J321251 This massive louring crag is often accused of being excessively damp. This is a misconception, for its jutting nature means that it does not take large amounts of drainage. In fact for a crag facing north-east and at a height of 500 metres it probably dries out faster than can be expected.
From the car park (345219) at the bottom of the Carrick Little Track follow the track to the farthest edge of the forest. Follow the left branches of the Track past Blue Lough and then cut straight up the hill to the foot of the crag. About one and a quarter hours from the car park.
The main feature is the massive undercut central buttress, arguably the most impressive in the Mournes, which is bounded on the left by a large square-cut recess. The right side of this recess forms the deep chimney line of The Sheugh and the left side is taken by Handcart Avenue. The major chimney line on the right-hand side of the crag is taken by Battle of the Bulges. Routes on the buttress left of The Sheugh and the central buttress itself provide routes of impeccable quality. However the once clean routes on the large cliff right of this are unfortunately succumbing to lack of interest and vegetation. Routes are described from left to right.
At the extreme upper left-hand end of Buzzard's Roost where it almost peters into the hillside there is a hidden gully with a small south-east facing wall. This provides climbs which seem trivial on such a big crag but most of them are nevertheless steep, sustained and clean.
Harp 7m HS (4a)
J. Harrup, E. Johnston. 5/7/85
Takes the first crack on the right-hand wall at the back of the gully, stepping off blocks.
Genesis 10m HS (4b)
E. Johnston, J. Harrup. 20/7/85
Double cracks 2m right of Harp.
Gordon's 10m VS (4c)
J. Harrup, E. Johnston. 5/7/85.
Climb wide, blocky groove turning overhang on the left. Sustained.
2m right of Gordon's are two steep parallel cracks above a large boulder.
Cream of the Barley 13m HVS (5a)
J. Harrup, E. Johnston. 20/7/85.
The left-hand crack past loose block and small overhang.
Joint Effort 13m HVS (5a)
E. Johnston, J. Harrup. 27/7/85.
The right-hand crack, wall and overhang.
Bacardi * 15m E1 (5c)
J. Harrup, E. Johnston. 27/7/85.
Obvious shallow corner in the middle of the wall 1 m right of Joint Effort, swinging in from the left.
Right of Bacardi is an overhang with two cracks running up the lefthand wall above it.
Swearbox 16m VS (5a)
Up to overhang at left-hand side and pull over using rocking block, then immediately traverse right for 3m to finish up the groove of Zola's Return.
The White Bubble * 15m E1 (5b)
l. Rea, M. Rea, K Lindsay. 12/10/86.
Start: as for Swearbox. But continue up the left-hand crack and wall, finishing directly. Sustained.
Gumboots * 15m HVS (5a)
K Lindsay, J. Harrup, M. Rea. 4/10/86.
Start: as for Swearbox. But continue up the right-hand crack. Sustained.
Zola's Return 18m VS (4b)
J. Harrup, E Johnston, M. Doherty. 3/8/85.
Start: below right end of overhang in centre of the face on the green stained wall. Make to large block and climb the groove above.
Exodus 23m VS (4c)
Start: obvious deep problematic crack at right-hand end of gully wall. Climb the crack to the top and then traverse left for 2m and finish up smaller crack.
On the left-hand wall of the gully are:
Green Slime 12m S (3c)
S. G. McNeill, T. J. Clegg, J. Harrup. 14/9/86.
The green corner/crack.
Zydeco 15m S (4a)
K Lindsay, J. Harrup. 12/10/86.
Up prow opposite Bacardi, make a long stretch left to ledge and mantelshelf to finish.
Variation Direct Finish * 25m VS (4b)
D. Stelfox, P. Turley. 9/80.
From the top of the first pitch continue directly up the exposed final chimney, sometimes using the crack in the right wall.
THE MAIN FACE
The Ledger *** 38m HVS (4c)
C Hiller, R Bell 4/7/11
Climbs the wall left of the large chimney near Twist of Fate. Best approach is to abseil in to the large flat ledge below a short corner. Climb the corner followed by a series of ledges moving left to where the wall steepens. Climb up to and past an amazing thread (crux) to a big cleaned ledge. Finish up left of the stacked blocks.
Variation: Heath Ledger 45m HVS (5a, 5b)
R Kernan, S Abraham 30/3/12
Starting from ground left of Twist of Fate, climbs left hand side of blocky arete to a ledge at 2m. Tricky move left to sloing block allows a mantle to the starting ledge of The Ledger. Belay here then follow the original line of the Ledger, keeping right where the Ledger goes left, long reach to a good rail. Traverse left to amazing thread and finish up original line.
The large chimney on the left of the Main Face remains unclimbed but the wall right of this provides the following route:
Twist of Fate *** 50m E4 (6a)
E. Cooper, A. Moles. 1989.
A tremendous route taking the right-hand side of this wall. Start: at the lowest rocks left of the major square cut recess. Follow a rib to grassy ledges, possible belay. Move left and up to an overhang under the arete. Surmount this and continue steeply to some reasonable resting holds. Grooves are now followed trending slightly leftwards until a roof bars the way. Delicately claw your way right to an undercut crack on the arete. A final tricky move gains good jams which lead quickly to the top.
