J313280 The tors on Slieve Bearnagh are some of the most elevated crags in the Mournes set in grand surroundings. The climbing varies widely from short boulder problems (but not as extensive as on the tors of Binnian or Hen) to longer, exposed climbs on the East Face of Summit Tor. These routes are in a tremendous situation overlooking the higher Mourne peaks and the Ben Crom Reservoir.
The best approach to the tors is from the Trassey car park (312314) by the Trassey Track. Follow the track to the Hares Gap, and from here follow the Mourne Wall south-west to the summit of Slieve Bearnagh. This energetic walk takes about one and a half hours from the car park.
Belly Roll 18m VD
C. Brims, N. Capper, F. Martin. 24/5/36.
Start - at the slabby south side of the tor facing the summit and 10m right of the Mourne Wall. Up to slab and follow its right edge up to below right-hand end of overhang. Finish up groove on the left.
Hot Cakes ** 25m VD
M. Curran, M. Stitt. 9/11/75.
This excellent climb on clean rock takes an obvious crack running right across the South-East Face. Start - at the left edge of this face. Up to crackline and follow this right to a layback up a notch finishing by a vertical crack in the middle of the face.
Hot Cross Buns 18m VD
J. Seeds, I. Wilkinson. 9/2/89.
Start - as for Hot Cakes. However after 4m take the obvious vertical crack at triangular block. Up and move delicately left to a flake. Move over onto slab and finish as for Belly Roll.
About 30m right of Hot Cakes and almost at the right hand edge of the face is an obvious right slanting overhung corner. The starts of the next two routes are just left of this.
Wounded Knee * 15m HVS 5a
I. Rea, T. O'Dowd, S. Fitzpatrick. 25/5/87.
Start - about 2m left of Chinook. Make a gymnastic pull up to gain a niche and then ledge on Chinook. Traverse a few metres left and climb crack to the top.
Chinook 12m S 4a
L. Griffin. /71.
Start - 2m left of the right slanting overhung corner. Climb leftwards to small corner and then large ledge. Step into the obvious right-slanting grassy crack and follow this to the top.
Torture Chamber E5 6b*
Ali Moles, Andy Marshall September 2005.
Take the line passing the obvious in the bulge about 6m to the left of The Rage of Cardinal Richelieu. The route follows a strenuous traverse along a hand rail until the wall above is gained. Move left to the large hole and fight up the crack until a long balancy reach gains small holds over the bulge. Breathe out then proceed to the ledge.
The Rage of Cardinal Richelieu E46a/b *
Ali Wilson, Paul Swail, May 2005.
Takes the obvious line to the right of Chinook about 5m from the right side of Bearnagh North Tor. Start up obvious corner to a roof which is climbed with difficulty. Once established over the roof easy climbing leads to the top.
On the right of North Tor and just over the wall is a hidden mini-facet providing a few boulder problems. Only one is named.
Little Creatures 8m HS 4b
I. Rea, T. O'Dowd, S. Fitzpatrick. 25/5/87.
Start at the left toe of the boulder. Traverse along obvious line at mid-height to a large pocket. Step down and climb fault on the right. Two harder variations exist
1) Climb straight up from large pocket.
2) Climb the fault directly from the ground. Also the groove and scoop on the left goes at VD.
Blistering Bill 20m VD
J. Forsythe, R Cole. 20/4/81.
Start - at the col on the left-hand end of the East Face of Summit Tor. Climb a grass corner, traversing right to reach the prominent spike of Solitary Standing. Up past the spike and finish up a crack and corner to top.
Solitary Standing * 35m E3 6a
G. Murray, M. Rea, I. Rea. 31/5/87
The initial slab can be avoided by taking the grassy corner of Blistering Bill and traversing right to the spike. This gives a fine E1 (5b). Start - just right of the col below an obvious rounded pillar and right of the grass corner. Up middle of slab using right-slanting seam and dimple to reach a doubtful flake. Up to prominent spike on right side of pillar. Swing left to reach good holds on front face of pillar. Up left, then finish right.
Toewrecker 37m VS 4c
S. B. Moorehead, C. Stead. 23/8/67.
Start - at the left end of the East Face just right of grassy gully. Up slab moving right to grassy crack and follow this past large pocket to grass. Move right and gain the left-hand series of cracks
Variation Ballachulish VS (5a R. McKee, B. James. 22/8/76. Start - 2m right of Toewrecker. An awkward start leads to layback moves on a flake to join Toewrecker.
