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Been a while since I last posted on this. Seems I have less time for regular posts, so might move towards the odd big posts from now on.
Anyway, last post was on a Friday. The rest of that weekend turned out to be pretty good. While most people were looking at the rain in Dublin on Saturday, I was out around Wicklow Head in the sun with a few people. Good day.
Sunday was a pretty horrible day, but myself, Steve, Niamh, Dan and Patrick decided to give the cave a go. The guys spent the day playing on Loco (7a), and I managed to remember the moves to Solstice (7a+), managing to do it on my second go from the start. Was pretty pleased, as two years ago when I’d last looked at it, I couldn’t do the crux on it’s own.
Next, I got sick, and was out of action for a week or so. Not that interesting.
What then… oh, so I’ve been following this training program since I moved up to Dublin. Neal brought some weights into the wall, so I was able to set up a pulley system, to measure/control how much weight I was taking off with the sling arm. I was horrified to find that I needed to take ~25kg off before I could do a one arm hang for 10 seconds. That’s like a third of my weight!! WEAK!! Anyway, the only way is up, so I’m moving to using the weights from now on, attaching them to my harness. Hopefully I can take off a kg every week or two, and see progress that way.
Finally, I went up to Fair Head this weekend with Steve, Daniel, Patrick, Cormac, Piaras and Peter. Good crowd. Ricky also had a few Polish friends visiting, so the place was pretty busy.
Saturday was a stunning day, which meant that all the silly people that decided to go bouldering (everyone bar Piaras and Cormac) spent the day greasing off the rocks, and I also got some pretty horrible sun burn. Ricky explained the need to cool down in order to send, and I learned that I have abnormally sweaty fingers, and that hiding in the shade between attempts does help.
Anyway, just to go over the highlights, after warming up, we spent ages at Carbide (7a), and I managed to get to the jug on the lip, and then Ricky guided me through the top out. Tick! Was well pleased. Dan and Patrick were both coming ridiculously close, and will probably walk up it next time they’re there (probably next weekend ).
Next we watched the Polish play on Super Extra (7b/+) for a bit. Amazing looking problem, and one of them got so close to sending it, falling on the last hard move. Definitely a problem I’d like to invest some time in some time in the future.
Some of the guys called it a day at this point, and myself Dan, Patrick and a guy called William decided to check out the Eat it boulder. I’d wanted to try Leftovers (7a), but the landing was terrible, so I gave the guys the beta for Eat it (7a) and Stop Feeding It (7a+). I’d done them both two years ago, but with nothing else to do, I ended up repeating them both for funzies. William managed to do SFI before heading off, while Dan was making good progress, and Patrick was finding strange ways of climbing Eat It.
We got back to the tents around 7, few beers etc. Cormac and Piaras showed up at half 11, with tales of epics.
Sunday was a bit messy, with me deciding to join Tom for some trad, only to get to the crag and find he’d gone off to top rope something. With wind and cooler temps, I decided bouldering would be a good move, and after a while walking around the boudler field shouting “MARCO!”, I finally found Dan and Patrick and some Polish, and then Ricky found us, and finally we all found Daniel O’Neill, who was working an amazing looking line.
We joined him, trying the stand (7a+) which he’s done last week, while he worked the sit (7b+). At first pulling on felt nails, but I was soon making progress, and realising it was the coolest problem I’d ever tried. Within half an hour one of the Polish guys sent it, but after tow hours, and after one or two very close attempts, I was starting to tire, and called it a day.
Then it got a bit colder, Danny sent the sit start, and I said fuck it, threw on my shoes, went for one final go, and got it. Very pleased. I’ve some footage of some of my attempts, so I might throw that and a few other bits together over the next week or two, but for now, you’ll just have to believe me when I say that it’s an amazing problem. Get on it!
So that’s it. Fairhead meet this weekend coming. Probably do bit of trad, bit of boudlering. Lots to do either way.
Popped out to the Scalp this evening to have another play on Primer. Conditions ended up being a bit worse than I’d hoped, so I soon gave up and wandered up the hill for a look at Eyrie (6C).
