Firstly I wish to mention the visit of two Austrian climbers, Connie and Alex, who had decided to start their bouldering trip around Ireland by staying a week in Portrane. I must say we were quite puzzled when they mentioned it and we advised them to shorten their stay in Portrane and quickly move to the West. And for anyone else planning to visit Ireland, I reiterate my advice: although Portrane has a good bit of bouldering, it is clearly not your main destination and does not deserve a full week of your time. Donegal, Connemara and Kerry have much more to offer in term of rock quality and variety of landscape!
Two new problems were added at the Arch: I personally finally sent an old project linking Girls on film / Planet Earth to the Ear via the Arch. (See previous post) Although none of the moves is harder than 6c, it constitutes a long sustained traverse which I named the French Connection. This will have hopefully got me fitter and my traverse project in Clare should soon enough become the French Connection II. (For those who have never seen these films, go and rent the DVDs, they are much more entertaining than any climbing video). Michael Duffy added a new problem to the left of Planet Earth / Girls on Film: Sit-start under the roof using a small side pull left hand and the stone ledge for your feet (sometimes buried in the sand). Slap over the lip of the roof to an edge and go up left to a catchy in-cut.
Michael also succeeded where many others had previously failed: he managed to flash X-men, the tricky roof problem that was once described by the Portrane bouldering guru Kevin Cooper as the un-flashable problem. However it was not clearly established if Michael's foot freded* the ground or not. Moreover Michael seems to have climbed X-men using his knee, a method that, although that is perfectly acceptable, can be considered as terribly ugly among proper climbers. Kevin advised Michael to shape up a bit and climbed the line the properly. I managed to take a little video on my phone:
It should however be mentioned that Michael was probably tired from the hard work he has put on the Arch: As I mentioned in a previous post Michael has cleaned the upper part of the Arch and has worked out most of the moves to the top brown jug. So if Mr Weather finally decides to settle down a bit, it should not be long before that stunning line gets linked. By the way Michael has also climbed a new 8a in the Scalp called Switch. He said that the first move is the hardest, (a tough far slap) but the rest gets easier... I cannot but agree with him!
In the Alley, I added a sit-start just left of Andy's Problem: from a low undercut , deadpoint to the top end of the ramp and top out to the left as per the ramp. For the bolder finish, go straight up through the high overhang (spotter highly recommended).
There was also a good few sessions in the Pit to try the sit-start to Mr Topsy Turvy. This is the low roof indicated has a project in the guide. That problem has actually been done by both Michael Duffy and Rob Hunter and is clearly harder than 7a when you start with both hands on the roof undercut. And for those who feel really strong, there is an even harder project to the right: starting under the roof as well, use two wrongly oriented sharp hold and slap really far out to the right to link onto the big ledge of Mr Silly.
Finally I spent an evening Clogerhead back in June: I found a nice traverse not far from Alice in Crimperland. The Spine follows a long spiky break line from the left to the right. I also found a nice vertical wall with a few crystal crimps. I climbed a couple of problems on it but they do not top out as the wall is fairly high. They would definitely be better climbed as some little routes or alternatively deep water solos (although I have not checked the waterline at high tide.)*to fred: this term intends to refer to Swiss climber Fred Nicole who claimed a first ascent although this FA climb got clearly affected by the fact that he had been involuntary "pushed" by one of his spotters. Anyone who knows the exact story, please do not hesitate to stick it in the comments.