Tuesday, November 23, 2010

stuff to smile about :)

So recently things have been on the gloomy side for me.

Climbing was the only sure thing I knew I had - which is great, and I love it, and am a tad obsessed with it... but it doesn't pay bills etc...

Well today things turned around for me... I was coming to the last few weeks of a 10 month contract to cover maternity leave and the girl I'm covering is coming back, despite major efforts to find another job - I was looking at joining the ever growing dole queues and moving back into my Dad's house for the first time in about 7 years...

The co op would have gone, trips away climbing would have gone...

January sure was looking bleak for me...

So the boss calls me into his office today...


and I was shitting it! I though I was in trouble... for what, I didn't know...

He says - you can relax...

I sat back in the chair.

He continued - We'd like to offer you a year's extension on your contract...

I sat forward again.

He went on...

I can't offer you much of a pay rise (my head started spinning) but we hope xxxx amount will be enough for you to want to stay with us...


(nope, can't speak, tears are rolling down my cheeks... ) feel like such a girl!!

so the boss says... maybe you can send me an email confirming your interest!

I nodded...

SUCH a girl!

He smiled at me and said it was a pleasure having me and the company couldn't let me go... as if to add fuel to the tears now spilling down my cheeks...

So job secure, climbing secure for another year...

It's been a good day.

So now, I have climbing, I have a job and I have two free tickets to Taste of Christmas on Sunday...

A good day indeed!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Indestructible or lucky

I've fallen on my head over 20 times during my years as a trampolinist, I've slipped a disc in my back, I've broken a rib and I've suffered stress fractures the length of my ankles and shins...

Pulling whatever it was in my wrist that I did hurt more than all of that (except the slip disc... I couldn't walk with that...) Point is - it was only a tiny little finger problem as opposed to nearly breaking my neck etc... but it hurt like hell!!

Today I went to the physio to see what the story was - he checked me, and rechecked and was looking at me puzzled before he said...

You seem to have got away scot-free!

I've a muscle tear in my forearm and have to take a week off... but it would seem the icing of my wrist and the taping down of my fingers so as not to use them caught it early!!

The physio (absolute genius for anyone who's in Dublin his name is Aidan Woods and he works out of Pearse St Physio) said to me that a week off followed by a couple of weeks easy training should see me right!!!

Wrist is still sore and the deep tissue massage he did on my forearm hurt like hell, but one of two things is happening here...

either I'm indestructible (which is doubtful!) or the luckiest gal there is in Dublin on this rainy Monday evening!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Weekend and what I learned...

Went to the Reel Rock Tour on Friday, hosted by Trinity, thanks so much to Katie who did a great job of introducing the show and keeping it going after the 'interval' that no one wanted!!!

Have to say that I was looking forward to the bouldering film and it didn't disappoint! The two guys, Paul Robinson and Daniel Woods are just awesome boulderers. The short film (The Hardest Moves) followed their efforts on their respective V16 projects!!

Amazing dedication and determination to unlock seemingly impossible moves on the craziest problems.

Nice to see how the two of them recreated their outdoor problems on the indoor wall...

I laughed at the time, during the video it was said that the both of them had to distill their lives down to one move in order to complete their projects, but I suppose if you wanna be the best boulderer in the world, that's what it takes...

So after that we all went out and had a few drinks in town, great night, and really cool to see what must have been about 150 - 200 people show up to the Reel Rock Tour.

The IBL the next day suffered in it's entirety for me... I enjoyed myself a little too much the night before and had great difficulty being motivated to even get started... didn't sleep right, didn't eat, don't remember a large portion of the climbing I did on the day...

It ended badly too, cause the last thing I did was pull some serious stuff in my wrist and have taped down my ring and little fingers against the palm of my hand in an effort not to move them...

So it's a physio appointment tomorrow and icing session after icing session for my wrist... gotta love Tesco frozen corn!! Makes a great ice pack :)

So what did I learn... don't go out and drink the night before you've to onsight 18 boulder problems... it won't end well!!

