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!