The Playbank

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Location - This gritstone crag (Grid Ref. 025 261, Sheet 26, Lough Allen) lies on Slievenakilla Mountain (Sliabh na Coilleadh 'mountain of the wood')above and east of Dowra. Slievenakilla is also known as The Playbank [OSI] or The Playground [OS ½"]. These names relate to the festive assembly held on the mountain on the last Sunday of July, at which sports and dancing took place (Máire MacNeill, 'The Festival of Lughnasa' (pp. 181-82). Also called Carrignahasta.

Approach - The best approach is to take the Glengevlin road out of Dowra for some 6 kilometres to Grid Reference 032 280, Sheet 26, Lough Allen.. A farm lane meets the road at an acute angle with a blue gate. Follow this lane through three farm yards for about 1.5 miles to white pillars at McNiffs farm. Parking is available here. Go up through the fields keeping to the west bank of a deep valley. The climbing area is about 20 minutes in front of you. There is a splendid campsite beneath the crag.


Description - It was visited by the Spillikin Club in the sixties and remained virtually untouched until 1982. The routes at present are situated on three distinct areas at the west end of the crag. At least a mile of crag remains untouched.

Playbank west.jpg

Playbank prows.jpg

FAMILY ALBUM 25m S 4a
B.Ireland, M.Mills 19th July 1984
Start 10m left of First There Was One.Climb steeply up small ledges to the base of a wide crack splitting a small bulge. Surmount this by swinging left onto ledge, move into crack, climb using chockstone and long reach to the top of a pillar in a corner. Step up and right onto wall to finish.


FIRST THERE WAS ONE 25m S 4a
B.Ireland, R.Finlay 16th July 1984
10m left of Time Slip at the first obvious corner.Climb steeply to gain large ledge trending left, climb large steep step on right moving on to blocks leading to pillar and corner. Climb corner directly.


SWINGING CELIBATE 20m HS 4b
R.Patterson, S.Hall September 1988
Start 10m left of Time Slip. Climb bulging wall to gain broken ledge. Move back into shallow corner and climb this to top on thin but positive holds.


TIME SLIP 25m VS 4c
R.Finlay, B.Ireland 16th July 1984
40m left of New Horizons. A wide, shallow chimney capped by two roofs.Start in the chimney moving up on left to the first roof. Step out right and then using crack surmount the overhang. Continue to the next roof, swing out airily right and up. Excellent protection, excellent holds, excellent situations.


TO TERESA AND THE BOYS 18m S 4a
R.Finlay, R.Patterson June 1988
Start 1m left of Pick Up The Pieces And Go Home below left trending flake.Climb the steep flake for about 3m. Move airily out right on to wall on small but positive holds. Climb the obvious crack to a large shelf, taking care with hollow sounding blocks when gaining shelf. Climb the obvious corner easily to the top. Exit with care.


PICK UP THE PIECES AND GO HOME 18m VS 4b
R.Finlay, P.Nolan July 1984
Start 10m left of New Horizons, 5m left of And The Second Suffered below a small roof.Climb steeply to blocky ledge and then continue up obvious corner above.


AND THE SECOND SUFFERED 25m VD
R.Finlay, P.Nolan, J.Leonard 20th June 1983
Start 10m left of New Horizons there is an obvious corner with a small tree on a ledge 3m up.Climb on the right and just outside the corner, first by a series of ledges and moving left from a big ledge at 5 m.


NEW HORIZONS 20m S 3c
R.Finlay, T.Fogg 1983
Start approximately 300m left of where The Prows peter out (east end) just past an enormous detached block lying against the face, at the right hand end of Promised Land area.Takes a very obvious left-facing corner to small overhanging blocks at the top. An excellent route.


FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN
S.Thompson, F.Thompson 1989
Start round the arête right of New Horizons on the face between the arête and the crackline.Follow line through loose rock.


COLD HAND LUKE 15m E1 5b
M.Walsh, H.Hennessy 26/3/2011
climb the crack just right of "FURTHER ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN". follow the crack for six meters untill it is possible to traverse out left to the arete,follow this to top.


COLD CORNER 15m S 4a
S. Billane
Climb the prominent square-cut corner 50 metres left of Hess. This corner finishes in a chimney going into the cliff in a leftward direction.


NICE GUYS COME LAST 15m S 3c
J.Forsythe, J.Hobbs, M.Forsythe
Just left of pillar in corner, left of Tear For Tito.Ledges and jamming cracks to finish.


TEAR FOR TITO 15m VD
B. McDermot, T.McDaid May 1980
Left side of wall.Climb the leftmost cleaned crack.


BLINK BLINK 13m S 3c
R.Finlay, P.Nolan 30th May 1983
Start 2m right of Tear For Tito at a crack leading to a ledge at 3m. Climb steeply to the ledge. Move left on to a series of small ledges, one above the other. Continue straight up. Fine climbing.