The Shadowline ** 42m HVS 5a
I. Rea, M. Rea, G. Murray. 7/9/86.
Pleasantly sustained climbing in the lower half with an easier but well positioned and interesting finish. Start - takes the prominent crack in the slab just right of Ballachulish. Climb flakes to reach a bulge. Climb this and follow crack to a ledge. Over a bulge on left and follow tramline cracks to the top.
Private Investigation ** 45m E2 5c
E. Cooper, P. Nolan. 2/9/85.
A pleasant warm-up of the lower corner leads to the excellent, sustained upper one. Start - the route takes the obvious off-set corners, split at half height by a roof, right of Shadowline. Climb the lower corner to just below the roof where an easy traverse right allows access to the upper corner. It is also possible to make a traverse diagonally right from halfway up the lower corner. Follow the upper corner with sustained interest to where it is terminated by a bulge. Climb this (crux) and move right along ledge until possible to gain the top.
The Body Electric ** 43m E2 5c
I. Rea, G. Murray, M. Rea. 31/5/87.
Interesting climbing leads to a short but committing crux. Start - 2m right of Private Investigation in a shallow corner. Up directly on flakes to the right side of the roof (junction with Private Investigation). Break out left through bulge and follow cracks until they peter out at obvious pocket on left wall. Hard moves left to gain pointed flake. Back right to finish up twin cracks.
The obvious corner is Work Party 30m S (K. Clauss, B. Kennedy, D. Naylor. 10/7/61.) which was once worthwhile but is now totally overgrown.
Small Beer * 22m HVS 5a
I. Rea, M. Rea. 21/9/86.
Although short and with protection it still feels a serious little route. Start - 6m right of The Body Electric is a series of large pockets leading up the slab. Climb up the pockets and the crack on the left until it is possible to swing out left. Step back right to a big sod. Up a few feet then back left to finish up cleaned flakes on the slab.
Romance Dance * 30m E1 5a/b
I. Rea, M. Rea, K. Lindsay. 21/9/86. No protection but the crux is in the first few moves. Start - 3m right of Small Beer is a flake on the wall. Gain the top of this and make a series of moves up and right to gain a horizontal line of pockets. Follow these right and then continue more easily up the face.
Between Romance Dance and the Main Face is an obvious grass-filled gully. The White RabbitS (J. Forsythe, M. Curran. 7/78.) is a poor vegetated route which starts at a flat regular block above the ground and follows grassy cracks and grooves just right of this obvious grassy gully. This gully marks the left-hand edge of a smooth wall bounded, on its right, by a right trending groove (The Mission) cutting its way through a line of overhangs.
Alice in Wonderland * 45m HVS 5a
D. Stelfox, S. Wheeler. 5/85.
Good climbing slightly marred by the meandering line. Start - just right of grass at the lowest point of the face. Climb up groove and over bulge. Traverse horizontally left, 2m below the overhangs, to a spike in corner and then left again onto the edge of the smooth wall. Traverse 5m left to grass ledge at right edge of a grassy gully. Climb the grooves above for 6m to gain a line of pock marks leading back right to the deep groove splitting the wall above. Climb this awkwardly to the top. It may be desirable to belay (large to medium friends required) at the grass ledge to avoid possible rope drag.
The Mission ** 45m E2 5c
G. Murray. 5/87.
Start - as for Alice in Wonderland. Climb the groove over the bulge and continue up groove with increasing difficulty under the overhanging wall above. Continue up pock marks and groove to top.
The Witness ** 45m E2 5c
G. Murray, I. Rea (One rest point). 7/9/86. G. Murray (First free ascent). 8/5/87.
Start - obvious right-facing corner left of Morning Dew. Climb easily to base of corner. Difficult sequence of moves to resting place in corner. Layback and friction awkwardly to the top.
Morning Dew ** 45m HVS 5a
I. Rea, D. Stelfox. 9/5/82.
A long demanding route with steady difficulties rather than excessive at any point. Start - below and to the right of a white patch which is below a triangular-shaped niche at about one-third height in the middle of the face. Climb up and past three oval-shaped pocks. Climb flakes to white patch and on to the niche. Climb out to the right and up the long crack to a good rest below a grassy tongue near the top. Go down and right via an obvious foot ledge and from its end climb up and right on good pockets to finish on the left on a large grass ledge.
