Writing something like a “best of” list is such a subjective thing, but also such a great thing to get a discussion going.
From writing the previous VS list I know I have a new list of climbs to add to my ever increasing wishlist.
To my shame I have climbed very little in Donegal. I daydream of trips to Cruit, Gola and Owey. Climbs like The Donkeys Pelvis looks like it could make this list with ease, but I haven’t climbed it yet, so I cant comment.
Ive been to The Mournes plenty, but mostly for work and lower graded climbs so Ive not even started ticking the climbs I want to do there personally. But pretty much from the day I bought The Mournes guidebook Parallel Lines and Sweetie Mice jumped out at me and I cant wait to get on them too.
So below is a list of the 5 best HVS’s in Ireland that I’ve climbed, so far. They may not be your best, but they might inspire you to get out and try a new route.
They make my list not solely because of their aesthetic qualities, amazing location or popularity, but because of who I climbed them with and at what stage in my climbing I did them.
I look forward to hearing suggestions of other routes I should add to my list.
Pangur Bán, HVS 5a, 36m, Farrangandoo
No surprise that the best HVS in the country should be at the best crag in the country. But putting aside my blatant love and bias for Fair Head for a moment, this is still a really amazing climb, best saved for late in the evening when the setting sun is on your back. The moves just feel fantastic and the gear is good. Ive had the pleasure of climbing it once on lead and once on second and I cant recall a HVS that Ive enjoyed as much.
Sarcophagus HVS 5a, 5a, 5a, 84m, Glendalough
I dont think Ive ever had an un-enjoyable days climbing at Glendalough, but the first time I did Sarcophagus was one of the best ones. Really good sustained climbing, on solid rock with plenty of gear. The feeling of being high above the Glendalough valley floor amplifies the experience. Its variation finish traversing into Left Wall is one of the top routes in the country too, but as its E1, thats slightly off topic.
Cuchulainn HVS 5a, 30m, Gap Of Dunloe
One of Cons fine routes and one of my first climbs at HVS. I remember being so absorbed in the moment and loved every bit of it, once Id topped out. I seconded Ferdia immediately afterwards and its probably got the cooler moves going through the roof, but for some reason Cuchulainn lives long in my memory as being an outstanding climb at the grade.
Hells Kitchen, HVS, 5a, 5a, 66m, Fair Head
Back to Fair Head and what an epic line. The first time I lead it, I kind of hated it. A really hot day, wearing too many layers and fluffing the top moves, I got cooked in the kitchen. The next time I tried it was a much more enjoyable one and id happily do it again in the morning, if there wasn’t so many amazing routes at FH that I haven’t tried yet.
Thrust, HVS 5A, Dalkey
Originally recorded as a 2 pitch route, its now commonly climbed in a single pitch. Whichever way you do it, its a classic and for me the best HVS at the crag. Good gear and a strong variation of climbing style from start to finish, its just so much fun to climb. Tucked away, it can be a great option on a busier day at Dalkey. Below is a link to a good video of Thrust being climbed, thanks to Conor for letting me use it.
Out of my reach, Gap Of Dunloe (a brilliant route and not reachy at all, as per Con the naming of it had nothing to do with climbing rocks).
Great Balls Of Fire, Ailladie (A stunning location and a bit of everything thrown into one).
Pis Fluich, Ailladie – pure marmite, some days i love it, some days i hate it.
Black Widow, Ailladie – 3 boulder problems on top of each other, each level harder than the last, just like a computer game, whats not to love.
Graham Crackers, Dalkey – The E1 5B of Cell Block H makes for a better climb and finish and for me pushes it out of the running slightly.
Meltdown, Gap Of Dunloe – I havent climbed it yet, but its always highly recommended.
Chocks away, Ailladie – another marmite route for people, but one I really loved climbing. Full value for the absorbing crux corner. Trust your feet and your cams!