Thursday, 27 March 2008

New Training venue

Well with selling the house i've been forced to dismantle my lovely little training board but luckily we both won those free passes to our local climbing wall which has a full size, built to spec, complete with Ben's very one holds - moon board! I'm just back from an impromptu hour or two dangling from it - Great! I wiped all the old problems off the whiteboard and set 7 new ones - 3 warmups, 3 decent ones and 1 nice one :)

It's a great angle and the moon holds are perfect for cranking on - all small but perfectly formed :) This'll get me strong! And the bonus good news is that the flapper has healed super fast and didn't affect my climbing! Phew! now onto the project as soon as possible!


We managed to make it back home to Ireland for the Easter weekend thanks to my parents forking out for our ferry ticket.... Thanks!!! The plan was to keep a low profile and just hang out with family and stuff but as usual the pull of the rock saw us making the still familiar trip out to Glendalough for some light bouldering :) Sean M, Belgian Sean, Meave and Andy were all out in force despite the Irish weather throwing at least 6 seasons at us throughout the course of our few hours bouldering! Sunshine - snow, sleet, gales, sunshine again! I always feel like a complete beginner out in Glendalough - despite living in Dublin till i was 22 i never really did that much out in wicklow (mainly because i never drove and lifts were scarse to come by - untill the DCU gang began to invest in motors at least - Thanks lads!). I spent a few visits to glendo dispatching the classics just before moving to Wales but i always find myself playing on the same routes every time i visit recently - all bullshit aside i just like the steeper lines. Or big clean arete's or faces. don't feel even the slightest inspiration from some tiny scrunched climbing-out-of-a-hole-in-the-ground problem. Heres a list of what we played on... some new problem Maeve introduced us all to which was really nice - we worked a variation to it "scraping the bottom of the barrel" - still a project :) Then it was onto the oul faithful - Chillax - this time we did the left finish - without heelhooking the lip... i had played on this last visit with Neal and neither of us could send it, this time things felt easier and i jumped at the oppertunity to bag some more precious proof that somewhere along the way i was improving! Then we worked a 2 move eliminate which Sean V. sent before our skin packed in - beautiful movement straight through the roof!

Maeve and Andy split for the Pub and warmth and the rest of us got distracted by Superswinger and BBE on the way back. Sean wanted to send BBE - in his words - it's just pure - a brilliant problem. A steep, one move deadpoint and swing provide the crux of this wee beastie - i remember working really had 4 or 5 years ago now to add the sitting start to that and i did - just before Mark Katz and Chris Davies came over for the first bouldering meet and climbed it, confirming the 7a+ grade. This Saterday i sent the standing start static first try in rockshoes - and no swing - that never happened before! my foot stayed on! Sean was getting pulled into the problem - holding the swing was killing him - each attempt saw his swing seem to slow down more and more - any of his attempts should have stuck it but they didn't - failing skin and frustration had us packing in. But not before repeating the low sitstart to superswinger (sans creaky crack)... this was another one of mine and it's nice to be able to flash a problem that i had to work on so hard years ago - don't think i'll soon be forgeting those moves! It was cool to see Sean get psyched and repeat it my way and agree it was sweet - YES! I'm not crazy! I knew that was the right line!

Then while Sean was still plugging away at BBE i used what was left of my skin and shoulder strength to go at the sit start - feeling way easier than ever before i was skipping moves and holds and going direct from the starting shelf to the left arete pinch from a high left heel-toe lock.... unfortunately Glendo granite stopped play for the day with an oputragous flapper! Ouch!

Sunday was Family day and it took all of my will power to not go out to the lads in Dalkey and try soem of the lines i was on during the summer - Sean, always eager to take advice or suggestions abotu hard trad lines, jumped onto Alexandria E6 for an onsight attempt and took what was described as an awesome exciting whipper from the Top move!! Haa! I had warned him about that move out in Glendo! :) Class - Wish i had gone out! but was nice to spend a full day with Family all the same.

Great weekedn but as usual - didn't get to meet up with most of the people i would have liked to! i think thats come to be the norm for these visits home...