I’d seen this problem been done in the video below, so all I knew was that it looked hard, and TALL!
With only one mat, I thought I’d just play on the starting moves for a while before heading home, but I quickly found myself half way up the arete, trying to decided if it was worth the risk. After a few seconds of hesitation, I quested onwards, and topped out. Really classic problem, and a good start to the weekend.
So it was a bit of a strange bank holiday.
Myself and Cormac, like many people it would seem, go pulled west on Friday. Talk of both a Burren and Donegal meet. Looking at the forecast on Friday, it was clear the weather was going to be better in the East, so honestly, I’m not sure what everyone was thinking.
Anyway, after warming up at Ailladie on Saturday morning, the rains came, and jokes about heading back to Dublin soon because concrete plans. A lot of driving and money spent on petrol for nothing. That pretty much sums up Saturday.
Sunday was spent at Glendo. I invested some time in 2.4 Pascals (7b+), finding my sequence, and doing the problem in two halves. Afterwards I did the same on Afro Left (7a), but at this stage I was too wrecked to link it. We were ready to call it a day then, but the Marnanes showed up (back from Ailladie too), which led to another while spent trying Super Stars (7a+), with everyone but me managing to get up the bloody thing.
After that, my body started telling me it had had enough. My back started feeling a bit fucked, and I retreated home to try get some rest and recover.
I woke the next day feeling worse. All the muscles in my back were super stiff and my biceps and elbows were sore from working Pascals. Don’t think I’d every felt so trashed before. It was gorgeous out though, so we decided an easy day climbing in Dalkey was a good call.
So Monday was a few easy leads, lunch with some beers, and a long time spent lying in the sun. Cormac got on some E2s I don’t know the name of, while I did The Shield, Ghost Slab and Gargoyles Grove Direct. First time I’ve climbed in Dalkey, bar one horrible winters day with Steve, and it wasn’t too bad.
That was pretty much it. For some reason I went to a comp in Gravity on Tuesday, still feeling totally shattered, so I’m finally having a bit of a rest day today. Didn’t do too badly though. Feeling like the training I’m doing these days is beginning to pay off.
Anyway, to sum up, I won’t been seen anywhere near Ailladie any time soon.
So I was hoping to get up to either Fair Head or the Mournes this weekend. A few days of trad climbing where I’m not repeating routes for the hundreth time sounds so appealing.
But Cormac is tempted by talk of a meet, and it seems it’s off to Ailladie this weekend. Not ideal…
That said, it could be a good weekend. When I think about it, I havn’t had a weekend out there since before Ceuse. That’s fucking ages. I think I’m a good bit stronger, especially with the last 5 weeks of proper training at Awesome walls. So I’m going to try push myself.
Prism Sentence (E5 6a, 6b). Glanced at it a few times. Think it’s time I got on it. I think there’s mention of it being a bit bold in the guide, but on the wiki it reads ”Good protection”. Think I’ll go with that.
There’s also Forbidden Kink (E6 6c) which is something I’ve been considering trying to flash (we always ab right down it) for a while now. So why not.
There’s a few other things I might look at if I’m going well. Been so long since I’ve been climbing routes, so I could be absolutely shit. Anywho, that’s pretty much it. Mournes will have to wait for the following weekend.
So, firstly, I need to mention something I completely forgot about…
The weekend before I went off to America, myself and Jono headed out to Glendo, went way up the hillside, and did a few new problems. Video below (Jono named the problems…). I’ll get to why this is relevant shortly…
So anyway. Piaras came up to Dublin this weekend. Sunday wasn’t forecast to be too great, so we decided to squeeze as much in as possible. We got out to Glendo by 9 Friday evening, and climbed by head torch till about half 12. Pretty epic. Good conditions, clear sky with a bright moon, good breeze, lots of deer about. Piaras managed to do his only Glendo project (Greg’s Problem), while I had a pretty productive night, climbing Tim’s Mantle (6c) and some 6b+ beside Greg’s Problem, and later flashing Al’s Arete (6c). Eventually we got sleepy, and an hour later, we found ourselves sleeping in my car, having been too tired to cook dinner/pitch a tent.
