Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 review

Stephen McMullan posted a good retrospective of the Irish climbing year on

From a personal point of view my highlight was finishing the guide in January and it selling well. I have a small pile left and it sold loads more than I had expected/hoped. For the first few months I barely dared look at it for fear of finding mistakes and only focusing on the elements that could have been better. But with the passage of time I can now happily leaf throught it with considerable satisfaction. The icing on the cake was probably getting shortlisted for Banff. Thanks to all who bought it and to those who haven't what are you waiting for?

The guide and the arrival of Gravity must be the two biggest events on the bouldering scene. Gravity seems to be doing great business and must surely breed a whole new crop of boulderers/climbers. It's definitely going to have a huge effect on the competitive climbing scene, starting kids climbing young and getting them strong. How all this will translate to rock climbing remains to be seen.

My goal for the year was to concentrate on new problems which worked out pretty well. The exploring on the Wicklow coast fed the rat somewhat but it is probably destined to be a estoreic enough bouldering area however next summer might see some route development I suspect. A few visits to the Upper Glanekeera valley yielded some excellent finds which add to make a decent remote area. Must get a few things climbed and then do a topo. (posts 1,2,3). Also finally explorded Camaderry properly, I now have a pretty good idea where the really good stuff is.

The standard of Irish bouldering definitely rose this year. Partly due to the co-ops and partly just a younger generation. I would suspect more > 8a's (I know the ' is technically wrong but I think it's clearer than 8as) were climbed in Ireland this year than ever before.

The cave in howth was in great nick for a lot of the summer and loads of new links were done. John Howard also ticked the whole cave which must be one of the most impressive feats of the year. See below for the updated topo - of course it's not as simple when you actually stand there and try and find a problem.

One of the very last parts of the guide I wrote was the outro. It got me thinking about how much bouldering there is out there, I have always believed that there are some major areas to be found. But a day in the pissing rain in Caha Mountains pretty much convinced me I won't find it in the Cork/Kerry mountains.

Anyway. Thanks for reading and keep commenting. Will write a post tomorrow about plans for the year.

Blog future

Not sure what the future for this blog is. I have been trying to post general interest irish bouldering stuff and keen away from logbook style things.  Trish's blog which seems to be very popular is logbook style but its done well so maybe I could do some of that stuff but try and do it well. Or should I start another blog for that?

I have recently embedded it on the theshortspan as a temporary measure while I figure out what to do. I would like to update theshortspan more next year with news and short articles and maybe keep the more niche personal stuff on the blog.

Would be very keen to hear suggestions on how to do it?

Friday, December 30, 2011


I don't even really believe in yoga.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Glendo on Christmas Eve

Jeff wearing a right arm chicken wing, left arm palm and
a double knee bar. Fleece models own.

 Good session in an almost mint Glendo. Lots of people around. Warmed up on Big Jim in the wind. Did a good problem on the uphill arete of the riverside. Starting just R of the top of Barry's Crack move left on lovely slopers and either slap up - what I did - or reach into the top of the sidepull problem.

Went to try Squamish but I had to conceed to the damp. Diarmuid was showing us his pet problem Midge Too Far (best thing about it is the name) and Jeff - the genius man - spotted that the classic chimney offer potential for a horrific journey into the through it bowels. We immediatly got stuck in, I think you can safely say we, literally got stuck in. The archaic and deviant world of chimney and slot bouldering is one that appeals to my dark side. It's truely 3D climbing, using your whole body to best effect, and its also a style where determination and fight really count. After 3 goes I was goosed. Knees were skinned. This is a body pump quite unlike the class in Westwood on Saturday morning that my friend Paddy is such a fan of. Jeff and fought hard but lost to a technical knockout. Jeff who lives in Italia  90 won't be back for a while but I will. Once I fashion some neato knee pads.

For the record the sequeeze goes something like this bridge, squeeze, painful knee bar, sore arm bar then chicken wing, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar,painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, good slopey foothold, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, painful knee bar, ear then who knows but probably something involving painful knee bars to the top.

On the way out we saw a beautiful dead trout lying beside the river.
Then I made the lads go home.

Friday, December 23, 2011

May 2010 - Inishmore photos

Went to Inishmore for the May 2010 bank holiday. Got great weather and got to visit The Wormhole and do some exploring. My goal was to get a few shots for the guide note the lines. Was going through the photos again today and thought it would be worth posting up a few that didn't make the guide.

