These cliffs have perhaps the easiest access of any of the Comeragh cliffs. Cars may be parked at GR314080 and a good surfaced track may be followed as far as the Mahon falls, if you are headed for the higher cliffs.
This little buttress with the following 2 routes is approximately 100m from the track (to the left) which leads to the Mahon Falls and is approx. 30m above it. It stands out as an obvious vertical and clean piece of rock, about 250m from the car-park, and its south-facing wall is marked on the right hand side by an obvious off-width crack.
The first two climbs are at the south-facing wall (facing the car park):
CALLUNA 10m HS 4b
J. Bergin, M. Lyng, 5. 9. 1996
This route takes the vertical crack line which starts about 3m to the left of An Giorra Maol. Climb the crack for 4m to the rightward trending break, move to the right and continue steeply upwards on bigger and better holds. Belay well back.
AN GIORRA MAOL 8m VS 4c
J Bergin, J Hennessey, June 1990
This route takes the crackline about one meter to the left of the off-width crack. Well protected.
Further 100 m into the valley, the next three climbs are at an east-facing wall (facing the footpath):
LEFT HAND CRACK 8m HVS 5a
J Bergin, J Hennessey, June 1990
Climb the left hand crack using some painful hand-jams.
CENTRE CRACK 10m HVS 5a
J. Bergin, A. Widger, 25th May 1990
This route climbs the obvious jamming crack in the centre of the buttress.
RIGHT HAND CRACK 8m HVS 5a
S. Gallwey, J. Bergin, Sept 1989
The route climbs the thin crack on the right hand side of the wall to gain the terrace above.
The following routes are located on the left of the valley as you approach the Mahon Falls.
Ancient Rain is in the middle of the high cliff above the path, just above an overhanging rock that juts out from the sloping hillside below. The crag shown in the topo is at the further continuation of this band of cliffs, near to the Falls.
ANCIENT RAIN 65m E2 4c, 5c
S Gallwey, J Bergin, June 1991
This route is located on the large and steep crag high up on the left of the valley as you approach the Mahon Falls. It tackles the highest part of the cliff where a double stepped overhang dominates the wall.
1. 20m Start to the left of the overhang, at the base of a corner formed by a slanting and protruding slab/ramp which runs diagonally to the right. Climb up this corner and then the ensuing slab to the large recess below the overhangs.
2. 45m. Bridge up the corner on the left hand side of the overhang until you can commit yourself to the crux sequence on the steep left-hand wall. Keep going on past the overhangs to the niche above and into a groove on the left which eases off to a belay just below the top. Very good protection.
5 MAHON CHIMNEY 20m HVS 5a
S. Gallwey, June 1981
The chimney is situated at the left hand end of the crag and is formed by a huge crack splitting some detached blocks. Climb chimney facing left on lower section and right on upper section. Poor protection.
HAPPY CRACK 20m E4 6a
Up the centre of the face to the right of Mahon Chimney.
This little route is an ideal one for the hard-climbing visitor to warm up on: from a sunny ledge with the the sight and sound of running water in the background and an easy walk-in, mostly along a metalled path. It is short, there are holds and protection, it looks about HVS. Sure, how hard could it be??
Start: up the edge of the ramp to the face. Up the centre of this to the strong crack through the small overhang and continue to top.
H. Fogg, G. Fogg 16/9/2014. Onsight.
6 HISSING SID 40m E1 5b
S. Gallwey, O. Jacob, W. Lee, October 1981
This climb takes the corner up the steep face of the left hand buttress to the right of Mahon Chimney.
1. 10 m. Climb up left hand side of the slabs to a large grassy ledge at the base of the corner. Belay.
2. 30 m. Climb up the corner until it is possible to step left onto a ledge after the first overhang. Regain the base of the undercut corner (crux) and continue up the corner until it is possible to exit up the left hand wall.
7 SALAMANDER 42m HVS 5a, 4b
O. Jacob, S. Gallwey, W. Lee, October 1981
This climb takes the centre of the slab up the left hand side of the central buttress. Start at the left hand corner of the slab.
1. 24 m. Climb the crack to just above the overhang. Traverse right (no protection) on whitish rock for 6m. into the centre of the slab. Climb up into a niche (crux) and gain the obvious crack to the left, reaching a belay on the grassy ledge.
2. 18 m. Climb wide juggy crack to top.
8 DERANGED COUSINS 45m HVS 5a, 5a
S. Gallwey, E. Hernstadt, May 1987
This climb takes the right hand side of the Salamander slab just left of the arête. Start at base of arête.
