Before this week, Raven's Glen was untapped.
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.