Poll na Peiste is a great little bouldering spot. As clean lines as you will find anywhere. The rock is pretty smooth for limestone but still have some friction. The landings are perfect.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shortest day of the year over

The shortest day of the year is just about over, finishing in some style with a good sunset. So every day from now on we get about a minute of extra light.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Went to the Scalp this morning with Tim. Was good conditions, cold and a breeze. My skin was crap and I remember that the climbing in the Scalp while powerful is very sequency and beta intensive, its quite possible to NEARLY do problems sub optimally. Warmed up on the arete beside Plank Arete. Powerful. Then on to Gen Tilly which is a fine problem. We then walked to the garage and got coffe which we brought up to Switch and drank before trying the left arete. Must be the only crag where you can get coffee between problems?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Glanekeera part 3

Revisited Glanekeera today with Michael and Chris. I was hoping for sunny and cold but it was more damp, icy and cold. The wind was strong and cold in the Wicklow Gap carpark and I wasn't that optimistic about getting much done. Which was a pity as the last two visits (1 and 2) were more focused on exploring and this time I wanted to climb a few problems.

Went straight to the tire boulder which was sheltered from the wind but damp and icy. Michael cleaned the hard line on the back and him and Chris tried it but conditions were crap. I tried the warm up that I had trouble with last time but it was manky - didn't stop the lads though. Then did a pointless variation. Checked out and cleaned another boulder and then went to the big fella.

Michael had added and cleaned a line on the left a week or two ago and we build a little landing and he got to work. It looked very nice and very hard and I think we where all a little surprised when he did it in about 6 goes. It took a few goes to figure out the reach over the bulge to a bad sloper and a few more sloper moves and a dicey mantle lead to the top. Its a great problem on great holds up a massive big boulder. Chris videod it but missed the start. Grade is around 7b/7c I'd say but conditons where bad so it would be hard to say.

Glanekeera is a nice spot. Remote but not too far a walk. The rock isn't the cleanest but there is a good few nice new problems to be done.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Updated blog

I updated the blog and have embedded it onto
Let me know if you think that was a clever idea?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Article about Gravity in the Sunday Business Post

I wrote an article for the SBP about Gravity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glenmalura explora

Spent the day in Glenmalure. Revisted the line I found during the summer. Often these things aren't as impressive on second viewing but this was. Its a great line. Quite indoor in style, 25 to 15 degrees over on quite distinct holds either incut edges, large sloper or slopey edges, around 12 hand moves so quite long. I did a bit of patio-ing, cleaned the holds, tried the moves and then chalked the shit out of it to try and clean it. Going to leave it for a month or two, keeping training then come back, ideally with a spotter and another pad or two.

Checked out a huge roof clearly visible from the road. Impressive but too tall to be a problem and a bit scrappy to be a route.

Then went up the valley to check out some very white looking blocks. Long walk up but I had Sherlock Holmes for company. There are about 6 boulders with potential only one was of interest but it was pretty nice. Furthest from the road. Best way to approach would be on a bike but it won't be easy. Tried a few problems on it, will be 2 easy ones, a lovely tricky traverse, a nice medium problem, a v hard line and an amazing dyno. On perfect Mall Hill rock.

Spotted a few other boulders on the walk but left them till next time. One of them was your standard granite blob but it had a very thin diving board, about 6+ foot long jutting out of one side, mild bushwack. Oh and a large, overgrown but also overhanging crag!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The perfect boulder problem?

For my money Spectre in Bishop may well be the perfect bouldering problem. Having said this I think there no such thing as a perfect boulder problem, and as such the only problem with Spectre is that it is 8b instead of 6b.

Only line up a huge boulder. Steep hard start on beautiful slopers up an smooth wall. Tricky moves to turn the lip and highball finish. All you could ever want.

Check out the vid. Bit of an ad for 5.10 but shows the problem well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where is the adventure in bouldering?

My climbing is moving focus at the moment. Though I'm still very interested in bouldering I think I will start doing more routes especially multi-pitch i.e. the kind of climbing that would be considered adventurous.

Climbing isn't fundamentally adventurous. No activity is. Take driving a car, at one end of the spectrum there is nipping to the shops, at the other, I don't know, driving across siberia in my piece of shit Polo. Or in climbing terms toproping Paradise Lost versus soloing a new route on a big wall in Antartica.

I looked up the definition of adventure cause thats what you do. Here it is

"An adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome."

