Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blog moved to and

I'm not going to be posting on this blog anymore, I have moved all the posts and comments over to and I will be posting there and on So update your feeds if you want to read more of this shite.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Losing the Rag

Build a board last week. Very exciting, a long term ambition fulfilled.

Climbing time is pretty restricted at the moment and it's going to get worse before it gets better. I had some time on Sunday and couldn't decide whether to go to the Quarry and try and get some shots for the guide or check some potential new routes that have been on my mind recently.

Decided to check the routes out so that I can find out if they are worth more effort or just forget about them. So packed up the rope, rack, grigri and various brushes and cleaning tools. Walk in was savage, the ferns are going strong, well overhead in places.

Set up the rope and dropped into the first line. The rock is relatively clean but still needs a good scrub. Ended up cleaning three routes, two are ready to roll and doable the other is a bit harder and has fuckall gear. The routes aren't massively long, but the climbing looks good and the holds are nice, I think there is room/potential for seven lines on the slab.Will head back when the ferns are brown bread.

Hanging on the rope in the warm sun, cleaning holds was a real pleasure. The time zipped by, I think I was cleaning for three hours and could of done another three no problem. It was also the realisation of something that has been knocking around my head for ages, it's good and very satisfying to be there doing it.

For the last few years, more than five but not ten years, I haven't used a wire brush, I gave all mine away as it seemed at the time that there was a lot of wire brushing going on and it was wrecking the rock. I felt it would be hypocritical to tell others not to use them and to use one myself. I have relied on stiff plastic brushes, elbow grease and scrubbing the rock with a thick canvas cloth. The latter is very effective as the loose crystal that are very common on granite get pulled off by the fibres of the cloth but it doesn't damage the rock. I recommend them, they are ideal for bouldering, but for routes where the number of holds is greater they are a little slow.

I pretty much wore through the above cloth on Sunday and this stuff is very heavey 14ounce cotton canvas. Might need to re-invest in a wire brush!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Last of the evenings in Dalkey

My trad revival is going strong and I got out to the Quarry a good few times over the summer. Started slow and worked my way up through the routes. Felt a lot more solid at the end of the summer compared to the start. The goal is and was to get really solid at HVS, not very ambitious maybe, depends how you define solid I suppose. For me being solid means enjoying the climbing, not wobbly my way up, puffing and panting, shouting and shaking. As we lost the light we started meeting earlier and earlier but we were still up against it. So last week Bray and I decided the season was over. So we went out for one last hurrah. I had my eye on Bushmills, it just doesn't look that hard, so was keen to jump staight onto it. Bray suggested a warmup route, a concept I'm not that keen on for trad. I had wanted to do Bingelstein for weeks and last week we went to do it and it had a few people on it. The description mentions a wobbly block and sure enough we heard the block been wobbled from the other side of the quarry. This time it was free and Bray set off, but handed the lead to me as he wasn't keen on the loose rock. I love that shit so set off happy. Thinking it's only VS. Well turns out I found it pretty hard, I considered backing off but as that was going to be a world of pain I hung in. The guide description is bollox, at the top you use the wobbly block to go straight up. Its clear from the state of the vegatation and dirt of the holds that no-one has stepped left for a long time. The moves took me by surprise, it felt more like HVS to me. A little steep, you can't really relax. I was worried about the wobbly block, it didn't move for me though. It's a decent challenging route but it was no warm up. Eventually I topped out but I had spent my nervous energy for the day so we did an easy route and that was that. Moral of the story. Dont' warm up.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bouldering Essentials is at the printers

After a long battle, much longer than anticipated, I send Bouldering Essentials to the printers last week. Almost two years in production, it started off as an ebook but as I sunk more time into it I decided that it merited printing. I'm pretty happy with it. Thanks to everyone on here who gave advice or feedback, all much appreciated. Just before I uploaded the files to the printer I was doing a quick once over of the cover. Checking that bouldering and my name were all spelt correctly. In my final glance I noticed that the subtitle 'The complete guide to boulering' was in fact 'The compete guide to bouldering', missing the l, it was missing both on the front and the back cover. Thanksfully I spotted it as otherwise I might of been visiting the pulper ala Alan Partridge.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Howlin Ridge

On Thursday Ped and I did Howlin Ridge. Got up early to avoid the worse of the heat but still got baked on the walk in. Racked up but didn't use rope or climbing shoes. It felt more like a scramble than a climb thought there was a few tricky sections.