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Races and Comps

Last saterday we headed to Nottingham to take part in the UK athletics Cross challenge final and European trials selection race at woolaton park. The biggest Cross country race of the year in the UK. We've both ran the race in previous years and it's such a cool day with the Sky sports TV camerac stationed at various points around the 12km course. Some on quad bikes, soem up in towers, some under bushes and one cool one an a big boom that sweeps over the runners charging down the forrest avenue. We were both selected to race for North Wales. Proud to be selected but feeling worse for wear after the week of disrupted training and also afraid to take part in such a competitive race on the mucky terrain incase my sciatica flares up again (long story...) i bowed out and Caroline raced.
Sunday we did something different. I dislike climbing comps.... probably because i'm too weak to crank and i've never really liked indoor climbing. But seeing as how our local wall had organised a comp and we wanted to support the organiser we showed up and climbed - we won. I came in 1st with 595 out of 600 points (lost 5 points for 1 failed attempt at a running jump Dawes style problem) over the comp's 40 boulder problems and Caroline trashed the other female competitors and was thrown into the Men's comp where she thrashed all of them to finish second behind me! we won a cup and 6 months free climbing (on the condition that i could flash the hardest problem in the comp in my trainers at the end, which i did). Just as well coz now i don't feel too bad about dismantling my training board before selling my house - i've unlimited use of the wall with it's moon board :)

Friday, 14 March 2008

Commonwealth Day

Building on the ESDGC day myself and MAJ had been given the opportunity to take 4 pupils down to the Welsh assembly building in Cardiff to put up a display on the Environment – our future. The day also included a guided tour of the Senedd building and we got to partake in the questions to the first minister for Wales infront of the entire assembly. The whole day was filmed and will be turned into a promotional DVD.
The group was met by Peter Kellam, the Senedd’s head of European and International relations and Mari Wyn Gooberman, the Senedd’s head of Education. We were then given a guided tour of the Senedd followed by a buffet lunch during which Assembly Members and invited guests from all over Wales and the world viewed the schools presentations on the environment. Jacqueline Wilson, Director of Governance and Institutional Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat flew in to give an address on sustainable development. This was followed by a Choir performance by Cor Ysgol Pencae, introduced by Janet Ryder AM, who performed some traditional Lesotho songs for some delegates present from that country. The group was then taken to the gallery above the assembly chamber to observe questions to the First Minister, Rhodri Morgan AM from the other assembly members.
Once finished with the formalities we took plenty of cheesy pictures around Cardiff newly re-developed Bay area and spent the night in a hotel. The Kids really seemed awestruck by the whole day and appreciated the effort we had put into organising it. It really took some grafting on my part to secure the funding and make all the calls necessary but I’m glad to say that now, sitting on the train heading back North to Rhyl I feel it was all worth it. Now I just have to sort out the schools recycling programme once and for all – Just need the time! Trying to fit in teaching, running with a committed athlete’s schedule, climbing and all this extra stuff that the school needs but no-one seems willing to do is working me – but I think I need to be worked hard to be happy – makes me appreciate things.


Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship. That’s right, another initiative being introduced to schools and another thing that I find myself involved in. Last week myself and a colleague arranged a day of activities for all the year 7’s (1st years to the Irish) to highlight the issues around sustainable development and their place in the world.
The local Sealife centre came in and gave a presentation on conservation and the importance of recycling with lots of examples of habitat conservation going on in and around North Wales. An African artist came in and worked with the children making African tribal masks and gave them loads of information on the cultural significance behind them, which they loved. Then a group called Europe Direct had a workshop with the children comprising various activities on the European union and it’s countries and languages. I’m not the biggest eco-warrior on the planet (but I do like to read about recent developments in renewable energy and waste management) but it’s really inspiring to see the results that can be achieved simply by putting in a little effort. Schools seem to be full of opportunities for good work to be done but a lot of these opportunities pass by without a second glance simply because no-one is willing to give some time.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


