Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The day before Cloghogue...

So the day before we went to Cloghogue, we hit Glendalough for a run around the projects we all have!

Started on Big Jim to warm up and all bitched about the clouds in the sky after what had been a sunshiney week of sitting in our respective offices (metaphorical offices for some) wishing we could be climbing!

As the day went on the weather got better though, so we couldn't stay bitter!

After warming up we went to Andy's Arete (7a+)... I was working it with Neal and Naomi and I just had a feeling that Naomi would crush the stand start (6c) that I've been projecting for far too long at this stage...

In her first 2 or 3 attempts she placed her foot more perfectly than I ever had before, very impressive... SUCH a frustrating problem for me!! However it's not just me, every climber I've been to Andy's Arete with says 'I swore I'd never come back here after I sent this years ago!'

Neal was no exception!!

We moved on to Rhythm and Stealth (7a) and after a few attempts at that, Neal worked out a new little sequence that resulted in me holding the side pull compression move for a second longer than I have been holding it in the past...

Instead of moving his feet up high to the rail, he kept them low and caught the arete, then keeping his feet on two low foot holds and compressing them together he switched his right hand from the jug to the side pull and moved his feet up...

It's cool when you get to boulder with someone new and suddenly the moves on the problems you thought you had wired, come in a different sequence...

I can't say as yet whether his sequence is right for me in the bigger picture of Rhythm and Stealth as a line, but it certainly opened my eyes to what's possible...

On to Pokery (6c) and I was just too close to it! I'm gutted! It's the most realistic project I have on the go at the moment and I just didn't have enough in the tank to finish it -

Neal took a few attempts at the opening throw/move to the crimp around the arete, but once caught he danced his way up it...

Naomi was psyched for Chillax (6c), so up we went and the opening move I spent session after session practicing came easy to her, but the heel hook on the slopers caused difficulty...

My stupid long legs get in my way on Andy's Arete (while Naomi had it wired from the word go) but are a God-send on Chillax. In the end, Naomi had a heel toe heel sequence to place the final heel hook and looked solid - it won't be long before that problem is sent!

Myself and Neal skipped Chillax and I was psyched to try Pokery one more time with the break I'd just had - I was totally out of umph though and had one good go at it but the rest of the attempts told me it was time to call it a day...

So we went to 'The Goat' (7a)

Had fun trying the moves, but as described above, I was wasted tired and so an hour after I realised I was done... I was done!

Cool day's bouldering as Glendalough always provides!

Thanks to Naomi for the pics!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Hit Ben's Font/Cloghogue today with Diarmuid and James and found myself in one of the most picturesque settings one could hope to spend a Sunday.

Getting to Cloghogue was an adventure in itself... Displaying some innovative and alternative driving skills, Diarmuid coaxed his car which is on the brink of death, up and down the hills in a jolted but impressive automobile experience. Indeed there were times along the way that all three of us fell silent as our faith in the car's integrity was tested, but it got us there in the end and all credit goes to Diarmuid for his patience, understanding and sensitivity towards his troubled car... She's a trooper!

Had such a fun morning/afternoon there today. It wasn't about ticking anything in particular or the tough lines we'd like to siege... Today was brilliant fun, rarely stopped laughing all morning, it was exactly what I needed before I head off to Font on Thursday -

The pictures of the place speak for themselves I feel...

Me on the finishing part of the traverse (6b+) on the Hobbiton Boulder (too tired to top it out)

Working Crucifix (6c+)

Diarmuid on Crucifix (got to the end - had it wired after a few attempts!)

James on Crucifix

Diarmuid having a nap in the lovely sun!

Diarmuid working 'Nearly Headless', topped it out later on!

Diarmuid on Sad Punk (6b)

Clohogue is an amazing place, lovely bouldering but I'd recommend heading there with a FULL compliment of fingertip and palm skin as the lines are all sharp and unforgiving.

After walking out, there was really only one question on our minds... would the car start... it did and the drive home was far smoother... there may be life in that car yet!!

Perfect Sunday.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The importance of sending

On Saturday morning in Glendalough I was given a little gem of advice by Barry. He had said it to me in Mall Hill on Thursday but it hadn't really clicked with me yet...