Joking aside though, it is a lot of pressure to put on fingers and the body in general - So unless you're well fed and well hydrated, it won't go well. Not just on the day, but the day before too. Preparation is key if you want to do well, and for me, it all went down the drain on the day...

Having said that though, I had a great night on Friday and wouldn't change that!!

On the day I have to say I was hugely impressed by both Hannah Fogg, who dispite a dodgy knee, still looked unbelievably strong, and Joan Molloy who, I don't think put a foot (or a hand for that matter) wrong all day!

Really good demonstration of control and just a sureness of how to move through problems first time.

Brilliant to watch the two of them climbing!

So all in all, despite what might turn out to be a pretty bad wrist injury, the weekend was great fun and it was cool, as always to see everyone. It will be interesting to see what the physio says tomorrow about how much time off I've to take...


Sunday, November 14, 2010


I haven't been to Glenmacnass since last February, and it was as cold then as it was cold today!

So on my second visit, the conditions were absolutely mint, had so much fun all day with a great bunch!! but it occurred to me that I wished I had more knowledge of the place so
I had focus on what I wanted to work... The only thing I knew I wanted to get back to was the Solidarity Arete... either side.

I had tried it back in February and found it really hard... I couldn't wait to get back on it and see what I could do - turns out - it's still nails and though I made another move or two and felt a bit more comfortable, I wanted to be better on it.

The walk in and out means that it's difficult to get 'Glenmacnass motivation!'... it's a good 50 minute walk through squelschy bog and an ankle turning uneven surface of grassy holes, streams and mossy rocks... Yikes!

The view is absolutely stunning though and the clear blue skies as well as the great company today meant that the walk, though tiring, was really enjoyable and when you reach the boulders, the quality of climbing is well worth it!

Got some good work done on a traverse that presented me with the most epic top out I've ever been on... It involved a one leg squat of sorts and though I was absolutely comfortable in the bottom of the squat, it must have taken me a good 30-40 seconds, if not a full minute before I got the umph to stand up on the leg!!

John Howard did some great work on a 7c beside that traverse and finally topped out a few go's later... awesome stuff!

The guys were all doing well on the problem (not sure what it's called but it's pictured below, so if anyone knows... do tell!)

Moved on and spent the rest of the time before we went to Solidarity, on some balancey aretes and slabs a little further up from the initial boulder we arrived at.

I'm so tired now - had a great day, and would definitely recommend a visit to Glenmacnass, just make sure the forecast is 100%, cause that walk in is a commitment that doesn't deserve a rainy destination...

^John topping out on the 7c mentioned above!

Angela topping out on the first traverse we did

^ Eamon on Solidarity

^Matt trying to keep warm!

John on Solidarity

Saturday, November 13, 2010


So I recently got my hair dyed blonde for a stunt I was doing...

Not mad about it, and not mad about the slagging that comes with it!!

But at the risk of further mockery...

I've recently discovered breathing!

I've discovered that if I breathe when I'm bouldering everything is way more chilled out!

Usually when I'm on a tough move or a thin hold, I hold my breath and tense every muscle in my body... But since Font - when it was suggested to me that I breathe half way through 'La Surplumb Statique' which lead to a successful top out on the problem, I've been consciously trying to breathe whenever I boulder.

When I caught the final hold on that 6a+ in Franchard Isitis I was totally tensed up and in a bit of a panic as to what to do. 'Breathe' was then shouted at me and as I did and all my muscles relaxed, I found the weight of my body made the hold far more positive, and gave me a few extra seconds to figure my next move out.

So now I always try to breathe when I boulder... It's probably something everybody always does when they're climbing... but it's a discovery worth writing about for me :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

From met.ie:

Saturday will start cold and sunny with the frost clearing during the morning. Many areas will be dry for daylight hours but showers in western parts will become more widespread during the afternoon and evening. Top temperatures of 7 to 9 degrees with light variable or southwest winds.

Glendalough, Wicklow it is!

Cannot wait to get out and see if all the indoor training is paying off!!

Nalle Hukkataival Ninja Skills (8B+) FA

Following on from Neal's Facebook post on this guy, I did some youtube watching and found a million lovely videos of Nalle climbing.... this is my favorite.

