J348269 A small but very attractive buttress with sound and clean rock sitting high on the eastern slopes of the Annalong Valley, facing westwards to Slieve Beg. The crag offers a good variety of generally well protected routes and dries quickly. However apart from a few striking lines the routes on the main face may feel lacking in distinctiveness as they are densely packed.
The best approach is via the Bloody Bridge Track to the Donard/Chimney Rock col starting at the car park (388270) which is a few miles from Newcastle on the Newcastle/Kilkeel road. About an hour to the crag.
The main face is bounded on its left by a short wall facing south and the main face looking westwards. Hanging Corner is the obvious corner at the junction of the two faces. On the main face there are two striking crack lines running up the face which almost converge at a block on the top. The left-hand one is Thin Crack and the right-hand one trending left is Warsaw Convention. A further small south-facing wall bounds the right-hand edge.
Bristly 42m VD
I. Brown, C. Moore. 9/10/66.
An ambulatory first pitch leads to a sterner second pitch which gains in interest with height. Start 20m below and left of Hanging Corner at the left-hand edge of the crag.
1) 12m Up slabs to grass ledge. More interest by keeping to the rib.
2) 30m Climb obvious crack on left then left past overhang. Climb up and finish by awkward right trending groove overlooking Sherpa Conifer.
Sherpa Conifer ** 25m S (3c)
P. Gribbon, J. Madill. 5/52.
Tricky enough and surprisingly quite airy. Start 10m right of Bristly Pitch 2 at twin vertical recesses. Follow the left-hand recess then straddle right into quartz pot using high hidden jug on the right. Up left and finish as for Bristly.
Cum Marte 25m VS (4c)
R. A. Court, A. Matthews, R. Cox. 12/6/65.
Intimidating line but not as bad as it looks - still not a pushover. Start 1 m left of Hanging Corner. Make for the thin cleft splitting the steep wall, and climb up this to the top.
Hanging Corner * 21 m S (3c)
M. McMurray, B. Blakie. 6/49.
A fine route of character but prone to dampness but this only adds to the fun. Climb the obvious corner at the left-hand end of the main face.
The wall right of Hanging Corner can be climbed at about HS.
Bilberry Bhutia 21m VD
Immediately right of Hanging Corner. Climb the wall to a ledge at two-thirds height (can be reached direct by a wide grassy groove). Move right to reach deep crack at grass ledge and climb past the left-hand side of the nose.
Discrepancy * 25m VS/HVS (4b)
R. Cowan, C. Wray. 6/68.
Intricate to weave the easiest line with virtually no protection and difficult to grade (hence the split grade) because a slip from the hardest move would result in an unfortunate landing. Start 3m left of Thin Crack. Climb on small holds up the wall left of Thin Crack, meandering to find the easiest line. Many more direct versions are possible, at up to 5b standard.
Thin Crack *** 25m VS (4c)
C. Moore, G. Earnshaw. 6/64.
Excellent positive, well protected climbing with the crux low down but the interest is well maintained. Start at quartz plate below the striking straight crack. Climb the pocked crack.
The next two lines have their difficulties concentrated in the first third of their length and then both make the best use of the upper wall between Thin Crack and Warsaw Convention.
Stella Blue * 25m E1/2 (5b)
I. Rea, M. Rea. 23/10/87.
The bottom third provides independent and delicate climbing but rather eliminate after this. Start at a thin seam 2m right of Thin Crack. Climb it until it takes a sharp angle left into Thin Crack. Thin moves lead right to a good flake. Avoiding the left trending crack move left to climb knobs and reach last small ledge on Thin Crack. Either up this or Big Daryl to the top.
Big Daryl * 25m E1 (5b)
G. Murray, R. McNeill, G. Murray. 5/6/83.
An eliminate but with interesting climbing. Start at next seam right which also makes a left into Thin Crack but at a higher level. Follow the seam to horizontal break at base of thin crack. Continue up seam to good hold at one-third height just right of the flake of Stella Blue. Continue straight up the wall on good holds.
Warsaw Convention ** 27m VS (4c)
P. Gribbon and Party. 1962.
A fine complementary, companion route to Thin Crack and arguably as good. Start about 2m left of Big Daryl. Climb flakes and nodules then move right to the start of the main left trending crack which is followed to finish by a mantelshelf to the right (or continue more easily up crack).
Right again are another two left slanting cracks, the one on the right being deeper.
