|Some of the delights of Owey Island pic - Ronnie Smith|
(Paul) It has been pretty hectic over the last few months. Settled weather and keeping a clear diary has resulted in lots of climbing trips to places like Fair Head, the Mournes, Spain and some Donegal islands - well, Owey in particular. The (slight) downside to this is no time in front of the computer to write up these little adventures - just a few Bookface updates here and there!
|Climbed a few 7Cs in Margalef!|
What I did hear this week is that Rab are going to start sponsoring me with some gear! It's pretty cool to now be associated with one of the biggest manufactures of outdoor clothing in the UK and Ireland. They have promised some bright colours so the pictures should be good - I'm just going to have to work on doing some cool stuff while I'm wearing it now!
Back to climbing and what has been going on. Going back a few months I organised a 10 day youth climbing trip to Siurana and Margalef in Spain for 10 youth climbers from all over Ireland. 10 days, 10 youth and some of the best sport climbing in the world = being totally knackered! Youth climbing in Ireland is in a great place at the minute, lots of coaches putting the effort in and plenty of opportunities to put their climbing wall skills to practice on real rock as well! The Spanish trip was brilliant and it marked my last trip as Mountaineering Ireland youth development officer - although saying that, I am taking 18 kids away to the Burren next week but freelance this time. Many thanks to Ricky Bell, Michelle O'Loughlin and everyone at MI.
|Climbing on Raven Crag, Langdale on the BMG Rock 1 training. pic Adrian Nelhams|
The start of May saw the first of my official British Mountain Guide training courses - Rock 1. It took place in the Lake District and was headed up by Adrian Nelhams and Stu McAlesse. I, like the other trainee guides, really enjoyed it and are definitely psyched for what's to come! Here is a link to a write up I did about the Rock 1 course.
|Cow shed lecture, FH Meet 2014|
|First pitch and first ascent of |
un jour, peut-etre, Fair Head
pic John McCune
|Me on Death or Glory, probably freaking out at this point|
pic John McCune
The run up to this year's meet gave a good spell of sunshine making for some great climbing conditions at Fair Head. Due to its mostly north facing aspect, high temperatures and little wind, climbing in the shade was very enjoyable - I do enough suffering in Scotland and the Alps! Climbing mostly with the ever-psyched John McCune and others, we ticked off a few first ascents, second ascents and repeats of seldomly travelled classics. Most notable were the first ascents of the 4 pitch Un jour, peut-etre (E6) - John lead the 2 crux pitches and Full of Energy, Ready 2 Party (E5) - where I was belayed by John Orr. With John McCune we also made the second ascent of Stop Making Sense (E5) and we also climbed London Calling (E5) and Death or Glory (E4 - but bit of a chop route at the grade). The Meet was well attended and the Weather Gods again helped - you can read the UKC article here.
|Still hanging with the youth. Taking Saul up Salango - his first route at Fair Head!|
The start of June was the second of the Rock training course titled Rock 2! This time it took place at Plas Y Brenin and was headed up by Martin Chester. North Wales really is a hub for Guides and Mountain Instructors and over the 4 days I was introduced to more guides who hopefully I will be working with in the near future! Tamsin, a trainee guide on the course, put together a nice little summary here. Thanks to Gore for the subsidy for the course.
|Teaching climbing on the Rock 2 training, N. Wales. pic Steve Long|
June involved a bit more work including a Climbing Wall Leading Award (CWLA), Climbing Wall Award (CWA) training and assessment, some site specific training and assessment at a few little climbing walls and some more guided rock climbing! With regards to the CWA I have put a few more dates up for courses starting in the Autumn. Check out the CWA page on the Rock and Ride website for the dates.
|Back on Mad Dogs after being rescued 8 years before! This time it went well. Thanks Craig Hiller - the pics and video to come!|
Climbing in June didn't take a back seat either. I managed to lay Mad Dogs (E5) at Spellack in the Mournes to rest after being rescued on it 8 years ago. The same day I held Mr Bell's ropes on his new line aptly called the Peace Donkey - if you have a look at the route beside it you'll get a chuckle out of the name! A good day for both of us and good to hang out with friends. Craigy was on hand with his camera so some good video footage should materialise once he gets a chance to look through it. After that quick Mournes hit I got my first taste of Owey Island - which blew me away! I'm hooked! The place is so amazing that it deserves its own write up, I just couldn't do it justice here, so I am settling for putting together a few topos and getting pictures. New routes and pristine granite pretty much sum Owey up!
|2nd ascent of Part of the Friction. Destined to become a wonder-classic! My new lines takes the pocked wall on the left. pic Eamon Quinn|
So that brief summary takes me up to the start of this week. I headed out with young Quinn and on Monday we hit up Blue lough Buttress. I haven't been there in ages and Quinn had just climbed a new lin, so I was keen to repeat it. His route was amazing - probably E4/5 6a as it is quite go-ey at the start and the gear is small and fiddly. The climbing is really Mournes-esk, relying on a lot of friction and it is also quite techy, so the name 'Part of the Friction' describes it well. I also knew there was a wee line left of it but word is that it had less gear and the climbing was harder. Equipped with cleaning gear we abbed down the line to have a look, little gear was confirmed and the holds were pretty awful, but at least it was a slab! A bit of psyche was required, I tied in, took my time and arrived at the crux (just above the sideways blue DMM offset wire). I must have spent 20 mins trying to work out how I could get the reach for a sloppy pock hold thing. With no other way than to jump I sent for it - probably scaring Quinn just as much as me! I managed to hold the next few moves together as falling was not an option and topped out FOMO, E6 6a/b. Description below.
Paul Swail & Eamon Quinn 30/06/2014.
Excellent technical slab climbing up the line of pocks 3m left of Part of the Friction.
Climbing boldly but easily up to a downward point peg. Make moves past the peg using a mono hold until you get established on a sloppy foothold on the left wall. Place a blue DMM offset wire horizontally and hope it cams (gets stuck). Make a dynamic move left to a pocket and continue up the wall until a large flared groove is reached. Finish easily to the top.
So in summary, it has been a great few months for finding the perfect balance of climbing, training and working! Psyche in general has been high this summer with folk having wee adventures in cool places, on our doorstep. We often take this life of play hard/work little for granted and every now and then something happens to put it into perspective, keep us humble and make us realise how lucky we are.
|Hanging, chillin and enjoying these wonderful places climbing takes us.|
pic Pat Nolan