Such an amazing line!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stretching for bouldering

Lisa Rands^ (image from:http://geoffreymcallister.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html)

Being flexible for bouldering means I can move my way out of tricky situations with ease, however I think my flexibility makes me less powerful than I'd like to be.

I think it's about finding a balance, but the article below is excellent food for thought on the subject of how and when to stretch.

Found the article below on the web and thought it was quite useful.


Many coaches advocate the use of static stretching prior to exercise. Static stretching involves reaching forward to a point of tension and holding the stretch. Static stretching has been used through out the years for two main reasons: injury prevention and performance enhancement. (1) Does static stretching prior to activity achieve the goals of injury prevention and performance enhancement? Research has shown that static stretching can be detrimental to performance and doesn’t necessarily lead to decreases in injury. Below are a few studies done on the topic of static stretching:

  1. Rod Pope an army physiotherapist in Australia, recently carried out a wide study to assess the relationship between static stretching and injury prevention. Pope monitored over 1600 recruits over the course of a year in randomised controlled trials. He found no differences in the occurrence of injury between those recruits who statically stretched and those who did not. (1, 2)

  2. “Gleim & McHugh (1997), would also challenge the premise that stretching, or indeed increased flexibility, reduces the risk of injury” (1,3)

  3. New research has shown that static stretching decreases eccentric strength for up to an hour after the stretch. Static stretching has been shown to decrease muscle strength by up to 9% for 60 minutes following the stretch and decrease eccentric strength by 7% followed by a specific hamstring stretch. (4)

  4. Rosenbaum and Hennig showed that static stretching reduced peak force by 5% and the rate of force production by 8%. This study was about Achilles tendon reflex activity. (5)

  5. Gerard van der poel stated that static stretching caused a specific decrease in the specific coordination of explosive movements. (4)

  6. Three 15-second stretches of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles reduced the peak vertical velocity of a vertical jump in the majority of subjects (Knudson et al. 2000). (6,7)

  7. Moscov (1993) found that there is no relationship between static flexibility and dynamic flexibility. This suggests that an increased static range of motion may not be translated into functional, sport-specific flexibility, which is largely dynamic in most sporting situations (1)

  8. Static based stretching programs seem best suited following an activity. (8)


Many of the best strength coaches support the use of dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises which use sport specific movements to prepare the body for movement. (8) “Dynamic stretching, according to Kurz, "involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both." Do not confuse dynamic stretching with ballistic stretching! Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you (gently!) to the limits of your range of motion. Ballistic stretches involve trying to force a part of the body beyondits range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or "jerky" movements. (9) Several professional coaches, authors and studies have supported or shown the effectiveness of dynamic stretching. Below are a few examples of support for dynamic stretching:

  1. Mike Boyle uses a dynamic warm-up with his athletes. He goes through about 26000 workouts over the course of a summer. In 2002 he did not have one major muscle pull that required medical attention. (10)

  2. Flexibility is speed specific. There are two kinds of stretch receptors, one measures magnitude and speed and the other measures magnitude only. Static flexibility improves static flexibility and dynamic flexibility improves dynamic flexibility which is why it doesn’t make sense to static stretch prior to dynamic activity. There is considerable but not complete transfer of static stretching to dynamic stretching(11)

  3. One author compared a team that dynamically stretched to a team that static stretched. The team that dynamically stretched had fewer injuries. (8)

  4. There are few sports where achieving static flexibility is advantageous to success in the sport. Therefore according to the principle of specificity it would seem to be more advantageous to perform a dynamic warm-up which more resembles the activity of the sport.(12)

  5. Dynamic Flexibility increases core temperature, muscle temperature, elongates the muscles, stimulates the nervous system, and helps decrease the chance of injury. (13)

  6. Another author showed that dynamic stretching does increase flexibility. (11)

A sports performance program could look like this:

Beginning- Dynamic warm up

Middle- Actual workout

End- Cool down/static stretching

1. www.pponline.co.uk, So what about dynamic flexibility.

