First time

I’ve been leading trad for few seasons now but I actually never taken a lead fall on gear yet. Well, not up untill yesterday.

While I whipped it out on bolts many times before, both in the gym and outdoors I never got to ‘test’ my own gear placements in the way they are meant to ve. “It’s probably because you don’t push yourself hard enough” – I was told once by one of my climbing partners.  I like to think it just because I’m always extra careful. Unfortunately that said friend is probably right. I rarely go out of my comfort zone. I could count my above Hvs leads on fingers of one hand… 

This particular fall wasnt terribly bad, as a matter of fact it was as clean as they come. 

For this outing, despite all the wind and cold I managed to convince Pedro, Diarmuid and Paul to join me.  We split into 2 teams and decided to climb around Forrest ledge. 

One the way to the valley

Due to really bad weather (single digits temp and  cold wind) we practically had entire wall to ourselves. It was just  a matter of finding joy in all of it. 

 I won’t be getting into details of all the climbs we did as there wasn’t much going on really. We quickly got into the FL where Diarmuid lead a route called Ifreann Direct (Hvs 5b) in Glendalough is a special one. A perfect finger crack, thin at the bottom and widening as it progresses. Pedro was with him, while Paul and I went up to the left to look at the VSs up there. 

Diarmuid on Ifreann Direct HVS

 It was Paul’s lead now so he picked one of the VS lines(Aisling Arette) and off he went. 

Paul running it out with style

After we were done we went down to the route the boys just did and they took our spot. 

My lead. I only have 2 small cams and already cold fingers.  Oh well. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll fall. I did. 

3 Lobes cam. Half way up Ifreann Direct. HVS 5b

The route started pretty well. There is a stuck permanent pro off the ground, I placed my smallest Grey Bd next and then I was able to alternate the only other 2 cams that fitted the crack. Despite the fact it was my first Hvs of the season I felt strong. This over confidence is what got me down. I was already passed  what I considered the Crux, relaxed too much and my feet blew. By the time I realized I was falling I was already stopped. The green BD cam supported my weight only being engaged by 3 of its lobes. That is reassuring. 

I quickly recovered and finished the climb. Paul followed with no problems whatsoever. He is 10 years my junior  and already much stronger and more experienced than I’ll ever be. Sometimes I wish I discovered climbing earlier in my life. 

As we were abseiling to the ground  the other group were fighting with stuck rope. It’s never fun. They won the fight without having to going back up and quickly joined us at the base. 

Despite pretty bad conditions it was a great day out (at least both Paul and I think so). I’ve learned  lot about myself, my weaknesses and strengths and the fact that pushing one’s limits, one step at a time can also be fun. 

Of course today is over 20C, full sun and perfect conditions, but I had no 1 to go out with. Oh well. 


Back on the rock!

When Diarmuid messaged me up yesterday to see what I was up to for the weekend I immediately knew there is an adventure on the horizon! He isn’t a type of person that wasts words on chit-chats.

With weather shaping up to be in mid teens both Sat & Sun it was just matter of picking a destination. He suggested a small trad crag in Wicklow called Barnbawn. According to the guidebook  it is “Sheltered, sun-catching, quick-drying and low-lying, this crag has routes ranging from Diff. to E1. All this and only 15 minutes from the road. Not being a mountain crag a visit at any time of the year is feasible”. I actually never been there before, so it was an easy call.

We showed up relatively late (to make sure the sun is high up on the sky) and started the short approach.


After some 20 mins walk in a nice sunny weather we showed up at the bottom of the rock. It’s not impressive by any means, but good enough for 1/2 day climbing.

Quick look into the guidebook and we identified our picks. The goal was to at least do * marked ones in VS range.


I marked them on the picture above. Diarmuid picked the first, warmup one, marked yellow, right side of the picture.

  •  SWING LOWE *     12m     HS    (4b)
    “Start at the foot of the chimney. Struggle up the chimney to where it widens below the overhang. Move left up a slab and pull around the overhang at its left edge. Climb up the slab to a belay.” – description says ‘struggle up the chimney’ – it really IS awkward!

