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Island Life. Part 1: Burren and Fair Head, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
A happy Fair Head sunset after climbing Northern Exposure. photo Lee Roberts.
“A haunting layer of cloud trickled over the Paps of Jura. Flowing from the hills, driven by the breeze, it crawled across the North Atlantic. Rathin Island blurred. Wispy white tendrils of wet entered White Lightning Amphitheatre and butted Fair Head’s dolerite. And as I clung to the sharp of Hallowe’en Arête, I imagined tears forming on the ends of silver lichen.
Hallowe’en Arete, Fair Head. Photo Tim Neill.
The eight day trip was nearly at an end but above me there was still the crux moves. Dunking my left hand, chalk dust caught on the breeze. Lee Roberts hung below me, belaying, looking up, smiling. Lee had climbed the middle pitch of Hollowe’en – finger locks, hand jams, balancy compression – forty five metres of technical burley brilliance which topped the first pitch, a pitch of edgy green insecurity. At one point I thought about suggesting something else but at times, to get things done, to get through, to move beyond, you have to have resilience.
Reaching the tufa’s on Refraction. Photo Tim Neill
I took hold of a chunk of dolerite. Sharp, the shape of a ship’s hull, stuck to the surface of the right side of the arête, I pulled and matched and moved around the arête, into a groove. The white cloud swirled in a darkening sky. A crack ran the length of the groove and unlike much of Fair Head’s rock, the crack was dry and clean. The rock all around was crisp and grabby. I joked with Lee that a spider’s web was reason to take the slab around the other side but it was just a joke, I wanted to try hard for the last climb of the eight days, I felt I deserved it, I needed the difficulty. Trying hard, becoming engrossed, it eased the pain of failure from other aspects of my life at the moment.”
A few days earlier…
This is an extract from Nick’s latest post, to read on and check out more photos head to