Was getting back into training over the past few weeks, having a pretty good training session with Ron this evening when I pulled onto a problem, turned my head to look at the next hold and felt a searing pain between my spine and my left shoulder blade.
It is not developed to it's potential, and it's potential seems vast to me.
Eoin and I arrived in Crone Carpark before sort of guessing our way towards the boulders - there was a map in the carpark that kind of pointed us in the direction we wanted to go. The day was gloriously sunny and warm and Raven's Glen is beautiful.
Dave, Tom and John were all much further up the way when Eoin and I arrived at the 'Motherload' boulder. (Names of problems and boulders may not be exactly right, as my memory for these things isn't great and I've no reference at hand)
We decided to stay at the initial boulder and warm up before heading up the glen to meet the guys. The arete along the side, that Dave Ayton has given a grade of 6a, is lovely. It a good clean obvious line that begs to be climbed - but alas, we kept greasing off the top of it... Despite the sunshine and warmth in the air being completely idillic, bouldering requires the cold and a breeze - great craic, but no send for me.
Eoin climbed 3/4 of the way up the arete and exited to the right onto a scrittley and uncleaned slab face, that again, has buckets of potential, but in it's current state, doesn't look too inviting - traffic please!!
I kept a very close eye on his feet as he climbed - knowing full well that anything he put his foot onto on that face could just as easily crumble away. He stayed sure footed though, and topped it out.
We marched on up to meet Dave and the guys and they all seemed to be off on their own, running around trying to find new boulders, new lines, or trying to grab first ascents. There was a serious buzz about the place. Eoin and I joined in immediately, looking around for new stuff.
I think that for the moment, that's the way Raven's Glen should be treated. Until it's developed to saturation point, one should always be looking for new stuff.
The place is littered with new stuff.
Eoin spotted a seriously low ball compressiony line and sat under it for a while, but struggled to find a way off the ground. I gave up pretty quickly and headed off to try an arete that Tom and John were working on. I nabbed what Dave tells me is the second ascent of that arete and was pretty chuffed. It's a great problem. Dave reckons is goes at about 6a. I agree.
I dunno if it has a name yet.
We did several little arete problems around that area, all of which were worth climbing. There's a particular block beside a holly bush that is just a lovely looking bit of rock. It requires one's knee to be in one's ear for the sit start and has one slightly strenuous yard off the ground before a slap up a very giving arete and then a high heel rock over.
Nice easy climbing. Again, goes at about 6a.
Dave has shown us his 'only just sent' project 'Pallets by Candlelight' (I think he called it) and it's top quality rock.
Just to reiterate - TOP QUALITY ROCK.
I looked and I liked what I saw but felt I could gain more enjoyment out of sending it another day. Yesterday was about exploring and seeing. That line is one I'll very much look forward to going back to. It's highball with beautifully formed holds and the rock looked perfect when we got there, though I got the impression Dave was there before dawn cleaning it.
The lads tell me it's not too difficult, but that's not the point. By the look of it (and I haven't even pulled onto it), it has the potential of being one of the best quality 6a boulder problems in Wicklow.
John went off for a wander and returned with good news. He'd stumbled upon a roof.
'Like Chillax' he said.
'Let's go there' we replied!
The lads set off up the glen, past the water fall and towards the main face. Eoin and I ventured off to the left to check out some of the blocks and faces about the place. We had a quick scout and waded through heather etc. There's little doubt in my mind that a more detailed recce would expose even more problems to go.
We followed the lads up to the roof.
Jackpot! And Tom sent the easy and obvious line as an opener. About 6a he said. We all followed him up it. Lovely!
He added an extension to it.
And a further extension still. Maybe it might be 6a+ now. He called it 'Karaoke Nightmare' I believe.
John worked away at a harder line just to the left of the exit of 'Karaoke Nightmare'. Again, it looked lovely, but I was wasted tired and had nothing left in the tank. John reckoned it went at about 6c+/7a? It looked it anyway.
