Errigal (Tower Ridge + North Ridge)

Publiziert von Stijn , 8. Juni 2016 um 22:55.

Region: Welt » Irland » County Donegal » Derryveagh Mountains
Tour Datum:28 Mai 2016
Wandern Schwierigkeit: T5 - anspruchsvolles Alpinwandern
Klettern Schwierigkeit: II (UIAA-Skala)
Geo-Tags: IRL 
Zeitbedarf: 4:00
Aufstieg: 650 m
Abstieg: 650 m

The information that I had about Errigal's Tower Ridge was rather limited. Some fragments that I found on the internet included "best way to climb Errigal", "loose rock", "can be solo'ed" and a vague topo on a blog. Enough to spark my interest. Equipped with a helmet for the loose rock, I set out to explore this route onto County Donegal's highest and most striking mountain.

From the MountainViews website (some kind of Irish Hikr), I gathered that most ascents that approach Errigal from the north seem to start near the northern end of Loch Altan. Driving there on narrow roads from the hamlet of Muine Beag / "Money Beg" (following the cycle route signs), I spot a suitable parking spot in a lay-by slightly closer to Errigal (see gps track). Still, the approach from here is rather long compared to the very direct tourist path on the south-eastern side of the mountain.

After passing some peat drying in the fields (apparently peat is still commonly used in Ireland), a pathless ascent brings me to a track along the crest of the long ridge extending north from Errigal. After a while, the path increasingly gets lost in the bogs. Thankfully conditions are fairly dry, so the bogs are not too troublesome to cross.

Around the 400m contour, I traverse to a small depression in the scree-covered Errigal north-west face. A number of grassy stripes cut through the scree, the largest of which leads almost directly to the bottom of the Tower Ridge around the 550m contour.
On the British Isles, the Tower Ridge would be considered a grade 3 scramble with climbing up to Diff. In this case, that could be translated to T5 and UIAA grade II. Generally, Tower Ridge offers pleasant scrambling and the quality of the rock is not as bad as I feared. There is one roped party on the route as well; I overtake them just before the crux. This crux is a somewhat bold move up a large block, using a slightly unstable foothold on the side of the block. The overall seriousness of the route is limited, though, since there are many places where you can escape into a gully on the left (north) if the climbing gets too much for you.

The route reaches the main Errigal ridge just a few metres north of the summits. There are two summits, connected by a short, easy ridge. A few other hikers have reached the top via the tourist path, but it's still relatively quiet for a nice Saturday.

I descend along the north ridge. My line is about T4 / I, but you can make it slightly easier or slightly harder if you like. I've seen some photos on the internet of a fine rock arch that is supposed to be along the north ridge, but I don't see it. Has it collapsed in the meantime, or did I just walk straight past it? The north ridge changes gradually from rock into scree, before reaching the bogs that I'm already familiar with from earlier on.

I'm back at the car in slightly less than 4 hours. It feels like it has been much longer, which must be a good sign!

If you want to stay in the area, I can highly recommend the beautifully located Glen Heights B&B in Dunlewey, a perfect base for hikes onto Errigal and into the Poisoned Glen.

Tourengänger: Stijn

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