WINK WINK 15m VD
P.Nolan, R.Finlay 30th May 1983
Start 10m right of Tear For Tito in an obvious small corner which leads to the top of the crag. Crux at the top.


LINDA'S LEDGE 15m VD
J.Forsythe, M.Forsythe, J.Hobbs
Wide crack just left around the corner from Wheaten Farl.Climb this and traverse right awkwardly on ledges to the top.


WHEATEN FARL 13m VD
D. Agnew, D.Devlin 1980
Climb the big chimney, 3 metres right of the obvious corner.


SODA FARL 10m S 3c
probably D.Agnew, 1960's
Climb a cracked wall right of big chimney.


HESS 15m VS 4b
P.Douglas, M.Smith July 1980
Climb arête on left side of chimney left of Spandau.


SPANDAU 20m E2 5c
M.Smith, P.Douglas July 1980
Start - the overhanging wall left of Trotsky.Climb the left-hand crack to a small niche. Go directly up to reach a horizontal break and traverse right to start of jamming crack (extremely strenuous) which leads to the top.


GORBELS 20m VD
R. Finlay
Climb small ledges and swing right into wide chimney that splits upper cliff.


TROTSKY 13m VS 4b
E. Goulding, P.Kavanagh 1960's
Climb the obvious wide crack, 4 metres right of Gorbels, which begins about 3 m up the wall. No protection.

PEG WALL 15m Project
Peter Douglas placed a peg at two-thirds height in the steep wall right of Trotsky. Unclimbed.


THE RESCUE OF DARKIE MCNIFF 15m HVS 5a
A. Currans, R. Finlay August 1982
10 metres right of Trotsky on the right side of wall.Climb the steep cleaned crack to bulge. Surmount this using jams and a small knob to gain ledge. Up wall behind.


LENIN 12m VS 4b
S.Billane, P.O'Leary 1960's
1.5 metres right of obvious corner.Climb crack to grass ledge. Step left to groove for 3 m. Then left and right finishing on overhanging vegetation.


STALIN 12m VS 4b
P.Kavanagh, E.Goulding 1960's
Start to the left of the second prow. The first ascensionists scratched their initials at the base but they are unlikely to remain.Climb crack to ledge at 4 metres. Then up crack awkwardly to a large ledge. Up left of perched block and corner to top.


THE MAGIC OF MOVEMENT 15m E3 5c
M.Walsh, H.Hennessy 27/05/2012 cleaned on abseil
The striking arete to the right of STALIN, high in the grade. Cool climbing up the face using the arete on your left with small cams in the horizontals for protection, if you've got some aliens bring them.


BIRTHDAY GIRL12m E1 5b
M.Walsh, H.Hennessy 24/6/2010
Nice climbing up the thin crack 2 meters left of "taty farl"


TATY FARL 13m VD
J.Rotherham,B.McDermot May 1980
Climb the deep chimney/crack splitting the wall right of Stalin to ledge and up easiest line to top.


VELCRO FLY 13 m E1 5b
H.Hennessy, M.Walsh 24/6/2010
bold climbing up the slab just right of taty farl.


THINK PINK 10m VS 4b
R.Finlay, P.Nolan May 1983
Start on the small detached crag half way between the ledge area and the road. This obvious route starts on the right side of a large semi-detached flake.Climb steeply up ledges to the top of the flake. Continue up the wall on small holds either side of the crack.


JERICHO 8m D
Gortatole Party May 1980
Climb the stepped clean wall.


RED STAR 8m S 4a
E.Goulding, P.Higgins 1960's
Climb V chimney to ledge then up wall to top.


STAR OF DAVID 12m D
Gortatole Party May 1980
Climb obvious cracked groove right of Red Star

Playbank ledge.jpg

JACOBS LADDER 10m VD
P. Hall, A.Bates 28 March 1982
3 metres right of Star Of David.Climb the wall at right-hand edge to a platform. Traverse left and step around awkward block. Move left to top.


SOCIAL CLIMBER
Moss, Convey, Doyle 11 May 1984
Start as for Jacob's Ladder.Steep fingery climbing leads to some good ledges and up to a grassy ledge with a spike. Climb the crack behind the spike to finish at the highest point.


WAILING WALL 10m D
Gortatole Party
Up the wide wet chimney.


RED SQUARE 8m VD
S.Billane, P.O'Leary 1960's
Up nose diagonally left to platform and up wall to top.


JESUS WEPT 10m VD
R. Finlay
The funnel-shaped chimney above the small cave moving left. Awkward.


KREMLIN 8m VD
S. Billane,P.O'Leary 1960's
Up wall to ledge, then up thin groove.

Playbank buttress.png

BUTTRESS AREA - LEFTHAND BUTTRESS

The first three routes are on the face of the buttress.

36 SOCIALIST PROGRESS 16m VS 4c
E. Goulding, P.Higgins
Climb diagonally left to niche and then up slab on left to top of nose. Traverse under overhang. Climb it using strenuous crack ending in flake. Follow this left for 1.5m and then easily to the top.


