Croagh North/Rathborney Valley

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Interim guidebook: Media:Rathborney_Valley.doc

A crag at Croagh North/Burrenwee (near Newtown Castle) Rathborney Valley in the Burren directly west across the Ballyvaughan/Lisdoonvarna Road from Ail na Cronain (Ailwee, Skull Rock). The crag is 15 minute walk north from Rathborney valley road. The grades so far vary from V. Diff to HVS and are in general 8 to 15m high. There’s a very distinctive natural rock formation, the Sphinx (locally known as the Hanging Rock), in the right hand side of the crag. The crag will be a good alternative to the more exposed crags in the area when the weather is poor. The crag, which is generally south, south west facing extends for about 450m. The co-ords are 120900E, 205470N and is about 100m OD. This preliminary guide does not mean right of way. Treat rock in places with extreme care (loose). Keep main road and gate entrances clear. Limited parking available at Rathborney graveyard. Up lane to main road turn right and then left up along private farm lane. (permission to access the lands yet to be sought from landowner). Close gates behind you and do not climb over them.

TBC= route topped roped and cleaned, requiring lead. There are several potential new lines to be explored at the crag.


Goat's Wall

An Poc Bán 10m VS 5a
Gerry Galligan, Jindra Kaplicka, Barry Watts, 8th July 2012.
Takes a thin crack on the wall, 3m left of the Cranebill arete. Crux at 3m.

Cranebill 14m S
Paddy O'Leary, Gerry Galligan, 17th June 2012.
Takes a line right to left across the prominent arete. Starts right of the arete up an obvious corner crack. Traverse left onto arete, crossing the edge and move up leftwards on the main wall, avoiding large detached blocks on the edge, to finish left of flat overhanging loose blocks at the top.

King Puck 10m S
Gerry Galligan, Paddy O'Leary, 17th June 2012.
4m to the right of Cranebill is a blocky wall with a very defined one inch vertical crack. Take the crack to the top, mindful of loose blocks.

Prague Direct 12m S
Jindra Kaplicka, Barry Watts, Gerry Galligan, 8th July 2012.
6m right of King Puck this line takes the prominent crack left of the overhang.

Bye Bye Boston 12m S
Barry Watts, Jindra Kaplicka, Gerry Galligan, 8th July 2012.
3m right of Prague Direct. Move up the groove over the wide ledge and trend right, beneath an overhang, to finish up the wall on the right.

Far Left


John Doe HVS 5a
John Doe HVS 5a

1 John Doe* 12m HVS 5a
Barry Watts, Conor Warner, April 2004.
To the far left of the crag at the bottom of the grass ramp, climb the obvious steep crack at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical crack, past a small overhang on the right and to the top.

2 The Fugitive 12m VD
Barry Watts, Radu Toma, April 2010.
A few meters to the right of John Doe is an obvious shallow corner. Climb this taking care of some loose / hollow sounding slabs. Take care. Red flowering bush during September.

Raven’s Zone



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X Duty Calls 13m HVS 5a

Barry Watts, Gerry Galligan, 23/8/2014 {ground up with rests}.

Climb the steep hand and finger crack 2m left of Bill.

4 Bill MacSway* 13m HS 4c
Barry Watts , Conor Warner, 19/1/04.

Identified by the obvious ledge and left facing corner at half height. Start on small block under vertical wall with disjointed slab to right with hand hold. Up to ledge 4b/ 4c (abandoned nest) under fantastic corner. Climb the corner good gear to top.

5 Dirty Thirty 13m VD
Conor Warner, Barry Watts, 19/1/04.
Start to the right of Bill MacSway up to grass ledge to steep short wall, up to another ledge under steep wall. Up wall to top.


Cry Freedom 16m VS 4c

Barry Watts Gerry Galligan, 19th July 2014 {ground up with rests}.

6m right of Dirty Thirty there is buttress boasting a clean left facing arête and wall. Climb the arete for 6m, traverse left (as holds diminish) along a rocky ledge next to the wall as far as the corner. Continue up the wide blocky crack on the wall to a steep finish.

12. Dear Mr. Fantasy* 12m HS 4a

Gerry Galligan, Barry Watts, 19th July 2014.

Shares the same start as Cry Freedom but takes a direct line up the obvious arête and left past the large block-flake to reach the top.


7 Comet* 10m S 4a
Malcolm O'Beirn, 2005.
10m to the right of Bill MacSway is a prominent left facing corner. Easy at first and then a good steep corner crack with good hand and foot jamming, to the top. Hollow sounding rock towards the top.

8 Boot Size 10m S
Malcolm O'Beirn, 2005.
Immediately on the right of Comet is a deep chimney / crack. Body jam to top.
Variation - Stepping Out S
Gerry Galligan, Paddy O'Leary, 17th June 2012.
Halfway up the chimney step out right onto the pinnacle. Continue up ledges to the top.

9 Hair Ball 10m VS 5a
Malcolm O'Beirn, 2005.
To the right of Black hole is a definite arête. Hard opening overhanging moves (5a) using crack on right and thin foot flake on left leads to less steep terrain to the top of Boot Size.

Minibar 16m S
Barry Watts, Jindra Kaplicka, Gerry Galligan, 8th July 2012.
Takes the left facing arete, 15m right of Hair Ball (between the two large patches of ivy). Start at the toe and climb rightwards into the obvious vertical crack. Reach a wide ledge and scramble up the wall to finish.

The Green Line 13m VS 4c

Niall McCurry, Malcolm O'Beirn, July 2007.