Route finding is pretty easy there is pretty much a path. Took about 2hr15 including a lot of photoshoots en route.

Having done it in such beautiful conditions it seems like it would be shame to do it in shitty weather.

As for the grade, I would say Diff rather than VDiff.

For climbers it's a scramble. For scramblers it's a climb.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Muskrat Ramble

Went to back to Luggala with Andy on Saturday, started early so we were leaving as the day was really starting to heat up. Andy wanted an adventure and decided on Muskrat Ramble, the three star, three pitch HVS.

As we geared up a few midge lurked and I was worried but there was a decent breeze all day. Andy set off immediatly going off route as the guidebook start looked very dirty. He pulled quickly through some tricky climbing that didn't look that steep from the ground, an optical illusion, as it was steep and hard on the blunt end. The finish needed a good clean but overall decent pitch.

The belay was at this big oak tree and would be a great spot for a bivvy. The second pitch is the star. Steep and really really exposed. It made me feel like a beginner, nervous, overgripping and a little wobbly. Andy shot up it no hesitation. The same couldn't be said of me.

We belayed on the pine tree. Sensational spot, the rock dropping steeply beneath.

Andy decided on the last pitch of Crevasse Route rather than MR as it looked very dirty and probably isn't done very often. The start is a pretty hard, for VS, mantle onto a slab. I had trouble higher up, rushing a bit and getting all wrong handed.

We walked off and drank the beers Andy had stashed in the stream on the walk in. I was impressed with Andy's leading straight off the couch. The route felt hard and it appears that my goal of getting really solid on HVS is still a good bit off.

Oh and I spotted at least one very nice boulder problem.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bouldering book title

Have been doing a decent bit of climbing but haven't blogged about it as I have been occuppied with finishing my bouldering book. It's pretty much done bar the cover and deciding on a title.

I have been trying to think of a good title for over a year now and I had hoped one would just fall out of the sky but it hasn't happened.

So I would like some help settling on one.

First some background on the book. It's bouldering how-to/instructional manual aimed at beginner and intermediate climbers. It's starts pretty basic and is focussed on movement and strategy rather than training. There are lots of great photo so it has a coffee table flavor - judge for yourself - see the photos below.

I think it's pretty comprehensive, it's not just a beginners book, so I don't want a title like "Bouldering for Beginners" or "Start Bouldering" (this was my working title for a while) as they suggest that experienced boulderers won't find anything to use to them.

I would like 'bouldering' in the title. I think this is important for search rankings and so on.

There are two options - just plain old bouldering with a subtitleor something bouldering or bouldering something.

I have tried to write down all the options. A lot of which are pretty chessy and generic. I'm open to left of field suggestions (for example I really like the title of "Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills").

The Bouldering Handbook
The Bouldering Manual
The Complete Guide to Bouldering
Complete Bouldering
Essential Bouldering
Learn Bouldering
Go Bouldering
Start Bouldering
Bouldering Basics
Bouldering Explained
Bouldering Uncovered
Bouldering Essentials
Bouldering for Beginners
Bouldering for Everyone
Bouldering: A guide for beginners and intermediates
Bouldering: How to
Already taken

Better Bouldering
Bouldering: Movement, Tactics and Problem Solving
Anyone have any opinions on any of the above titles?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pine Tree Buttress

Top of the second pitch.

Haven't blogged for a while. Have been mostly climbing in the Quarry recently, either soloing about or bouldering. Years ago I have a few sessions on a nice little wall and I decided to get back on it, first I had a to beat a path to it, but I have had about 8 sessions on it now and am making progress, it's plumb vertical on tiny edges and pinches, it really the direct start to a route and I might need a rope for the upper section if I ever get there.

A very hungover Ped and I went and did Pine Tree Buttress on Luggala today. We parked at Piergates - first car parked there - and walked in along the road and then up the river. It's under an hour to the foot of the crag, and en route I found this really great 45 degree wall which has potential for three very nice, indoor style problems.