2. Rod Pope, 'Skip the warm-up,' New Scientist, 164(2214), p. 23

3. Gleim & McHugh (1997), 'Flexibility and its effects on sports injury and performance,' Sports Medicine, 24(5), pp. 289-299.

4. Mick Critchell, Warm ups for soccer a Dynamic approach, page 5.

5. Rosenbaum, D. and E. M. Hennig. 1995. The influence of stretching and warm-up exercises on Achilles tendon reflex activity. Journal of Sport Sciences vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 481–90.

6. Knudson, D., K. Bennet, R. Corn, D. Leick, and C. Smith. 2000. Acute Effects of Stretching Are Not Evident in the Kinematics of the Vertical Jump. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport vol. 71, no. 1 (Supplement), p. A-30.

7. Tomas Kurz, www.scienceofsports.com,

8. Mann, Douglas, Jones Margaret 1999: Guidelines to the implementation of a dynamic stretching routine, Strength and Conditioning Journal:Vol 21 No 6 pp53-55

9. www.cmcrossroads.com

10. Boyle, Mike, Functional Training for Sports, pg 29

11. Kurz, Tomas, Science of Sports Training, page 236

12. Hendrick, Allen, Dynamic Flexibility training, Strength and conditioning Journal, Vol 22 no 5, Pgs 33-38.

13. Frederick Gregory 2001 Baseball Part 1 Dynamic Flexibility, Strength and conditioning Journal Vol 23 No 1 Pages 21-30.

Taken from: http://www.elitesoccerconditioning.com/Stretching-Flexibility/DynamicStretchingvsStaticStretching.htm

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Climbing's all I've got...

So I've come under major fire for posting a blog about my resin based bouldering last weekend... Look out!!!

Truth is, at the moment climbing's all I have -

So what ever's going on in my life I know that for 2 or 3 hours every day I'm going to smile. I'm going to have fun and I'm going to hang out with some of the best people I've ever met.

Whether it's indoors or outdoors, I'm going to write about it.

My blog, I suppose is to remind me that I did smile today, and because I have such great climbing friends, I can gain a lot of advice about my bouldering from awesome climbers that I don't get to talk to and in turn, because it's all on the web, people who are learning about bouldering can gain good knowledge as well.

And here's something that's really going to get all the anti-resin folk's blood boiling... I had a great night in the co op tonight and finished 2 more problems on the 45 degree board that I wasn't able to do before!

So today, everything else might be falling down around me, but I went and climbed and I smiled and I came home and had a dinner and now I'm reminding myself that today, at least in part, was good.

eye candy!

Just some images I found while on the net... kinda make me wanna go train!!!!


^Paul Robinson (V16)

^Daniel Woods
^ Daniel Woods
^Chris Sharma
^Anna Stohr (8b)
^Chris Sharma

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great weekend indoors...

Well, the Irish weather kept me indoors this weekend and I had a blast!

Spent the day in the Co op on Saturday and had a monster 3 hour training session with Chris and Kev - I must be getting stronger cause I used to be wasted after an hour in there... and progress is being made, cause now I'm only getting spat off the last move of all the problems I can't do, as opposed to being spat off the start of them!

I have successfully completed only 1 Co op problem to date... I hope to at least double that by the end of November - I love that place so much!

Today I climbed in UCD with Eamon and Matt - and then, as if that wasn't AWESOME (yes Eamon I said AWESOME!) enough, at about 2 o clock in walked Terry O Connor, Angela Carlin and Eddie Cooper as well as a bunch of energy bound bouldering kids and the atmosphere was just brilliant...

Got loads of work done and bouldered with people I never usually get to train with...

Had so much fun and learned lots of things as the day went by... 4 hours later I HAD to stop, had no more strength or brain to work through problems, but continued by doing a conditioning set of pull ups and handstands, sit ups and lock offs etc...

All in all I'm shattered, and though I love heading outside bouldering at the weekends, and that would always be my preference, this weekend showed me that I can have a bloody good time climbing indoors too.

Thanks everyone for a smashin' weekend!

crimping or open hand...

Hmmm... There's so many questions about bouldering...

The latest is something that's been on my mind for about 2 months, but it came up twice this weekend and so must be addressed...

