Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Thursday, 27 October 2011
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Sunday, 3 July 2011
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
I can’t believe it’s been only a year since I first climbed at Ayton’s cave in Howth. Heres the blog from June of 2010 with my original rant and topo etc. Reading Trish’s blog lately has been cool. She’s been visiting the cave and seems to be getting into it. It got me thinking about the one and only day I spent there and the manic rush I had to unlock the more obvious lines. Loco has settled at 7a and seems to be a popular one. I’m really happy that people are using the cave and more importantly that people actually like it and rate the problems. I've always liked seeing routes or problems I've done getting attention and ascents from others – theres nothing like it. And of course, Caroline is happy to hear about the high calibre of wad climbing on her line in the cave too. It does make me laugh though when I think about how shit I am at grading, especially boulder problems. Anyway, seems like a lifetime ago when we first explored that place and I’m psyched to get back into it and try and give some of John’s newer lines a go while back in Dublin before our wedding in July.
Back to the year in review. Back during March 2010 I had climbed a couple of 7C boulder problems in North Wales and was loving the bouldering and beginning to feel some strength gains from it. Before moving to Spain I gave away my bouldering pads to a good home and that was that. No bouldering or indoor training whatsoever during the past year and I must admit I’m missing it now.
We moved to Spain and have spent a year or so not really knowing what we would be doing in the future. Staying in Spain? Returning to Ireland? All completely up in the air. Add planning a wedding from a distance into the mix and taking responsibility for two subjects at A-level and GCSE and you have the ingredients for a somewhat stressed Dave. Not much has changed other than the fact that I've learned that often things other than climbing need to take priority in life, even if only for a brief time.
We climbed in Ceuse during August and then spent the autumn, winter and spring working various sports climbs and exploring new crags. Although I've not broken any new ground in terms of grades (unless my first ascent in Echo turns out to be an 8b) I feel that I've grown as a climber a lot. I’m learning more and more every trip to a crag. Strangely I consider myself the most unfit and weakest I've been in something like 5 years yet I’m climbing 7c’s and above every day. So much about climbing well can be unlocked through attitude and removing barriers. It’s given me a lot to think about and redefined my concept of possible.
I suppose taking all things into account I feel like this year has been a success and I've managed to prevent any major regression in terms of climbing while working hard on relocating to a new country, settling into a new job, learning a different style of climbing and of course planning our wedding. I’m pretty happy with all that.
Where would I like to take things in the year ahead? I’d like to travel more and do more bouldering during the weekends. I want to spend the darker winter evenings training. I need to focus on developing some raw power while continuing to project harder sports lines. I want to do some harder trad headpoints in Ireland. Boulder V11. That would be the triple 8 for me and represents something I feel would be worth working towards. Whatever happens being happy would be a good priority to have.
Enough of whats happened – now for what is happening! It’s getting HOT!! Mid thirties during the day is the norm now and it doesn’t make for ideal climbing conditions let me tell you! Dani Andrada, Tom Bolger, Roberto… every one living in Spain has accepted that the climate has called a stop to hard focused cragging. It’s the perfect seasonal spread in many ways for me. During school time when we’re tied here the conditions are mint for projecting September through to May. Then it heats up forcing you to take a step back and relax. Let the body recover from a hard and tiring season. Do some easy exploring or DWS along the coast until school finishes and we can migrate north to cooler climates in France or Germany or head back home to Ireland for a summer of coastal trad climbing built on a solid foundation of sports climbing fitness. Hmmmmm… me likey!
Anywho, the other day we took a run up around the mountain behind our house with the intention of seeking out a rumoured mega crag that is being developed. When people talk of a crag that dwarfs the Wildside and is covered in hard, pure tufa lines you have to give in to curiosity and go look for it. Impossible to find was the description.
Believe it or not you can actually see one of the guys bolting in the picture above but he looks like a dark dot near the base of the main face! I also scoped out what looks like potential bouldering high on a hillside near our house. A couple of house-sized limestone blocks with overhanging faces in an alpine’esque setting – muy wappa!
On a different note, we bought another rope. Edelweiss 70m 9.8mm. Feels really nice. We’re trashing ropes to beat the band over here! So far I've climbed on Beal, Roca, Sterling, Tendon, Mammut and now Edelweiss. I have to admit that to date my favourite rope has been the Sterling.