We were running around the problems in the Ruins, fairly flying up each of them as a warm up - After that we went over to Andy's Arete and I was slipping and slipping again on that famous foot placement! It was clear I was getting a little frustrated, it seemed like the same mistake again and again -

Barry then said to me that the problems we sent as a warm up in the Ruins shouldn't be discounted. Warm up is just as important - He said you have to keep sending stuff (as in anything!)

It's kind of clicked with me now -

If I keep falling off the same difficult stuff all the time, I'll forget what success is. It's far too easy for me to discount what I've done in my warm up circuit, as 'not good enough' or 'not what I'm here for'... Or even worse, not bother with the 5+ and 6a problems cause they might tire me out before the grade pushers, which for me are the 6c and 7a lines that keep me oh so focused and coming back for more!

I now think it's important to remember what moves I make in warm up problems and more importantly the top outs - not just go through the motions and 'get it out of the way' before I start what ever project happens to be pick of the day...

Getting to a new level, number, whatever is fantastic, no feeling like it, but the bread and butter moves on the easy stuff is what's getting me there.

Need to remember that!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nothing left to give.

Wicked early start this morning for a quick run around Glendalough. Thanks so much to Barry for the lift to the lovely boulders!

Fantastic morning's bouldering, in cool sunshine with a breeze that picked up to a cold wind by mid morning.

Got well acquainted with the problems around the Ruins and finally ticked 'The Plum' (6a+) that was inaccessible for the last while due to water logging. A really classic problem, with super cool moves, like a broken record I'm going to say the grade for me seems more like a 6b... but that; as always is open to discussion!

Had a couple of attempts on 'Quality Control' (6c), got off the ground well and was oh so close to catching the opening hold, Barry ran up the problem and then did Craftsmanship (6c+), the right version, for good measure.

Moved on to Big Jane and tried Andy's Arete (7a+), I'm getting there, but I'm not there yet - again, Barry flew up it after a couple of slips in the blazing sun - the conditions on that particular line were not in our favour today.

Moved on to spotting Barry on Leftism (7c) and he looked super solid on the opening phase - had a few attempts on Rhythm and Stealth (7a) but if I'm honest, I was just tired and sore after Mall Hill on Thursday and though I'm getting more and more solid on the switch move that see's my right hand go from a jug to a side pull, I still can't stick it... The more I'm on it, the more I'm learning though!

On we went to Afro Left (7a+) I was too tired and Barry had busted a tip on Leftism so we moved on quickly to Pokery (6c) Barry sent it while I attempted it twice (good attempts they were too) before conceding that my tank was well and truly empty...

Fingers are the worst they've ever been.

After a week that saw more outdoor sessions than indoor sessions (the way it should be), I'm in pieces and It's finally time to rest.

Glued to my couch now after watching a great Irish victory over England in the Rugby... where were this team for the last year?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Living the Dream

'Living the Dream' (Mall Hill) is harder than 6b...



The walk in to and out of Mall Hill today can only be described as an attempt to cross a meadow that was created and furnished by satin himself.

Brittle, rotten, slippy branches, hidden streams, holes, rushes, gorse, thorns and prickly christmas trees litter the approach, making it hellish under foot - and it's all steep.

But it's so worth it when you get there!!

I'm sure I found my favourite boulder in Wicklow today. It's hidden in the forrest and has 3 lines on it:

Strictly Ballroom 6b+
Living the Dream 6b
Coup D'etat 6c

'Living the Dream' just captured me today. It was the first thing we tried and so far beyond me as a warm up. The first move is an improbable reachy sidepull and crimp, then a throw to a juggy/crimp. Moving from that to an intermediate crimp (the guys didn't use it), lock off and move to a left hand side pull. Fix your feet and launch, 110% commitment needed, for the top and you'll be rewarded with a perfect lip for your right hand.

Tim and Barry both sent it pretty quickly and as usual, I thought in the beginning that I wouldn't get close to it, but I came so close that looking back on it, I'm torn I didn't stick it!

The issue is that if you don't stick the throw, the landing from the boulder slopes away downhill towards a tree.