Saturday morning was gorgeous, which unfortunately meant that by 9 the car was unbearably warm, and sleeping in was out of the question. With nothing better to do, it was back to Glendo.
What followed was a long and exhausting day. Firstly, we went up to the problems in the video above. Why? Because I’d left my hat there 6 weeks ago. I got it back, and it was in perfect nick. Win! While I was there I spotted a cool looking slab, and after 20 minutes I ended up adding an amazing 6c to the area. I was pretty pleased
Then it was back down to the valley floor. Piaras was learning quickly, managing to do Howard’s Roof (6b), the thing in the picture above, and also The Rails (5+, but he wasn’t able to get it the night before).
I had a pretty good day to, almost doing Superstars of BMX (7a+), before doing Nu Rails (6c) and Andy’s Arete (6c). I was over the moon with Nu Rails. It’s fucking hard, and I’ve tried it every time I’ve come to Glendo over the years. Yay for progress! We ended the day playing on 2.4 Pascals (7b/+) with the Marnanes. A few pointers from them had me doing the second move statically. Now that I’m finished with all the 6cs, it’s on the the 7s and putting more time into things. Thing Pascals is pretty much top of the list.
That was pretty much it. The long days, short sleeps and skipping dinner caught up with us, and we were both pretty fucked on Sunday. Ayton’s Cave would have been on the cards if we’d had more energy, but we settled for some routes in Awesome Walls.
P.S. To all you trad lovers, I’m bouldering to get strong for routes. So don’t worry.
Been locked out of my own blog for the last two weeks, so just bring things up to speed…
Last weekend was a bit of a wash. Was half way out to Wicklow with Steve and Ailish on Saturday before it started raining and we bailed for Awesome Walls.
On Sunday myself and Steve popped out to Ayton’s Cave, but the sea was too rough, and I got soaked…
I ended up nipping out to the Scalp that evening for a few hours, and found a cool 7c boulder that is pretty perfect to have as a bit of a long term project. Cool problem, half an hour from work, safe landing. It’s called Primer.
I got out on Tuesday after work, but it was a bit warm and still. I’m keen to see what it feels like some evening with good conditions.
Finally, myself and Piaras are just in the door from Glendo. Didn’t think it was possible, but I got even more done than I did two weeks ago. Piaras managed to get loads done too. More on that soon. Stay tuned
Just back from a brilliant two days in Glendo. Want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep, so I’ll keep this short.
Saturday was amazing. Blue skies, lots of people about and lots of skin on our fingers. I was climbing with Daniel Tubridy for the weekend, and after a good warm up, and a quick look at Nu Rails (still feels nails…) the madness began.
We went over to Quality Control (6c). Daniel figured out nice beta for the opening moves, and 15 minutes later we’d both done it. We met up with Paul Mallee and went over to BBE (7a). Paul got psyched, and did it. I got jealous, so did it too. Daniel made some good progress, but it eats skin quickly.
Next it was over to Big Jane. We had a look at The Groove ss (7a+) and I was getting much further on it than before. Paul walked up it… We spent a while playing about on Andy’s Arete before joining two other guys, firing 5 mats under Rhythm and Stealth (7a), and going for it.
I went first, and got it first go (I’ve done it before, but was nice to do it again). Then Paul did it, and Daniel and one of the other guys started working it. Daniel gave it a good flash attempt, but then tiredness began to kick in, and he never got as close again. The other guy eventually figured out all the moves, and blasted to the top for his 1st 7a.
Next it was off to Chillax (6c). Paul did it. I did it eventually, although there was a small bit of a dab so I might go back again some time. Next it was off to the Nu Rails boulder to join the Marnanes. I tried Superstars of BMX (7a+), and watched Kev beast it. Then Sean sent Nu Rails. By the sounds of it he’s been working it for years.
It was probably 6 by this time, so we headed over to look at Johns Roof (6c). Paul dished out beta, but I found an easier way and got in a few minutes. Cool problem. Love finding sneaky beta. Sean, Kev and Dan all managed to do it pretty soon after that.
