Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Art's Cross

Following a few discussions and posts on the short span message board about the big mother arete in Art's Cross, I decided to post some information about it. Officially it was first visited back in early 2007 when Dave Flanagan got tipped-off by O'Hanlon. However I have good reasons to believe that Seamus Crowley had already explored the place the previous year.The place is definitely worth a visit as it is quite awesome, even for non-climbers. There are a good few boulders around, which comes handy for warming up.


The main boulder has probably the most beautiful line I have seen in Ireland. Its western side is the first you should see when arriving: a 5m / 15ft high prow with two fairly blank aretes (actually the left one is too round to be called "arete").

We spent a good while trimming the wig all along the top edge so top-outs are now possible. The landing area is very grassy. However there is a stream passing right at the bottom, and although it is quite narrow it is deep enough in the ground to break an ankle if you land in it, so make sure you come with enough pads to cover a good landing area. We also have cleaned and climbed a few lines around. The first boulder we tried was the low overhanging arete at the back: either really hard from sit-start or too easy and too short from stand start. We also tried a class overhang problem 10m further down (passed round a corner). Unfortunately a horrible spiky rock is standing right below your ass... The big one itself has a few variations on its south side slab either really hard or fairly easy.


The boulder field lay in the upper part of the valley nested at the bottom of Art's Cross Crag. Dave's team arrived from the Wicklow gap. Although this walk is quite long, it's a good opportunity to visit the Glanakeera boulder known to some as the "Sheep's head boulder". However if you are not to keen about long solitary walks, there is a shorter approach from the gleenremore brook valley. From Hollywood, drive towards the Gap (R756). At Coonmore, drive straight instead of following the main road to the left (do not pass the Kings River) and follow the electric overhead lines. Follow that road for a while (rough, 4x4 welcome) till it finishes in a path. From there continue on foot. Pass a gate and a bridge, then right and walk up hill following the side of the forest. Once you've past the forest continue up hill and stay on the left side of the valley (good chance of meeting the deers). The total walk in is about 45 Mn.
I have located it on my google bouldering map (check side panel on the right) and don't forget that you can use OSI online to explore Ireland.

Good Luck.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Cheap Bouldering

I am sure by now most of us have heard about that recession bug. I am not quite sure how you catch it, but they told me that if I get it, I will have to save more and spend less. Apparently it affects everything from time schedule to regular income.... And there is no vaccin, but it looks like you can prevent it or at least reduce its effects by being poor. So here's a serie of tips that might help:

1) Get yourself a finger board

It might sound expensive but think about it. Your local wall probably has one of the cheapest membership scheme, say €100 per year plus €3.00 per visit. Yet if you go twice a week for 1 year (40 weeks +), that's about 340 plus petrol. Now say you have bought a 60 fingerboard (or even a pull up bar) and you replace one of your weekly wall sessions by a pull up session at home, you will now spend 220 at the wall and divide your petrol cost by 2.

2) Reduce travelling costs

Stop flying abroad to these world famous bouldering spots and enjoy more of the unpredictible Irish bouldering (weather wise). Don't drive on your own, share car space and petrol costs. Stop driving to the wall, take up cycling. It will get you fitter - I know, I know, do as I say, not as I do...

3) Recycle

You don't need that 20 brush kit from Metolius. Recycle your old tooth brushes. You don't need the latest Patagonia pants. Recycle your old casual Friday trousers.

4) This is Ireland, not bleedin' Nepal

So what you need is neither a pair of Louis Vuitton flip-flops, not a pair of high mountain boots. Instead, get yourself a pair of these:

A pair of wellies will cost you 15 quid and will do the job just as well as gaiters - actually even better because they are easy to put on and off, which is a solid pro argument when it comes to bouldering.

You think I'm joking? Check out the following pictures and see if you can identify those smiling wellington boots aficionados:

5) To the sissies

I know, you have a nice soft baby skin which suffers a lot from these repeated attempts on Wicklow granite problems. 

Like many boulderers, you use the Climb On! bar because that stuff is "a completely pure (synthetic & petrochemical free), powerful skin nourisher and first aid product to be applied to burns, cuts, scrapes, rashes, cracked cuticles and heels, tissue nose, road rash, diaper rash, abrasions, poison ivy...all skin problems [...] the MOST powerful skin repair recipe on the market." 

So they say. 

But a 1 oz Bar (roughly 30 grams) costs about 10 and there is plenty of other stuff around.

I personally have tried a wide range of products from the famous Neutrogena Norwegian Formula to the expensive Lancome intense restoring lipid enriched cream, and so far I found the best you get for money value is the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula.

It is "enriched in vitamin E with a soothing emollient base. Heals and softens rough, dry skin. Helps smooth and blend unattractive marks and scars. Tones skin. Ideal for deep moisturization, including overnight treatments. Widely recommended for stretch marks during and after pregnancy".

Also highly recommended for climber's dry hands. Available in many shops, it 's 5 times cheaper than  the Climb On! stuff.  Sense.