37 LABOUR DAY 14m VS 4c
E. Goulding, P.Higgins
Up Mayday then traverse left and up crack.


38 MAYDAY 12m VS 4b
E. Goulding, P.Higgins
Straight up crack.

The following five roures are on the right-facing wall of the buttress.


39 PARTY RIFT 12m D
D. Rogers, E.Goulding
Straight up the wide left-hand crack.


40 BOLSHEVIK 20m S 3c
E. Goulding, P.Higgins
Straight up right-hand crack.


41 BASTILLE DAY 13m S 3c
P. O'Leary, S.Billane
Take wall right of two cracks to ledge, straight up.


42 TASS 10m VD
P. O'Leary, S.Billane
Up steps to groove and niche. Straight up crack to top.


43 PRAVDA 10m VD
S.Billane, P.O'Leary
Up groove to small overhang. Move left to diagonal crack.


Playbank6ab.jpg

Buttress Area A = Lefthand Buttress. C = Socialist Progress. D = Labour Day. E = Mayday.
B = Rightwing Buttress. F = Byrne's Shirt. G = Blueshirts. H = National Front. J = Running Dogs.

Rightwing Buttress

This is the buttress at the extreme R-hand end of the crag, just across the gully from right-hand buttress (Mayday, etc.) There is a lot of debris lying around beneath the buttress, but the rock on the face is mainly sound, with good pro. A small brush is useful for cleaning as you go.

Playbank.gif

BYRNE'S SHIRT 12m S
E.Hackett, G.Moss. 20/6/1992
A bit dodgy, this one. Start - 2m. up the right hand side of the gully, almost opposite Party Rift, at the foot of a corner.Climb the corner, treating the blocks with care.

Pb3.jpg

Blueshirts VS4c


BLUESHIRTS 18m VS 4c
G.Moss, E.Hackett. 20/6/1992
Sustained and well protected. Start - Below and right of the hanging groove on the left edge of the face. Climb, trending slightly right, then back left to gain a ledge at the foot of the groove, which is followed to the top.


NATIONAL FRONT 20m VS 4c
F. Winder, L. Convery 20/6/1992
A touch of the master's hand', this and the next route are Frank's last contributions to Irish climbing. A scrappy start leads to a fine finish. Five meters to the right of Blueshirts a pillar lies against the upper section of the right-facing wall, with a thin crack on it's left-hand side. The climb takes this crack. Start - 2m. right of Blueshirts. Scramble diagonally right over blocks to reach the foot of a steep ramp. Climb this and step right to gain the crack, which is followed with increasing difficulty.


FILTHY BOURGEOIS 20m HS
L. Convery, F. Winder 20/6/1992
A milder version of the previous route. Start - As for National Front.Climb as for that route until it is possible to move right to climb the crack on the right-hand side of the pillar.


RUNNING DOGS 16m S
G.Moss, E.Hackett 20/6/1992
An exposed and airy finish. Start - At the foot of a narrow vegetated gully about 8 m. right of the start of Filthy Bourgeois.Bridge up and step left onto a good ledge. Climb diagonally left to the base of the deep, clean crack, which is followed to the top.

Pb4a.jpg

A = Running Dogs S. B = Pillar of the Establishment HVS 5a.


PILLAR OF THE ESTABLISHMENT 18m HVS 5a
G.Moss, S. McMahon 21/9/1996
Interesting. Start - About 10m right of Running Dogs, on a ledge below a huge vertical flake, which is reached by scrambling in from the left.Climb the flake to a ledge two-thirds of the way up. Make a long step right into the niche on the face. Climb the crack in the overhang, crux and continue more easily to the top.



New climbs put up on a short trip to the Playbank in 2006. If you're going I recommend a wirebrush. Dirty rock and loose rock abound.

Dirty days HS 4A 18m
Start at the fallen blocks 2m right of the cave formed by the fallen slab. Move easily up to a ledge at the base of a vertical crack in the corner. Climb the crack using bridging or jams, passing good hex placements. Step right to finish on good jugs. Loose rock, belayer helmet recomended.
B. Cooper 17 July 2006

Dirty Days Variation VS 4B 18m
The face 1m right of Dirty Days provides a good technical start. Climb the face on small holds to the overhang. Surmount the overhang and step left into the Dirty Days crack, follow to top.
J. Goodall 17 July 2006

Heat Stroke E1 5A 18m
Heat Stroke takes a straight line up the face seperating Dirty Days and The Filth. Start as per Diry Days Variation, climb the face on small holds to the overhang. Surmount the overhang and continue through hard moves on small (dirty) holds. Escape possible into Dirty Days, but keeping the faith leads to better holds above.
J. Goodall 17 July 2006

The Filth HS 4A 18m
Crack in the corner to the right of Heat Stroke. Start 2m right of Heat Stroke climb the obvious crack in the corner by bridging or using jams.Beware of loose rock. Finish left, belay from large block.
B. Cooper, J. Goodall 17 July 2006