Monday, May 25, 2015

Glendalough Video

Here's a little video of the bouldering I did in Ireland.  I spent a few hours running around in the sun trying to tick as many classics as I could.  These are the ones that I took footage of.  Hope you enjoy.

Ireland Bouldering: A Sunny Afternoon in Glendalough from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bouldering in Ireland: Glendalough

When the Kearney family decided to do Ireland I looked into what kind of bouldering the area had to offer.  The bad news was that the castle we were staying in for the week was roughly 2 hours to the closest climbing but the good news was that the area is ground zero for Irish bouldering.  Do to logistics I only managed to arrange two half-days of climbing but got a decent feel for what the area had to offer.

The Wicklow Mountains are just south from Dublin offer a plethora of climbing on some pretty sweet granite.  Wicklow is fairly extensive with a multitude of small bouldering areas scattered among the peaks and valleys with the smallest areas consisting of single boulders and the largest offering several days worth of climbing (there is a fair amount of trad-climbing as well).  In order to optimize what little time I had I opted not to ferry around between the smaller areas but instead spend both my half-days at the largest offering, Glendalough.

Glendalough is actually a popular tourist spot that attracts people not only for it's natural beauty but for it's rich history and archaeology.  Back in the 6th century a man known as Saint Kevin started a monastic settlement in the area and there has been people there ever since.  The structures that remain today "only" date to between the 10th and 12th centuries but they are pretty awesome and well worth checking out whether you're a climber or a tourist.
An awesome little church with interesting stone roof and the impressive watchtower in the background.

The bouldering in Glendalough is located at the end of a glacially carved valley on hundreds of boulders littering the slopes on either side.  The good news is that the rock is fantastic for climbing,  awesome features on high-quality granite.  The bad news is that the vast majority of the boulders are on the smaller side, making for lots of 3 move sit-start problems.  But regardless of the diminutive nature of the boulders, there are some gems to be had and a few boulders that are big enough to provide some spice.
The view looking back toward the parking from the boulders in Glendalough

A quick note to those visiting the area,  you'll need to pay 2 euros (cash only) to park at the closest parking and the hike to the boulders is an easy 20 minutes on a flat road/trail.  The parking is also locked at nights so I reckon a night session will require a different parking area.  Here are some pictures of the area.
Lots of boulders.

Trying Wonderland.  The photo doesn't do it justice as this was the best looking problem I saw in Glendalough

 Andy's Arete

Karl on The Groove.  Many thanks to Karl for the awesome tour my first day in Glendalough

Some awesome vein features. 

The view of the boulders on the approach

The watchtower provides a great vantage point to scope for boulders or spot marauding vikings.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Kearneys do Ireland

A few weeks ago 15 memebers of the Kearney clan rendezvoused in Ireland to drink Guinness, visit castles and get in touch with our Irish heritage.  It was primarily a family vacation but you can't take me anywhere without expecting a little climbing to be squeezed in.

The family had rented a castle which seems a little over the top but if you're going to do Ireland you mind as well go big.  Complete with a suit of armor, our spacious accommodation had us feeling like medieval lords and I half expected a mob of angry peasants to storm the castle in protest of our decadence.  Fortunately society has come a long way since the dark-ages and we enjoyed our week of luxury without a single uprising.
The Lisheen Castle was our home in Ireland.  Pretty awesome.

I went to Ireland without doing much research (very uncommon for me) so the few expectation I had were solely the product of long held stereotypes.  I figured if I got lucky I might meet a Leprechaun that would take me to his pot of gold, or at the very least share some of his lucky charms.  But seriously, I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I figured I'd be hanging with my family and doing some touristy stuff.  So here are a few of the things I observed while in Ireland.

Castles:  The fact that we stayed in a castle only added emphasis to the ubiquitousness of them.  Everywhere we went there would be some kind of impressive ruin of sorts.  And I'm not talking about the castles that will inevitably be included in the tour of every city/town you visit, I'm talking about driving your car in the middle of nowhere and seeing a dilapidated 3 story stone structure in the middle of a field.  Maybe not all these ruins weren't technically the remains of castles but they where impressive none-the-less and the only ones that seemed to appreciate them were the tourists taking an unscheduled stop and the cattle grazing in their shadows.
Just some random ruins off the side of the road.  Things like this were everywhere.

Guinness:  We've been told that "Foster's is Australian for beer" but I've never met an Australian that actually drinks it, and I imagine that a foreigner visiting the USA might wonder why everyone isn't drinking Budweiser (maybe it's because it's a horrible beer...).  Well the stereotype that Guinness flows like water and is the national drink of Ireland seems fairly accurate.  Guinness accounts for over a quarter of all beer consumed in Ireland and was once famously recommended to  Irish women during pregnancy.  So it's not just the tourists that are slamming back pints of the dark brew and we certainly did our part to fit in by consuming at least one Guinness a day.
Björke getting in touch with his Irish roots and halfway through his quota of Guinness for the day

Accent:  I'm pretty well traveled and I've been living in England for the last couple months so I thought the Irish accent would be just another little twist on the English language that I could attempt to duplicate to the annoyance of the locals.  I wasn't quite prepared for how difficult it would be for me to understand and my standard response in any conversation became a blank stare and a polite request to repeat what they said.  It didn't help that people are very friendly and you'll find yourself having conversations with everyone (or trying to have conversations). Toward the end of the week I got better at inferring meaning from the situation but it was still a struggle.  Just another note, my favorite word in an Irish accent is "turdy"  (that would be the number 30) and I found myself asking people what time it was on the half-hours just to hear them say it.  Good times.

There is so much more to say about Ireland but I'll leave it at that.  As for my take on the bouldering I did in Ireland..........I'll comment on that in the next day or two.  Here are a few photos from the trip

Autumn defacing an ancient structure with a disappointed father looking on.  We can't take her anywhere.

Autumn and Heather do their best Leprechaun jumps. 

Another Guinness?  Yes please. 

The Kearney clan at our humble abode in Ireland.  What an awesome trip!