Instigator ** 50m E1 5c
E. Cooper, P. Nolan. 29/9/85.
Start - 5m right of Morning Dew at the obvious crackline on the right-hand side of the East Face. Climb a series of cracks to a bulge. Surmount this (crux) and continue up the crack. When it runs out move right and climb the slab by a series of pock marks (small thread in largest one) to finish at a small niche.
Voss ** 50m HVS 5a
I. Rea. 10/4/96.
Start - about 4m left Marionette directly below a short right facing corner. Climb directly up the corner to the bulge on Puppet on a String. Go left through this, then gain good flakes and cracks on the left. Up these, past a distinct small pocket on the right at a bulge, until possible to step right into Puppet on a String. Up this for a few metres to the end of the cleaned crack. Follow a line of pockets horizontally left (good threads) into Instigator and finish up this.
Puppet on a String 42m HVS 5a
S. B. Moorehead, C. Stead. 23/6/67. D. Stelfox (First free ascent). /85.
Start - just left of the thin cracks marking the start of Marionette. Go up the slab a few metres, then left to a prominent bulge below a deep clean crack. Move up and left through this to gain good rest just to the left of the base of crack. Step right to steep crack and follow this to the top.
Marionette 45m HVS 5a
S. B. Moorehead, C. Stead. 21/8/67. Stelfox, S. Wheeler, W. Brown-Kerr (First free ascent). 6/85.
Start - at a series of thin cracks at the right-hand end of the main slabs. Climb the grooves to a shallow chimney. Up through this and then up along a ramped corner to a small overhang. Struggle up through this to the groove in the slab above, which is followed to the top.
Alberich's Curse * 40m E2 5b
I. Rea. 10/4/96.
Start - immediately right of Marionette. Climb up a tight, right facing corner for about 4m to gain a ledge. Climb the flaky arete right of Marionette until stopped by the obvious large bulge. Gain the highest possible traverse line and follow it right along a wide ledge into the corner. (This traverse is poorly protected for both leader and second). Finish up the corner and belay on a large flake. Escape off down and right.
Discovery 25m D
Start - at a buttress leaning against the north end of the Main Face. A corner runs up the middle of this, 15m right of Marionette. Climb the corner, stepping right near the top.
Hymns to the Silence 25m HVS 5a)
G. Murray, G. Henry. 9/91.
Start - at the extreme right-hand end of the main face, just right of Discovery. Climb the clean groove (left of the grassy ones) and up to the right to below an overhanging bulge. Climb this on its left-hand side and step right again into another groove. Up this and the arete to a grass ledge with a block belay.
Continuing around right and up the hill, the next climb is on the north-west side of the tor and situated just left of the main path to the summit.
Summit Sheugh * 12m S
P. Gribbon, B. White. 30/1/55.
Entertaining, almost laughably so, especially in its normally dirty and greasy state. Start - at an obvious cleft set amongst huge rounded shapes of rock. Straddle the cleft to the top, or burrow in at the half-way point to emerge from the tightest exit in the Mournes.
Manacles * 20m VS 5a
J. Forsythe (Solo). 7/78.
Start - just right of Summit Sheugh, two vertical cracks stop inconsiderately 3m off the ground. Climb overhanging rock to gain the right-hand crack (crux). Up this and move right round the corner to a groove. Climb this to the top.
Grumphy's Groove 17m VD
J. Forsythe (Solo). 7/78.
Start - this route is in the rocky bay just right of Manacles. Climb up easily to the base of the finishing groove of Manacles, then move right to finish up a parallel and easier groove.
Endgame 10m E2/3 6a
I. Rea, D. Crawley 17/5/99
30m left of Kittyhawk is a steep slab of rock at a gap. Start 1m right of the left edge. Climb very tenuous layback/layoff flake with a hard switch right to a thin seam/flake just below the top.
Californication 10m VS 4c
D. Crawley, I. Rea 17/5/99
The direct flake and crack just to the right of the above route.
Kittyhawk * 20m HVS 5b
I. Rea, M. Rea. 19/5/84.
Good climbing which is well protected but some mossy rock. The route takes a deep, dark left-facing groove at the extreme right end of the west side of the tor.
The southern end of the tor is a cracked slab and the next route follows the left-hand edge of the slab.
Lady Rose * 15m VS 4c
L. Griffin (Solo). 6/71.
Harder than it looks. Start - at big flake on left-hand edge. Climb the left-hand side of slab until it is possible to step into groove which gets easier. From the niche above climb up right with difficulty to the top.
Edelweiss * 15m E2 6a
S. Smith. 7/9/86.
Start - at the base of the large slab 5m right of Lady Rose. Climb directly up on good flakes to reach the centre of the imposing slab (peg in situ). Move delicately up on friction and tiny crystals to reach a good hold on the left. Continue to the top.