    D getting into the chimney of Swing Lowe.

After that I led the other 3 routes (not without little struggles) in following order:

  •   LINEKER *     13m     VS    (4b) – Yellow, most left of the picture.
    “This climb take the slightly overhanging crack running up the righthand side of the nose. Climb directly to the start of the crack, which is climbed, with a move left to finish.” – It is really a 1 move wonder, although a very interesting one, pulling up on very overhanging bit right of the nose.
  • BONSAI *    16m     VS    (4c) – Green, middle right.
    “Start at the foot of the right-hand edge of the wall, just down from Saw Doctors. Climb the edge of the steep wall on good holds and gain the upper slab near its lowest point (a runner here will protect the second from a possible big swing). From the slab follow the narrow crack, passing the tree with care.” – The crux is definitely getting to the tree – the holds are there, but one have to really commit to get to them.
  • THE SAW DOCTORS *    15m     VS    (4c) – Red, middle left. 
    “Start as for An Grianán. Climb the first 3m of the corner to the top of the block, below a sloping ledge on the wall. Pull up onto the ledge and then make awkward moves straight up to a higher ledge. From here continue up the steep wall above, finishing at the highest point of the wall. Small wires useful for protection.” – probably the best climb of the day. I have a feeling i might have gone a bit more than 3m of the corner. Still good moves on small gear.

    Looking up The Saw Doctors – probably the best route of the day.

Unfortunately for the blog, Diarmuid isn’t really a camera carrying type, so there aren’t many more shots (also with a team of 2 it’s rather difficult to take good shots from proper angles).

Looks like the weather will hold up tomorrow through entire Leinster province, hence we are planning a trip to Ballykeefe Quarry in Kilkenny.  A very rare occasion of outdoors bolt clipping in Ireland!


Tour the Wicklow

What’s better than going on a motorbike around your local area?
Getting your friends to come along on their bikes as well!

Thanks Louis, Darren, Dave, Mat & Ewa for a great Saturday morning!


As usual, click the photo below for the link to the album.20160723_101433



Bell Rock, co. Wicklow

Jirka is a type of a person that doesn’t like to sit idle. There is always something going on, and it tends to be unique. During last week’s trip to The Burren we were already discussing what to do following weekend. He told me about this mythical, unique place in co. Wicklow – Bell Rock. What’s so unique about it, you say? It is a bolted crag. Yes. You didn’t misread it. Bolts are used to protect the climber. In Ireland.

There aren’t to many places like that in this country. I’d say you can count them on the fingers of one hand. And one of them is just a stone’s throw from where we live!

All the details about location, approach and rock itself as well as the routes can be found on the wiki, so please go there to read more.

I’ll just add that the place is pretty much roadside, however bit sketchy in terms of moving around, so caution should be exercised (there is actually a fixed rope at the base of the crag to allow safe(er) traversing along the base). But even so, when it’s wet – it is very easy to slip there.

Before I go on about our adventure, I’ll just say that I’m rather disappointed in the fact that the new Google Photos service (the descendant of Picassa) doesn’t actually offer photo embedding (that would allow me to link them here, directly to the blog). Because of that I have to change the way I write these blogs (or re-upload all the photos to other hosting server).
I’ve chosen to write couple of words here and then send you, my reader directly to the album, where photos will have descriptions, hopefully giving you idea what’s what.

Anyway – we weren’t planning on climbing much, and realistically speaking from 8 routes out there, we could only do maybe 3 (on a good day), so we decided to meet late, and do 1/2 day out there. It was a good idea, as it was raining most of the morning, pretty much all the way until we got there (around 1pm).

The rock was pretty wet, approach sketchy, but sure it was a good fun. It’s not a place to go back to every week, but definitely something worth going to every now and then.


I invite you now to check out the album here or by clicking on the above photo. Click on individual photos within the album for descriptions.