Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Thoughts on Dalkey

Indecent Assault E8 6C, Dalkey Quarry, Dublin
A few weeks back I caught up with Ron and Howard at the Fair Head meet. I got to talking about Indecent assault and the story behind it. Turns out my comment about Ron "working it over a period" is misleading, apologies. He put a few sessions into it before leading it on trad gear - it wasn't a prolonged siege affair by any means and was a mind blowing ascent for the time.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Air Time - Photo: David Flanagan

I attended the 2014 Gap of Dunloe climbing meet at the weekend. Wow! Great location, great routes and fantastic atmosphere. Very similar to Llanberris in North Wales but with a huge amount of development still waiting to be done. I teamed up with Brian (Honey Badger) and we set out to get trashed on the bullet hard sandstone. Heres the pick of the routes we did on Friday and Saturday morning...
Air Time 30m E5 6a – classic, clean and safe ***
Far Away Friends 10m E5 6b – flash after watching video, 5 cams all sound - more like E3/4 5c/6a **
Name Unknown 12m E5 6a – nice wall climbing above crux of Wickedy Wock **
The Crazy Horseman 9m E3 6a – short and sweet, kneebars a plenty, just bring cams **
Wickedy Wock 12m E3 6a – perfect rock, classic! ***
Hawker 12m E2 5c – safe boulder start, eases quickly **
Willie Wonka 20m E2 6a – Brilliant, no peg but great gear **
Mighty Mouse 10m E1 5c – safe positive climbing, 5b? *
Mother Of Prague 20m E1 5b – Classic at the grade, perfect ***
Did some bouldering too. It was all on beautiful rock in picturesque locations. The edge of the onion blocks were class as was Barry’s Cave roof. White lightening was worth just walking up to look at but the beauty block that stuck in my mind has to be the striking “Exit Planet Dust” – incredible!  
Can't wait to go back!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Indecent Assault

On Friday I lead Indecent Assault in Dalkey quarry. This is a route that assumed a fierce reputation and went unrepeated for 19 years despite being located roadside in an urban quarry, right in the heart of Dublin city. Nearly two weeks ago I dropped a rope down it to try the moves and see if it was feasible. Really I was looking for something to occupy me during short windows of free time from home - I found that by using a mini-traxion I could cram more hard climbing into a focused hour than I used to get in a whole day of climbing in the quarry. I figured Indecent Assault could be something I could work on for weeks or even months without any real pressure to get done. On that first session I managed the crux 6C rockover but couldn't fathom the top out sequence. A week later I returned for another quick play. It had been on my mind and at some point during the week I thought of a sequence that might work. It did! I managed to "mini" the crux section from the gear to the topout twice without falls. That was all well and good but my complicated sequence felt so insecure that the prospect of leading it yet didn't really stick in my head. Four days later I met Brian out in Dalkey and was abseiling down the line to check the gear and clean the lower half of the route. Before long I had placed what gear there is in the flake and climbed the route from ground to top twice on the "mini" without warm up or falls. Still felt too touch and go to lead though. It's a weird one, when you're at the crux looking down, thinking of slack and rope stretch the gear looks too low. But from the ground the gear looks 2/3rds of the way up and totally safe. With the mindset that all prep is good prep I cleared some pointy sticks from the landing zone and took some of the branches off the tree that might catch a falling climber and cause a flip. I was ready to sack it off and go climb something else when Pat came up with a classic line "sure lead up to the gear just to get a feel for it". Good idea!
I set off on lead with Brian on belay and Pat watching. The lower half climbs like a 3-star HS and then I was standing hands free at the last gear looking up. At this point I was on auto and I rambled up through the increasingly committing moves to the shakeout before the crux. Fuck! A quick shout down to Brian to check for slack and ask him if he's ready to catch me. I begin the rockover to the crimp. Then the hip twist, right heel-toe cam in the undercut, bring my right hand back down, fuck, right foot step through to the blind edge and left foot leaves the good hold to take up position on the piss-poor smear. Then the move I was dreading. Match the shitbrick crimp and smack the left into the base of the groove. Harder than on the mini but I'm still on. Everything felt greasey. I'm about to grease off, can't chalk, might as well fight on. Fuck the sequence, left hand to the next grease free hold, foot slip but I'm locked in between two gastons. Run my feet up to high smear and cross over to layaway and top. I may have screamed :)
Felt nice to climb something hard without the fitness to make it feel comfortable and boring. It was a case of fighting to the top on this one and not giving in to a fall. I hadn't had that on a route for years!
Psyched for more headpoints and so happy to have climbed this route in particular. Dalkey was where I began climbing and this route represented the ultimate route to me when I first got hooked on climbing. Getting to the top felt like finishing something I started when I took my first steps on rock in the quarry. And the best part is theres lots more to do!
Thanks to all the characters who worked hard, went for it or just pricked around in the quarry cleaning, climbing and developing these routes people take for granted - they're superb and under rated and have history which makes them all the more memorable

