This view of the Rathlin Wall is, for many, the first glimpse they get of the size and grandeur of Fairhead. It strikes a feeling of awe, respect and psyche into any climber who has made the journey up to the north coast of Northern Ireland.
For the past three years I’ve taken it upon myself to organise a mini trip to this climbing mecca to experience one of the best trad climbing venues in the UK. The previous couple of years our gradually expanding team from North Wales and Scotland had to put up with some rather wet, windy and wild weather. Fairhead however is one of the few big crags that is suited to climbing on in unsettled weather. Climbing last year in 60mph winds proved that! So when we seen the forecast this year with a large high pressure sitting over the UK we couldn’t believe it.
I often get a bit conscious of how much I witter on about Fairhead and how amazing it is and so when I persuaded (well, they didn’t really take much persuading) people to come across the past few years I was a bit apprehensive about what they would think, what if they thought it was crap!? I don’t think I should have worried!
This year Team Scotland and North Wales absolutely blitzed the crag…it was stunning to see nearly every E6 get an ascent, never mind the huge list of routes that the team collectively climbed. Without a doubt the ascent of the week was Iain Small’s onsight of Where the Grass is Green, E7 6c. This was incredibly impressive and Iain, along with Tony, absolutely smashed the place in during the week! Often when you look on various climbing websites you hear of various sponsored climbers doing hard ascents around the UK which is all very impressive. However over the past couple of years at Fairhead I have witnessed some equally, if not more impressive ascents of some very hard routes in flawless style without so much as a word being said!
The highlight of the trip for me was climbing Northern Exposure, a 2 pitch, 90m E5 that is without doubt probably the best route of its grade that I have climbed. Dave and myself did the 2nd ascent after nearly 17 years and then it had 3 ascents the following day…unbelievable. Nowhere else would a route this great remain unrepeated for so long!
By the end of the week people were starting to run out of superlatives to describe the weather and routes with ‘amazing’ becoming very overused. I however, have got to a point now where I’m running out of 3 star routes to do so I think on my next visit I’ll have to get involved in cleaning up some existing and maybe some new ones!