Not very satisfactory for me its lacking something about pioneering or isolation. Adventure isn't just about risk taking nor novelty. Anyway.

With the world mapped and well enough trod there is no new, only new to you. Which should be enough for most people. I link bouldering and exploring/searching for new boulders unextractably. The physical side of it holds less for me but I do get it. Walking around wondering what around the corner, hidden in the hollow or over the ridge is exciting. Usually turns into disappointment but that's just the way it is.

I suppose adventure is wandering around outdoors and whether you have a pad or rope or kayak on your back is secondary. So if you don't think there is any adventure in bouldering you are just doing it wrong.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gravity Climbing Centre is OPEN

Visited Gravity today. Its incredible, absolutely massive, cavernous really. Huge variety of angle and lots of beautiful little details such as tapering undercut running across the change of angle in the slab and walls with multiple triangular platforms. When I think of the time that was spend bouldering on the steep board in UCD, it seems a bit ridiculous. Those days are over now though.

I hope that Gravity will turn into bouldering HQ and it will be a great place for climbers to climb and socalise. It feels more like a bouldering venue rather than a wall, the potential is great problems is staggering. Its also really tall so it going to suit climber looking to get a stamina edge as well.

The purpose of the visit was to talk to Angela and get some information for an article in the Sunday Business Post, they sent out a photographer and we got some savagely cheesy staged photos.

I haven't been to a climbing wall for just over 2 years but I had no hesitation joining up there and then. See you there.

I took a video to show what I'm talking about.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Glendo - Glenelo

Went to Glendo as had spotted some boulders on the hillside W of the crag. They were in the sun while the boulders on the floor of the valley where in the shade all day and I'd say some were quite damp as well. Incredibly mild in the sun. Most of the boulders turned out crap but did one nice problem on some edges with a nasty mantle.

I try to go in hope rather than expectation so wasn't disappointed. Was tempted by the boulders above the crag but decided to have a look at the Main Face. Started up Prelude but didn't go far. Was surprised at how polished the rock is. Its not bad but definitely a popular route. Also started by Holly Tree Shunt - I think - but came down as I wasn't into going all the way and reversing would of been a world of pain.

I did do the sublime Expectancy. Incredible granite jugs with a nice section smearing up the groove. The slab has just come into the sun so it was warm but the rock was freezing, prefect conditions. What a great route.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fame at last

From yesterday's Sunday Business Post.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bouldering in Ireland - finalist in Banff Mountain Book Competition

Last week I got the great news that the guide was choosen as a finalist in the Banff Mountain Book Competition. One of 23 finalists it was selected out of 106 entries from 11 countries.I never really thought it had a chance so am delighted. Its in the Guidebook category along with the amazing Peak bouldering guide and a Rockfax route guide.

See the rest of the entries here

Monday, October 17, 2011


Went to the Quarry today for the first time in years. It was sunny but very windy and the rain was on its way but I did a few easy routes. Diffs to be precise. I used to go to the Quarry loads when I started out climbing and had a good soloing circuit. Today I felt very unsure and cautious which is probably natural as I haven't done any of that sort of thing for a while and of all the strands of climbing soloing is the one that requires lots lots of practise doing it (rather than training for doing it). Vauge goal is to do all the routes up to HVS in the quarry. I have been on most of them before but it was a long time ago. Should be fun doing some of the choss/vegetable horrors.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Glendo yesterday

Went to Glendo yesterday with Tim. Was very mild. Stuggled on Big Jim warming up. It felt like a warm summer's day. Tried Afro Left. Its probably a decent problem from the undercut but I found it disappointing when Tim reached the top from the incut sidpull and the palm. The move from the lip is remarkably similar to Squamish.

There seems to have been alot of work done on the path, its now wide all the up to past the Uberhang whereas before it was narrow and winding. They have also built up the banks of the river. The easiest crossing point is now about 15m upstream of Big Jim, hopping across on 3 flat rocks. I think the stream is going to be very hard to cross if its any way high.

That there were five boulderers in the valley at a Thursay is all you need to know about the state of the country.

I'm bored of Glendo already. One visit this 'season'. Not good. I'm going to avoid it like the plague.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Went down to Kerry for a few days. The weather turned out horrible but still did a bit. Drove down on Sunday and stayed with Ped. Next morning went straight to Cronin's Yard. I haven't been down to Kerry for about a year but the roads have improved alot. It took me just under 4hours to Killarney in my yoke and not doing over 95kmph.

