Saturday, February 20, 2010

Portrane - you don't have to be mad to climb their but it helps

Only messing. Was in Portrane today for the first time in years. Weather looked dodge on the way but it brightened up soon after we arrived. We arrived about 1.5 hours after low tide. The Arch was very wet with seepage, the Alley was damp but was drying fast, Pirates Cove was dry in places very wet from seepage in other and Ground Zero and the Pit were bone dry. Considering we have have had a reasonably wet winter this kind of flies in the face of the theory that Portrane is a summer only venue.

I went through some of the descriptions of the problems in the guide and to be honest some are worse than useless. Due to the nature of the rock the lines are often dictated by holds rather than features this can make problem descriptions vague and tiresome "get the undercut with the left and slap up to the edge for the right from there reach the jug". Which begs the question is it worth detailing all of these problems? For example the Arch seems to be a choc a bloc with loads of traverses link ups and variations, who wants/needs these? The grades aren't very accurate and would depend on the exact line taken, are the names used?

Some of our party were quite impressed with Portrane having never been to some of the areas before. It definitely has something to offer, its an interesting physical style in contrast to the more friction dependent granite to the north and south. Surely its worth more than one page, maybe loose alot of the link ups and variations?

But how much details should it get?
Should problems be detailed in Ground Zero?
Are the Pigeon Holes worth including?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The slopes of Three Rock

Many years ago I got tipped off by my almost namesake Darragh Flanagan that the quarries on the lower slopes of Three Rock might contain some bouldering, I didn't think much of it at the time but obviously stored it away deep in memory. A while ago I was using Bing Map's birds eye view and checked out Three Rock and some of the quarries that pockmark Three Rock seemed to offer some potential.

Yesterday I went to check them out. There are lots of mountain bike tracks but no bouldering. So now you know.
This is a small wall that could have one problem on it. Its beside the road mast east of the bottom edge of the Ticknock Forest. Its just a small mantle from the horizontal break and is completely not worth checking out.

This arete looks good but the rock is absolute choss unfortunantly. Its in the small quarry just beside the entrance to the Stonemasons beside the Blue Light.

This is the Stonemason's working quarry.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Just did this up. I like the idea of blurring the boundary between action photos and topos, this photo while not great - what is Ped looking at and where are his shoes? - illustrates what I'm trying to do. Going to be a thick book if I do them all like this though. I think it works well.

Dalkey Quarry bouldering

I'm trying to decide how much of the quarry bouldering to have in the guide. In the latest web edition of the guide I have a photo topo for Ivy Wall and the Traverse Wall in the West Quarry. Ivy Wall is definitely going to get in. Not sure about the traverse wall, is there any need to spell out the problem there, they are pretty obvious and not that popular.

I could detail every problem in the quarry, the Dalkey route guide has quite a bit more detailed bouldering, but I'm not sure it makes sense. Firstly the bouldering in Dalkey isn't very good, secondly I'm not sure if anyone would use it much (locals or visitors).

Maybe an option would be to put the full definitive guide on the web and just feature Ivy Wall in the guide?

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I'm currently trying to figure out the best way to represent tree on my topos. I reckon there are 3 ways
  • Color- Main disadvantage is that I don't want to use color in my topos just black,white and grey. And large blocks of grey would look crap.
  • Side profile - This seems to be the most commonly used in other guides. Its a bit twee I think. Also it doesn't make a lot of sense as the rest of the topo/map is drawn in plan ie. looking from above but I don't think that would actually confuse anyone.
  • Plan view - My prefered option at the moment. Looks neat enough. Its easy to indicate density. Only disadvantage is it mighn't be immediatly apparent what the meaning of the symbol is. (If they where colored green it would be a big help).
 Which one is best?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What grade is a pull up?

Image created with

As part of writing the guide I will have to spend a good bit of time thinking and talking about grades - whether I like it for not. Grades are a nessacary evil. Their purpose is to indicate problems  which one might have a reasonable chance of success or an entertaining failure. However they have become a proxy for a lot of other things.

What grade is a two armed pull up? Surely for such a  simple movement we could easliy reach a consensus and if we can't what hope to we have for a boulder problem that requires multiple complex movements.

Gradewise I would say a two arm pull up is around 3+ and a one armer is around 7a. But its a pointless question really.

Maybe the more variables their is the more likely the grade is to be accurate. For example for a pullup no amount of technique or height will make it easier.  If a long problem has one move a bit harder than the rest this will have less effect on the overall difficulty than if this move was the only one.

Basically I'm just saying that grades are a load of  bollox.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Photo topos

The web version of the bouldering guide has very few photo topos ie. photos of cliff or boulders with the lines of problems superimposed on them. There were a few reasons for that firstly if the guide was printed in low definition black and white on an ordinary printed most topos would be unreadable, secondly they take up a lot of space and the guide would be huge if they where used extensively, thirdly they tend to be more suited to steep cliff band type climbing rather than rounded boulders (ie. it could take 4 or 5 photos to show all aspects of one boulder) and we don't have much of that kind of thing and fourthly I don't really like them.

Having said all that I think there might be some in the new guide. Here's one of the Second boulder on Three Rock, I think it looks smart enough and shows the lines pretty well. What do people think? Please comment.