From sunny limestone crags in Spain to damp boulders in Wicklow, from frosty Himalayan peaks to Irish windy cliffs, 2017 was truly an amazing year and here are the rock climbing highlights of the year that gone by.

 

January


 

Hardest Female First Ascent EVER

Laura Rogora, age 15, has made the first ascent of La Gasparata, 8c+/9a (5.14c/d) at Collepardo, near Rome, which puts her in the running for making the hardest female first ascent in history. However, a few months later her record was beat by Anak Verhoeven.

 

Hi Tech Funk 8A 

Michael Duffy makes first ascent of Hi Tech Funk 8A at Mall Hill, Co.Wicklow. Here is how Mr. Duffy discribes it:

The Irish ‘Duel’ this brilliant slab desperate consists of granite pebbles, smears and credit cards. It’s funky, it’s hi, it’s tech.

 

February


First Female 9a+

Margo Hayes has repeated Ramon Julián Puigblanque’s La Rambla (extension), 9a+, at  Siurana – Valley in Spain. This was the first female ascent of a 9a+ route. Few months later (September) she also managed to bag the first female ascent of Chris Sharma’s Biography 9a+.

I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support I’ve received from the climbing community, and my family and friends near and far. None of us achieves our dreams alone, we do so together, and build on those who have come before us. We are a community that not only supports each other regardless of our backgrounds and differences, but is also one that realizes the importance of respecting and preserving our planet. The climbers at the cliffs in Siurana last weekend came from many nations, and were a snapshot of what the world can be like, one of support, communication, and peace. 👬👭👫🌍👫👭👬 Kudos to @honngy for the initial send… up next @jon_cardwell! Thank you @greg_mionske for capturing our try hard moments! 🎥 Xoxo Margo @thenorthface @petzl_official @lasportivana @dogearedjewelry

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March


Voyager 8B+ SS for Dave Fitzgerald

Dave Fitzgerald (arguably the strongest man in Ireland) claims  the 4th assent of Peak District test piece  Voyager 8B+ SS.  The problem was first climbed by Ben Moon in 2006 and had only been climbed by Niccolò Ceria and Ned Feehally before David’s ascent in March.

 

Rob Hunter x 40

Rob Hunter, a climbing coach, co-author of Fairhead Bouldering Guidebook, and boulderer, who put up dozens of hard problems in Mourne Mt, Wicklow, and Fair Head, set himself an ambitious goal to climb forty 8A (and above) boulder problems. The reason? Rob turned 40 in March, so what better way to celebrate your birthday than climbing some ultrahard blocks? Rob’s first 8A on the list was John 3.16 8A.

 

 

Piolets D’Or 2017

The Oscars of Alpinism – Piolets D’Or 2017 (which acknowledges exemplary alpine ascents for the previous year) were unusually presented to  two teams: Nick Bullock (seen frequently at Fair Head Meet) and Paul Ramsden for their first ascent of the North Buttress of Nyainqentangla South East (7046m) in Tibet (ED+ 1600m) and to the Russian team of Dmitry Golovchenko, Dmitry Grigoriev and Sergey Nilov for their new route on the North Buttress (ED2: M7 WI5 5.10a A3, 1400m) of Thalay Sagar (6904m) in the Indian Gangotri.

American climber, inventor and mixed climbing pioneer Jeff Loweis receiving the Piolet Lifetime Achievement Award, joining the ranks of eight others who have received the award since the first was given to Walter Bonatti in 2009. Chris Bonnington and Wojtek (Voytek) Kurtyka are among those who also received the award in previous years.

 

April


YCS Grand Final Ratho 2017

It was a great tournament for Irish climbing squad in Edinburgh during Youth Climbing Series Final in Ratho. Three members of the Mountaineering Ireland team took podium places: In Male Youth D Sean Henchion took third place; in Male Youth D Matthew Murray took second place; and Michael O Neill convincingly won the Male Youth A. Well done to all participants and winners. Great result for Ireland.

 

 

Leviathan – Portrane Monster Defeated

Dave Ayton completes his long-term project Leviathan 8A, his first bouldering problem at this grade. Some may see this not so much newsworthy, but considering how busy Mr Ayton is these days ( he is a father of three and string-puller behind the busiest and biggest climbing gym in Ireland Awesome Wall Dublin and Cork), the send definitely deserves an accolade or two.

Leviathan proved to be one of the most trafficked boulder problems of 2017 as it saw sends by local crushers i.e. Karl Nelson , Brian Hall  , and Conor Orr among the others.

 

Ueli’s Last Climb

On 30th April the climbing community woke up to the shocking news that Swiss Alpinist Ueli Steck – known as the ‘Swiss Machine’ – had died in an accident near Mount Everest. Steck was in the area with the objective of climbing the unrepeated West Ridge/Hornbein Couloir route without the use of supplementary oxygen. According to his Facebook Page, Steck had been acclimatising in the days prior to the accident.