I narrowly missed the throw 3 times (my best effort, I had my hand on the lip, but I think the swing was too much maybe?) I would like to thank Tim for saving me from certain broken ankles/death. The final time, though I was caught, my left foot found it's way between the mats and hit a rock sending a shooting pain up my ankle and I thought, uh oh!

But no harm done it was all good after a few minutes rest :)

Strictly Ballroom was sent by all 3 of us, and is such a fun problem, with a big swing at the end and a tricky little top out after moving out right.

While I was trying 'Living the Dream' again and again, the guys were on Coup D'etat. Before that, Tim had worked the beta on Strictly Ballroom and Barry sent it first, using Tim's sequence - Coup D'etat saw Tim get his own back. After Barry worked the sequence on it, it was Tim's shot and he made the most of it with a dodgy looking reach to a sidepull, up and over he went. Barry soon followed.

After that we made our way up to 'The Small Matter of Up' (6a) and the boulder was COVERED in moss. The problem itself is lovely, but the top out was too manky and I was uninspired to top it out.

Dublin-Beavais (6c) and Piece de Resistance (7a) were next on the list. We had met up with Keith and James at that point and while Barry and Tim worked Piece de Resistance, Keith and I were working away on Dublin-Beauvais.

Left foot on the small ramp, hands on the rail/horizontal crack, and twist and jump to the rail before slapping up right over the lip, top out is cool! I was pleased I sent it.

Piece de Resistance was beyond me, and we couldn't figure out the sequence on it. Tim and Barry both worked at it and made nice progress. It's the only thing I think they got stuck on today - the two of them were well and truly aboard the send train!! ;)

We set off to find the Chigaray Arete and were just wandering about the place, unsure where to go, James disappeared off and a few minutes later while the rest of us were trying to figure out where the boulder was - a whistle sounded through the air. James had found it.

With time against us we all made a quick send of the left arete that we thought was the Chigaray (6a) - turns out it was only a (4)! The Chigaray Arete is the right side and I was just too tired by the time we got to it. Barry sent it, and it was time to go.

We marched out in double quick time.

The bouldering in Mall Hill is some of the best I've seen anywhere.

I am in the process of attempting to imagine that the walk in and out wasn't all THAT bad...

Was it?!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

'Playing on pebbles'

Kind of feel like we stole a day's bouldering today. The forecast looked dodgy all week, but this morning the weather seemed perfect and Saint Tim came and picked me up followed by James and we headed to Glendalough, for what I like to think was day two of the boulder meet, that didn't really happen last weekend due to hangovers and rain!

James had the gem of an idea on the way in to start off at the Fin and work our way back down the path. We warmed up on the Arete of the Fin (6a) and the Arete Right of the Fin (6b+) which Tim made look easy, but it spat me and James off and our interest in it waned and we moved on to a sit start just around the corner from AROTF (marked in the guide as 'Problem 6'). Tim, on form as ever, sent it, it's a 6b and I loved the mechanics of the start of it, but the initial throw for the catch is an accurate move that I just couldn't get and it's sharp, so again we moved on.

Next on the list was 'Xmen on Holiday' (6a+). Gas problem, with a lying down start. It's extremely low ball and after watching Tim practice a stand start finish, the sequence became clear to me and I sent it in unusually good style! Tim followed and sent it, James got so close but just popped off the top.

Diarmuid joined us after we'd finished doing everything except the Fin... in the Fin area... and the four of us moved on down to Chillax (6c). We all struggled trying to remember the sequence, but finally Diarmuid sent Chillax Left, Tim sent Chillax and then the Left version, and I got oh so close to a repeat send of Chillax Left but popped off the jug at the end, and was happy to leave it at that!!

We moved on to White Stick (6c) and if Tim has The Nu Rails dialed and Diarmuid has Superstars of BMX dialed, then I have White Stick dialed. Using the awesome Tim beta the problem was, today, an easy send for me - Tim topped it out too and Diarmuid and James seemed happy to move on away from it. It's a desperate problem to get down from, and though I quite enjoyed topping it out today, getting off that boulder might put me off doing it again!

It started raining then and we sheltered under 'Dutch Gold' (7b) - luckily it was only a quick shower and the sun came out once again, drying everything in minutes.