I had studied the old guide - I don't own the new one - and the photos from the new guide which can be found here. The old guide is appalling, it would be a miracle to correctly follow a route using it. The new topos are ok.

First pitch went grand, I kept going past the belay around the corner hoping to run a few pitches together. But once I got into the V groove the rope kept jamming so I had to belay. A short pitch up a wide crack lead up to the hollly tree below the steep wall. There is an interesting move off the belay stepping right, it took a few goes to figure out, I couldn't find an elegant solution so just got a high foot and pulled. Once over onto the slab I couldn't see any hint of a belay so pressed on up the slab. Clipped a stuck nut and made my way up the slab, it's nice, exposed and there are good holds. This is the best pitch. Got to the grassy ledge, belayed and brought Ped up. Turned out I belayed too far left but it was academic. Last pitch led to the tree, it was ok, I followed my nose and I think I kept to the intended line.

Top of last pitch (our fourth) of Pine Tree Buttress.

Midway I had to place some gear so that Ped could take me off so that he could shit.

The midway ledge is cool, sat around there is the sun for a while, I had planned to do a route called Temptation, but backed off it as it was dirty and I couldn't really see the line. Ended up scrambling up some Diff, walked over the top of Fancy and down the ridge to the car.

PTB wasn't as good as I was expecting for a three star route. The long pitch up the slab was pretty good. The belays are nice eyries with good views but the rest of the climbing was a little indistinct. So was underwhelmed. Would of loved to do one of the classic on the Main Face but need a little more leading under my belt. Next time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cover for new book: 2

Thanks everyone for the feedback, it's much appreciated. There seems to be strong support for the black background with the simplest layout being preffered. Based on the comments I have made two different front and back covers, a single shot and a multiple one. I shall add them to another post now. I have added a poll on the Irish Climber's facebook group  to see if I can get a wider range of opinions...

Feedback welcome...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cover for new book

I'm working on the cover of my new book about bouldering. Would be great if people voted for the cover they think is best, would be great if they left their reasons as well.

Let me know (use the "Add new idea" button) if you like some aspects of one and some of another. Also let me know if you dislike them all or have any other suggestions....

Also it would be great if you let me know if you like one back cover (left hand page) over another.

powered by tricider

See large version of each cover below.






Electonic climbing guides

Yesterday Mountaineering Ireland released their Donegal Rock Climbing App. This is the first such guide to Ireland, and represents a big step for a large organisation like MI.

The original plan was to release a print guide, but that was shelved relatively recently. At this point the guide was already years late. But this isn't unusual for an MI guide (and it's probably fair to say any volunteer produced guidebook).

I spent a good bit of time thinking about the pros and cons of electronic guides when I was deciding what to do once the print copies of Bouldering Ireland ran out. In the end I settled for a downloadable PDF as (1) it was easy for me to generate from my existing InDesign files (2) it can be printed and viewed on any electronic device. A possible downside is that it can be easily shared, but I felt the risk/consequence of this were low, as climbers are a decent lot and the cost price was low.

So some pros and cons of the Donegal Rock Climbing App format:


  • Cheap to produce Printing books can get expensive, having said that MI tend to do reasonably large runs so their unit cost should be pretty low (especially relative to the retail price of their guide - €25). Either way they have to stump up thousands in cash upfront and the less popular books may take a decade to sell out (if they ever do). So producing an electronic guide means they don't have large upfront costs, well maybe they do, I don't know many people who would code an App like this for free, but lets assume even if they did pay a developer, it's still a lot cheaper than printing.
  • Cheap to buy The App costs €7 which is a lot less than the €25 the previous edition of the Donegal guide cost. This isn't, however, a like for like comparison as the App is contains 1000 selected routes, while the guide was definitive (I don't know off hand how many routes it contained). Also Iain Miller (, the editor of the App, has made available PDFs of the definitive guides for free on his website (surely they should be on the MI site? Who owns them?). This begs the question why wasn't the App made available for free, or a nominal cost?
  • Can be easily updated An App can be quickly and easily updated to correct mistakes or add new routes.
  • Doesn't block the release of a paper guide in future As there isn't a huge pile of books sitting in MI offices, the option is open in future to release a paper guide.
  • An electronic guide can do a lot of things a paper one can't Maybe this is the big reason. A smartphone knows where you are, it can display charts, you can search it, there is effectively infinite space for photos, you could intergrate voting or feedback etc.