Take the wall 3m right of Minibar

Watts Pillars RTENOTITLE

10 Bob's Route 10m VD
Robert Nelson, 2005.
The broken wall to the left of Jack in the Box.

11 Jack in the Box 12m HVS 5a
Malcolm O'Beirn, Niall McCurry, July 2007.
Start on vertical wall at very thin shallow crack. Move to right and up sloping ledge below overhanging chimney. Climb chimney (3-4m) and exit to the right. (The pillars in this area have the appearance of the statues on Easter Island.)


X Choss Garden 12m S 4a

Malcolm O'Beirn, Niall McCurry, July 2007.

Start in the next recess 3m right of Jack, take the crack line on the right. It's first ascensionists reported alot of loose rock

X Pardon Megrahi 12m VD
G. Galligan, S. O Hanlon, 6/8/2012.
Start up the steep groove immediately left of the pillar. From its top scramble up to the base of the detached flake on the right. Step up onto this and finish up the short wall above.


13 Cacophony* 12m VS 5a
Barry Watts, Conor Warner, April 2004.
15m to the right of Jack in the Box is a definite buttress / pillar (ivy covered on the right) . Start on the bottom left of the pillar at steep face / corner. Up Corner with excellent moves and out onto right onto steep face. Move left up onto top of sloping overhang and onto face to the left side of the pillar and use horizontal cracks to finish.


14 Twin Cam 9m S 4a
Conor Warner, Barry Watts, April 2004.
15m to the right of Cacophony slightly up hill is a pair of cracks separated by wide flake. Up this to top using both cracks.

Black Biddy 20m HS 4b
Gerry Galligan, Barry Watts, 23/8/2014.
Takes the wide crack and shallow right-facing corner 1m right of twin cam. As the lean holds run out take a short deviation left into twin cam, when possible move back into the wide crack. Upon reaching the ledge continue up the clean slab behind and slightly left of the boulder, at the back of the wide grassy terrace.

The Sphinx/Hanging Rock

To the right of the crag is a fantastic balancing narrow detached block (7m high) on a narrow pedestal, standing proud of the main cliff. This feature (“the Sphinx”, locally known as the Hanging Rock) is the left boundary on the right-most section of the crag.

Carter's Curse 10m S
Gerry Galligan, Barry Watts, 8th July 2012.
This is the first crack in the wall, starting 3m left of Ra Ra Re. Short and sweet.

Ra Ra Re* 9m VS 4c
Barry Watts, Conor Warner, 13th April 2008.
An excellent little route at the left end side of the Sphinx Area. Obvious crack / groove to the left of the small bush / tree. Start on small holds on the left and work up into crack and up. Clean.

Tut Tut 9m S
G. Galligan, S. O Hanlon, 5/8/2012
Start immediately right of the small thorn-bush. Move up leftwards to a groove and up this to a ledge at its top. Follow the crack above to finish.


Cairo-Practor* 9m S 4a
Barry Watts, Conor Warner, 13th April 2008.
A good route. Obvious crack / groove immediately to the right of the small bush / tree. Up crack to small overhang in groove. Above easier on clean slope in deep grove cut

Seth Upon 9m HS 4b TBC
Tougher than it first looks. Obvious crack / groove immediately to the right of the Cairo-Practor. Up groove to small ledge on left and thin block (yellow) on right. Crux to get above grove onto face and directly to the top. Treat rock with care nearer top. (Small wedge of petrified tree route near top).

Tahir Square 9m HS 4b
G. Galligan, S. O Hanlon, 5/8/2012.
Start below and left of the small protruding block in an area of golden lichen. Climb to reach a jug just above the block. Scamper up to reach a higher block and establish yourself on the lower block Climb more easily to the top. RTENOTITLE

Just Giza 12m VD Jindra Kaplicka,
Barry Watts, Gerry Galligan, 8th July 2012.
Immediately to the right of Seth Upon in broken looking bay of yellowish rock. Takes the groove up right-hand side of the bay.

Pharaoh’s Prow 10m HS 4c TBC
The left prow of a deep steep narrow gully. Overhanging start onto steep pillar and little ledge with very small holly bush. More easily onto the top.

Cleo’s 10m D TBC
The deep steep narrow gully behind a tall thin thorn bush. Up carefully taking great care of the much loose rock.

Arab Spring 12m HS 4b
G. Galligan, S. O Hanlon, 5/8/2012.
To the right of Cleo’s is a steep 10m high buttress. Climb over jammed blocks to ledge. Up cracked wall to base of clean triangular slab and up left side of this to the top.

Night Moves to Cairo 12m HS 4c
G. Galligan (not seconded) 5/8/2012.

Start as for Arab Spring. From the top of the blocks move up and right to a grassy ledge. Climb the broken crack above and then the left-trending crack at the right side of the clean triangular slab (Lovely Luxor).

Lovely Luxor 10m HS 4b
Barry Watts, Conor Warner, 13th April 2008.
At right side of buttress climb into left trending crack after slightly overhanging start. Up steeply to crack to the left of corner and on to the top.


26m to the right from Lovely Luxor near the corner end of the crag is a final clean buttress with three short routes in three bays as follows:

Dea-Sceal S 4a 7m TBC
Short Fist wide crack in right side of left bay. Enjoyable.
Dusty Rhodes S 4a 8m TBC
Short grove in left side of middle bay. Enjoyable.
Arawisha S 4a 8m TBC
Start in corner from block and work out right over slight bulge to top in right bay. Enjoyable.

Note: X=possible new route.