So it was off up to Black Art (6c) and for the first time ever I caught the opening throw, I was so pleased, I actually didn't know what the next move was and dropped off it - James, Diarmuid and Tim made awesome progress on it before Diarmuid topped it out. The guys made the heel hook at the start look bomber, but I just don't understand it yet, so it's useless to me and I lost my psyche for it.

We moved on down to the Jiggery Pokery boulder. I had thought we were trying Jiggery earlier, but I've just looked at my guide and it turns out we were on Pokery (6c). Diarmuid and Tim both sent it after a few attempts and just as they did, the start of it, which I was struggling with, came together for me and the patient men they are, the guys were cool with me trying it a few more times before we moved on. My most successful attempt saw the top jug held before I slipped off and landed with a thud on the boulder pads. 'Damn' I thought - I was close!

It was then that I looked down at my left hand and realised that my ring finger no longer had a tip on it. It was pouring blood and despite Tim's best efforts to tape it up, the blood wouldn't stop and as much as I hate to admit it - it kind of freaked me out a bit.

I know, I'm a big girl's blouse!

We headed to F@*K All Left and I just had a feeling that this was going to be Tim's day on it. The first couple of attempts he came off as had happened on previous days and the sharp SHARP holds were hurting - but after a break of a couple of minutes he got back on and caught the opening throw really solidly and there was a sense that this was the attempt that he'd top out on and he did!

Brilliant effort!

We sort of wandered over to Big Jim then and I had become very cold at that stage and wrapped up in my down jacket and just shivered, for some reason turning down Tim's offer of an extra jacket (WHY I don't know??!!) Tim and Diarmuid sort of descended into a frenzied race around the boulder in what seemed to be a record breaking attempt to finish ALL the Big Jim problems in under 3 minutes!! I think they may have done it too!

Great mileage in today, really had a blast and have to say James' idea of starting at the Fin was inspired and made for a very structured and varied day's bouldering on really great problems!

Definitely getting stronger!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The power of flagging

Tonight I think I discovered how powerful flagging a foot can be.

There's a new problem in the Co op (sorry Pierre!) and it has this great toe hook and you move your hands along this slopey hold and cut loose to re-establish your right foot on the crimp your hand just left.

The position one is left in, is very horizontal and the next move is a vertical pull through your right arm to a round sloper...

I couldn't do this move. I found it really powerful and I was going nowhere on it but floorwards!

That is until the end of tonight's training! I was trying the pull through my right arm as usual, but unusually my left foot flagged way out and the pull through suddenly became easy!!

10 repetitions on that move with a big emphasis on flagging that left foot out as far as I could - followed by a long rest and I can now go from the beginning of the problem to that move with relative ease!!

My only issue is... I'm still only half way up the wall...

Still though, progress is progress and flagging is officially awesome!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Irish Bouldering Meet 2011

Claire and I on our way back after checking out (and I mean looking at!) Wonderland (8b)

Tim and John

Dec on The Goat (7a)

Looking back on this weekend, it was a whirlwind of boulder problems, smiles and far to much drink and food!

I had never been to a boulder meet before and I was really looking forward to this weekend. Last week was torture as I sat in work with a sore back, looking out at a clear blue sky that was forecast to hold for the weekend.

I counted down the minutes to the end of my working day on Friday and sulked my way home after what seemed to be the longest 9am-5pm in history! I couldn't get psyched when I got home on Friday and spent the evening halfheartedly packing things for the weekend. It was really only just before I went to bed that I it hit me... I was going bouldering in the morning...

It took me ages to get to sleep then as I lay in bed thinking about all the problems I wanted to do in the morning...

As usual, the alarm clock went off far too early and it was time to get up and go! I met Jack and Jonno down in Dundrum and before long, Dec pulled up and we all piled into his car and set off for Glendalough... PSYCHED!

It was our impression that we were running behind the guys who had stayed down in the IMC Hut the previous night. When we arrived in Glendalough we were expecting the boulders to be well warmed up, but to our surprise we were the first ones there, with the exception of Barry who met on his way out of the valley after a very early start!

