Sean and his Whistle
Monday morning we woke to some sort of demi-hell – millions of the nastiest, most ferocious midge seemed set on devouring us piece by piece so we packed up out tents in a flurry of arms and curses and speed towards Fanore beach for a swim to steady our nerves and clear the midge from our skin. After the swim it was time to climb… as I mentioned earlier, I got hit with some sort of bug just before we made it to the Aran Islands causing me to loose my voice and leaving me totally wasted – I know when I’m sick as my shoulders just feel like lead weights! I really wanted to jump on loads of the lines I had on my tick list but didn’t want to waste them if I wasn’t feeling right. I end up trying ‘Quicksilver’ E5 6a on the far end of Mirror wall. Now I’ve heard someone say that they reckoned this was a soft E5 or maybe even a hard E4, Well I have always had a hard time on this one, well just one move to be honest but it just pumps me silly! This time I cruise it clean as a warm up and Sean seconds me and reinforces my opinion on it’s grade, Its an E5 alright – Phew! I’m not that soft yet!
After that we had to pack up and split if we were going to catch our ferry but just had time to drop Sean to Doolin where he could wait for Tom to Arrive. We dropped Caroline’s sister home in Offaly on our way back to Dublin but the motivation to catch the ferry seemed to evaporate the closer we got… I’d had a taste of the Burren Rock and I needed more!
Tuesday morning and we’ve missed our ferry and are still in Ireland – Damn! Off to Glendalough! Sean had been filling our heads with talk of Big Walls and Caroline wanted to do some multipitch climbing. We end up climbing on of Glendalough’s most celebrated lines, ‘Spilikin Ridge’, 85m of E3 5c crack climbing in spectacular positions. This was only Caroline’s second ever multi pitch and she loved it! Stopping for lunch at the base of the crag we hatch a cunning plan to miss tonight’s ferry and head to the Burren for a couple more days!
Room with a view - Notice Toms makeshift bivi shelter to the right of Seans silver tent!
The next morning I woke up first and chilled out in the light breeze that kept the midge at bay. Eventually everyone rises and after a prolonged breakfast we all head to Fanore for another Swim, Tom is sceptical at first about swimming in the some what less than tropical conditions but we convert him to our ways and we have great craic body surfing the waves. Funny seeing the horrified looks of the onlooking wetsuit wearing surfers! Right then, What to Lead?
Gearing up - This felt very heavy after all our recent sports climbing!
Everyone is feeling a bit tired at this stage but we gotta do something! I set an Ab up and we go down to try ‘Sharkbait’ E5 6b – this is an awesome line but I had seen some very strong crack climbers get spat off this one over the years and stories of a pumpy, goey, 6b crux had put me off trying it before now. I tie in and cruise to the top – nothing stands out as being too difficult. Was that really E5 6b? I must be feeling good. Meanwhile Tom leads ‘Black Barron’ E2 and Sean belays while watching me on Sharkbait. Caroline seconds me and realises where the route got its name (See pic below). Caroline in typical stubborn form refuses to leave any of the gear in place and cleaned the line while seconding - before this Caroline had bee struggling to get to grips with pure crack climbing, well something clicked! Caroline seconded the route cleanly to the 6b crux before comming off due to a foot slipping and a reachy move. Once past the crux Caroline cruises to the belay - After finishing her crash course in crack climbing! Tom makes it to the top of the Black Barron and looks like he needs a drink. “I Nearly Shat Myself!” he says… bit of a contrast to sports climbing alright!
Caroline became Sharkbait after seconding the E5 6b
Sean gets psyched and goes for ‘Jokerman’ E6 6b and gets it onsight (possibly only the second onsight ever of this line).
Jokerman E6 6b
Then before leaving Sean wants to try Sharkbait – afterwards he tells me that I made it look too easy – he thought it was going to be easier – infact both himself and Tom said that it was as hard as Jokerman! Tom even thought it was harder – They reckon I should get on the E7’s...
The Lads starting up the awesome line of Sharkbait, E5 6b
Their encouragement is much appreciated and now I feel psyched for some hard training and confident that anything is possible if I want it! Alas we have to get going and end up driving the Lads to Andy’s gaff back in Dublin (Andy, I know you don’t read blogs but Cheers for the Tea!! And your Gaff and Pooch are both Class!)
And that’s a wrap!
Back in Wales now after an awesome trip home! I didn’t get to meet up with half the people I wanted to but nothing new there, haa! I recharged my flow and had a great time with the few family and friends we actually did catch up with.