Set off in the sunshine to do Stumpa an TSaimh and along the ridge to Binn Chaorach and Corrán Tuathail. Got some nice shots on the walk in. It was warm in the sun. The direct line up Stumpa is around Diff and I had hoped I might find myself doing it. Once I got to the point of commitement I decided to go around the easy way. Just wasn't confident enough to press on into the void. Good call as it turned out as it started to rain a short while later.

Continued along the ridge encased in cloud. Took a good while to reach Bhinn Chaorach. Was nice easy scrambling on grippy rock. The ridge across to Corrán was nice. But by this point it had got very windy and I felt I shouldn't be there. So raced along it and descended down Brother O'Shea's Gully which is a horrible steep, stoney descent. Trudged back to the car, luckily the visibility wasn't too bad so I got some sense of the grandeur around me.

Went on a romantic walk around the smaller Killarney Lake that evening with Ped. Saw some crab apples growing wild which was the highpoint of the walk.

The next day went out to Dingle to try and find an old Frank Winder route on the sea cliffs at Ballydavid Head. The description was too vague to be sure what we found. We scrambled down a grassy gully and along a ridge but the rock wasn't great. Incredible place though.

 That afternoon we did the Faha Ridge is think clag and non-stop rain. We took a while to get our bearings when we reached the main ridge and where close to deciding to retrace our steps. It was quite miserable all in all.

The next day we drove for about 3 hours to check out a valley called Glanrastel on the Beara Penisula. I had found photos of the valley that showed lots of massive boulders. It was pissing rain when we got there and the rock was total choss, the worst sandstone I had ever seen, I really thought I was on to something. We ended up trudging around from one giant block to choss to another. Standing in rivers wondering where it all went wrong. I have offically given up searching for boulders of that old red sandstone, its quality is too variable.

I had 3 things for dinner that evening as a consolation.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Just back from a week in Font. Climbed 6 days out of 7, paced myself well and concentraded on the blues. Went to a mix of areas I hadn't been before and the old reliables. Bois Rond and Buthiers were great and I would go back. Realised that Cuiver is the greatest bouldering area in the world. I had always liked it but this time it blew my mind. The rock is very good even for Font, lots of great texture slopers and not too much grattons or marble. Also its huge.

I finally did the Blue Number 8 which I have been trying for years - 6 at least. Its an flared slot/chimney just left of Charcutiere. Now if you haven't tried it you may think, blue how hard can it be. If you have you know. Success required lots of palming and knee jamming. By the time I got to the top I was breathing hard and seeing stars. Needed a bit of a rest on top before I came down. Its a great problem, probably not a soft tick for Font 4 though. I'd suspect the 8a to the left gets more ascents.

The beta is something like this. LF jam in back, RH palm, step up to sloper on L for LH, turn RH to palm. Push hips in and get a knee jam with L knee. RH to high sloper on R. Wingle alternativing knee jams until to can get a good chicken wing for L arm. Sqeeze into a more conventional chimney postition and get heel toe jam for RF. From then on its a pretty straighforward squeeze chimney.

As is my tradition I aways start in Cuivier on blue number 1, Les Sans des Mains. Beautiful slab problem. Took me a few tries and a change to shoes to crack it. It was so good I had to do it thrice. So good.

Went to a huge boulder in Elepant called Dalle á Poly. Huge overhanging face riddled with juggy pockets. The black number 40 which is supposed to be 4 goes up the left side. I got to within an inch of the last jug but was a little pumped to go for it. Its high. Worth a visit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Glanekeera part 2

Went back to Glanekeera today with Michael Duffy. I wanted to check out some of the stuff I had seen from a distance last time I was there. Approached differently from last time and struck gold first boulder. I had seen it form a distance and wasn't sure if it was going to be big enough but it certainly was. I did one easy problem. And flailed on the warm up that was trickier than it looked. There are six execellent lines to be done on it. Haven't given the boulder a name but it must reference the massive truck tire that lies beside it,.

Next up we found a nice square cut block with 3 more problem to be done on it.

Showed Micheal the big bastard that I found last time. It's a huge block - contender for biggest in Wicklow - but the steepest line is short a hold or two. There is a great line or two to be done on the LHS and maybe a nice route up the middle. Would love to lash a few pegs into it.

Next up was a lovely blank wall just less than vertical with two parallel lines of flakes on it. Not much for the feet for the crux start. Great line. Looks like it might start seeping soon.

Had a quick go on the Glanekeera Roof itself, felt as dodge as usual.