Oh, another thing – at the weekend we were feeling a bit rough after a couple of late nights so we headed to a shady little crag above the sea. I climbed two routes. One was a 7b+ that took a direct line through three boulder sections getting progressively easier before an easy finishing slab. The 7c+ beside it climbed up a couple of bolts worth of 7a climbing to a great shouldery opposition move between malnourished tufas leading into an upper wall on tiny pockets. Lowering off the routes the next step was obvious. Combine the most difficult parts of both routes by climbing the meat and veg of the 7b+ before moving right via a crossover using a 1st pad mono to join the 7c+ for the hard finish. I sent it first go without any working of the previously unclimbed link section. Sweet!! Stalking the Shogun, 7c was born – get on it!
Monday, 6 June 2011
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
It winked at Caroline back in January but she resisted trying it until she had finished her other project. Caroline was inspired to keep trying this route after watching and talking with some members of the Ukrainian climbing team who were visiting and playing on it. One woman, who had to work it a fair bit before eventually redpointing it, was discussing and sharing beta with Caroline as they were of similar height. She reckoned it was closer to 7c+. Later that day her coach informed us that she usually onsights 8a's and had redpointed 8c+, hence her surprise at being spat off a 7c.
Caroline spent some time working on her own sequence through the crux but could never give it more than two goes a day as the sharp pockets would shred her fingers and the powerful style left her wiped out after only a few attempts anyway. Just when she seemed close to sending it the weather stopped play. It turns out that despite staying completely dry in even the heaviest downpour, the route seeps really badly for weeks after heavy rain making it impossible to climb. I suppose all those tufas have to come from somewhere! Sunday we got to the crag and it was the driest it had been in over 2 months. Opting not to take a warm up, Caroline jumped straight on the sharp end and put the project to bed once and for all. A brilliant lead and one I know Caroline is especially proud of for loads of reasons.
Monday, 23 May 2011
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Here are some number ones from Ireland back in 1982 (the year I was born) – representing perhaps the pinnacle of music video production – everything since then has just been cooling down
Ooooooh yeah! I know what you're thinking - Quality!
I've also being doing some climbing. The night before my birthday we went to our local cave. I was keen to try an 8a+ that always winked at me. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I hadn’t climbed on anything this style in a while, instead choosing to focus on developing some Sella stamina. This route was more my cup of tea. It played to my strengths. Technical, reach, cruxy. I gave it a decent onsight go but came off after misjudging a sloper as a decent hold. Conditions were not ideal – the rock seemed moist from the days rain and evaporation but the moves came together really quickly. Lowering off I indulged the thought that this would go this evening. Two redpoints later and a lot of chalk to dry the rounded edges and it did! It can’t be 8a+ though – Felt about right at 8a and possibly harder without my reach – but then again I’m sure the soapy two finger pockets would feel more secure to the smaller folk… yadda, yadda, yadda. So that’s 15 or so grade 8’s but not a single 8b (unless my Popcorn first ascent turns out to be one!) – time to pull the finger out! I Spent the free lessons I had in school on my birthday trawling for information on quality 8b’s on the Costa Blanca. Armed with this new ticklist and 10 new draws I am now on a mission – along with plugging away at all the other routes in Sella :o)
Some other stuff that has interested me of late includes:
Ricky’s new E8 at the Head
Cool Video of bouldering at the Head
New route in the Burren by Ron with a alternative start/second ascent by Colm:
Plus a load of desk jockeys typing about how evil bolts are and questions being raised about the past, reality, history and first ascents – Huh! There was me thinking that the person who actually climbed a line first was the first ascentionist. Go figure – perhaps historical accuracy is overrated?
Anyway… Happy cranking!
Monday, 16 May 2011
Heres a video from 4 crags all within 40 mins from our house. I was talking to the first ascentionist of the 8b at 2min50 called Clemencia. He was telling me that his original was static'ed through the roof a 8b+ and that the new dyno beta lowered the grade. He also said that it was class and would suit me, a real 3 star route! Oh and theres some shit hard bouldering in there too for any boulderers out there not feeling the love for the climbing with ropes :o)
I mean, just look through this:
Everything is quality and within my grade all of a sudden – maybe theres scope for more lines? Of course there is!!!
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Friday, 29 April 2011
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Oh yeah… Caroline was given a pet turtle as a gift from one of her pupils. Meet Thor...
Saturday, 9 April 2011
Exploring the Water Cave above the Sella valley
The Wildside off in the distance... so much rock!!
Caroline warming up
Afterwork sessions at the wildside...
The most enjoyable way of building stamina - warming up on 8a, redpointing 8a, cooling down on 8a. Keep doing it with one fall now but the fall point keeps creeping closer to the chains - no hard moves, just resistance climbing
Mambo the Wildside guard dog and Caroline
Exploring some of the lesser known crags in the area - this one is full of 7c's and 8a's - short steep and fingery.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
- You regularly fall off while leading
- Finding a rock shoe with an aggressive last was a revelation of mind blowing proportions
- You wear through more than two single ropes a year
- Your redpoint rope is between 8 and 9mm in diameter
- You know what a redpoint is!