Dave had told me to climb through a cavey craic at the back of the roof and look at the potential Hard Line that slopes backwards at over 45 degrees. The climbing looks amazing on it, but half the battle might well be avoiding the block on the ground, dab wise, below.
We were all tired and headed back towards the car.
Dave insisted we come and look at his 'Dragon Wall' problems. It's a face of about 3 or 4 potential lines. Dave's done 2 or 3 of them I think.
The first one is called 'Albi' and the second is called 'Trogdor'. Lovely face climbs, but my skin had had it at that stage. I sent 'Albi' and then I was sure I'd had enough. My feet hurt, my body was tired and my skin was wrecked. John sent another couple of the lines and we were all happy enough to crack on back further towards the carpark.
Dave's enthusiasm is infectious and as we past the 'Motherload' boulder again, he was psyched to see us all try his lines with his beta at hand.
There were some gems of advice that he gave and despite throwing my shoes on once again, and attempting to climb the arete I'd started on earlier in the day, and getting further on it than I had in the morning, my body said no at the top out.
John sent the sitstart extension to the line and it was pretty much time to call it a day. I was wasted and my legs felt unstable and untrustworthy as we walked out.
My exhaustion was soon to be remedied though as Dave invited us all back to his new gaf which overlooks the glory of most of wicklow!! Somebody get that man a good set of binoculars for his birthday so he can find more lovely boulders whilst sitting at his kitchen table!!
Caroline had tea and homemade scones and apple pie waiting for all 50 of us that came back. We were all tired and sore and the tea and cake was like heaven.
Dave and Caroline: Legends.
We all sat in Dave's sitting room and watched footage of John taking a massive drop off 'Pallets by Candlelight'.
The day was spectacular and will go down as one of the finest days of bouldering fun I've had in Wicklow.
We planned to set off early, we'd be on the road for 9am, on a Saturday morning... That's pretty early.
When the time came though, a far more leisurely approach was adopted and we were in the car on the way down to see Barry and Niamh in Cork with an eta of about 1pm.
The drive down to Cork is a boring one of straight motor way and very few views to distract from the seemingly endless road ahead. The weather was mental as we drove in and out of pelting rain showers only to be met by the sunniest of warm sunshine at the exit of each one.
A mixture of salsa music and dubstep kept us entertained as we drove...
It was Patrick's Day when we got to Cork and on arrival Barry made us coffee (best I can remember ever tasting - I don't really drink coffee, but that stuff was gorgeous!). We strolled into town and Eoin and I were pretty hungry and looking forward to lunch - actually I was approaching being delirious and was pretty much on autopilot!!
We dropped in to annoy Niamh in work and said hello before heading off and grabbing soup and sandwiches in the 'Market Lane' cafe (french onion soup was yummy as recommended by Niamh!).
We were pretty psyched to see the English market, but I suppose they thought better of opening it on Paddy's Day, as there were a good few shaky looking people and even more hyper active heads roaming the streets.
We went and grabbed a pint and watched the match.
That evening we were treated to helicopter flying lessons and homemade candyfloss back at Barry and Niamh's place, great craic. Indian food was ordered in and we all chilled out before Sunday...
Eoin, Barry and I headed towards the Gap of Dunloe for some bouldering and the weather was nothing short of mint. It was sunny and it was chilly AND there was a breeze/wind.
In your face rain!
I don't remember ever being there before. As we approached; the tops of Macgillacuddy Reeks were covered in snow and that - as well as the vibrant greens of the lower hills and fields which were set off by the splitting sunshine in a clear blue sky, pretty much had my jaw on the floor!! It's stunning down there.
Now, just when I thought things couldn't get any more perfect, Barry parked his car about 20 yards away from the boulder we'd 'warm up' on. The other two boulders were about 50-100 yards away.
