Monday, 3 September 2012

26 Days to Launch

Less than 4 weeks till we open the doors of Awesome Walls Dublin - PSYCHED!!!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

12 Months

In the past year the following has happened:

I got married to my beautiful wife and climbing partner Caroline

We changed career

Packed in two full time positions teaching in Spain

Returned to Ireland

Started a business

Turned 30!

Bought a van

Caroline gave birth to our beautiful baby girl – Matilda


At the minute I’m busy being a dad, husband and project manager; overseeing the construction of Irelands largest climbing centre – Awesome Walls Dublin. The excitement I feel for this is HUGE as it’s the one thing I’ve always wanted to achieve and now it’s finally happening. The down side is that as a result of wanting to give 100% to the three roles mentioned above I’m finding it hard to fit in climbing myself – sanity comes from knowing it’s a phase and that it will pass. I know from experience that I come back stronger and more psyched than ever after periods of forced inactivity. That said, we’ve been on two trips out west to the Burren and by my second trad lead there I was back to leading E5 again and it felt easy enough. I feel like I’m lining up dominoes and that once things are finalised everything should click into place to allow for more training, a return to fitness and more time spent doing what I love – being outdoors on rock or running. Enough of the waffle!

Time for some goals:

I’m 86.7kg – jaysus! My fighting weight of 79kg seems a long way away. There is an easy first target, break under 80kg before Christmas.

I’ve been doing a bit of bouldering and would like to do the following boulders: Computer World and Leftism.

At this stage I just want to squeeze in some E5 and E6 onsights – some time spent headpointing something harder would be nice but I’d only be looking at really safe hard trad meaning they’ll be physical and I need to shape up for that kind of thing.

I want to start racing again – if I can even get back to 4 or 5 easy runs a week and keep it sustained I’d be happy for now.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Rock Aplenty

A few nice first ascents from Glenmalure in Wicklow. Happy with the arete. It feels quite highball and with one pad I took ages to commit to the top out. Climbs lovely though - similar difficulty to Choc Ice and Alison Curtis and harder than So it goes right so probably around 6C+ or in Irish terms 3 Apples, 2 Oranges, a bite of Banana and a Carrot stick for good measure. Shelter is a great problem too, easy but lovely movement. Worth throwing your pad under it enroute to the higher problems or on your way back to the car.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Exploring Wicklow

Yesterday I had a day off. No running, no work and no climbing. A chance to catch up with all the other stuff. It ended with us going for a walk in Glenmalure and me finding and cleaning a lovely little overhanging prow. Nice to find something as easy as this with a definite flow to the movement. Plus it’s steep, pathside and in a beautiful setting. Shelter, 6A. Sit start on undercut below the roof and climb the good edges along the lip leftwards to good finishing moves up the mini groove. Class!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Robots

The Robots.
I dont like slabs. But this is a classic problem. Got me thinking what makes a classic problem? The movement feels good. The all-important setting. The texture and quality of the rock. The look of the line. The height. It keeps your interest. It allows progression to get you on the hook but won't succumb to thugery. It rewards understanding and strategy. And best of all, the crux is at the top and subtle enough to make you drop it a few times before the send. Magic!

Friday, 4 May 2012


Wow! Spent a few hours out there shredding tips and climbing some amazing lines. Thats the main draw of Glenmacnass in my opinion - lines. Aretes and prows. Obvious classic challenges with great landings. I hadn't been there since the first ever Irish bouldering meet. Did Tombstone arete, Smokey and the bandit, Le Joker and tried monkey burger, dice rib, and solidarity left and right. Slaped the top a few times but didn't stick it. 7a.

Anyone stressed or struggling to find motivation for life, bouldering, climbing should just walk up the valley and sit on the heather for a while. Beautiful.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Wild Wicklow

Guide book in hand I've been happily exploring loads of areas i never had the chance to climb at before. The clip above was from a 40min round trip to Lough Bray between the hail showers. I'd never done Choc Ice before and really enjoyed it. Little bit highball with great moves on slopers and friction for feet.

