Slieve Commedagh

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The fantastic array of gullies and pinnacles on the south side of Slieve Commedagh is known as The Castles. Short problems may be stitched together to form longer, broken routes but continuous routes are possible.

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The first three routes are near the eastern end of the whole Castles area. Best approached from the Saddle. Walk five minutes west along the Brandy Pad then nip up the heathery slope to the right.

1. Toil and Blood 22m E3 5c/6a
I. Rea, K. O'Hara 6/6/16
The obvious line 2m left of Archibald. Continuous thin face climbing up pockets and grooves to finish up a steep hand crack/layaway. Good gear, offset cams useful, but the cruxes seem to keep coming.

2. Archibald Hard Severe 4b. (~22metres)
Danny Carden, Andy Carden 26/09/08
Starting at a small niche, follow the cracks and breaks to a steeper single crack in an attractive right-angled corner. Jam up this to a ledge beneath a bulging headwall. Make one steep pull to reach easier ground.

3. Born Again Severe 4b. (~22metres)
Danny Carden, Andy Carden 26/09/08
Start just left of the toe of the buttress. Follow twin cracks to an awkward wide crack. Squirm up this with help of a flake and one good handhold to the ledge. Finish up the wide chimney, passing large jammed blocks with care.

4. Bare-knuckle Boxer * HVS 5a (~23metres)
Danny Carden, Andy Carden 26/09/08
Layback the slanting flake then make a tricky high step to reach the base of the bulging crack. Launch up the steep crack to a strenuous elephant’s arse finish. Move left to finish up the chimney on Born Again.

5. The Sunny Side 20m E1 5b
I.Rea, P. Irwin 27/8/16
Start up and r. of Bareknuckle Boxer. Climb up into an obvious flakey right-facing corner on the edge of the buttress. Climb corner, traverse right on slab to jutting block. Up over block and cracks above.

Tucked up left of Bareknuckle Buttress and partially hidden above a short rock step are the following routes.

6. Lemonade Springs 15m VS 4c
I. Rea, K O'Hara and V McAlinden, 18/6/16
The longest arête, split by a crack, finishing on face climbing.

7. The Tiller Girls 12m E2 5c
I. Rea, K. O'Hara, V. McAlinden, 18/6/16
The next arête left. Easier climbing peters out at two thirds height. Good offset cams cam be placed in the flake on the right, but continue up the arête edge with a bold finish.

If you take a descent from the previous routes by descending across and down an easy slope on the West, you come across a short buttress with an obvious crack on its East side.

8. Untitled 15m VS 4c
K. O'Hara, I. Rea, V. McAlinden, 18/6/16
Climbs the R.H. line on the S. facing side. Up short crack to large ledge then steeply up on good holds and flakes moving R. One of these flakes feels about ready to pop off, but is strangely locked in place.

The next three routes are easiest to approach by walking a further 150 yards west along the Brandy Pad, before walking up the steep heathery slope on the right. They are best found by spotting the prominent diedre and overhanging crack-line of Feeling the Crunch, on a buttress facing straight down the Annalong Valley. This buttress is in the middle of the Castles crags, on the right (looking up) of a large steep gully. All three start from a picturesque grassy ledge, invisible from below. Scramble up to this ledge from the base of the gully on the left (looking up).

9. Jobseekers’ Flake* Severe 4a. (~18metres)
Danny Carden, Chris Keag, Eamon Quinn 27/09/08
From the base of the next route, move diagonally up left to a prominent sling-able jug at 4metres and go straight up from here to a ledge. Step right to climb the steep positive flake-line just left of the arête.

10. Feeling the Crunch* Very Severe 4c. (~18metres)
Danny Carden 27/09/08
Climb the cracked diedre to a niche beneath the intimidating overhanging crack at 6metres. Pull through the bulge on perfect jams and follow the crack to the top in a fine position.

11. Spongers’ Corner Severe 4b. (~18metres)
Danny Carden, Eamon Quinn, Chris Keag 27/09/08
Layback the single steep crack two metres right of Feeling the Crunch to a sloping ledge beneath the twin-cracked corner. Climb straight up this on large holds, to a protruding square block. Use rounded holds to move past this on its left and reach the top.

The following two routes are located at the western end (left-hand end looking up) where the Brandy Pad crosses the first wide gully. The gully or the grassy rib to its left leads to the foot of a large west facing wall.

12. Harmony Constant * 30m VS 4c
I. Rea, M. Rea. 2/9/95.
Start - in the middle of the crag, directly below a miniature diedre which is half-way up the face. Step onto a jutting block and climb directly up a flaky wall, moving slightly right. At the point where the rock changes, from fine to coarser grain, step right to gain the base of a flake. Pull up and follow fault to the top.

13. King of Joy ** 47m E1 5b
I. Rea, M. Rea. 2/9/95.
Start - at the toe of the wall, in the gully and just below a short rock step. Go left up a shallow rotten gully for a few metres, then step right onto a ledge below prominent wrinkled slab. Go directly up for about 8m to an overlap. Cross this, then another, more prominent one about 3m higher. Go diagonally left then gain the top of a very obvious jutting block. Left again and go up a thin crack, then awkward moves right into small cave/hold. Go directly right from the cave to gain another thin crack. Finish up this.

At the base of the largest gully on the east slope of Commedagh, facing Eagle Rocks, is a small buttress (349286). The route below takes a hidden corner on the left side of this buttress.

14. Klondyke Corner * 25m S 4a
M. McNaught, G. Murray. 16/11/85.
Start - at a short crack beneath a sloping ramp. Climb the crack and ramp to gain the corner proper and continue up it to the top.