Thursday, 27 October 2011

So Much To Do!

I love finding new stuff. The latest find has signs of abuse in the form of sloppy sika dotted around the crag but otherwise no signs of wear. No rubber marks, chalk or even cleaning of loose rock as far as I can see. I spent a visit with gloves and tools clearing all the vegetation away from the base of the wall and pruning back the larger bushes. Then I set to work on levelling the landings and moving the larger "back breaking" rocks from below potential lines. Eventually I ended up unearthing/clearing an entire band of rock at the far left of the crag that had been completely untouched. No sika. And best of all it is home to an awesome natural line taking a rising traverse up leftwards above an obvious sit start. There is another sit start that joins the traverse at half way too which went down pretty quickly after cleaning loose rock and chalking the holds, probably around 6C. The full line is hard though. The first sequence is a long reach to a half pad undercut and feels really powerful. After that things stay steep but the holds turn slopey and the foothold options are few and far between. I've managed all the moves through this section but one. Then the route drops down to join the 6C for a energy sapping finish. Brilliant! I have a project!

I've played on some of the more manufactured lines too. One of them is like a cellar dweller’s dream. Tiny and well-spaced crimps, poor and limited footers and all on an angle similar to a moonboard. Reminds me of Pool of Bethesda in Llanberris – but limestone. The crag traverse, not even including the new rock I uncovered at the left end, warrents a hefty sports grade beyond where I’m at currently. The perfect training ground.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Finding Rhythm Again

Well after a hefty three months off from almost all activity between June, July and August I've been spending the past two months recovering some sort of fitness and enjoying rock again. Things got really hot here in June so it brought our roped climbing to a standstill before we drove back home to Ireland for our wedding and what I thought would be a summer of Irish trad and bouldering. I totalled three days on rock. Two days out in Lough Dan trad climbing and 2 hours in Ayton’s Cave one afternoon when Caroline was at the hairdressers. Haa!!
Lough Dan is Awesome. It’s beautiful. Both the setting and the climbing. Probably ten years ago I was motivated to try and climb Surfs up there. Mainly due to the picture on the back cover of the old Wicklow guidebook. It raped me… dry. I resorted to fully aiding the line but swore to return. This summer was a different story. After a long season building mileage on sports routes I did a quick mental calculation and translated E4 6a into 6c sports, then adding in the sandbag factor upped it to 7a in my mind, and racked up for a retro flash without any warm-up. You want to know the sad part? I remembered all the gear – yep, every single wire and cam. I opted to just take the small wires and peanuts. Man it was intense. There is so much more going on while climbing a trad route. It is a classic for anyone climbing E4, brilliant! Solid keyhole wire placements, two pegs, great granite, amazing position, lovely movement and climbing. The top out on the other hand was grim. A filthy overgrown slab awaits. Lough Dan is a crag that would benefit from a belay station above the trad lines. Nemesis conquered we ticked all the other routes on the crag with the exception of Archaos. This route has apparently never had an onsight and the pegs would need replacing before I was willing to give it a go and possible fall off. It’ll have to wait.
My little session in the Cave highlighted something that I had suspected for some time. All this sports climbing makes you weak!! I expected to be able to warm up on the problems I had done before and leave with a few new ticks – wrong! Despite the holds being wet I still actually thought it would feel easy, familiar. Caroline’s traverse went as the warm up but then I had to orientate myself amongst the maze of chalked holds. Eventually I found my lanky sequence again and clung on to the end of Loco despite the wet holds. This time even Afterthought felt harder and I used my feet. I worked some of the other lines but my time was up and I had to run back to the car… wedding business.
After two weddings, a christening and 8 weeks meeting, eating with and drinking with family and friends I hadn’t spent enough time with in years I returned to Spain with an extra 6kgs and low energy levels. Within two weeks of eating right and getting out on rock and running I had shed the weight and ticked a few high 7’s and low 8’s. We’ve visited new locals only crags and the psyche is high.

Then we found a real treasure – a 50m long steeply overhanging bouldering wall with flat landings. It had been found by climbers before and they left plenty of sika holds but strangely no signs of wear that you’d expect to see. No rubber work footholds, chalk on undercuts, polish. The fact that the entire crag was lines with scrub and thorny bushes was another strange indicator that climbers hadn’t been here for a long time – or they just came and sika’ed a load of holds but never worked the lines? Either way, two sessions now has seen the crag cleared and tidy. The rock is perfect and there are problems aplenty. Everything from the MEGA 50m traverse of the Gods to vicious straight up problems. I’d love to get some V12 boulderers up there to check out some of the lines. I mean back in Wales I could work things like Mr. Fantastic on the cromlech in sections without too much problem but some of these features are NAILS! I still feel a bit restricted without any pads but I’ll sort that out soon enough :o) Training season has begun – hopefully with a bit of steep rock to play on the edge will come back on the harder sports routes – psyched!!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Tying the knot

Clare Vale, Co. Wicklow, Éire - July 23rd 2011