This last week I've had trips out to Dalkey, Mall Hill, Cloghoge and Carrigshouk. Sounds impressive but in reality some of those trips have just involved stomping around in the rain in my wellies susing out parking and approach paths and looking at lots of damp rock. But beneath the damp the lines look amazing - lots to do.

The morning spent bouldering in Dalkey was lovely. I hadn't climbed there in years and the place has changed alot but the atmosphere hasn't. It was like i never left the place. I had intended on just bouldering but once i pulled on i ended up soloing the old classics. Nothing harder than E2 but it felt great to be moving on rock again - known lines at a height. Felt great. One or two lines had these wierd moments on them. I had genuinely forgotten the sequences. All i knew was that i had climbed them before. I switched off and the routes just happened - like my body remembered what to do and i was just watching wondering what was going to happen next - really strange. Another nice thing was finishing up at Ivy Wall and managing the Ivy wall traverse in both directions and yepp direct - both of which i don't think i had ever done before. Sweet!
Ricky posted up his mega edit of Michael's first ascents around Wicklow - Irelands hardest problems from the Beta Coach - amazing!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Grades in Ireland

Accurately grading dynos, especially jug to jug ones is pretty pointless.
Do you think that irish grades are inaccurate compared to Font?

I totally agree about grading dynos - especially for the lanky. And yes, “So it goes right” is one of the more morpho problems I’ve done. It’s a 5+ if you can reach the flake, 6C+ if you have to step up using the micro undercut crimp for your right hand and impossible if you can’t do either. Great piece of rock though.
Before i go on about grades can I just acknowledge that I'm not claiming to be able to do anything about grades or that I could/would do anything differently. This is not a criticism, rather it is an outsider's observations and an honest account of my perception of things as I see them. I say outsider as most of my bouldering to date has been done in the UK, France, Switzerland and Spain. 
As for Irish grades – yes, I find them sometimes off the mark or at the very least, inconsistent at the minute between areas and styles. But that is only my personal opinion (which is all anyone can offer) and I acknowledge there are boulderers out there far more experienced and fitter than myself at present who may disagree. I think that’s to be expected with the lion’s share of the grading during the past ten years being done by each area's discoverer and main developers. With more time and increased traffic on the problems thanks to the guide they’ll all settle and come in line with each other. In general I think the Irish grades are stiff. In my mind that can be attributed to two factors.
The first one is easy – an overdeveloped cultural sense of sandbagging merged with a dark sense of humour. I remember Pierre writing a great blog about the Irish attitude towards achievement and I think this is reflected in the grades we give somewhat.

The second reason that I’ve thought about is the “Local factor” – basically Irish climbers climb at the same venue week on week and progress through the problems and grades there. Over time they repeat many of their previous projects as warmups and become local experts. They know the rock better than anyone, the style, conditions etc… Then they compare how hard they have to try to climb a 7A on home turf with how hard they try to climb a 7A in say Font. Completely different rock, style, conditions etc…  They may have to give 20 or 30% more effort to climb a problem of similar difficulty away from home but instead of acknowledging this they downgrade their home problems. So what takes 100% effort at home aligns with what took 100% effort on a trip away. It’s just not the case and it really does take time and hours upon hours of training on a specific rock type to be able to preform on it as well as you would at your local venue. Peoples 3 annual trips to Font don't make them on par with the locals - you may climb as hard as them, but you're trying a damn lot harder for the tick.