- You’ve dug out your trad rack only to strip the 16 or so camming devices of their karabiners so you can make 8 more quickdraws
- Your harness only has one buckle and weights less than one rockshoe
- When you boulder you say things like “Wow, that would be a class move 50m up a route!”
- You convert the grades of any trad routes you do into French grades
- Slabs hurt your calves
- You own a clipstick
- Good heelhooks and dropknees make you all warm and tingly inside
- You can give and understand beta in 7 different languages
Anything else? :o)
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Sunday, 27 February 2011
Friday, 25 February 2011
On the interweb this week - A really honest question and answer session between Pierre and Dave "the short span" Bouldering guide Ireland. Nice to see him getting some credit for his obsession and hard work and great to see Pierre taking the initiative and doing an article for the French mag Grimper.
And now the Psyche!!
The Stuff dreams are made of?
Who needs chocolate?
Check this out... probably why he made Dreamcatcher look almost do-able :o)
Monday, 21 February 2011
Back to writing about what this blog was intended for! It’s been a good weekend. Firstly Jo and Steve arrived for a small bit of half term R & R in the sun. Straight away we hit Sella Wildside. Last week I put our draws in two 7c routes that were not my style. Steep tufas and slopers with a small amount of resistance climbing to the chains. Both felt hard at the time and I figured I’d need to work them quite a bit purely to build up enough stamina to redpoint them. Saturday morning I tied in at the base of the first one and swung my arms about – 10 times. Fully warmed up and with not enough quickdraws to lead anything else I started up “Keep the Faith” 7c. Moving into the crux my hands felt cold but I was calm and just shook them out a bit and kept going. The crux passed in a blur and before I knew it I was in a kneebar shaking out one clip below the chains. Relaxed and enjoying the unexpected progress I hung out for a minute or two and then climbed on to clip the chains. Lowering off from the warm up and stripping a project. Brilliant! Next up was Caroline’s turn on “Cuestion de Estilo” (Question of Style). This route has the reputation of being Sella’s hardest 7c. A tricky to unlock section through some steep tufas requiring the use of a two finger pocket and excessive drop knee’ing. Caroline lead up to the crux and began working the moves. Every attempt ending in a fall and slightly refining or eliminating a potential sequence. By the time she had finished the route was looking ready for a send and she was looking tired. I tied in to give it a bash but didn’t expect much. Fighting through the crux whilst making up a sequence got me to within a fingertip of the send but trying to unwind from a deep dropknee with my left foot too low left me hanging from the first pad of my middle finger. Basically mono’ing the base of a crack instead of sidepulling it. I cam off, lowered off and pulled the rope – left foot higher! Next go it sent without a problem! Two steep 7c ticks at the Wildside in a day was an unexpected and awesome start to my Sella climbing. Psyched!! Before leaving on Sat I tied in and tried an 8a+ with the draws in – brilliant climbing! Like Dinbren but 30 meters long and without much of a break. I lowered off before the top but loved the climbing on it so will be back for the send. Sunday morning and with only a little time available for rock, Caroline and myself returned to Sella and I warmed up by going bolt to bolt up a fantastic 8b, “La Criatura”. Superb!! My new project!
Thursday, 17 February 2011
And of course, the wonder French Kid Enzo Oddo climbing a V11 highball in Bishop. Camped beside him and his family for a month this year in Ceuse while he worked and sent Realisation 9a+. Nice people and great sends!
I’m going to try and bring a few threads together here...
Firstly Steve from climbing.ie replied with similar feelings to my own. He’s really behind praising any and all achievements on rock but he did make the very valid point that if people don’t make the effort to report their climbs than nothing will ever get said.
Then Pierre summed up the Irish catch 22 very succinctly in his post titled Achievement. Yes, I suppose it really is that simple – it could be down to a cultural mind set.
Meanwhile the grade debate raised its head on Trish’s blog but in a very good and positive way. It seems to me looking at the scene with an outsider’s perspective that the excellent work Dave F has done in producing and publishing his bouldering guide to Ireland is playing a crucial role in the evolution of Irish climbing. The first print edition of grades will no doubt motivate the masses to go forth and repeat all those lovely problems, talk about grades and things should settle – just like what happened with Mr. Pantons first printed guide to North Wales bouldering – Guide gets printed, people get psyched, crush, discuss and guide becomes out of date very quickly. Good news for guide writers :o) They get to work on version 2!