The rock in The Gap is superb and the moves we tried yesterday were fantastic. Barry and Eoin both warmed up on 'The Right Arete' (6a) but I found my fingers were instantly frozen and numbed on contact with the rock. In an attempt not to lose face, I over gripped and wrenched something in my forearm. That was about 'attempt 5' for me and the lads had put the line away pretty easily.
The blood rushed back to my finger tips way too quickly and I found myself in a ball on the ground as I suffered from what Juan later told me was a good dose of 'hot aches'.
After normal sensation returned to my fingers, I turned my attention to the line Eoin had moved onto. 'Roadkill' (6b+) is a gem. The line starts at the same point as 'The Right Arete' but traverses along the face of the block before exiting in the middle of the gradually arching line at the top.
The moves seem improbable and off balance, but they work beautifully. Barry seemed to campus his way along and I was taken aback at the power that might be required to send the line. When Eoin and I began to work it though - Barry showed us a few heel hooks and took us through the hand sequences. Holding the 'barn door' before a pop of the top is the move on that line and it'll have to wait for another day as I began to throw myself at it and started slipping off the line for no good reason.
My flexibility was a huge asset when attempting to climb it.
We rocked up to the Hex Boulder afterwards and tried 'Marcel's Problem' (6c). Again... Brilliant. I shocked myself a little, at being well able for the first moves and in fact, getting all the moves on it by the end of the session. I simply didn't have to umph to put it all together though.
Eoin, Juan and I took turns spotting Barry on his project and he was looking solid on it. Once again, I found myself standing in front of a fantastic looking block which had wonderful moves on it. I think the guys said they thought the problem went at about 7b+/7c and to be honest, it look every inch of it!! I can't see it in the guide, so I'm guessing it was done post publishing.
Safe to say, we were all shattered after the day and we didn't even get to the Black Valley. Our muscles ached and myself and Eoin had the skin on our hands torn to shreds!
We drove back to Barry's place and had a quick cup of coffee before hitting the road back to Dublin.
Thanks so much Barry and Niamh for a fantastic weekend, it was so much fun staying with you guys!! Candyfloss, Helicopter flying, and stunning bouldering in the most beautiful of settings. Best Paddy's weekend ever!!
Psyche has returned.
The Kerry Bouldering Meet is on in about 3/4 weeks.
I'll be there.
Come on Sunshine!!!
Now... how do I get to the Co op again... it sure has been a while!
It wasn't about climbing, though climbing is always on the cards... Obviously.
This time, Font was about having fun. I wanted to climb, but I didn't care about projects or grades, I didn't even care that it rained and we couldn't climb.
I cared hugely about the friends I was with and the fun that we might have.
Climbing came in a distant second.
It intrigued me that I felt that way. Every other trip to Font I've had (and this is trip 6 not 7, as I'd thought before) has been about climbing hard and getting projects done or at least progressing on them.
It was the end of November when I began to work at my new job. My mind had a distorted and disillusioned view of working as a 'Designer'. Those last guys in the place I worked before had me out photographing buses and taking note of the adverts in Brown Thomas Carpark - that wasn't what I spent 4 rather grueling years in college for. I don't care what type of recession we have going on in this country, design is not photographing the sides of buses on a holiday snap camera, and I don't buy into the idea that I should 'just be happy to have a job'
Before, I didn't want to go to work, I didn't care about the job and mostly I wasn't needed. Whenever I could, I'd be climbing. When I got my month off between ending my previous job and starting my current gig I was training like a lunatic for my trip away with the A-Team. That trip away was only about how hard I could climb, and I didn't let myself down. In fact, considering how weak I was as a gymnast, I surprised myself at how hard I could pull and move on the rock. The trip was full of difficult sends and friendly evenings of chats, good food made by a crew of gentlemen before early bedtimes. Climbing totally filled in the gap I had while design wasn't there.
This job is different to the last one. They need me. I'm designing. The hours are long and I love it. It's the reason I spent 4 years studying design. I've realised once again that I love being creative.
Quite simply, I don't have time to train as hard as before. I don't mind though.
