Monday, October 31, 2016

The East Ridge of Mangerton North..Trying For A New Rock Route

I went with Frank on Sunday 23rd October to have a look at the broken rocky ridge that drops down the eastern side of Mangerton North in Kerry. It isn't very impressive to look at, nor is it continuous but it promised to give perhaps four short pitches of climbing. After our wonderful day at An t'Sais the week before we were full of enthusiasm and hope for the day and what it might bring.

The rocky east ridge of Mangerton North
The walk into the Horses Glen is always spectacular but often a chore as you have to cross rough deep heather and bog but today it wasn't too bad as I somehow miraculously found a reasonably dry route. As we got deeper into the glen we could hear the bellow of a stag and it was lovely to see him when we entered the narrow section as he made his way up the slopes of Stoompa with his "harem" of three or four does. It was quite breezy today and decidedly chilly as well and the wind became quite strong as we rose up the steep ground to the base of the rock. The first thing that struck us was that it was steep..very steep but there seemed to be decent possibilities for protection so I decided to give it a go. Initially I looked at the right side that offered a vertical wall with decent holds but protection was poor so I turned to the left side that gave an awkward start onto a sloping block but it looked do-able so I gave it a go.

Starting across the bog towards Stoompa

Entering the Horses Glen

Not hugely impressive but this was the pitch we climbed
My my but the rock was cold and soon my fingers were feeling numb. The climbing was okay though and after getting onto the block I avoided an overhang by moving left and then back to the right. Again things were vertical but there was good protection and holds. I was now up perhaps seven meters and there was only another three or four to the end of the pitch and a deep ledge and hopefully a belay. A crack went straight up the wall and I made a couple of moves to a sloping edge about five feet before the top. Here there was a spike of rock coming horizontally out of the crack which I hoped would make for an easy exit...I was in error. The edge offered a decent foot placement and the spike a good handhold but the top of the rock was sloping upward and offered nothing in the way of a secure hold. The rock itself was blank either side of the crack and suddenly I found myself in a bit of a quandary. I wasn't unduly worried as the crack was well protected but I placed a couple of bits it it just to be sure. Lots of looking and searching didn't seem to offer a solution until I noticed a one inch lip of loping rock about waist height a couple of feet at the other side of the crack that was the only feature on the otherwise smooth rock. It necessitated a long (for me) stretch to get my left foot on it and then a push across on the spike to try and position myself so I could stand on my left leg and get high enough to wallow over the top. The first time I tried it I failed and half slid and lowered myself back to where I started. The second time I managed to get the required balance and I was up. I huffed and puffed a little while and I looked for a belay.
Looking up from below. Four pitches on offer

Unfortunately there wasn't anything directly above the crack but about four meters to the left there was good sling protection. It would have to do so I set it up and called Frank on. He quickly reached the exit point and its fair to say that he was in a quandary as well. I was also acutely aware (as was he) that if he fell here he would go for a nasty old swing as the belay position wasn't ideal but fair play to him he figured it out and he got over and joined me. We were both mightily relieved and agreed that the pitch went at around VS or maybe HVS. Above us was another wall of perhaps 12 or 13 meters and again was very steep. I had a quick look at directly above the belay but it was an overhanging start with everything sloping the wrong way and no protection (certainly graded well into the Es) so I gave it a miss and looked at the right side. Here looked more possible but the rock, while dry, was covered in black mosses and wasn't too inviting so common sense prevailed and we exited the rock via a sloping ledge to the left. We agreed that the climbing was a bit beyond us but at least now we would wonder no more. We continued up and over the mountain and returned to our cars where I said farewell and returned home to pack my stuff for my next outing..a week hiking in The Alps. Busy busy.

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