Thursday, 26 March 2009

Short Slam and grand Span miss

They say time is flying when you’re having fun and it has been a good month since I last looked at that blog. What happened since the last post?
  1. The unemployment rate has exploding in both Ireland and Scotland.
  2. Unlike the Scots, the green people had a good occasion to rejoice after their national team won their first grand slam in the 6 nations (yes they did it in 1948 too, but it was merely a triple crown since there was no Italian team and the French team was as good with an oval ball as the Ethiopians are with a curling stone).
  3. The 7th Irish bouldering meet was held in Glendalough. Unlike the previous two years, the lads seem to have enjoyed some gorgeous conditions.
  4. I missed the last two events because my wife was stuck in Hospital, giving birth to our first child, a baby boy that is already more Irish that I will ever be...

However I managed to get some climbing done since the beginning of February.

First of all, my brother came to visit us back in February and we went to check all the bouldering spots that stand within a couple of hours drive from Edinburgh. My original plan was to go to Torridon but the baby could decide to pop out anytime and our moves were reduced to short day trips. And by the way, that meant no drinking either. I guess I’ll become a really healthy boulderer. On the positive side, the weather was nearly perfect all week long and we had a good session nearly every day.
The highlight of them was Glen Clova, a glendaloughesquish valley about 2 hours drive from Edinburgh. We also went to Glen Lednock, Kilcardy and the crappy Wolfcrag, but these were definitely not as good, though Lednock deserves a couple of stars for its location. Being in Glen Clova felt like being back home (err... I mean back in Ireland). Although it is a bit of a drive, the place is really worth it. Like Glendo, I suspect the place was primly a trad-climbing venue as there seem to be some good walls around, but for the boulderer, the good stuff is the grey granite boulder scree full of silly sheep at the end of the long valley. Although it is accessed by car, it is quite remote and there was very little traffic.

Like in Glendo the problems are quite short with a lot of sloppy arêtes and crimpy walls. The landings can be dodgy but with a couple of pads and a spotter, you are usually fine. The main boulders have been developed but there is plenty more for exploration. We actually first spotted an overhanging boulder that was distinctively standing on top of another one. We climbed two problems on it including a powerful rock-over: the "Bulgarian Lift" requires a hard initial pull to get the right foot up onto the lip.
Yes, I know, it looks like he using some horrible knee ripping technique but I can assure you he’s actually standing on his right toe....

However the main attraction of the scree is probably the Peel session Boulder: a nice big fat guy with various features on its sides: bulky corner, overhang, crimpy wall, and the obligatory roof lip traverse, all with excellent grassy landing.

Dumbarton was good too. We couldn't go to the clean up because my brother arrived in Edinburgh airport on that Sunday morning. But I must say the cleaning team have made some really good work! My brother was asking why there were no painted circuits like in Font. Given the state of the place, I must say he had got a point!

By the way Niall, if you’re reading this: I managed to send Pongo sit-start with the fingers-jam as you showed me and it is definitely much easier than without: the other way I just can't stay on!

Since then my bouldering career has rapidly deteriorated. I had a few sessions at the wall with Felix Davey. We even went to the SBL (no they don’t call it like that, but it was quite similar). This was followed by a couple of showery sessions in Dumby until a week ago: when the gorgeous weather came back, I had become a dad. I am now mostly stuck with the crappy Agassiz rock. It would not be so bad if it was solid but I have realised that some big jug was missing since the last time I was there, so from now on I am going to avoid any big hold and go only for the tiny crimps. Here is a picture of a cool eliminate crimpy dyno problem that I was working on, the very same day my wife got out of hospital:

I know how the last sentence may sound so here I think I'd better mention that Agassiz rock is about 5 mn a drive from the maternity ward...

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