Thursday, 16 December 2010


Falling off the same move over and over again... progress is being made but it's slow, very slow. Skin fluctuating between translucent, ripped and seeping beads of blood to being fresh and tough, solid on the rock. Climbing by headtorch last night after work i warmed up by leading a roof climb that i had redpointed a few weeks earlier. My hardest ever warm up. Felt strong, even messed up the foot sequence at the crux causing me to cut loose but held it and continued on. Getting excited and want to climb more. So happy to be able to climb on rock after work. 30 min drive and it's dark and cold but it's rock. Caroline is close. Soooo close. It's exciting belaying her now. Last night was a new redpoint high. literally one hold away from the send - it's been epic. I want to try something that is as hard as my one move every move! That would be awesome.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


I've never been so happy with a fail. Today i had my first go at redpointing Bloque. I got into the crux. One crimp from the hold that marks the end of the difficulties. It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine :o)
I'm still having fun playing with my phones camera too...

Playing on Bloque from Dave Ayton on Vimeo.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Day Two - Progress?

Caroline's project from Dave Ayton on Vimeo.

I think the key to making progress is constantly telling yourself that you are getting better. Maybe not better at achieving you goal but actively looking for things to acknowledge as having improved. For example, yesterday was our second day on and we felt trashed from a heavy day one. With sore skin and heavy arms we made our way to the crag. Although there were no sends i came home feeling like i had progressed. I was trying harder. I held that hold well. I read that move perfectly. I fought to control that swing and made the next clip etc...

Caroline picked a fight with a roof. All the moves have been worked and she has lead from the ground to half way through the crux section before falling. From hanging there she makes it to the chains every time. Time, thats all it's a matter of now. Her project (one of them) is at the point now where she knows it's doable any go - it's a frustrating period of working a route. You know there are no shortcuts, no hidden beta to unlock. The route has been distilled into a precise sequence of holds - your unique path through it's difficulties. Its at this phase in my experience that a few key elements come into play. Fight, preparation, rest and luck. If you can ensure fresh arms, good skin, a good nights sleep and are prepared to really fight then any go could result in a send. At the end of yesterdays climbing i tried recording a video on my phones camera. Don't know why i hadn't tried this before. Anyway, the video above shows the result... not Caroline's highpoint but a great effort at the end of two days on.

Inspired by Carolines drive on her route (and eager to keep some grades between our projects) i tried Gaz Parry's hardest addition to the crag, Bloque 8b. It blasts a direct line through the biggest roof on the crag. I tied in and began working - within 20 mins i was at the chains having done all the moves. It's brilliant! It's like doing 3 or 4 moonboard problems on top of each other with no rests or foot faggotry. The first 6 bolts climb like a powerful 7c+ or 8a in their own right and lead into the crux which feels about V9. After the start you cross over into a pocket with your right and span up to a kind of shoulder press sloper for your left. Hooking your left foot on a spike beside your right hand and squeezing everything lets you reach up to a right hand edge (the praying mantis move!). Cut loose to uncurl. After matching this it's a full on coil and dyno to another high right hand edge. I can keep my left hand on but the feet are well and truely off here. Cut loose and match. Hike feet up and deadpoint to a right hand crimp-pinch thing. Match left foot to hand and bring your right toe onto a mini edge. By this time you're horizontal. Dab left hand on mini intermediate crimp and snatch again to crux crimp (nasty). Adjust feet and spring sideways to a flatty hand hold, again with the left. Swing, match, heelkook, clip and pull to the lip and chains. Wow! I guess I've a project :o)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Day One - Test flight

Today was the first day of our 5 day weekend and we hit Los Pinos. It had been 4 weeks since i had tried anything hard and i was packing a new pair of Sportivas that i was eager to test out on the kind of terrain they were designed for - steep! Warming up i placed the draws on Caroline's project and went for a go on Jordan Buy's Ex-Jog 8a. Things were going great till i crossed over to a pinch and spun off, footless but hanging on i clamped a tufa blob between my feet and moved up to the next pinch. Now pumped and onsighting; i hesitated, threw and fell. Right! This will go. I lowered off and started from scratch but this time ripping a crucial hold off the start... flying again. After belaying Caroline and having a cup of tea i tied in again. This time i wanted it. Moving through the new start sequence i felt strong, no longer onsighting, it went by in a dynamic blur of drop knees, cross overs and throws. Another 8a in a session and possibly the 2nd ascent! A great fun climb and very bouldery. The sportivas are awesome! I'm converted.

After that we explored a hidden valley with a big roof. Must of been a dry river bed because the whole valley floor was covered in clover and lavender. Saw the biggest Owl i've ever seen too, less than 20m away - Huge!

A brilliant day out!

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Best Bouldering In Wicklow

What is it? Where is it?
I've been looking through Dave F's last great PDF topo for Irish Bouldering in advance of coming home for Christmas and I realised I left Ireland just as things really kicked off. I've not been to half of these places. I'm home for 2 weeks and hope to get at least 5 days out on rock. Every christmas I go home I end up bouldering in Glendalough, doing the same problems - sometimes new ones. This time I would love to explore somewhere different - somewhere new (to me at least). I'll be honest, I'd like somewhere with scope for further development or with lots of projects - that really motivates me. I've bouldered at Glendalough, Lough Bray, the Scalp and once or twice in Glenmacnass.
Where would you suggest?
Obviously I've a mental wish list of problems that inspire me back home. Leftism, the Big Squeeze and the Groove project on the Holiday boulders - Glendalough. All strike me as being things I aspire to climb - Leftism is probably the best problem in the Valley in my opinion - great work Michael! Leviathan in Portrane. Everything up at the Head - those blocks look Epic!
Neal, Tim, Pierre, Dave, Trish - help me out here!