A bit of a weird post this – Before going to France I got a Mail from the usual suspect, Neal, something along the lines of “… so whats the plan for this trip? Going to go for loads of onsights or try something different and work something hard for a change?”. By the second day in the tarn after some 7b onsights those words were bouncing around my head like alarm bells! The Git! It wasn’t until we got back to North Wales that I eventually listened and hey presto – I ticked an awesome route and opened the gates for loads more like it – I have finally begun to learn how to redpoint and am supprised as to how rewarding it feels. Anyway – not the point of this post – Neal, the git, aka the usual suspect – he trained, by himself mostly, for a good year before heading south and sending his first 8a+. He took the initiative and got some rewards and all the while was sewing seeds of similar goals in my mind through conversations or emails – whatever! He’s a legend!
Got me to thinking about how much we’ve bounced off each others motivation over the years – it’s been cool. Before I went to Uni a friend introduced me to rock climbing out in Dalkey Quarry. One Day while out on our usual pilgrimage to the sunny side of the quarry be happened across this skinny half naked climber guy – catching some rays while waiting for his mates to arrive – he showed us how to do some impossible looking move at the beginning of a bouldery HVS (Ex-Ivy Wall), we try it, don’t have the co-ordination, fail and move on … that was McQuaid (Still hasn’t got a tan to this day!). A few weeks later I go to buy my first ever harness and rock shoes from the great outdoors in Dublin and who sells me them but… Neal. At this stage, me being an impressionable youth, he seems to know his stuff – he even knows about E2’s!!
Later that year I join DCU and straight away, it’s climbing club – who’s there only Neal and Rob and Andy – these 3 guys had been fueling each others climbing for the past year since they all joined the club together. Before long I was trying to keep up with the guys on rock and then there was 4 people bouncing off each others flow – it was a fairly rapid learning curve – I can still remember Andy’s face when I dogged my first E1 – He literally jumped up with Rack in hand and ran over to do it! Within a year of ever seeing rock I had soloed E4 6b and the lads had all been over to Spain and lead 7a! The guys were always stronger than me indoors and I was always a case of “no brains no headaches” outdoors so we were a good match.
Then for my first real taste of climbing Neal drove me around Europe for what seemed like years in 2003. Neal drove us to Ceuse, Verdon, Ailfroide, Font, Switzerland and Frankenjura. We hooked up with some Brilliant people and climbed our brains out. I don’t think we ever really came back… Now He’s still getting me in gear from feckin New Zealand! Legend! Now theres the little matter of trying to beat him to 8b… before we get the finger out and REALLY train :)