So we got warmed up and finishing on 'The Rails' before we saw more boulder pads with legs wandering along the path in the distance - the troop had arrived! We all made our way over to Big Jim and played on some more bits and bobs before Tim asked: 'Trish!, Andy's Arete?'

Hell yeah!! Over we went and it was the same story as last time, I felt solid then my foot popped, time and time again. I just haven't figured it out yet and knowing the amount of problems I could potentially get on to during the day, I made myself move on from it and we went to try Rhythm and Stealth again.

Kev Power on Rhythm and Stealth (7a)

For me, I think Rhythm and Stealth was the high point of the day. Jonno nearly flashed it but his sleeve got in his way as he went for the crimp, he quickly got back on it with his sleeves rolled up and sent it. Tim looked solid but ran out of steam on the top move and had to step off the problem. Again he tried but this time peeled off the top, in slightly more spectacular style, but third time lucky, he sent it - really great effort from him!

Dec then sent Rhythm and Stealth and it seemed to me that the energy for the day was just rising and rising the whole time. John Howard then got on the sit start to Rhythm and Stealth - the much famed line 'Leftism' (7c). He had it wired and he made it look easy. Once he got the opening sequence out of the way (which was awesome to watch) and hit the start of Rhythm and Stealth there was little doubt in my mind that the problem would be topped out. He grabbed the top hold and really took his time shaking out and preparing for the top out which is pretty demanding after the long and very over hanging sequence that leads up to it. It was fantastic to see the problem being done and John sitting on the top of the boulder chuffed to bits!

This is his send:

Though there's no doubt that Leftism was the high point of his day, John didn't finish there. He ticked The Goat (7a) and F@*K All Left (7a) as well. Not a bad day at the office!!

Tim got so very close to ticking F@*K All Left, but it seemed his skin just hadn't recovered from a long day's climbing the previous Thursday and with the sharp unforgiving holds on the line, it just became too much of an ask to hold on anymore... Next time for sure!

Went up and had a go on 'The Fin' (7a+) and I remember about a year ago sitting under it and not even understanding how to get off the ground. A year ago I could barely get into the opening position of the sit start. Yesterday I could pull off the ground and make a fairly decent effort at throwing for the opening hold, so I was pleased with that.

I suppose my lack of actual projecting on any particular problem means that I'm not ticking anything at the moment, but it's nice to be experiencing small steps of progress on everything I'm trying each time I try it!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly miffed that I didn't tick anything this weekend, but as I said during the day to Tim, you can't have as much fun as the lot of us did and come away in a grump! It was a really great day.

By the time we left we were all shattered. After a quick stop at the IMC Hut to change clothes and wash hands etc we headed off to the pub and so the craic began! It was pretty tame at first, we ordered food, then all got a bit sleepy before the rest of the guys arrived and breathed new life into the night! There were loads of beers, some great moves on the dance floor and even a cartwheel display on the way home!

We got back to the hut and all sat around having great chats and I laughed so hard my cheeks were sore by the end of the night. So much fun! Though a few people were sensible (kind of) and nipped off to bed before it got really really late, Dave sent the rest of us to bed in the wee hours.

Waking up this morning was a struggle and getting out of bed was even worse! When we all finally did, and looked out the window it was not the weather we were promised. Misty rain hung in the air and everything was damp and cold.

'The rain's kind of a relief' Tim was the first to say it, and despite my disappointment, I knew he was right - we were all feeling the effects of a late night and we had all put serious effort in the day before and had no skin and aching muscles. I sat this morning in a daze at the table in the hut and realised I had no breakfast with me... reluctant to eat anything at first with my iffy stomach, I was aware that hunger would hit me at some point... It was then that a full irish breakfast was unceremoniously slapped down in front of me... I've rarely been so happy and have to say a big thank you to Tim and James for rustling it up!! Yummy!

I have to say It would have been nice to go hang out at the boulders and try some problems if it was sunny but between the hangovers and the weather the day was doomed to be a write off and as I sit here smiling as I think about Saturday and the Irish Bouldering Meet 2011, there are no feelings of remorse over not getting out today.

Yesterday had it all!
Me on The Goat (7a)

Thanks to Dec for the lift down, Tim for the psyche, James for the torch and Dave for bringing it all together!