Four circuits in Glendalough

Late spring is the ideal time to start going some longer circuits outdoors, the ground is dry, there’s no midge and it’s a good way of training for trad climbing. The following four circuits are found in Glendalough. Of course there aren’t any arrows or markings on the rock so you will probably need the bouldering guide as a cross-reference. Buy it here.

Orange Circuit


FONT 3- 4+

Basically a beginners circuit. There is a variety of styles but none of the problems are too high or have bad landings.

• problem 4, Ruins
• problem 5, Ruins
• problem 6, Ruins
• problem 7, Ruins
• problem 8, Ruins
• problem 14, Ruins
• The Ramp, Ruins
• problem 20, Ruins
• problem 2, The Path
• problem 7, The Path
• problem 8, The Path
• problem 18 The Path
• problem 9, The Path
• problem 19, The Path
• The Layback From Wayback
• problem 52, The Path
• problem 56, The Path
• problem 54, The Path
• problem 47, The Path

Blue Circuit


FONT 5 – 5+

This circuit should test the average HVS climber to breaking point.

• Original Route
• Jim’s Problem
• Problem 1, Big Jim
• Problem 9, Big Jim
• Smear Test
• Problem 13, Big Jim
• Problem 1, Big Jane
• Problem 4, Big Jane
• The Egg
• Problem 15, The Path
• Problem 24, The Path
• Problem 25, The Path
• The Rails
• Problem 30, The Path
• Problem 51, The Path
• The Überhang

Red Circuit


FONT 6a – 6c+

Might be possible for a mere mortal to complete this. How about doing it in a day?

• The Plum
• Wallop
• White Arrow
• Quality Control
• Sidepull Slap
• Barry’s Problem
• Traverse into Greg’s Problem
• Nu Rails SS
• Superswinger
• Stand start to 2.4 Pascals
• Black Art
• Blind Stick
• Chillax
• Chuppa Chub
• Arete Right of The Fin
• King Cobra

Black Circuit

FONT > 7a+

Short but hard.

• John’s Roof
• Andy’s Arete SS
• The Groove SS
• Leftism
• The Egg SS
• Superstars Of BMX
• B.B.E.
• 2.4 Pascals SS
• The Cherry
• Dutch Gold
• The Mentalist
• The Fin SS
• Mark’s Slab


Lough Tay


I have been to Lough Tay the last two days, yesterday I just took some crag shots and scrambled around the boulders, I found a few doable looking problems with decent landings and left keen to return. Today was so nice I just had to go back with shoes and pad this time.

When you walk to the boulders from the lake the pretty much the first boulder you come to has a great problem that I did just over 12 years ago in January 2002. It’s a bit of tease as it’s one of the few problems with a decent landing in the whole place.

Today I reclimbed this problem (must give it a name), it’s around 6a, did the arete just to the left and an easy problem on either side. I brushed a few other things that felt a little hard including this brutal one mover that revolves around a pair of opposing gastons. Inevitable I left slightly less full of enhtusiams that on the first day but that’s always the way. Over the years I have occisialted between f thinking Lough Tay has massive potential and dismissing it, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

There has been a good bit of activity there lately. I saw lots of cleaned problems and I think it definitely merits a topo.

There are definitely some good problems, including the amazing line in the photo above.

New Kerry bouldering – Derrylea

Richard Creagh has climbed a half dozen really nice looking new problems in the mountains of Kerry. The bouders lie very close to the road that runs between the Black Valley and Moll’s Gap in an area called Derrylea. Richard thinks he is the first to climb on them but points on that the boulders are pretty obvious so maybe others have checked them out in the past.

Derrylea North (Google Streetview)

Derrylea North

The boulder on the north side has two low but worthwhile problems.

1. Hollow 6A SS low on the obvious ramp and head towards the prow to top out.
2. Polo 6A Start with L on lower of two jugs (marked), R on a side pull (block is out for feet). Slap to higher jug and top out the prow. A SS a bit further right would be a decent project.

Derrylea South (Google Streetview)

Derrylea South

The block on the south side of the road is taller and better. Climb down the SE arete.

1. Eastern Bloc 5+ Climb the slab on the east face.
2. Ceann Amháin Eile 6B Start on the flat ledge on the left and traverse to the big incut jug and top out.
3. Project  Start in flared hand crack, climb up and left to flat ledge (block on ground is out) and finish up the arete. Landing isn’t great.
4. Eureka  Start in the flared hand crack and head for the big incut jug (block on ground is out). Only 5 as a jump start but an excellent 6B+/6C if you don’t push off from the ground (though I didn’t actually top it out that way.
5. Project Crouch start both hands on the right arete and traverse left along the thin line. Finish up the left arete.
6. Clé Géar 6A Crouch start with both hands on the right arete and head for the top.