Then today I read Kev’s reply on Stone boulder. "I have heard no song, seen no dance and seen no article in the Mountain log or Outsider mag noting this achievement. People like Caroline, Michael Duffy, Nigel Calendar, Rob Hunter and several more are becoming legends in the ghostly sense - sometimes thought to have been seen out in the boulder fields and crags doing something amazing but how often does the ghost turn into vivid 3D in the climbing consciousness?" I had to smile when I read this. Aside from putting Caroline along side such wads as Michael, Nige and Rob, Kev picked a mental scab of mine. Living away from Ireland the past few years has meant I rarely get a chance to flick through Irish climbing media in its printed form. The last time I did was in Dublin Airport when returning to Spain after Christmas. One article interested me. One. A single grainy picture of Nige at a comp and a small write up about his recent success. Aside from that I couldn’t find much other mention of rock climbing in the issue. Not enough for me to warrant parting with cash to buy the mag anyway! Why? Is it like Steve said – are people hiding their achievements? Are they supposed to write an article and submit it incognito under cover of darkness and then cringe when they see it in print? I don’t know.
Anyway, it’s been interesting reading people’s views on the topic and ‘ve no doubts that with the strength of potential out there things will change in the near future and we’ll be fueling off Irish send psyche in cyber land soon enough. In the meantime and getting back to climbing, here is probably our last vid from the short and sharp Los Pinos crag. This is JogPat a link up of a soft 8a and a stiff 8a+ first climbed by Gaz Parry. It’s brilliant, technical and sustained.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Grade Whore seems to be the phrase of choice at the moment back home but I suppose that’s a good sign. The fact that the phrase is being used more often means that people are putting some effort it, meaning standards are being tested. Brilliant! Anyway, was there a point to this? Not really. I just felt like voicing something I thought about and in a way asking the question of “What have we done?”
Sunday, 13 February 2011
Since Caroline managed to dispatch her project last week we've been free to visit any crags we want to. No choice really is there? It has to be the Wildside! This place is magic. An awesome fin of rock overhanging in it's entire length with heavily featured walls up to 40m in height. Tufas, crimps, pockets - it's got it. Located in a hidden valley and with access conditions that require climbers to have respect not only for the surroundings but also to limit the noise they make while climbing. It is a very special place indeed. It also represents the embodyment of everything I'm shit at. Stamina. Steep climbing on rounded holds and pinches. Nothing i can get my fingers behind or even stand on! Its like someone giftwrapped a crag to work on my weaknesses and put it around the corner from my house. I've so much to learn from this place. New types of footwork. New redpoint tactics. I'm so Psyched!! We've been a couple of thimes this week and I've been enjoying getting some mileage on the longer burly 7b's and 7c's. Full respect to Mr Barbour for his impressive list of Wildside sends! 8b in a day! Wow. I'm so far off the fittness needed for that type of climbing but I'm looking forward to working at it and seeing the improvements. All the routes are all so good that for now i'm going to enjoy doing some ticking. All the 7c's are the targets for now :o)
Our first visit to the Wildside this week we got chatting to the bloke in the picture above. He was a bit quite to start with but the reason became clear - he was redpointing the 8c+ pictured above. Awesome to watch. Every move dialed, he made it look effortless and then out of the blue his foot slipped and he took a huge lob from right at the top. Yesterday we were entertained by another super nice local redpoint Pinoreta 8c! Awesome fight. I saw him work this route on Tuesday evening and he looked miles away from the send but on Sat he made it through the crux and shook out before falling up the remainding 15m of sloping pinch tufas. at least twice the whole crag though he was off but he managed to keep squeezing, totally inspiring!! Venga!!
Heres the online Guide Wildside Topo
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Day after day we returned and each day some form of progress was made. A new highpoint, an improved sequence or even just managing to give it 3 or 4 goes despite sore fingers. I think Caroline suffered from the typical trad climber syndrome of wanting to static every move. I’ve thought about this a lot and I’m not sure what causes it to be honest. Is it the serious nature of trad requiring you to make every effort to achieve every move in balance, meaning that if the hold you’re reaching for isn’t good you can feel around for a better one or even reverse to safety without falling? Or is it a lack of commitment? Dynamic moves are only really required to carry you to a point outside of your static reach bubble, aren’t they? Their very nature means commitment. You target, you sway, you kick and throw! If you miss, you’re off. I think Caroline’s height requires her to develop a more dynamic and aggressive style otherwise she won’t be able to reach things. On this route Caroline got a chance to work this… a lot! Once Caroline had exhausted every possible method for negotiating the lip of the roof it became clear that she would have to deadpoint. To throw for the hold. That one move took a session to figure out and many more to stick on lead.