Lough Dan

Was in a very sunny Lough Dan yesterday with Dec and Mark. Dec did Tony’s Arete pretty handy and made it look easy when it fact its not. Went by the Main Crag and discovered a pretty long roof problems – 12m of climbing maybe – hard to believe it hasn’t been done or at least tried before. Will be hard, felt like 4 or 5 very steep 6b/6c problems in a row. Might also be pretty sheltered from the rain.

Gap Of Dunloe Climbing Meet

Had the pleasure of the Gap Of Dunloe climbing meet last weekend. We drove down via Mallow rather than Limerick, not sure if it was the quickest route, it took around 4.5 hours. Had a few pints in Kate and another few tins around the fire at the campsite before getting to bed, woke up in the morning to misty weather but it was quickly burnt off by the sun.  Headed up through the Gap to the Black Valley, meet Michael and Chris who pointed us at a boulder very close to the road that Michael had found the day before. Incredible boulder, two brilliant lines on immaculate stone. Steep with lovely holds. I managed the left problem after a battle of a topout.  Really enjoyed getting on the problem before the others and figuring out the beta for myself. I wanted to call it Sherpa Tensing for the following reasons. (I know Michael did the FA so I have no rights in this regard)

– I didn’t bring a pad on the trip and didn’t carry one up to this boulder, thus I availed of a sherpa service from the other.
– Michael climbed the problem first, I did it second. Tenzing was second man up Everest and was always reffered to as “… and Sherpa Tenzing”
– There is a cut loose move, probably the crux, that requires some serious ab tension.
– Wordplay is important

I got some good shots on this boulder, that might make the guide so I’m not going to post them. I will put some up from the B-roll. To start the day with such a great problem was very nice and set the mood nicely. The right hand line was also great but too hard for me.

Lovely incut edges on a very smooth overhanging plane, indoor style – no problem for the coop-ites. I was a bit disappointed though to think that I had driven past the boulder a few times and not spotted its potential but thats the way it goes.

Walked into Lough Reagh then. Sun was very hot at this stage, the ground was as dry as it gets, the walkin takes about 10 minutes. Diarmiud and I checked a few very steep roofs but they didn’t add up – one had a bad landing and other was chossy.

Everyone got on Rock ‘n Lock and the consensus was its a classic. Then on to Boneyard, which got 2 ascents from sitting – Michael notice a heel toe cam that seemed to help – and the standing start got another few ascents.

The Jurgen Myers boulder above Boneyard got a few ascents, it has a nice steep roof around the back with maybe 3 decent problems on it.

We walked out checked out another block Michael and Chris found the day before. Did a nice, if a little eliminate arete. On the way back to the Gap we checked out more problem beside the forest, we found some very impressive boulders but no  bouldering of note.

On Sunday we went straight to the Turnpike Rocks in the Gap, warmed up on the pocket problem on the Hex and then everyone tried Edge of the Onion which is a great and long problem with a tricky topout, the route climbers probably have an advantage on it with their stamina.

 Then did more exploring further down the valley, lots of big boulders but again no bouldering.

Found the nice traversing wall that Ivan had mentioned to me last year, its opposite the Watchtower Area about five minutes off the road between the two lakes. The main traverse looks very nice and very hard. We didn’t go to the Watchtower as there is no agreed access but their was chalk on it.

Great weekend. Would be keen to hear what other people think of the bouldering in the Gap and the Black Valley, good problems, whats worth putting in/leaving out etc. We never made it up to the boulders below the Main Crag has anyone been up there and what did they think of them?


Should a star system be included in the guide? Currently there isn’t one. The idea behind one would be to direct people to the best problems quickly and easily. The disadvantage for me is that its another – after grading – attempt to absoultely quantify the unquantifiable. As in grading democracy doesn’t tend to work, unless you have a hugely popular area like Font and a website like bleau.info with a system to capture votes on grades or quality, the sample size is always going to be too small and easily distorted. So the reality is that a star system would largely represent the opinion of the author which is fine but I think it would missell so manyproblems in some peoples eyes that it might do more hard than good. The approach I favour is that of mentioning in an introduction to an area some of the standout classics and also saying in the description of a problem if it is of particularly high or low quality.
I also have plans for a list of the top 100 or 200 problems.
Assuming one would use a system like this:

*** very very nice problem one of the best in the country
** very nice problem, one of the best in the area
* worth climbing
0 probably not worth climbing

What would people think should be the spread between the ratings? Say in Glendo – or choose elsewhere – what percentage of problems should be in each category

"Wicklow Recreational Strategy" and bouldering

A report was recently published on Wicklow Recreational Strategy and it has a few small mentions of bouldering in it.

A thriving membership

Most activities had clubs that were based in the county and were knowledgeable about and sensitive to access issues. This helped to reduce any potential for conflict in the use of the resource. The majority of clubs reported a significant increase in membership over the past 2 years, with triathlon, mountain biking, bouldering, canoeing, kayaking and orienteering reporting particular growth.” page 26

Size and relative importance

An activity did not need to have a large number of adherents for its presence in Co. Wicklow to be important at a national level. For some less mainstream activities, the review revealed the importance of Co. Wicklow as a venue. An example is bouldering and for this activity, Co. Wicklow presents an ideal environment. Other less well known activities showed a high growth trend, including coasteering, cliff jumping and triathlon. Clubs reported that younger people are in particular drawn to these kinds of activities.” page 26

You can download the full PDF document here.

