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.

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