Fairhead Meet 2016
Fairhead Meet 2016
Last weekend I visited Fairhead for the annual climbing meet. It was my first time climbing at Fairhead.
Ive been told for some time now of the awe inspiring vista of the cliff and the intimidating nature of the climbs. Ive seen footage from Underdeveloped and listened to brilliantly descriptive stories such as The Dimmest Glimmer.
But nothing prepares you for seeing it in the flesh for the first time. The setting is immense, the walls of Dolerite huge and everywhere you look classic lines and a lifetime of climbing presents itself.
Its been an adventure in itself to get here, having left Clare shortly after 9 am, picked up Brian O’ and Tony along the way, we roll into Seans farm shortly after 6 PM. Weariness is replaced with eagerness though and we opt for a couple of quick routes to get the account going. A lot of lines are busy, but we squeeze onto “Taoiseach” as a team of three. Brian O’ leads off the first pitch, heavily laden with an array of small cams the like of which Ive never seen. But I rationalise quickly hes from the US and such gear is commonplace there. As a mainly Burren based climber Ive no need for as many cams.
The second pitch falls to me and immediately Im glad of my climbing partners predilection for small gear as I get to grips with a thin crack of climbing, hungry for small camalots. A fine pitch, and I shrug off some rustiness with it being my first climb here and with a long drive behind me. The best piece of gear on my rack, self delusion. A quick ascent of another classic, Girona, wraps up the evening.
The next morning we rise early, beat the crowd and get onto Roaring Meg, a classic 100 metre 3 pitch line with the interesting grade of VS 5a for the first pitch. Sounds fun and it doesnt disappoint, the pitch is immaculate and the crux move amazing. A team of three arrive at the base and by the time we all share belay ledges and top out, new friendships have been forged.
The sense of community throughout the weekend is highly evident. I meet old friends, new friends and passing acquaintances each day and with the never ending supply of sun and quality lines, its easy to think of Fairhead as climbing utopia. I dont know many other crags that could sustain 500 climbers and still have room for more.
But back to the climbing, I lead a crack line called Contortions and am absorbed by it. I check the guide book afterwards to see how many stars it has. None. Any other crag and this would have at least two stars, but such is the standard of Fairhead, to stand out you from the crowd, you need to have a special quality.
We dont have to go far to find that quality though, moving approximately 10 metres to the right and abseiling back down the prow, I second Brian O’ on Faith Mo Bhuarta, Mind blown by its crux moves and a good few midge bites, we are done for the day. Its getting on and everyones keen to see Alex.
No one is disappointed and everyone gets in to see the show. Alex Honnolds talk is inspiring and funny, but he lacks the comic timing of the bleating lamb in the adjoining barn, who steals the show.
Over the weekend the climbing continues, the highlight for me being Hells Kitchen, which is just another another three star classic. I fail to read the crux move properly on the second pitch and compounded by the midday heat, the onsight goes a begging, taking two attempts to gain the top out. But at the end of the day, Im not too bothered, Ive added another piece to the puzzle, I’m wiser to the style here at the head and there’s 99 other classics still to do.
The entire weekend is a credit to the organisers, Paul Swail, Sean and his family and Mountaineering Ireland. Long may they continue in organising it. I’ll be back again next year for the meet, but ill be back before that too.
The lines are inspiring, the gear is generally good and the sense of adventure is high. What more can you dream of.