Handcart Avenue * 40m E2 (4c, 5c)
C. Torrans, C. Torrans. 6/83.
A fine route for lovers of off-size cracks taking the left-hand side of the major square-cut recess. Start: at an easier-angled section of rock leading up to the impressive corner crack. 1) 15m Zig-zag up the easiest line to a stance below the corner. 2) 25m After a fist crack to start, the crack becomes off-width at a bulge at 5m. Face right to begin off-width and then turn left with difficulty. The struggle eases towards the top.
The Sheugh *** 73m S
W. B. Gibson, M. McMurray. 18/9/54.
'Despite almost permanent dampness, the main central chimney on the crag gives an outing of great atmosphere which is just on the humorous side of character building and best savoured with a large party in high spirits or preferably full of spirits! Start: by walking into the very bowels of the cleft.
1) 29m Chimney up to the first chockstone then out past the second to the chimney edge. Up further to tilted chockstone and belay.
2) 26m A strenuous, wet and exposed chimney traverse leads horizontally and up back into the gully bed.
3) 18m Further wriggling leads to a secluded meadow.
Variation Direct Finish * 25m VS (4b) D. Stelfox, P. Turley. 9/80. From the top of the first pitch continue directly up the exposed final chimney, sometimes using the crack in the right wall.
The Spirit Level *** 52m E5 (5c, 6b, 6a)
E. Cooper, P. McArthur (One Rest Point). 9/94.
Rest point used to clean loose rock on pitch 3 which was then led on sight. An exciting possibility for a huge pendulum exists on the final traverse.
1) 14m Follow rising right traverse to sloping ledge under a crack leading to overhanging groove.
2) 18m Climb crack to a balancy move into groove. Continue steeply until forced left (crux) to a second groove.
With waning strength continue until it is possible to gain a good ledge on the left arete of the buttress. 3) 20m Move back right and follow the obvious breaks to a groove (Rest point.) Continue more easily to top.
Plumb Line 20m E6 6b
Eddie Cooper, Martin Manson, Paul McArthur 15-Jul-2001
Starts from the ledge on the arête at the top of the second pitch of Spirit Level. After a tricky move up to get established on the arête, a long reach to a sloping break gains some poor holds. Careful footwork, and a quick pull leads to a long reach/lunge to a good jug. Move up with less dificulty to stand on the jug and arrange poor cams in the break. Another hard move up leads to better holds and that all-important mantle over the top.
War Music *** 50m E5 (4c, 6b)
E. Cooper, A. Moles (one rest point) 1989.
E. Cooper, P. Nolan (First Free Ascent with improved first pitch). 9/94.
A route worthy of it's position on the prow of the most impressive buttress in the Mournes. Start: at a platform 5m left of the arete.
I) Climb up a line of weakness to overhang. With difficulty, traverse right around the overhang and around the arete up onto another platform. Step down to small belay ledge.
2) Climb left and up to a short groove, left again and up to the slab above. Ascend this to another groove which is taken until forced to traverse right to the base of a thin crack. Getting to the top of the crack is the crux, after which easier though still interesting climbing leads to the top.
Divided Years *** 55m E10 (7a)
J. Dunne (Top-roped prior to first ascent). 9/94.
This stunning route takes the extremely impressive overhanging arete and its continuation on the right-hand edge of the Main Face. The seriousness and difficulty of the climbing will only be of interest to real heroes who should find the following informative description more than adequate.
Start: down and right. Climb blocky groove (bold) to an in situ peg runner. Climb directly up arete to in situ wire. Continue boldly to top.
The Central Buttress now turns a sharp right-angle and faces northeast and becomes less daunting but heavily vegetated - the word bogging springs to mind, however a lot of cleaning has taken place and there are now a lot of routes to enjoy. Abutting the north-east face is a more broken and grassy area of rock with a large grass platform at its top. Rising from this ledge is a steep ragged cleft of varying width. This gives the second pitch of the following route:
Strawberry Alarm Clock 45m E2 (5a, 5c)
C. Torrans, l. Rendle (One RestlAid Point). 23/6/74.
A dramatic line giving impressive situations but strenuous and awkward climbing on dirty rock. Start: below the steep wall is a more broken buttress with a deep crack separating the two. Scramble up grassy blocks to reach the foot of thin crack, just below a large overhang.
1) 15m Up to the overhang and struggle up into the off-width crack above. Continue awkwardly up the crack to large ledge below the main crack.
2) 30m The original route started up the permanently slimy deep crack straight above the ledge, using an aid point at 3m to reach the obvious niche below a large overhang. A much preferable way to reach the same niche is by moving up and right from the belay to a very steep corner crack. Layback strenuously up this to underclings and swing back left (rest point taken) to reach the niche on the main crack. Continue up through the overhang and awkwardly up the wide crack above. Difficulties finish below the final overhang as an easy ramp leads right to a block-filled cleft.