P is for Paddy * 30m VS (4b)
J. McKenzie, P. Gargan.
Similar in style to Warsaw Convention but not as good or as sustained. Start 3m right of Warsaw Convention below the first of these left slanting cracks. Climb the wall on small holds, and continue up crack with some interesting moves left to finish as for Warsaw Convention (4c) or step down and right to ledge. A direct start can be taken at 5b.
Minerva * 32m HS (4b)
The next left slanting crack, with a kink near the bottom, lying 3m right of P is for Paddy. Climb wall to gain the crack which becomes easier as it passes a grass ledge on the right near the top.
Lacuna * 35m HVS (4c)
C. Torrans, C. Torrans. 6/80.
Low in the grade but bold near the start then easier and pleasant after this. Start just right of Minerva directly below a quartz flake which is just above the first horizontal crack. Climb easily to this flake at 3m and continue to horizontal crack. Move left, then up crack and faint groove combination to reach easier crack which leads to long grass ledge (possible belay). 12m of easy climbing to top.
Mystery Games 35m HVS (5a)
G. Murray, B. James. 4/96.
Another worthwhile eliminate on the usual good rock of this buttress. Climb the line of small knobbles and grooves in between Lacuna and Spanish Flea to the grass ledge of Lacuna. Finish as for this route with 12m of easy climbing.
Spanish Flea ** 45m S (3c, 3c)
W. Jenkins, W. Martin, B. Hedley. 9/10/66.
A very good varied outing with steady difficulties rather than excessive on any particular move. Start about 3m right of Lacuna at a faint crack adorned with large knobbles, leading to a triangular block.
1) 22m Up the' crack and knobbles to the triangular block. Swing right round this to a recess. Up back left to cracks and up to right-hand side of the long grass ledge Belay below a short, left-facing corner, just beside a patch of dwarf junipers.
2) 23m Up the corner and step right to top of block. Thoughtful moves up the slab above to the top. Belay at block 10m back.
Springtime * 45m S (4a, 3b)
I. Brown, C. Moore. 3/64.
A short but delightful exercise in jamming. Start at a distinct crack 3m right of Spanish Flea.
1) 12m Jam up the good crack and belay at an overhung recess.
2) 33m Bridge up the recess above and step right into cracks. Follow obvious cracks and grooves to the top. Belay at block 10m back.
The lower part of the right-hand side of the face has two broken, leftward trending ramps, one above the other. The right-hand and upper ramp is taken by Britton's Route and the left-hand one by South Route and both with many possible variations. The short jamming crack of Springtime joins South Route at the top of the ramp in the overhung recess.
South Route 48m
D M. McMurray, B. Blakie. 6/64.
Start at crack 2m left of the right-hand edge.
1)15m Up to the lower ramp and follow it left to the overhung recess.
2) 33m As for Springtime, or move left to join Spanish Flea or any of the other, many variations.
Britton's Route 45m
D K. Britton, C. Moore. 6/64.
Start as for South Route.
1) 15m Climb the crack to the upper ramp which is followed leftwards to a corner.
2) 30m Up the corner and follow cracks on the right to the top, moving left or right around a short wall to finish. Belays about 10m back from edge.
No Brain No Pain 30m E1 (5b)
S. Mcllwaine, B. Galway. 7/9/86.
Although only a short variation the crux is bold and delicate - fairly easy otherwise. Start at the right edge of the main face. Climb edge on big flakes until flakes run out. Continue up steeper section by laying off small edges (crux), and easier rock to top.
Mind Me on White * 30m E2 (6a)
S. Reid, M. Aughey, A. Whitcroft. 1/11/83.
This route, although short has a big bite. It follows the first crack from lefthand end of South-facing wall at right-hand end of the buttress. Start on rock platform below the crack. Climb wall to start of crack. Continue up this and make a difficult move onto arete. Continue easily up arete to top.
Double Up On Orange * 30m E2 (5c)
M. Aughey, A. Whitcroft, P. Mallon (Using pre-placed protection). 1/11/83.
J. Crowley (First free ascent.)
The shallow corner 20m right of Mind Me on White gives an awkward struggle. Climb the corner delicately to an awkward bridging move below flakes. Layback flake onto ledge and follow flakes to top.
There are two traverses on the main face, one low level and running left to right and one higher level running right to left, both around VS (4c).
Further down the Annalong Valley, towards the Hares Castles is a broken buttress of rock containing Scorpion 50m VD (S. 8. Moorehead, J. McGrath. 21/11/65.)