Derek is one of my oldest climbing partners (although I don’t get to climb with him that often these days) and I was very happy to hear that he was up for a day out in Glendalough. He’s still recovering from winter injuries, so we agreed I’d lead any hard(er) pitches we might encounter.
Upon arriving to the base of the main face we ran into Andy&Vanessa, who were half way up first pitch of Prelude-Nightmare.
We settled on Scimitar Crack, one of the last of classic HVS routes in Glendalough I haven’t led yet.
SCIMITAR CRACK ** 74m HVS (5a)
This is the curved crack-line slashing the great triangle of the central Main Face from bottom left to top right. The 40m main pitch is well protected throughout, except for the brief crux where the protection is adequate.
1. 34m Just to the right of Quartz Gully vegetation has overrun the original route to the crack-line. Instead take the first two pitches of Prelude-Nightmare to an imposing flake belay on a narrow ledge.
2. 40m Follow the curving fault-line. Difficulty increases as it steepens. Bridge up a broad groove to a hanging quartz vein (crux). The climbing relaxes higher up as large holds appear. Swing right out of the groove onto the arête for the final moves.
F. Winder, S. Rothery, 28/6/1953.
We did what every one does these days (and the book suggests) – and climbed (Del’s lead) superb first pitches (VS 4b, 4b) of Prelude.
We swapped leads at the dodgy as hell flake (with some fixed slings) and I reluctantly moved on 40m adventure up the route.
The pitch wasn’t hard, definitely wasn’t harder than any of the HVS’s I’ve done this year, although the crux is VERY difficult to protect.
At the top I met a couple of Kerry climbers who were visiting for the weekend. They were just abseiling to the top P3 of Sarcophagus, to attempt the Left Hand Finish of it’s last pitch (E1, 5a) – something Diarmuid and I wanted to attempt on our last visit.
I met them later on, on the way home, and they said the top part of it was wet, but still worth doing. I still don’t know how to find the start of that pitch though…
Anyway, Del promptly followed collecting all the gear and we moved to Expectancy Slab abseil point.
This is mainly because my 50m double ropes wouldn’t take us to the ground from the main faces’ abseil point (which by the way is a nice and shiny stainless steel wire, great job and I’m sure it will serve the community for few seasons!)
We met there Andy & Vanessa again (who were just finishing up Deirdre, a classic VS).
We decided to quickly ab off and and do it ourselves. I’ve led both pitches in 1 push (as it’s commonly done). The route has couple of variations, but I kept to what seems like the classic configuration.
DEIRDRE ** 25m VS (4c,3c)
Tackles the left edge of the Main Face right of Expectancy Slab and is clearly visible from below. There are several alternatives but the following is the most popular line.
1. 15m Just right of the foot of the true arête there is an open shallow corner with a thin crack. Climb the arête left of the crack to a good ledge. The exquisite, thin crack above is grappled past the vacant pod to another ledge. Belay in the corner.
2. 10m Continue up the corner crack and then move out left onto the arête to finish.
The original route included a now neglected introductory pitch at 4b which follows a rock rib to a midway ledge and then moves right to regain the groove which is followed to the usual starting belay on the path below the steep wall.
F. Winder, P. Kelly, 7/6/1953.
We wen’t down again, this time to the base of main face and as we were packing up it started to rain. The rainbow over Miner’s Village was a signal to go home. Nobody argued over that 😉