  • Most people won't be able to use it I looked up some smartphone stats for Ireland (check out the very useful In 2012 43% of the population had a smartphone. 39% of those run iOS, on which the App works (there are plans for Android version in the future). So just over 16% of climbers (assuming their smartphone habits are the same as the general population which could go either way I suppose) will be able to use this guide.
  • Smartphones aren't reliable They aren't waterproof, and it would hurt to drop one in the sea. My battery doesn't last much longer than a day, so if I was camping without a means to charge it I could be stuck after a day or two.
  • No legacy This is an alternative take of the pro "Can be easily updated". Paper guides exist long after they are made redunant by a new edition, while electronic guide are simply overwritten, the old version ceasing to exist. This means we lose the guide as a historical document, a representation of a particular place at a particular time. This is a pity I think. And while the wait between paper guides is often long, it caused a build up of excitement and a new wave of development and interest in an area often follows in the wake of a new guidebook. 

My take is that I would of like to see a different approach. A print select guide, with plenty of great photos and interesting asides, with downloadable PDFs (and/or print on demand books) of the more esoteric areas.

What do people think?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Ice Caves

Chris Schulte in Independence Pass from Five Ten on Vimeo.

Great, great looking problems and rock, maybe perfect rock.
Chris seems pretty cool and unlike most top end boulderers he looks like he could crack some skulls, not that he would. I think if I found and climber a problem like Fin Depedance I think I would give up. Perfect movement.

I'm sure there must a place like this in Ireland - minus the ice. The granite in Dunaff in Inishowen is similar, wave smoothed and very, very clean.

EDIT found another vid.

Independence Pass - Ice Caves from Jon Glassberg on Vimeo.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Glossary of bouldering book: comments welcome

I have just finished writing a ten page glossary for my bouldering book, it would be very helpful if you had a look through it and pointed out any mistakes or omissions.

Click here to see a full size flash version.

NOTE I have uploaded an updated version.

Best ever

I know this isn't climbing.

It's a big deal to say best ever. It's a summary of everything that happened so far, it's calling the top. Implicit is that it means 'best so far', but if like Sergey Bubka, the Ukrainian pole vaulter, you are constantly probing the limits of your sport or of hyperbole, you will loose credibility if 'best ever' starts to sound a lot like 'most recent'.

Working the proj

I got out yesterday and put some work in on my project. The day was very damp, drizzling at times but fortunately the project stayed bone thanks to its steepness. I can't imagine there was much bouldering done in Glendo by the IBLers.

Maybe some progress on the first move, which is the crux, but the other moves felt harder than I remembered. Need to do more fingerboarding and work on the core. It's hard and it's good and I'm optimistic that I will get there, then I can retire from high level bouldering.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Where have all the climbers gone?

This is to a certain extent a follow up to my post about the climbing scene, that post generated some interesting discussion and I hope this one will too.

Above is a chart I did up of IBL attendances over the last four years. From October '09 up to yesterday. I couldn't find the results for a few so they are missing. The point is that there is certainly no uptick in attendances at IBLs. The IBL is supposed to be the people's competition. Informal and social. 

So where is the bounce caused by the opening of the two new walls in Dublin? I don't think it really has materialised? Has there been an increase in the numbers going bouldering? I haven't seen it but that doesn't mean anything as I'm rarely in Glendo at weekends? Can anyone comment?

The bouldering forum on theshortspan is very quiet, the forum is mostly all lost+found and stuff for sale.

There is a lot of talk about climbing getting into the Olympics and how great this will be. Debatable I would think. In reality, from what I have read, climbing doesn't have a chance in hell of getting in. I have heard a lot of talk - from climbers - assuming it's a certainty. At best it's a 1 in 7 shot but in reality the odds are longer than that.

I don't see a lot of new routes been done. I was in the quarry a bit over the summer and it never seemed that busy.

Is Irish climbing in hibernation? Does anyone care? Do I have a point? No. 

EDIT added chronological chart.


Friday, January 4, 2013 bollox

Cardio..bouldering, I don't think so.