1. 22 m. Climb short wall to a ledge at 6m. Climb leftwards into a groove and continue on up cracks above the groove. Belay halfway up the cliff on a ledge on the arête, just below overhang (large friends or nuts for the belay).
2. 23 m. Step up left onto a ledge and climb straight up the face above, protection improving with height. Continue on up the face keeping close to the arête. The overhang is climbed on large holds just left of the break.
Alternative finish 5b
E. Hernstadt, S. Gallwey. May 1987
From the horizontal break 3 m. below the overhang, step around the arête into a deep corner. Climb the slab to the right until standing on the sharp nose. Climb straight up the impending wall above for 5m. to top.
9 THE LISTING ATTIC 45m VS 4c, 4c
S. Gallwey, E. Hernstadt, (alternate leads) May 1987
This climb takes the right hand side of the large slab on the buttress on the right of the Salamander slab. Start at the centre of face.
1. 25 m. Climb up easy ground just right of centre until just right of a niche where it is possible to traverse out rightwards onto the arête, thus avoiding the grass. Climb the arête with a difficult move to avoid the overhang. Continue up to belay on the arête below a second overhang.
2. 20 m. Climb the second overhang to the left keeping as close to the arête as possible (crux). Continue on up the face to a sloping ledge where it is possible to escape rightwards if desired. Traverse left below impending band of rock to a vertical crack, which is climbed to top.
9a Dave The Rave 45m VS
D. Keane, P. Flynn, April 2014
1. Start to the right of The Listing Attic and follow the grassy crack to belay at the ledge at the overhang, there is a lot of space here for large cams or hexes.
2. Continue by traversing left over the grass to cleaner rock (Mid slab). Climb slightly diagonally right crossing a grass filled crack all the way to the final overhang. Traverse left to finish.
10 IOMAIRE NA CAORTHAN 53m HS 4b, 4a
J Bergin, A Widger, May 1990
This climb takes the obvious arete approx 20m to the right (north) of the Salamander slab. (50 meter ropes desirable). Start in the gully to the right of the ridge proper.
1. 8m. Climb easily for about 5m until it is possible to traverse left onto the arête, then climb with confidence over a small prow. Continue and belay at a small Rowan tree.
2. 45m. Climb the arête to the top.
This is the [presumably correct] name given, in the 1958 Climber's Club Journal, to those on the right-hand side as one approaches the Falls i.e. South- West-facing cliffs. The 1956 routes Heifer Buttress, Calf Rib and Hilary's Horror are described as being at the eastern end of the cliff and Jacob's Ladder as being at the western end. Assuming that the writers did not confuse east and west, that puts the 1956 routes further away from the [Mahon] Falls than Jacobs Ladder, in the direction of Waterfall Slabs
The following routes are located on the east facing wall of the large gully immediately to the right of and overlooking the Mahon Falls. While the first pitch of Inarticulate Dreams contains some potentially loose rock, it was well tested. However, from the belay ledge, there are three fine lines up compact rock in an excellent situation. It is well worth abseiling in from a large block about 10m back from the cliff to climb any or all of these routes.
INARTICULATE DREAMS 40m VS 4c
J. Bergin, S. Ryan,. 5 August 1989
Start on the clean slab of rock two-thirds of the way up the left hand side of the gully, under some broken looking rock.
1. 20 m. Climb the slab on good holds until forced into a long and blind reach to the left for a good jug. Climb up steeply through an overhanging groove with some potentially loose rock, then up more easily (veer slightly left to simplify matters) and belay on a large ledge.
2. 20m. Follow a good crack, easily and spectacularly to a crack on the left side of the overhang. Climb this (5a???) to the top.
THE DREAMING 40m HVS 5a, 5a
J. Bergin, S. Gallwey, 10 May 1989
(1) As for the first pitch of Inarticulate Dreams.
(2) 20 m. Climb up the slab to the overhang, which is turned to the right. Follow the crack on the arête to the top (not visible from belay).
Direct Finish E1 5b
J. Bergin, J. Hennessey. May 1991
From the belay ledge, continue directly through the overhang onto the headwall. Spectacular.
POLITICAL WORLD 15m S 4a
J Bergin, S Gallwey, 22 April, 1990
This climb follows the right edge of a steep wall near the top of the western gully higher up the gully than the start of The Dreaming. Start at an obvious leftward trending ramp. Climb this ramp with confidence until it is possible to place protection behind a large flake. Step left onto the wall and climb trending right, up a crack and steeply to the top.
The following two climbs are on the corner of the right-hand buttress as you enter the above gully.