We finished up with a quick look at Dec’s Pyramid (6c), and to end they day. I flashed some nearby 6b.
So that was my super productive day. A 6b, 3 6cs and a 7a. Think everyone had a pretty great day. Headed back to Kev’s place, and spent the evening watching the boudlering world cup.
Headed out again on Sunday with Dan. Bit cloudier and colder. We were both wrecked, and skin was pretty thin, so we didn’t really plan on getting much done. We played around on a few 6bs on Big Jim and both managing to do Duffy Slap (6b+).
Next we went over to check out a cluster of 7as Kev had recommended. Fuck all Left, The Goat, The Cherry, and Afro Left. We weren’t really going to get up any of them at this stage, but we had a play on The Goat and Afro Left. Two amazing problems. The Goat is easily one of the coolest problems I’ve seen, and I’m going straight for it the next time I’m out. Classic sloper traverse.
Then Sean showed up, and after a play on Afro left, we all nipped up the boulder field to Black Art (6c). I’d tired this before, and wanted to get it done. Managed it second go, and was pretty pleased. Sean figured it out pretty quickly and before long he’d done it too.
Myself and Dan were pretty much done, so we just hung around for another half hour, and showed Sean the other 7as. He blew my mind by flashing The Goat, making it a pretty impressive weekend for him. To top things off, when I got home, I got a text to say he’d managed to do Afro Left after we’d gone.
That’s it anyway. Great weekend. Got loads done. Saw loads of new problems that I want to do. Psyche is high for Wicklow.
So I’m back in Ireland, working in Dublin. Found a room for rent pretty near work, which is pretty near Awesome Walls, which means only one thing… it’s time to get fucking STRONG!
Si gave me one of the best bits of advice anyone’s ever given me. Don’t full crimp indoors. It makes perfect sense. Yes it may help me to get up problems, but that’s not the point. The point is to get strong, and all full crimping achieves in that regard is taking work away from the fingers. Plus full crimp = potential for injury.
I’ve cut it out completely since he told me that. I’m choosing to fail on problems now rather than crimp my way to the top. It feels safer, and my forearms really feel like they’re getting more of a work out.
I’ve also just started this program:
It turns out that the type of training I’ve always done on the beastmaker (7 second hang 3 second rest 7 second hang 3 second rest etc etc) is more for endurance than maximum finger strength. Woops. Ideally I should have been doing something along the lines of the above video first, and then building on that.
Dublin’s pretty good for advice. People like Neal and Ricky floating about throwing out bits of knowledge. It’s great. There’s also no shortage of people looking to get out on the weekend. Weather permitting, I’ll be filling the car and hitting Wicklow or Fair Head most weekends. Whole world of next problems and routes for me to try.
Ok, so last weekend was pretty special. A lot happened, so I’m going to try get it all down on this post. So…
I’d been talking to Si about getting out one of the weekends I was here, and on Thursday he got in touch and said he was up for getting out on Saturday. I was pretty psyched, and threw a post up on Facebook. Few seconds later I get a message from Sean. Turns out he’d just landed in San Fran with no real plans, and was up for tagging along, and so two became 3.
He was also up for staying the whole weekend if we could find a lift back on Sunday evening, and so one day became two.
Anyway, we all crammed into Si’s car early Saturday morning and hit the road. I snoozed a good bit, but all you need to know is that eventually we pulled up, I got out of the car, and saw this:
I was pretty pleased. A few minutes later and this was our view:
I caught a glimpse of something catching the sun, so took a very zoomed picture, and managed to find two climbers on it.
Basically, the place is fucking HUGE!!!
After a few minutes of staring at the wall, we headed over to camp 4, and warmed up on some of the boulder problems around the campsite. I got spanked by pretty much everything, Si walked up some classic slab called Blue Suede Shoes (V5), and Sean did what Sean does…
After that, the guys decided it would be fun to solo something easy. I was much too aware that what these two considered easy might be pretty fucking hard for me, but I was hardly going to say no, so off we went. The route they’d picked was Royal Arches, and the whole thing was amazing. 15 or so pitches, with pretty much every style of climbing you can imagine.