I open hand everything I climb - at the moment it feels absolutely natural.

A couple of boulderers have told me to see it as a weakness and work on developing my crimp strength.

I think of crimping as holding a tiny edge with 4 finger tips and locking the hand position by holding your thumb up to your finger tips on the edge.

I wonder if it's possible to develop my open hand strength to the point where I can use it as effectively as a crimp hand position... Is it possible to be as strong as a 'crimper' if I just use an open hand technique...

Or is that just wishful thinking, when I should be focusing on developing my ability to crimp.

If there's evidence out the that one can climb as hard using open hand only, I'd be all for it, because I hear tendons blow very easily if you crimp too hard too soon... However I see how solid people are on tiny edges using a crimp, where I feel strong with my open hand, but on the verge of slipping always...

Any opinions?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Taking stock... year 1

Seeing as I'm bored of a Friday evening...

I wanna write down what I've climbed this year... Most of them, I don't know the names of, but some of em I do!

So on my first day
bouldering in Glendalough I did:

The rails (flash)
That slab on the back of Big Jim
and the warm up traverse along the path...

I did a bunch of other stuff that day too but they're the one's that stand out...

oh, and I sat under the Nu rails for the first time...

So I found my project, and it took far too many sessions to send it, but I finally cracked it not so long ago...

Nu rails (6c+)... tick!

I've been to the Trampoline World Championships and I felt way more of a buzz sitting at the top of that problem than when I landed the final move of my trampoline routine... Is that really sad?!

Funnily enough, the first move on it wasn't the crux for me - I was at the top of that boulder 12 times before I finally topped out...

So the next big tick was Chillax (6c) - and I have to say I found it harder than the Nu rails, even though it took me less sessions to achieve.

What I loved about ticking it off was the fact that on the first 2 proper sessions on it, I couldn't get off the ground. I literally didn't see how I would get the first move... then one day it just clicked - I love that about bouldering - it's just a matter of how much you believe!

Magic will happen!

I learned a harsh lesson that day though, I was told that once you get a project... WALK AWAY! but no - I had to try and see if I could do it again, and sure enough... with quite the thud - on the campus move, gravity won and I HIT the deck... ouch... sore bum... lesson learned...

So now my eyes are fixed on Andy's Arret... wanna tick that for sure. I have a feeling it won't come as easy as Chillax or the Nu Rails though.

We shall see!!!!

So coming back from Font, I suppose I performed way below my own expectations, and am still dealing with the disappointment. But I had a score to settle with a 6a+ in Franchard Isitis and I ticked it, happily!

I believe it's called 'La Surplomb Statique', Though I'm open to correction...

Doolin is a place where I've done 2 or 3 sessions and sent a few things, but I can't for the life of me remember what exactly they look like, and therefore can't pick them out of the guide which curiously enough is the only irish bouldering guide I downloaded from the shortspan, it's really well done...I believe the trickiest thing I've sent there is a 6b... but I love that place and have to
get back there soon - it's just a stunning bit of the world.

So my quest to send my elusive first 7a

Watch this space!

Also have to mention- though I do favour my outdoor achievements over anything I do indoors - the awesome fun I've had at my first round of IBLs finishing in 3rd place overall and a best single round placing of 2nd in Midleton, Cork.

Also had my first taste of an actual climbing competition at the IBCs (Thanks Angela) where the final problems were absolutely nails hard - but I somehow muddled my way to joint 2nd place with Joan Mulloy - who's an absolute technician of a climber!

Good year's bouldering!! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


So there seem to be a few different schools of thought on bouldering with regards how much 'weight' effects your ability to send problems.

I know when I feel light and strong, my head's in a better place to work projects.

Maybe for me it's a feeling rather than the physical attribute of 'being light' that makes me a better boulderer. But I know that if I feel sluggish, or if I feel like I've had a lot to eat, I won't send anything.

I was told that some international climbing teams have implemented minimum BMI measurement so their teams can't starve themselves and so they keep their climbers healthy.

Various climbers have said they don't think weight effects bouldering as a discipline of climbing. They've said that weight really only effects sport climbers.