On the way back to the car we came across this boulder. Not that tall but with potential for 4 nice problems. It merits a return visit.

Lastly after 6 hours of walking Micheal pointed out one last boulder. Right beside the carpark in Wicklow Gap is that nice wall. Very juggy, an excellent spot to warm up. It may well have been climbed before. But I'm going to claim it anyway.

So very successful day. Found about 18 great lines.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Cave

Intrigued by the traffic that The Cave seems to be getting I paid it a visit today. Cycled to the Dart and then cycled/pushed bike to The Cave. Took 1hr30 on the way there and 1hr05 on the way back which isn't too bad. Though Tim said you can drive it in 20mins or cycle in an hour.

I got there 2hours before low tide and had to wade around the corner to get in but the cave is in perfect nick, bone dry. So much drier since I was last there in July last year. My patience for fighting the damp is low at the moment due to the time spent in Wicklow Coast - though this is very dry at the moment as well.

The place is covered in chalk holds, it's really impressive to see the density of the problem in the space. Impressive and confusing.

I spent my time on Caroline's Traverse and Loco Total. Got the Good pinch jug on CT but didn't rock it out.  Took a while to get the jist of LT but it all started to come back to after a while. I hadn't expected company, low tide was at 14.00, but Kev and John showed up after a while. Such is Ireland 2011 I suppose.

Kev topped up his Vit D and John did a new link up. Starting back left past a bit of LT and finish up can't remember. Last move was a cool foot cross though into a heel toe jam. Long problem. 40 moves maybe?

The Cave is great and I envy John being so close to it. Its in great nick at the moment so if you haven't been nows the time to check it out.

We are going to organise a BBQ one evening in early/mid September when the tides are right. Should be good.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Exploring the rain forest

Got it into my head that I wanted to check out a bit of hillside. I won't say where it is as it's very private land. Diarmuid and I wandered around, did some serious bushwacking, we say tons of rock, some decent size crags and a few problems. Nothing great, probably wouldn't go back. The rock was unusual, sometime like the Scalp other times fine grained almost like sandstone. A lot was dirty and a bit chossy.

A snotted myself rather nicely and got muddy then the flies got really bad. We ended up only checking out about half the hillside so I will have to go back. Hopefully on a drier less humid day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wicklow coast

Guppy Travers
This was written on Saturday.

Took Paul Brennan on a secret preview tour of the bouldering I have been doing near Wicklow Town. I knew Paul would be particuarly keen to see it as he works in the Town. We went to the coves at Black Castle which is maybe the most tidal venue and also the shortest walk in. We arrived just as the tide was at its lowest. I hadn't been for a few weeks so I wasn't sure what the seepage would be like. Turned out the rock was as dry as I have seen it and the sand level were still very high.

We got down to business and warmed up on a nice traverse that had repelled me on previous occasions. Probably not the best thing to warm up on as its very pumpy. Did it after a few goes using a heel hook. I had originally thought it would go without needing a heel but alas no. Guppy Traverse 6a+.

Paul on the bump on his problem

We then moved on to the problem to the right. A nice lowball slap from a slopey ledge to small incut edges. Paul figured out a good - and quite cool - sequence which invovled going with the left and bumping again.

We flailed around a bit more doing a high start to the problem I call Bulk Purchase which wasn't half as hard as I thought it would be, very cool feature thought. We then tried to get into the bowl and rotate.

Paul putting his caving skills to use

Biker Cove line

Then nipped over to the next cove south which is Biker Cove. We tried the nice line up the overhanding wall, I had been starting from a set of nice incut edges and deadpointing up to the incut pocket with my right, Paul had more success with his left, we then tried to work out a sequence from the slopey ledge which is the obvious start point. We did a few of the moves and it will make a great problem when linked up.

Ever seen someone twistlock cross through on hand jams?

The slap move on the middle line
At this stage the tide was lapping the rocks and we went to check out the nice cave I call the room. There is a great diagonal break slashing its way across the roof which Paul got excited about hand jamming. There is a start on the left hand side and a start in the middle that slaps from a really nice slopey slot to the break. The left start is ok, a bit damp and awkward. Paul contrated on the middle start, which I could barely get off the ground on. To my surprise he got it after a few goes and then started to figure out the rest. He will get it linked next time, I though it would be a lot hard maybe 7b but it might come in around 6c+.

It was a good session and I think Paul liked the place. Going to sit on this post til I let the cat out of the bag.