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!