short slab (utilising the crack between the slab and the wall on its left) to a ledge. Climb the wall above the ledge, bearing left (or move right to climb an easier wall and traverse back left) to reach a belay on the crest of the rib.
3. 17m. Climb the slabby rib on its right edge. At the top it is necessary to traverse delicately left to avoid a 'cornice" of dry moss, and reach a grassy step in the rib. Peg belay used.
4. 21m. Climb the quartz-marked slab rather delicately for 15m. to a grass ledge, then continue up an easier slab to a grass ledge and belay.
The second (central) rib is:
BLACK BESS 45m VDiff
Sean Darby, Sheila Willis. 23.4.1973
Start in a vegetative corner to the left of a large slab.
1. 14m. Climb this corner to enter an obvious chimney. Climb the chimney and exit on left to a large ledge.
2. 17m. Climb the slab above for 4m. and then gain arête. Continue up arête to belay on large grass ledge.
3. 14m. Continue up arête to finish behind large block.
Scramble up to easier ground.
The slab on the right of the Central Rib is:
S.O.S. 36m VDiff
Mick O'Shea, Colm D'Arcy. 23.4.1973
1. 18m. Start up the greasy slab, moving diagonally right. Gain access to a good crack moving left, and continue to grassy ledge with good stance and belay.
2. 18m. Straight up to a good flake, and move left around a large bulge. Continue straight up to grassy bank and belay (some loose blocks).
AENGUS 61m VDiff
Clare Sheridan, Sheila Willis, Bairbre Sheridan. 12.4.1974
Route takes the 3rd (left) rib (arête to left of Black Bess). Start by traversing awkward gully left of heather ledge.
1. 20m. Climb arête easily until reach vertical wall. Move right and pull up over block. Belay on block.
2. 36m. Climb crack for 2m. traverse right (protection poor) to regain edge of arête, continue up arête to veg. ledge belay (hard to find) or continue up belay 9m. above.
3. 5m. Scramble to top.
An epic ascent of the big crag behind and to the left of the new routes was made by a large IMC party in the late 1950's; it has not been possible to extract a route description. (Until now. See following two paragraphs and route descriptions below. D.H.)
The main cliffs at the back of the corrie are divided vertically into three sections. The section to the left of the main gully is at the steepest average angle, but it is not continuous and there is much vegetation. ROUTE 1 and ROUTE 2 lie on this section.
To the right of the gully, the steep rock is less continuous, but there are some fine pieces of rock, including THE AIGUILLE, an obvious pinnacle which is in the centre at about half height. The second two lines lie on this central portion. There is another gully to the right of this central mass, and there are some fine ranges of cliff to the right of this gully, but these had not been attempted at the time of these climbs. (I have no record of names having been given to these climbs, which were done as mountaineering routes up this large cliff. F.W.)
ROUTE 1 70m S
Ms E. Healy and F. Winder Easter 1957
This route and the next take a line up the face to the left of the main gully referred to above. They lead fairly directly towards the first summit on the Ben Lug More Ridge. There is a deep watercourse in the scree to the left of the main gully. Above this is a large helmet-shaped buttress below a wide-open gully ending in overhangs (there are two other helmet-shaped buttresses between this and the main gully to the right). Start directly below the wide-open gully, and zigzag up moderate rock and steep vegetation to the base of this gully (about 120m). A great slab runs out left from the gully base. This route and the next were taken up this slab.
1. 10m. Move out left towards a vegetated chimney. Belay at the base of a line of weakness running up the slab.
2. 25m. Straight up on good holds. Piton belay.
3. 35m. Continue up on smaller holds to reach a vegetated ledge.
This route and the next re-join on a vegetated rake which is followed up diagonally leftwards for at least 150m to reach the top of the cliff.
ROUTE 2 D
B. McCall, H. Quinlan and Ms L. Lehane Easter 1957
This route shares the start with the previous climb and follows the same line for about 120m to the base of the great slab running from the wide-open gully base.
1. 30m. Take the rib to the right of Route 1. Delicate and exposed, especially near the top.
2. 40m. Climb up the back of the gully, above a small waterfall, and then out right to the top. Very delicate and exposed.
This route and the previous re-join on a vegetated rake which is followed up diagonally leftwards for at least 150m to reach the top of the cliff.
THE AIGUILLE (an attempt) D
H. Drasdo and F. Winder (leads shared) August 1955
The Aiguille is an obvious pinnacle which lies about half way up the cliff, about half way between the main gully and the next substantial gully to the right. An attempt on this is recorded since it seems to have been the first attempt on the high cliff at Doolough. Very wet conditions contributed to the failure. To reach the start of the climb, climb about 150m of slabs and very loose vegetation (this vegetation had recently been burned and may normally be less unstable). The climbing starts below the front face of The Aiguille, where a groove runs to a ledge.
1. 35m. Hard. Climb slab to the right of the groove and traverse into it. Climb to the ledge and traverse to its left end.
2. 20m. Up edge on outside, traverse back right and climb cracks (loose rock) to reach a ledge.
3. To the left of the edge above, a series of holds on the steep wall above promises a route towards the skyline. Ascent of a few of these holds showed everything to be wet and slimy, so a retreat by abseil was made. The descent of the lower slabs and loose vegetation proved uncomfortable.
GULLY EDGE D
F. Winder and P. McMahon Easter 1957
The route followed the left-hand edge of the right-hand gully which leads directly to the second summit of the Ben Lug More ridge (Ben Lug More itself?). The rib on the edge of the gully was followed on loose vegetation and some rotten rock for about 150m. Above was an obvious broken slab and further left was another slab leading out to the edge of the buttress on the left. The route took the left slab.
1. 20m. Up slab on good holds to edge and then up to belay.
2. 25m. Continue up edge and then across loose blocks and move slightly right to ascend corner.
Easy climbing and scrambling leads up to the ridge near the summit.
Sean Darby made two routes at Easter '74 of which we have no details. One of them is in the Coum. The other is on the crag, easily seen from the road, on the spur which runs N from Ben Lugmore. (pl. 2616) The climb goes up the steep, obvious crack at the west end of the crag. The standard is about H.S.