I've just read Dave's blog post on the Irish Bouldering Scene and I think it's time (seeing as he mentions me in it) to talk about the talk I did.
I was delighted that anyone showed up, however, as delighted as I was to see people arriving, I was just as disappointed that the place wasn't full of all the climbers I know, and who revel in taking the piss out of me. It totally knocked the wind out of my sails. I'll never do another. I've no idea why I agreed to do that one. The talk was supposed to centre around how great the bouldering scene is... I made a quick change and instead spoke about lines I've climbed as not a single 'boulderer' showed up.
I'm under no illusion that I've anything astonishing to say about climbing, I don't climb 9a and haven't been to far flung places and nearly died... but that's not the point. There have been talks I've gone to, and others I've given a miss, and I don't blame anyone for not coming to mine. There was nothing remotely inspiring or even interesting about what I said that evening... but I suppose 'talks' gather their momentum and take their shape from the listeners as much as much as the from what the person has prepared. My talk could have been great and memorable if boulderers had come along. But none did, so it was totally crappy.
My trip to Font this time punctuated the end of a period of climbing for me. I've realised recently that it'll always be there, because no one can take it away, but that I do have a passion for design and most importantly that:
I'm taking at least a couple of weeks off. I meant to go climbing this morning with Dec, but I slept through my alarm, a text and a call from him, a call from my Dad and finally another text. I definitely needed the 13/14 hours sleep I got last night, and though there was a pang of disappointment when I woke at midday having missed out the opportunity to head out to Wicklow and enjoy climbing with a friend and the gorgeous weather, I also know that my brain and body were wasted after last week's efforts in work.
I landed off the plane on Monday and got a lift all the way home from Peter Tom. Legend.
I dropped my bags and headed straight to work to finish a pretty huge and intense project. It felt like I didn't leave the office until I did leave it on Friday evening. My head was so mushed.
Font seemed like it happened about a month ago. I can't believe I was in Paris last Monday morning.
Michael prepares coffee on Peter Tom's espresso stove yoke.
The gite was amazing and the centre of our trip as the rain was unrelenting. Misty sheets fell almost continuously and we hung out, played table tennis and had a laugh. The place was huge and I nabbed a massive double room all to myself. Totally over the top and decadent luxury for a climbing trip.
There were 10 of us in the place and it never felt remotely full.
Sure enough when the weather did turn in our favour we jumped into cars and headed to 95.2. Three sessions there on a hand full of dry problems left the group yearning for a different location.
I'd never really had time for 95.2 before, I thought it was a little lacking or something...
I was properly introduced to it this trip and it's bloody brilliant. there were about 5 beautiful 6c/7a climbs that I wasn't near strong enough to climb this trip. There were all quality and when ever my psyche does return to get training and get strong again, I'll very much look forward to trying those lines again.
95.2 is officially great!
Dec and Pierre arrived in late on day 2 and most of us waited up to meet them. They got in at about midnight (maybe later) and Pierre immediately demanded to know where Michael was sleeping and suddenly Michael wasn't asleep anymore!
The group was so much fun and despite poor conditions I was mostly laughing all the time. It was me, Tim, James, Shane, Dec, Dave and Peter as well as Diarmuid who I hadn't seen in AAAGES, never remember meeting Michael before, had only met Pierre once and when everyone was there and we were all hanging out, I was lucky enough to find myself as content as can be!
This arete was the only thing I was totally psyched on sending. It's beautiful. We arrived at it in Isatis on our last day which became MINT as the morning turned into the afternoon. The climbing on this was so beautifully balancy and then a sudden change of pace was required as our beta included a jump for the top which I nearly hung no less than 5 times. Tim and Diarmuid both sent it.
I wanted to climb well that day but timing let me down.
I did what I could, and chilled out for stuff that was too tough. Great day and Isatis is gorgeous as always.
While he was in Font, Pierre gave stunning renditions of 'Voyage Voyage' by Desireless remixed with various Jacques Brel songs. Where else would you hear it!