Learning, always learning

Or put another way making mistakes, always making mistakes.

I have two projects on the go, one is an overhanging wall down in darkest Wicklow and the other is a plumb vertical (1 degree overhanging actually) wall on tiny holds in the Quarry. With the weather and family life I have been able to get on the Quarry proj a lot more as I can be shoeing up under it 15 minutes after leaving the house. Forgive me if I’m being a little vague about the exact location of both these problems but I feel it’s best not to tempt fate.

I first tried the Quarry problem in 1998. Climbing wise I have a good memory and I never forgot about it and so last spring, after just over 15 years, I started working on it again. In ’98 I only had a few sessions on it and never made much progress. On my return I found I could still remember the holds but it didn’t feel any easier.

Through the course of last spring I had a few sessions on it. Because the holds are so tiny it’s very conditions and skin dependent. None of the holds are deeper then first joint, most are half that and you can only get two fingers at most on them and they are sharp as well.

The whole problem revolves around getting this sloping edge about 10 feet above the ground. The starting holds are decent and it’s just a matter of finding a good position to make the reach. At first I couldn’t even hit the edge but slowly I made progress. On the good days I would try what I though was THE sequence and just try and refine the technique but some days that sequence felt too hard so I would get a bit demoralised and start playing around, trying to find a different way. Now there are only 6 hand holds and 3 foot holds so there aren’t a huge number of permutations and I’d say I tried the majority of them.

Once the weather started to get a little warmer I put it on hold until the start of this winter. So far I have about half a dozen sessions. I had settled on a sequence involving a terrible pinch, I could barely hold it at the start but am now able to reach from it and slap the sloping edge. This in itself was progress but with it came the realisation that the reach would have to be done absolutely static if I wanted to stick the edge. This two steps forward, one step back progress is typical of this, and probably most, projects. You don’t really progress in a linear fashion towards your goal due to the interplay of various factors such as form, training, conditions, psyche etc, not to mention these discrete steps, both forward and back, caused by sequence revelations.

Doing the reach static from that pinch was always going to be a big ask and I started to wonder if it was out of my league. With the new energy and motivation that comes with the New Year I started to focus on getting this thing done or at least giving it my best shot, so rather than just set myself the goal of doing it I decided to set myself the goal of trying it at least 8 time in January. At the end of the month I could then assess how I was getting on.

A pattern developed where my first go was often my best, this could of been due to my skin being good. But it was a little strange. I started warming up on the finger board at home, this must of helped and when I didn’t do this it took a good few tries before my fingers felt strong which was a waste of skin. I also started using a nail file to keep my skin smooth. You have probably seen videos in which the wads spend as much time filing their skin as climbing. It really works.

In my last session I realised that the position in which I reach from makes it very difficult to keep my body close to the rock and dead still. So once again I started messing around with different methods. I tried a different sequence, moving my right hand first then my left, skipping the terrible pinch, as soon as I did this I realised that my shape was much better and that I could get a high right foot which would allow me reach statically to the edge. It was a great moment, the first time I really believed I could climb this thing. It’s not going to be easy but I think it will go. In the space of a minute I went from thinking my sequence wasn’t going to work to being pretty sure that I would be able to do it. Now for the first time I could start to anticipate what it would be like to stick that edge and break onto new ground.

I had tried that method before but it didn’t click. Maybe I wasn’t committed to it, or maybe I needed to have that little bit of extra strength, it’s hard to say. It’s not intuitive, to me at least, that the optimal sequence would involve less holds and less hand movements rather than more, especially on a problem where the holds are so marginal.

Climbing hard problems (and developing bouldering areas) is like peeling back the skin on an onion, layer by layer more gets revealed but it can’t just happened in one go, you can’t really force it. This is why I think flashes of hard problems are a real display of virtuoso, there is some many things that have to be perfect for it to happen and you only get one shot.

Now to force a conclusion and moral out of these ramblings.

- You don’t have to be a wad to adopt their tactics, doing so will serve you well.
- Bouldering, especially doing first ascents, is a thinking sport.

Irish Rock Round-up 2013 AKA Emerald Allsorts #1


Danny Barrios – O’Neill has written a round up of the last year of Irish Climbing. The first of hopefully many issues of this ezine is free to download here.

This is a great initiative by Danny, all too often in the Irish climbing scene news doesn’t spread far.

In Danny’s words

“This little e-zine was born out of a love for rock climbing in Ireland.

It’s a fledgling attempt to capture the essence of happenings on the rocks of this island in 2013, or thereabouts. Please feel free to download it, share it, print it, or host it on your website. If you like what you see, or have any feedback, then let me know either via the poll, a post, or both.

That’s about it.