The holds look bigger on Instagram

Route with a view

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Odd bits

I cleared out some odds and ends from some HD cards that had been building up since late last year - nothing of great quality but not worth throwing out all the same... The First problem "One for the Road" is a line Ricky cleaned and let myself, Michelle and Gaz play on. I ended up lanking it first before Gaz swooped in for the second ascent. Nice we problem and a good addition to the Scalp. The second problem is fast becoming the most popular problem in the Scalp, Michael Duffy's "Space Machine" - people often overlook the time spent cleaning and building landings for what soon become classic problems - Space Machine's landing is a constant reminder of the hard work that goes into developing new blocs - The problem gets 10 cool points for the climbing and an additional 5 just for the platform. The final problem shows James Gernon's awesome Arete, "Maniacal Laugh". This thing is a beauty! Big, proud and great climbing - I switched the camera on after the start sequence that begins in the middle of the face to the left. Once on the slab an airy traverse to the arête and then some sweet moves to the top. Rarely tried but a fantastic addition by James - one of my favourites in the area!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Lemon Sole

While driving to work last Wednesday morning I was admiring the sunshine and blue skies over Dublin from the M50. I had pads and climbing gear in the van and next thing I new I had driven straight past the Finglas exit and onto Portrane - low tide, choppy sea and a chilly breeze. I wanted to get back on Lemon Sole - this had never really appealed to me before last November when I had a play on it with Gaz during a lunch break. I fell off trying to match the highest undercut during my first session and I've been keen to get back on it ever since. Well Wednesday morning was my second session on it and after a bigger battle than I had thought I was in for I managed to match the finishing flake. Ricky's left foot beta helped with the move into the undercut but I still managed to drop matching it a few times before realising there was a positive edge right at the back of the hold! Game changer. (note: I also broke the left foothold before the send but there is still a smaller and slightly lower edge for the left foot, which I used). Great problem and worth stars I think - not too many positive, physical style mid 7's around like it that I know of. As for the grade? Probably easier for the tall - felt harder than Computer World Left (7A+), and Robots (7B). No where near as hard as Space Machine (7C). Good 7B+? Chuffed finger and shoulder are playing ball too...

Some new problems

A few weeks ago I spent a damp morning cleaning ivy, moss and dirt off a load of roadside blocks in the Scalp. Brian turned up and gave a hand and Tom swung by to talk with some cyclists. Later that week I grabbed a few hours out on the problems and they had cleaned up nicely - still a few more to do but they all require better landings or multiple spotters.

Whackbat – Start on obvious jug under roof, use two big breaks to top
Kristofferson – Start with foot jam under roof and undercut. Climb steep flakes to tricky rockover onto slab
Boggis – centre of the proud slab...
Flynnstone – The arête beside a tree
Ceramic Unicorn – centre of the face to a tricky topout in a v-groove
Maximus – the big arête on big holds (dodgey landing)
Lee of the stone – the smaller arête on smaller holds (careful up there!)
NIMH – start undercutting the block, clamp the fin to top
Nicodemus – start RH undercut, LH crimp crack. Climb the crack to flake and span to nose of prow
Tigerlilly – stand start, LH sidepull. The Sit would be a cool move
James’ Crack – the beautiful crack to prickly topout. FA James Gernon back in the day
Mr. Ages – start on hanging flake with feet in the roof. Nice holds, nice moves

The grades might be a bit out but the problems were quality - best ones would be Whackbat, Kristofferson, Ceramic Unicorn and Mr. Ages

Sunday, 20 April 2014

New Blog

I finally got to thinking "why blog?"

The answer was fairly straight forward... Two reasons:

1 The only thing that gets me to write anything is climbing and I only really read (or am interested in)  blogs/articles about climbing - specific routes, areas, climbers etc...
2 My blog acts as a kind of climbing journal for me, which I like

So a revamp - bin the running and motivation shite and be honest with myself by bloging only when I feel I have some climbing to record