So I've critiqued but what can I offer as a positive counter balance to the above? Well the fact that at the end of the day grades are irrelevant. The point of bouldering is to perfect and enjoy the movement regardless of numbers - simply working something that inspires us regardless of reason. The rock in Ireland is amazing! The craic bouldering in Ireland or away with Irish is unbeatable. The grades will settle with time and through discussion. Look at the groove SS in Glendalough for example - it's already begun.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Weekend Rock

This weekend was a mixed bag. Sat morning hail, sleet, snow, thunder and lightening... but the Scalp was dry! Sunday morning I hit Glenmalure hoping to meet up with some peeps but after an hour or so I packed up and went exploring Glendasan. I wanted to try "So it Goes" - it didn't dissapoint - brilliant dyno.

Friday, 13 April 2012


So we moved to Wicklow and are loving it. Closer to rock, hills, trails - everything we need. Despite the on-going build of Awesome Walls picking up speed I’ve found that our new home is really firing me up to just get out every chance I get. We've had two very cool days out exploring Raven's Glen that left us with about 30 new problems cleaned and climbed. Then there was a group keen on the Scalp. Now I was never the Scalp's biggest fan. I'd only ever been a few times and always ended up climbing on the east side of the valley. Well, inspired by the psyche of the group I headed out Thursday evening to get my bearings on the west side - wow! The following day a gang assembled and began working through all the great lines. LDF, Ahab, Alison Curtis, Casbah, Dark Angle, Primer and started working a simply beautiful arête James was keen on. We couldn’t manage it so plans were hatched to return on Sunday and take advantage of a decent weather window. Sunday morning and J. H. dispatched the arête naming it Eyrie. Classic! He then went on to climb the central line on the left face and James added the obvious and highball left arête.

I suppose all this is only to be expected – I mean through an accumulation of factors I find myself in a psych super-high! Having spent two years starved of bouldering in Spain and the six years prior to that missing the craic and the potential for development in the Irish scene. Now I’m living and breathing climbing. The wall build and the rock in Wicklow have me buzzing.

To add to this for a variety of reasons I’ve neglected my general fitness over the past few months – well, really since the wedding. Now I’m surrounded by the best running I’ve ever had access to. Last night marked a landmark run. Since moving into our new place I’ve been looking up at and wanting to run up Djouce. Until yesterday I was happy to just build up the mileage – keen to claw back some fitness while avoiding being drawn into doing too much too soon and developing an injury or something. Surprisingly the running form has come back pretty quickly and last night I couldn’t resist. Once I ran through the forest I left all signs of others behind. I had the hill to myself on a beautiful evening. Just before the final climb I disturbed a herd of about 30 deer. From the summit I had clear views over Roundwood and all the way out to Howth – magic!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Scalp

Yup! More new problems, you gotta love Wicklow!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Monday, 26 March 2012

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Raven's Glen Topo

J. Howard about to take some airtime off "Pallets by Candle Light" before making the second ascent

Topo can be downloaded from the following link:

Friday, 23 March 2012

Raven's Glen Info

So if you look in the guide, page 126 you see a mention of Tonduff. Thats not what attracted me though, I can see the rocks from my kitchen window!
Heres where it is:

and here is where the rocks are:

Four lines on the Mother Boulder:

A: Left Arete (easy warm up) - Font 3
B: Creaseproof - Font 6A
C: Mother (classic!) - Font 6A
D: Pain in my Swiss - Font 5+

Sit starts to C and D look obvious but hard. A and B have low starts already. 

Three lines on Dragon Wall:

E: Left Arete (easy from sit in hollow) - Font 3+
F: Albi (start on crimps, reach high left to slopers and top) - Font 6A
G: Trogdor (pull onto sharp crimps, slap top) - Font 6A

Obvious sit start to F and G but small and crimpy!

Will have loads more stuff cleaned and climbed over the next few days :o)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A little video


I love climbing
I love Wicklow
I love finding new unclimbed lines

I've hit the motherload, I'm a happy camper!

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Following on from the press release about the wall building plans here is a cheesy clip Dave D slung together to get people interested.... enjoy!

I've been so busy that I've not had much time to do anything physical lately but things are going great on the build and a routine is forming - lots of Blogging to come in the next few days!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

What I've been working on!