I’ve no idea how long it took, although I know they would have been a lot faster without me. By the time we got to the top, my ankles were absolutely killing me. I’m guessing they’re just not used to being torqued into cracks, and it’s not like I’ve been out on routes much over the winter. They’ll definitely need to be strengthened a bit before my return in August. He’s a few pictures of the route:
I guess it took another half hour or so to rap down, and by then if was getting late, and Si had to hit the road. Myself and Sean pitched the tent, and went in search of some much needed food. We seemed to be blessed with the luck of the Irish. We popped our heads into an expensive restaurant for a second looking for a friend of Sean’s, and someone handed me a container with a big chunk of lamb. Score! After that we went back to the cafe. We got in just as it was closing, and had to wait 15 min for the gluten free pasta Sean wanted. By the time our food was ready, the tills were closed, and we were told we didn’t need to pay. Free lamb and free dinner! Not too bad.
Back to the campsite, off to bed, and I spent most of the night listening to coyotes make strange noises, and some other animals feast on a load of energy bars some idiot had left outside in a plastic bag.
Day 2. Got up super early, ate loads, and headed over to the Royal Arches to try Serenity Crack. Sean raced up the first pitch, and then it was time for my first Yosemite lead! I felt a bit shaky at the start (I needed to figure out how to do a ring lock for the opening moves right above the belay) , but then settled into things as the crack became a more familiar size. We didn’t have a massive rack, so I was having to run things out a bit more than usual, which was interesting, but I slowly got a feel for the climbing, and picked up the pace a bit. The crux was a delicate traverse moving across from one crack to another, which was pretty cool, and I was over the moon when I finally clipped the chains. Amazing pitch, and great feeling to not fail on my first lead. Sean raced up the 3rd pitch (which had an amazing section with a perfect finger crack though a steep shield of rock with nothing for your feet), and by the time I got to the belay I was looking forward to getting back to the ground, resting my feet, and having a nice drink of water.
Sean had other plans however, and insisted we do the extension, Sons of Yesterday, a further 4 pitches. To keep this story short, I did P4 (another amazing pitch), Sean did P5, I was suffering too much by then, so let Sean do P6, and finally Sean convinced me to do P7. By this point I was having to shake my feet constantly to relieve some of the pain in my ankles, and kept trying to find alternative ways to climb the routes that didn’t require jamming, so P7 was pretty torturous. Finally, I got to the belay, threw off my shoes, and half an hour later we were down at the ground, with all the water and comfy shoes I could ask for.
We made a quick stop by the river on our way back to the campsite, and dipping my feet in the water was the most amazing feeling ever! It was freezing, and I could only hold my hands or feet in for max 10 seconds, but somehow Sean was able to hop in and go for a swim. The guy’s mental…
So that was pretty much our weekend done with. We went back to the campsite, and when Sean asked me to text Mary Kate to let her know where we were, we realised neither of us had a working phone (mine doesn’t work over here and Sean just doesn’t own one). So it seemed we were a bit screwed. We found a payphone, but only got through to her voice-mail, so left her a message, but after an hour or so, we were convinced she’d left and forgotten about us, and I was worried I wasn’t going to make it back for work on Monday.
We tried hitching, but 40 minutes later we’d had no luck and all hope was gone. I was wondering if anyone in work would really believe I’d “accidentally” got stuck in Yosemite, when Mary Kate suddenly showed up and saved the day. The drive back was a good laugh, with a good bit of singing and Sean playing on the whistle, and a long battle with a very temperamental aux input.
We stopped for dinner on the way back at a cool little place owned by Conrad Anker’s family, and Mary Kate showed us a few pictures from a recent trip of hers to Ireland, asking if we had much climbing. I burst out laughing when I saw she had a picture of Ballyryan. The poor thing had stood on top of Ailladie and not even know it.
That’s pretty much it anyway. Got back to the hotel by 12. Home this weekend, and I’m hoping the weather’s a bit better than when I left.