Well it’s been another manic week here… The Estyn inspectors have come and gone and things on the work front have returned to normality for now at least! After the mad week in work I was bulling to get out on rock and start working the project again… it had been two full weeks since I had been on it by this stage! During that time I had a renewed incentive to hang from my board and had increased the weight on my hang belt to try and overload my training (while avoiding injury of course). Although I had been noticing constant, small improvements through my training I felt it was beginning to stagnate so adding some weight to the static hangs might be just enough to provoke an overload and adaptation by the body and spark the finger and arm muscles into recruiting again.
Well something must have worked because on the project on Sunday things started to come together with surprising ease – not that I’m saying it’s easy or anything. After trying the route for the first time I had identified 2 main areas on the route that would cause the problems during the redpoint.
First was the technical crux at the 3rd bolt involving the use of some tiny edges to get in position for a deadpoint to a sharp crimp. This section completely shut me down during my first attempt. This Sunday after a 6b warm up I tied in and climbed cleanly past the second bolt using a sequence I had thought of during the week – luckily the footholds were there that allowed the moves to flow. Before long I had unearthed a sequence that worked through the low crux and could I could climb the lower wall from the ground to the jug marking the change in angle above the 3rd bolt. The climbing in this section is not only hard on the fingers due to the tiny edges on offer but seems really physically powerful aswell – and complicated. More crucial movements than any other route I have been on. Each move from stepping off the deck has to be pulled off perfectly for me to complete the deadpoint to the crimp and there seems to be tonnes of foot movements needed between every hand move. In many ways this is exactly what I want, something that challenges my technique as well as my strength. Once I had decided on the final sequence for the lower wall I just practiced it until I couldn’t hold on any more.
Anyone who has never worked something this complicated before will think I’m a wuss or sap or something but I left the crag on Sunday more proud of that session and sequence I had found than of all but the best few trad routes I’ve ever done. This is the beginning of some thing different. I know this route is hard – a real hard route – harder than any of the other 8’s I had been on in the UK, Spain or France… probably why it’s 8b! But I’m on it and putting a lot of effort into it and enjoying the process. Now there is just the final powerful crux up top to dial and the redpointing can begin.
The top crux somehow seems more clear but just desperately hard. I know I’m going to need to spend a lot of time trying different foot sequences on this or I’ll simply never be able to hold the crux holds – 3 tiny 2 mm ripples in a row need to be snatched between to reach some more poor holds leading to the top. It’s gonna require a solid right heelhook methinks but that’s all I know for now. That’s the next session – when I decide on a sequence for the top I can begin to redpoint the whole thing – this is where the real work will have to be put in – I have to climb through the lower wall and mid overhang without getting pumped in order to snatch through those ripples to the top. It’s gonna be a battle!

After working the project I finished off with a handy toprope of a neighbouring 7c that I had played on before – even with a huge pump I managed to flash through it and was relieved to see such concrete proof that I had actually improved somewhere along the way since last year. After that the final test was to lead a 7a+ before packing up – what a fight! But then again I was pumped to bits tying in!

Why am I so happy that I can’t climb a route yet? I’ve a real project!

Sunday, 2 March 2008


Just back from the race and Caroline won the womens, meanwhile i finished in 37mins - not a great time but with windy conditions and on a course not known for giving fast times i'm happy with that for now - a decent, solid run :)
Now back to the grind stone
Plan, mark, hang, plan, mark, hang ... continue till collapse or all the work is done :)

Just another Sunday

Well another week has flown past and i've not really had a minute to myself! Really busy with school and work, Government inspectors are in next week observing teaching and learning standards within our school so everyone is wound up with that. Managed to make it to a climbing wall on thursday though and even found a project - a wall that has never been climbed features only - sad but it kept me busy! While there the owner, Ian, was telling me of a rockface he's found and wants to develop with routes up to E3 or something so i'm interested in checking it out with him sometime. Caroline was climbing well too and is ramping up climbing activity for a summer full of Goals on rock for both of us - looking forward to it already. Yesterday we had planned on making it out to Dinbren again and working the project but it was not to be - had to content myself with a fore-arm bursting session on the wall - just thinking about the project till i peeled off the small rungs, fingers twitching....Aaaaahhhh, it hurts sooo good! Today we've got another 10km race so we'll be hitting the road in about 30mins or so... i'll update on the results but to be honnest i'm kinda not feeling the flow this morning - tonnes of marking and planning to do for the comming inspection week!
Oh, plus i'm selling the house.... like i said it's been a busy week!
Oh, and i've set up the schools Duke of Edinburgh programme!
.....and i'm helping to organise and run the School's ESDGC (education for sustainable development and global citizenship ) day next week
.... and co-running the eco-council (involves setting up a recycling scheme etc...)
.... and i'm going to the Welsh assemby government in cardiff with a colleague and 4 school kids to attend a forum on sustainable development the following week!
Really busy!