Recently I got down to 55kgs which was tough and even tougher to maintain.

So that was obviously not my ideal bouldering weight, because I was constantly hungry and couldn't focus during training.

Currently I'm happy at 57kgs. I feel strong and I feel like I'm in shape, but I have heard different climbers say that it's power:weight ratio that you have to get right.

I'd love to hear what people think or if anyone has any hard facts on the subject.

Mostly, great boulderers are, from what I can see, just naturally gifted freaks - and I wonder how much some have to think about weight, due to their fingers being so strong and their feet being so sure.

Weight is something I think of a lot, but I don't know a lot of facts about weight versus bouldering.

How does one effect the other?

Am I the only one who thinks about it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back from Fontainbleau.

For the first time ever I heard someone say these words after topping out:

'That definitely wasn't a 7b'

I realised I was in good company as Al Sarahan stood at the top of his 7b send and denounced it as a 6c!

ehem! ... I think he's stronger than he knows.

Very impressive stuff.

So yes, the company was good, however I was not good company... I climbed like a donkey all week.

I learned a few things about bouldering though... I learned that it's not all about being the strongest - It's about the moves too. Someone weaker than you can out climb you if they can figure out the moves faster than you can. I was pretty sure I could crank through anything if I was strong enough, but that's just not the case.

I learned that I don't always need a spotter when I boulder. It's about having confidence in the moves. And if it doesn't work out, it's about knowing how to fall and where my feet are.

It also became clear that Font is full of climbs that are graded at 5c/6a that I can't do, but there are 7a's that I can make a bloody good stab at. It's nice to think that with more and more practice, I'll be able to do lots of styles of bouldering, but for the moment there are definitely climbs that suit me, and climbs that don't.

I favour over hanging acrobatic style climbs over delicate slabs at the moment. My footwork needs major attention. I think when I figure my feet out, a whole new aspect of bouldering will open up.

Watching Jack Doyle climb gave me a demonstration of someone who just knows intuitively where to place his feet. Luckily he didn't mind me stealing his beta from time to time, and every now and then I'd send a tricky problem because of it.

Climbing with Naomi, I learned that every bit of rubber on your shoe should be utilised. That girl uses every last bit of shoe she has, and pushes and pulls with her feet in a way that glues her to the rock. So many times during the trip I was introduced to another part of my shoe while climbing with her. My shoes are going to start working a lot harder for me from now on.

Such was my frustration at the lack of quality in my climbing, as well as life just biting me in the ass as I had ignored every aspect of it by burying myself in training for the weeks leading up to the trip, that I didn't take a single photo. I was just too pissed off.

Being in the company of the likes of Neal McQuaid and Al Sarahan as well as Chris Rooney, who between them must have sent a big fat heap of 7a grade (and above) boulder problems, was just awesome.

But my spirits were not only dampened but drowned at how far my head was out of the game.

on a positive note, I did stock up on a bunch of new climbing shoes, and not a moment too soon as I busted a hole in the toes of both my poor Miura Velcros 2 days from the end of the trip...

As for Holy Moly, I didn't get close. Chris Rooney made a famous send and to the best of my knowledge is the only Irishman to send it this October 2010!

Fair Dues! (the co op rocks!)

Finally a word to the wise. Myself, Seán and Kevin were on our way back through Beauvais Airport last night and were told that our stuffed boulder pads would have to be separated and check in as two separate bags.

After 'discussing' the situation for a good half hour we managed to convince a nice airport man to give us a bin liner to enclose the entire stuffed boulder pad, making it 'one bag'

Their argument was that because one end of the boulder pad is 'open', that it isn't secure and the suitcase inside could drop out (pff!)

Anyway.... get your black sacks ready if you're passing through Beauvais - and watch out for a big fat woman called Matild. She doesn't like climbers!!!


As an addition to my post I would like to mention, though it goes without saying, that climbing with Tim Chapman is awesome.

If ever there was someone who brings energy to a group and enthusiasm to a boulder, it's him.

It's a damn shame I only had the pleasure of his company in Font for an afternoon and not the full week.