World Class Climbing Centre Opening in Dublin 2012

 The UK’s most successful chain of indoor climbing facilities, Awesome Walls, are about to bring Irish climbing to a new level in 2012 and beyond.

Awesome Walls Climbing Centre Dublin (AWCCD) will be located in the North Park Retail Park, just off the M50 N2 junction in Finglas, Dublin 11. The climbing arena will house in excess of 1,500m2 of expertly designed and manufactured climbing surface comprising;  a competition lead climbing wall over 13m in height, vast bouldering areas,  traverse walls and children’s climbing areas. In addition to your climbing needs being catered for, Awesome Walls Dublin will have a dedicated climbing shop and a comfy café with wifi, allowing you to sit back and relax in comfort between bouts of climbing with friends.

“For years Ireland’s indoor climbing facilities have lagged behind the standards of our European neighbours. Despite this, the Irish climbing community have remained probably the most enthusiastic and vibrant collective of climbers and have created a truly unique scene. I've always wanted to provide a venue that could cater for the vast potential out there and allow more Irish people to try climbing for the first time. I’m very excited to have the support and backing of Dave Douglas (owner of Awesome Walls) on this project as his climbing centres have continued to set the standard of what can be achieved at climbing walls in the UK. I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone into a modern, friendly, fun and challenging climbing centre of national importance in 2012!”

Dave Ayton

Managing Director Awesome Walls Climbing Centre Dublin

To keep up to date with the project just check in at Alternatively you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

Happy climbing!

Awesome Walls Climbing Centre Dublin

Friday, 10 February 2012

Amature Hardcore

A classic from my youth (well early twenties!). Mark put his whole movie up on Vimeo for everyone to enjoy. A bit dark and sombre at times but then again so is North Wales occasionally. Underlying everything is the drive and passion the local scene had for development and exploration. Watching this made me want to get out more and was one of the main reasons I dedicated some time into sending Jerry's Roof - seeing Mark's journey as he progresses and the movie ending with his final well earned send was inspiring!! Everyone should watch this ... and then we should make our own! I've got a HD cam and will try film more when I'm out! What the hell... I'll film all the classics in Wicklow but I'll need climbers!! Anyone else game?

And as a bonus you get "Between the Rain" another classic! Brilliant!!!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Apparently its all about momentum – in the correct direction of course. Now being massively gifted I find I can generate quite a bit of momentum. The trick is ensuring that it’s not always downwards! Went bouldering in Glendalough on Sunday and the psyche was high! Met loads of new people and climbed quite a lot, surprisingly. Although all I've thought about is trying problems new to me I found that once out there I couldn’t resist trying the old familiars. You know, just to ease back into things. Trish took us on a journey around some sweet warm up circuit problems before we went over to Superswinger. Felt good to do that again but also a little disappointing. In my current shape I sent it second go proving without a doubt that it’s easy and probably only 5+. Shit. Ah well! Onto BBE sitter – I love that problem. Could do the start, could make the throw, liked Shea’s Shakira-esque hip beta. Momentum is key! But didn’t finish it. Toms brushes died. Then we went to Chillax. Man, Kids these days. Ruining perfectly decent campus burlyness with footwork and the likes. Was actually pretty cool beta and once I tried this heel hooking shite I kinda liked it – though I’m sticking with my ignorant oldschool topout. Sunday was a good day to die. To Chubbachop or whatever it’s called. I only remember bleeding and topping out from my last time on this boulder so with limited skin I bowed out and recalled past glory. John “spider monkey” H lead the way in fine style as Shea, Tom, Trish and Eoin all followed. They sparked my interest but skin was precious and I wanted to play on some other old friends. To the Hidden groove! Wonderland still looks amazing! Michael D you legend! Tom and Shea did King Cobra (Irelands best 6a) and then we played on Spinal Blood Clot (5). Now I remember this being easy and a lank-fest but despite out best efforts, maybe it was the damp rock, maybe we were tired, whatever! We failed. I recalled my sandbagging motivations from when I first climbed and graded this one and smiled, ahhhhhh! I showed Tom FluteBoy (6c) which on revisiting is the more modern of the problems on this wall. It’s a pure bloc style, one move, subtle, body positioning, dynamic dream. It’s the lowest, safest problem on the wall and should be on everyone’s list. My trip down memory lane finished we walked back to the car. Then I regretted not doing more new stuff – theres just so much to do in Dave’s guide!! Next time, new experiences all the way! Monday, with worn arms I hit the arch and began training. Progress!!! No other way of putting it, things felt easier. I felt less clumsy, lighter, stronger. Good session! This morning's run was also the driest and brightest to date – couldn’t resist a few extra kms around the park, beautiful.