There is also a much bigger report (206 pages) titled “Development of the County Wicklow Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2009-20013″ which also has a section about bouldering:

“Bouldering has been defined as a style of rock climbing and boulder routes were commonly reffered to as ‘problems’ Typically the nature of the climb was short and akin to problem solving in character. Generally bouldering was practised close to the ground, thus eliminating the need for safety equipment such as harnesses, ropes and helmets etc. Bouldering often involved sidways traversing¬† as well as vertical climbing. Its focus was on individual moves or short sequences of moves that demanded bursts of intense energy rather than endurance.

Co. Wicklow was a popular location for bouldering activties with Lough Dan, Glendalough, Mall Hill, Glenmacnass, Glendassan and Lough Bray reported as popular locations, with many users considering Glendalough to be the best bouldering area in Ireland. Glenmacnass had about eighty established ‘problems’ and Glendasan valley just north of Glendalough was home to Ireland’s hardest ‘problem’ nand Lough Dan, Mall Hill and Lough Bray were all smaller venues in the county.
Although bouldering has been around as a form of climbing for many years, it was only recently that the sport has seen huge growth and development both in Ireland and overseas.

Key locations in for bouldering in Co. Wicklow: Glebdalough, Glenmacnass, Lough Dan, Lough Bray and Mall Hill

You can download the report here.

The upper slopes of Camaderry

Diarmuid and I spent yesterday trekking up down and across the rocky slopes of the north side of Camaderry. We saw a lot of rock, more than I have seen in a long time, the fire of Summer 2007 really cleaned the place up and the going is quite easy at the moment with no ferns and very low heather.

We climbed a bit, found a few things that we will definetly get back to. The rock quality was quite variable but was never brilliant.

The walk-in isn’t that bad and for anyone who values and takes pleasure is first ascents there are some decent problems up there. Its never going to be that popular with the masses but that’s their loss.

We finished up our climbing at Back to Black, Peter Tom’s problem above the Miner’s Track, with its fiendishly awkward topout.

Sadly I lost my favourtie green scrubbing brush somewhere along the way. Please keep an eye out for it, might have left it at the “2 Rocks” boulder. It looks like this.

Portrane – you don’t have to be mad to climb their but it helps

Only messing. Was in Portrane today for the first time in years. Weather looked dodge on the way but it brightened up soon after we arrived. We arrived about 1.5 hours after low tide. The Arch was very wet with seepage, the Alley was damp but was drying fast, Pirates Cove was dry in places very wet from seepage in other and Ground Zero and the Pit were bone dry. Considering we have have had a reasonably wet winter this kind of flies in the face of the theory that Portrane is a summer only venue.

I went through some of the descriptions of the problems in the guide and to be honest some are worse than useless. Due to the nature of the rock the lines are often dictated by holds rather than features this can make problem descriptions vague and tiresome “get the undercut with the left and slap up to the edge for the right from there reach the jug”. Which begs the question is it worth detailing all of these problems? For example the Arch seems to be a choc a bloc with loads of traverses link ups and variations, who wants/needs these? The grades aren’t very accurate and would depend on the exact line taken, are the names used?

Some of our party were quite impressed with Portrane having never been to some of the areas before. It definitely has something to offer, its an interesting physical style in contrast to the more friction dependent granite to the north and south. Surely its worth more than one page, maybe loose alot of the link ups and variations?

But how much details should it get?
Should problems be detailed in Ground Zero?
Are the Pigeon Holes worth including?

The slopes of Three Rock

Many years ago I got tipped off by my almost namesake Darragh Flanagan that the quarries on the lower slopes of Three Rock might contain some bouldering, I didn’t think much of it at the time but obviously stored it away deep in memory. A while ago I was using Bing Map’s birds eye view and checked out Three Rock and some of the quarries that pockmark Three Rock seemed to offer some potential.

Yesterday I went to check them out. There are lots of mountain bike tracks but no bouldering. So now you know.

This is a small wall that could have one problem on it. Its beside the road mast east of the bottom edge of the Ticknock Forest. Its just a small mantle from the horizontal break and is completely not worth checking out.

This arete looks good but the rock is absolute choss unfortunantly. Its in the small quarry just beside the entrance to the Stonemasons beside the Blue Light.

This is the Stonemason’s working quarry.


Just did this up. I like the idea of blurring the boundary between action photos and topos, this photo while not great – what is Ped looking at and where are his shoes? – illustrates what I’m trying to do. Going to be a thick book if I do them all like this though. I think it works well.

Dalkey Quarry bouldering

I’m trying to decide how much of the quarry bouldering to have in the guide. In the latest web edition of the guide I have a photo topo for Ivy Wall and the Traverse Wall in the West Quarry. Ivy Wall is definitely going to get in. Not sure about the traverse wall, is there any need to spell out the problem there, they are pretty obvious and not that popular.

I could detail every problem in the quarry, the Dalkey route guide has quite a bit more detailed bouldering, but I’m not sure it makes sense. Firstly the bouldering in Dalkey isn’t very good, secondly I’m not sure if anyone would use it much (locals or visitors).

Maybe an option would be to put the full definitive guide on the web and just feature Ivy Wall in the guide?