Idlewild E6 6b ***
Ali Wilson, Ricky Bell 22/10/05 (toproped prior to first ascent).
Climb Edelweiss E2 6a past the peg. Continue directly through the roof (on the left side of the 'nose') boldly. Once over the roof, holds on the right lead to the summit.
Kicking Horse * 12m HS 4b
I. Rea, T. O'Dowd, S. Fitzpatrick. 25/5/87.
A pleasant route saving its crux for the final moves. Start - at the foot of the grassy gully just right of Edelweiss. Climb the right-slanting crack on the left wall of the gully. Traverse horizontally left to flake/crack on left arete. Up this in a fine position.
Too Cool for School E4 6b *
Andy Marshall, Ali Moles September 2005.
Take the line about 3m to the left of Rescue Climb. Follows the slab until a series of pockets traverse with increasing difficulty until a dynamic throw reaches the ledge. Arrange gear and proceed up the slab to the top
Rescue Climb 25m VD
G. F. Martin. 14/8/38.
Start - this route is found in the large bay just right of the wide gully on the South Face. Climb the grooves from the left and continue up the left-hand edge. Surmount the steep crack to the top.
Slippery Sam 27m VS 5a
R. Greene, B. Carville. 7/75.
Start - this route starts at the col at the edge of the tor before it turns round to the Main East Face. Climb the crumbly cracks to reach left hand one of double parallel cracks. Climb the bulge strenuously, continue to a recess and exit via a short strenuous corner on the right.
This route is on the the western face of the summit tor. Coming from the Trassey Valley walk left around the main block of the summit tor and walk east. This face is now in front.
Slanting Parallels (Tim and John O'Connell, 20th June 09)
It takes the obvious rightward slanting crack (place gear here) and then goes into a smooth section using a key hold in the middle of that. Top out on the second rightward slanting crack. Belay from an enormous triangular block at the top.
Far West Tor
Get Rhythm 40m HVS 5a
I. Rea, M. Rea. 12/6/88.
A couple of bold and delicate moves constitute the meat of this climb. Start - on the south-west side of the tor facing Doan at a prominent grassy corner with a rib on its left. Climb the edge of this rib to reach a large ledge below a steeper section with an obvious pock mark 2m from the edge. Delicately up until it is possible to step left to the pock. Pull up (crux) and right to the edge and follow this to the top.
Doan View ** 36m D
A great route despite the possible variations. Start - 3m left of the grassy corner. Climb the flaky slabs and finish up a fine crack on the left above.
Further left around the Tor, the side facing Meelbeg is an overhanging wall.
Europa 20m E2 5b
I. Rea, R. Bankhead. 12/6/88.
Start - at the right-hand end of this overhanging wall and just left of a large block. Move up into a diamond shaped niche, strenuous layaway to gain the top of the jutting knob. Finish trending left on good holds.
Continuation Tor Route 25m D
Start - at the south-east side where the tor almost joins the Far West tor. Climb the broken rock to the top.
East Face Route 25m S 4a
Start - at the south-east side at a wide, grassy Y groove. Climb to the rather holdless intersection and exit by the right-hand arm or finish up the left-hand arm.
Crazy Horse * 32m E2 6a
I. Rea, G. Murray, M. Rea. 31/5/87.
Start - in the middle of the South East Face, just right of East Face Route. Move up and climb the obvious right-slanting wide crack, which leads to an easy continuation groove up the middle of the slab.
Rock Suppository 40m HVS 5a
M. Manson, J. Forsythe. 5/7/81.
Aptly named - especially if you fluff the crux! Start - right edge of the West Tor. Gain obvious spike at 3m and stand on it, awkwardly. Then step delicately onto the slab above (crux). Take cracks to the summit, turning them on the left where they are grassiest and steepest.
There is another tor which lies just below Far West Tor. On the east face (one opposite Cove) of this Tor is a fine steep slab split on it's right side by a thin crack.
Callisto * 20m E2 6a
I. Rea. 12/6/88.
Start - at an overhanging flared corner and reach the overlap with difficulty. Follow the continuation crack straight to the top.
There is a small buttress just west of and separated from Summit Tor which has -
Mickey Mouse 10m S
I. Rea, M. Rea. 10/6/84.
Start - on the side facing Doan. Climb a diagonal crack right to a grass ledge. Awkward move up then left to the top.