 

May


Metropolis 8C?, Lough Tay, Co.Wicklow

Michael Duffy has made the FA of one of Ireland’s hardest boulder problems to date. Metropolis is situated in the beautiful and remote boulder field of Lough Tay and consists of big moves through the blank roof section of an amazing hanging boulder. If the grade is confirmed Metropolis will become Ireland’s hardest boulder problem second to Soul Revolution 8B+/8C in Glenmalure, Co.Wicklow. Video below:

 

Divided Years E8/E9 6c

John McCune, sends his dream-project Divided Years in Mourne Mt, Northern Ireland. As he reported on his Instagram: ”Divided years” has been a goal for the last few years… an hour away from where I grew up and in the heart of the kingdom of Mourne, it is a kingline. Today I put it all together and it all worked out. It’s been good, and it’s made me a better climber. I learnt to sport climb and how to try hard. Thanks everyone who’s held my ropes on this and kept up the good vibes. ”

 

Jornet’s Everest x 2

Spanish climber, Kilian Jornet,  scaled Mount Everest twice in a week without oxygen. He claims to have raced up the world’s highest mountain in 17 hours just five days after summiting it in 26 hours. Jornet’s time is just 15 minutes off the record set by the Italian climber Hans Kammerlander, who climbed Everest in 16 hours and 45 minutes in 1996.

[EXPEDITION UPDATE] Kilian Jornet summited Mount Everest twice in a week without using supplemental oxygen. For this ascent, Kilian Jornet left on May 27th from Advanced Base Camp (6.500m) and it took him 17 hours to the summit in a very windy day. From there, he returned to the Advanced Base Camp where he is resting with Seb Montaz. More info soon. Picture: Kilian back at the ABC _______________________________________________________ Kilian Jornet repite cima en el Everest por segunda vez en una semana sin usar oxígeno artificial. Para este ascenso, Kilian Jornet salió el 27 de Mayo del Campo Base Avanzado (6.500m) e hizo cumbre en 17 horas en un día con mucho viento. Desde allí, volvió al Campo Base Avanzado donde está descansando con. Más información pronto. Foto: Kilian de vuelta al Advanced Base Camp _______________________________________________________ Kilian Jornet repeteix cim a l’Everest per segona vegada en una setmana sense oxigen artificial. Per a aquest ascens, Kilian Jornet va sortir el 27 de Maig del Camp Base Avançat (6.500m) i va fer cim en 17 hores en un dia amb molt de vent. Des d’allà, va tornar al Camp Base Avançat on està descansant amb Seb Momtaz. Més informació aviat. #OurEverest Foto: Kilian de tornada a l’Advanced Base Camp

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June


Fair Head Meet

For many climbers from Ireland first weekend of June can only mean one thing – FAIR HEAD MEET. The best and the coolest climbers’ meet in Ireland (perhaps in the world)  attracts  hundreds of climbers from the island and abroad. Known for its world-famous guests speakers and evening talks in Sean’s ”rustic” barn, the meet grows from strength to strength each year, attracting visitors from continental Europe and further afield.

This year’s meet saw Calvin and Clare Torrans delivering their absorbing talk about history of Fair Head climbing, as well Tom Randall providing us with insight into his speciality i.e. crack climbing and training.

Since that first weekend 9 years ago it has been organised by Paul Swail and supported by Mountaineering Ireland, the Irish governing body for climbing activities.

 

Peace Brodda E7

Ricky Bell puts a new route at Buzzards Roost, Mourne Mt. As of today, there is still no footage available from this ‘intriguing’ send, but knowing Ricky, we can expect some mesmerising video soon. In the meantime, take a look at his eye -popping Vimeo series ”Through The Green Door”.

 

The Buddha Sits 8A+

Dave Fitzgerald makes a 2nd ascent of The Buddha Sits 8A+ (8B) in Windy Gap, Cooley Mountains. Here is what he had to say about his send: ”Yesterday I made the second ascent of ‘The Buddha Sits’ (8A+) in the Cooley Mountains. Despite some wind, I had to climb it with a drenched foot as the rain kept seeping down onto all of my starting footholds. Super happy to get this one finished! In my list of top 3 climbs I’ve ever done and hardest of the grade you will ever do.

 

Rainman UK’s First 9b 

Steve McClure finally ticked his long-term super project at  Malham Cove to establish the UK’s first 9b, which he has appropriately named Rainman. 

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July


A toy for the boy

July proved to be a very successful month for Adam Ryan who (while on his quick visit in Val Masino, Italy) sent Toy Boy, which goes at mere 8A+. For Adam, this is the very first boulder problem at this grade…so a massive WELL DONE to him. A short clip below:

 

August


Leviathan defeated by Conor Orr

Conor Orr (16?) makes a remarkable send of Leviathan 8A, Portrane. To the best of our knowledge, Conor is the youngest Irish climber ever who climb a boulder of this grade. Well done.

Video here:

 

McHaffie and Pasquill ticks The Big Issue (E9 6c)

James McHaffie and Ryan Pasquill have made quick ascents of The Big Issue (E9 6c) at  Bosherston Head, Pembroke. They both had an onsight attempt at the route, only to be thrown off by the technical crux. However, both returned the a few days later and completed the climb.