BROKEN DREAMS 18m HS 3c
J.O'Keeffe J. Horgan June 9th 2012
Start 5m Left & 7m higher up of Big Bang Theory
Climb obvious crack line for 8m, traverse left for 1.5m (Crux) then up slab section over obvious spikes (good protection) the route then joins into big bang theory.
Tat has been placed for abseiling off both routes.
BIG BANG THEORY 25m HS 4a
J. Bergin, R. Smith, Early 2000's
Starting 5m right of the entrance to the large gully described in the above climbs on a West facing wall overlooking the main coum.
Well protected for the top 18m or so of the climb, Big Bang Theory follows a varied width corner crack for the majority of the route. The crux is at approx 19m and involves exiting the crack/corner. After passing the crux proceed for 6m over a large block to belay.
The top belay should be checked for loose rock but the stance is quite spacious and affords great views of the Mahon valley. Abseil descent off large block to gully floor.
The following climbs were originally stated as being in Foill an Priosun, but best efforts at locating them place them on the North-East cliff (South-West facing) in Coum Mahon. This is on the basis of identifying and repeating Waterfall Slabs.
This party of climbers seems to have specialised in seeking out the most atypical 'rotten' and 'loose' rock they could find, on which to unleash their efforts. More recent climbers have every reason to be grateful to this party, particularly to the author of Screwtape, because their damning descriptions of the rock kept all but the intrepid away.
WATERFALL SLABS 46m D
Joss Lynam, solo, 19 July 1969
The obvious water-worn slabs at the east end of the crag. Start just east of the right hand stream, cross it after about 12m and go up the slabs between the two streams to the top. Conglomerate - fairly sound.
TOADPIPE 73m VD
Tom Woulfe, Joss Lynam, (alt leads), 20 July 1969
This climb is just to the left of the second big grass gully west from the waterfall. The gully is distinguishable by a rock island in its lower part. Start at the foot of a small slabby buttress.
1. 24m. Climb the buttress and scramble up grass to the foot of a wall. Conglomerate - fairly sound.
2. 12m. Climb the wall moving left. , then right to a ledge. Conglomerate - fairly sound.
3. 9m. Climb the wall above the ledge. Go diagonally left. , then move right just below a grass ledge and climb into a recess. Conglomerate - fairly sound.
4. 9m. Pull out of the recess, up rock, and then steep grass to the foot of a chimney in a corner. Conglomerate - fairly sound. The chimney is the logical finish, but it is very loose (sandstone) and the climb was finished as follows -
5. 18m. Traverse left round a corner into a grassy recess and then climb a chimney to easy ground. Sandstone - loose.
RAVING 137m HS
Niall Rice, R. Kinsella, 19 July 1969
Start - To the right of Screwtape
1. Up the obvious rib.
2. Loose rock to a belay in the corner.
3. A steep wall to easier ground.
4. Traverse left and finish up last pitch of Screwtape. (There is a direct finish but it is loose and was not lead).
SCREWTAPE 79m HS
Christie Rice, Paddy O'Brien, Joss Lynam, 19 July 1969
Start - Just right of a deep gully, the third from the waterfall slabs below a big nose.
1. 18m. Up a few feet, then move left onto the nose, up, back R. and straight up to a ledge. (Conglomerate - rotten).
2. 15m. Up the wall on the left, then R. , then L. round the bulge and up easily to the bridge of the nose (Conglomerate - very rotten).
3. 24m. Up grass slopes heading for the L. edge of the big buttress above. Then traverse R. on loose flakes and climb up into the recess, (Sandstone - loose).
4. 21m. Up grass slopes heading for the L. edge of the big buttress above. but for more interest, traverse R. down a grassy ramp, swing round onto a rib, and climb it to the top. (Sandstone).
JACOB'S LADDER 82m HS [original grade]
R. J. Wathen, K. I. Meldrum 1957
Ronnie Wathen and K. I. Meldrum could climb and had a good eye for a line. This is a good climb in a good situation. It is certainly worth VS and a case could be made for HVS.
The route climbs the stepped-ladder feature, one third of the way down the crag from Mahon Falls, that forms the right-hand boundary of the large wide-vee gully. The left-hand branch of this gully provides a convenient [if somewhat sketchy] descent.
The route starts from a detached boulder.
1. 25m. Climb straight up the face of the rib to grassy top.
2. 35m. Up slab and obvious vee-chimney. Above is quite tricky if one sticks to the rock. To grass ledge.
3. 22m. Up slab to ledge and thin crack on left. Rusted remains of original piton is still to be seen almost sixty years on.