Pitch 1 previously climbed by I. Sharpe.
Alternative start to Pitch 2. D. Stelfox, S. Wheeler. 31/5/87.
Paddy-Lay-Back 60m S (3c)
J. Forsythe, R. Cole. 17/3/81.
Start: at a groove 5m right of Strawberry Alarm Clock.
1) 20m Climb the groove, exit right and belay.
2) 18m Move up right for 8m then climb the steep wall. Traverse right over grass and earth to belay ledge below corner.
3) 22m Climb the corner direct and use a large spike to gain the exit gully. Belays on right at top.
Right of Paddy-Lay-Back the cliff forms another right-angle. In the back of the recess are two deep parallel cracks which give the next two routes, both of which give steep climbing.
Rise and Shine 30m HS (4b)
D. Stelfox, R. Lawson. 7/8/77.
Takes the left-hand crack, finishing up the obvious right-hand chimney
VC Awarded 30m S
R. Cole, S. 0'Kelly, R. Merrick. 4/4/81.
From the base of Rise and Shine move right across the slab and climb the right-hand crack to the top.
The most prominent feature on the wall right of the previous two routes is a dark deep chimney splitting the crag from top to bottom. The next two routes can be found in relation to this chimney. Left of the chimney is a broken dirty buttress rising to a large ledge from which a smaller chimney leads to the top of the crag. This gives the line of:
Absent Friends 45m HS (4b)
S. McCoy. J. Forsythe. 8/84.
A good line but a poor route spoilt by excessive vegetation.
1) 30m From the foot of the buttress go up and take an ascending traverse leftwards. Move left round corner on good handholds and back right up teetering grass ramp to base of chimney.
2) 15m Climb the chimney.
Battle of the Bulges 50m HVS (5a, 4a, 4b)
R. McKee, B. Ireland. 8/84.
Start: about 1 m right of the previously mentioned major chimney.
1) 20m Ascend the wide crack in the wall right of the chimney to a sloping ledge beneath prominent overhangs.
2) 15m Avoid overhangs by moving round left into chimney, then horizontally into the back of it for comfortable belay.
3) 15m Climb directly above belay on left wall of chimney to gain ledge and move to its left-hand end before climbing straight up towards the light and broad grassy platform on right at top.
The steep, blocky wall right of the main chimney gives the following two routes.
Walk Tall * 42m VS (4c)
A sustained and steep route which goes up the centre of the wall. Start: in a corner below a small overhang in the wall. Climb up to right on good ledges then swing back left to a ledge below the small roof. Make a very awkward step up right around roof to ledge at the base of shallow square-cut corner. Follow corner to top.
Mithril 50m HS (4b)
A. Linton, R. Rowe. 14/5/76.
A good clean line. Start: at a short square-cut chimney at the right-hand end of the wall.
1) 20m Pull up onto grass ledge and continue onto large block belay on arete.
2) 14m Traverse left to corner and climb it to ledge (loose blocks on right). Traverse right to a grass ledge,
3)16m Climb vertical crack and easier ground to top.
The cliff now turns another sharp right-angle to present a steep wall facing north on which there are no routes. It then turns another sharpangle into a gully the steep left wall of which gives the following routes.
Hames Corner 30m VS (4c)
R. Cole, W. Holmes. 18/4/84.
If ever re-cleaned would give a fine pitch but presently not worth the effort. The route takes the prominent left-facing, green corner, starting on the left at the bottom, moving into the corner and takes three prominent overhangs directly. A few loose blocks at the beginning.
Hawk Walk * 30m S (4a)
J. Kerr, M. Henry. 7/6/75.
A good route with some surprising moves for its grade. Start: up and right of Harries Corner. Follow obvious line to widening chimney, at first on easy ground then out onto small wall directly below chimney. Up this wall, into chimney, then break out right to finish, keeping the green wall to the left.
Halleluiah I'm a Bum 30m E1 5b
I Rea K O'Hara 1/6/02
Start as for Hawk Walk. Climb up a few metres to the base of a wide crack. Step left to a ledge on the arête. Up arête to large ledge. Up right, then left up blocky pillar/face. Hard move up right to ledge on Hawk Walk. Step out left again and finish up rounded face.
Fallen Eagle 35m HVS 5b
I Rea K O'Hara 1/6/02
Start about 8m's right of Hawk Walk at blocky ledges. Up to triangular niche and follow thin crack and face holds until an unavoidable left step into Hawk Walk. Immediately step right again on a good layaway to downward pointing flake. Awkward move to ledge and finish more easily diagonally right to the top.
Persuasion 20m HS (4b)
M. McNaught, G. Henry. 30/5/81.
The climb follows high obvious traverse line at the top of the gully. Start on good foothold, bridge out and reach for a high hold, pull up left and onto good ledge. (Small spike runner). Continue left, trending slightly downwards and into corner. Continue up corner and easy wall above.