 

Third Ascent of Project Fear 8c

Polish climbers Łukasz Dudek and Jacek Matuszek made the third ascent of Project Fear 8c (550 m) on the north face of Cima Ovest di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites. The line – a relatively new variation on the famous Pan Aroma 8c – was established in 2014 by Dave MacLeod. So far Project Fear has seen only two successful attempts – the first ones to follow in Dave’s footsteps were Scottish compatriots Robbie Phillips and Willis Morris in 2015.

 

September


Judgement Day E7 6b, 6a

Second time this year ‘Fair Head’ hashtag popped on everyone’s Facebook feeds with the news that Rory Cummings and A. Moles established  a new and rather a hard line.  Route named Judgement Day was given E7 6b, 6a and as the grade suggests it’s not for all mortals. Description below:

 

Project Hard 9C?

Adam Ondra, ”a Czech machine’ has completed his long-term project at the  Flatanger cave in Norway, which Adam graded 9c.  It is the first route of the grade and the hardest sport climb in the world, which he has since named Silence.

 

First Female FA 9a+

Anak Verhoeven made history for women in climbing when she sent Sweet Neuf at Pierrot Beach in France. She became the first woman to make a 9a+ first ascent.

 

October


The Dice Project Goes Down

David Fitzgerald finally gets his first 8A First Ascent. The problem called Snake Eyes 8A (located in Glenmacnass, Co. Wicklow) saw many tries by many sweaty palms. Eventually, it’s melted under David’s hands. Brilliant effort.

Tolerance E8 6c

If success and commitment had a face, it would look like Rory Cummings. 2017 proved to be a dream-come-true year for this young and full of psych climber from The North.  With three E7 in his bag and many more E6’s and hard boulders, Rory concluded his year with sending one of the hardest routes in Mourne Mt – Tolerance E8 6c. If there is one climber that you should follow in 2018, it has to be Rory.

Image may contain: mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Rory Cummings on Tolerance E8 6c; Photo by Kevin Kilroy

 

First female 9b

31 year old Austrian climber Angela ‘Angy’ Eiter has become the first woman to climb 9b. Angy redpointed Adam Ondra’s La Planta de Shiva 9b at  Villanueva del Rosario, Spain after spending time on the line over several trips in the last two years.

 

Fred Beckey R.I.P.

US climbing legend Fred Beckey has died aged 94. Beckey was widely regarded as one of North America’s greatest mountaineers, and perhaps the ultimate ‘dirtbag’, rejecting conventional security for a life devoted to climbing.

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November


Swiss Capos

Following on from his incredibly productive bouldering season, David Fitzgerald put another few weeks to good use, but this time in Ticino (Switzland) and Maltatal (Austria). In a short period of time, Dave managed to send many ultra-hard problems, such as: Real Pamplemousse 8A, Boogalagga 8B, and Wrestling with an Alligator 8B, not mentioning other bunch of 7Cs and 8As problems he ticked during his ”Tour De Europa”. Check the video for more:

 

Intergalactic 8B For Rob Hunter

It was pretty impressive and busy year for Rob Hunter. In pursuit of his ’40 x 8A’ Rob sent Glenmalure’s  test piece Intergalactic 8B.  To the best of our knowledge this is only 3rd ascent of the problem. Great effort.

First  Female D15

Italian ice and drytool climber Angelika Rainer has become the first woman to climb D15 with an ascent of A line above the sky at Tomorrow’s World in the Dolomites, Italy. The line is considered to be one of the hardest drytool routes in the world, with only Gordon McArthur’s Storm Giant D16 surpassing it in difficulty.

 

December


Dave MacLeod  @ IMC’s Christmas lecture

Dave MacLeod, one of the world’s most accomplished climbers, was a guest speaker of IMC 2017 Christmas lecture. Dave gave an inspiring presentation sharing accounts of his climbing adventures and some key defining moments that have shaped his career to date.

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Team America in Antarctica

After nearly a month spent in the icy, shifting shadows of the Fenriskjeften massif, in the Drygalski Mountains, the six, The North Face sponsored American climbers ( Alex Honnold, Anna Pfaff, Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, Cedar Wright and Savannah Cummins), as well as Colombian documentarian-adventurer Pablo Durano, returned to civilization with news of summits via new routes and old.

Reporting on Instagram, Wright wrote, “It was by far the most productive trip to the alpine I have ever had. Partnered with [Alex Honnold,] we established 7 first ascents, and tagged 13 summits, including all the major summits in the range, except for Ulvetanna, which Conrad and Jimmy established an epic first ascent on in bigwall style. That means as a team we climbed essentially every major tower in the range!”

 

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Houlding and Team Summit The Spectre in Antarctica 

Spectre, the most remote mountain on Earth, sees it’s second ascent via Mugs and Edward Stump’s line from 1980. On Dec 10th Berghouse team, Leo Houlding, Jean Burgun and Mark Sedon have successfully climbed the Spectre (Gothic Mountains, Antarctica) via a route on the north side of the mountain. Although the team’s original intention had been to attempt a new route on the south face, the very variable weather and the difficulties (and extended duration) of their journey in to the area, limited the time available for climbing. After fully assessing options on site, the team made the decision that their primary objective should be to get all three members to the summit via the “route of least resistance”.

 

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