Now for some psyche, these definitely deserve a watch – crush!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ready, Set, GO!

Just like out on the mountains you have to stop and take stock of where you are if you want to get where you want to be without any wrong turns. It’s not pretty but it has to be done. So here is where I’m at in January 2012. I’m 84 kgs (87 at Christmas!). I've been running most mornings now and am building up to the bouncy, upright, feel-good feeling that comes with regular running. Unfortunately it’s all been on road but with a stretch in the daylight due to happen I’m going to try and get out onto grass or sand more. Running down to the coast road and back before the commuter routes come alive with traffic is a great way to start the day.  I've been bouldering outdoors once, into Gravity 3 times and the Arch twice and have noticed a few specific weaknesses (other than just generally feeling shit and wimpy).
·         Lock off power is nonexistent. By that I mean the shouldery static lock that seems to prevail in indoor bouldering moves.
·         Finger strength is ok (not great) but of more concern is the complete inability to squeeze or pinch plastic blobs and slopers. Again, this is a very indoor specific strength that I’ll have to develop over the coming months. Not too worried about this one though as I've rarely found it necessary on rock.
·         Core strength. It’s a healthy dose of L-sits and leg lifts from the Beastmaker for me from here on in. Whenever I do any specific core work I always have to be careful to balance out the lower back with extensions or fit-ball work.
·         And Lastly but not leastly – flexibility. I've been really impressed lately but some peoples bendiness and I’d like to develop some of my own. This ties in nicely with the running actually as I click back into a post-run routine of warming down and stretching.
Great! So plenty to go at. My target weight is 78kgs. I want to boulder V11. Sport climb 8b. And headpoint Divided Years. Just as well I like a challenge, huh? Haa!
Heres some insane, mind blowing, standard defining footage from Font that has been doing the rounds on the web lately. Plus a V14 FA from everybody’s favourite, Dave G – word!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Into the swing of things

Life at the minute is full to the brim - and for that I'm thankful. I love being kept busy! Between the working and settling back into life in Dublin i've managed to sneek in a few sessions of bouldering during the past few weeks. One awesome day out in the Coolies and 3 evnings indoors. All good. In an effort to knock the cobwebs off I'm getting up early to go out running too and it's starting to take effect. Feeling better all round. The bouldering won't take long to get back on track either and hopefull I'll have access to the Arch soon. Looking forward to seeing a routine emerge from the chaos - but for now I'm content to just keep taking runs and climbs as and when i can get them.

Some BIG news to come but not quite yet.... 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Back to Scratch


I'm living in Ireland again!! Woo hoo! Had an epic drive home from Spain in the trusty white van before Christmas and have been on the go ever since. From a climbing point of view not much has been happening. I'm at an all time high (weight wise) and at an all time low (power wise) but my psyche levels are off the chart! Plus there is light at the end of the tunnel - I'm in the thick of my biggest ever project and have begun running again in the mornings. 2012 is a year for meeting and smashing targets! So I'm gonna aim to go large. I'm looking forward to things to come...