Saturday, 15 November 2008

White Bog and Black boulders

Bouldering near the Windy Gap (Dundalk/Newry area), Co. Louth

The White bog ( Lat 54:03:03N (54.05) Lon 6:13:43W (-6.23)) is an upper valley nested in the Cooley Mountains, Co. Louth. The crags have some potential for a few small routes but the scree has some quality bouldering and is really worth the journey. I first visited the place in May 2008 with Declan Tormey. Although it was a very warm sunny afternoon, we managed to climb The Nose, an excellent powerful problem. I continued to develop the venue overthe following summer months.

The rock is an excellent dark gabbro. Although it is very sharp, the grains and crystals are very small which makes it possible to climb even on a hot summer day. The valley is well weathered, but the scree is facing south west and is high enough to get a lot of wind. So the conditions are usually good.


From Dublin: head north on the Belfast motorway (M1). Take the last Dundalk exit: Dundalk north/Carlinford/N173. Follow the N173 (Cooley peninsula coast road) until the entrance of the village called The Bush. Take the U-turn road to the left towards the Windy Gap and follow the road at the bottom of the hills. Pass the Tain way (sign), pass the highest mountain, a small forest and a few houses. Park on the side of the road before a couple of lane ways to the right (54.04364, -6.24816, the place is called Glenmore, but there's no sign). Approx. 45Mn.

From Belfast: Head south to Newry (A1). In Newry, follow the directions for Omeagh, pass the Carlingford Lough estuary (if you're on the Warrenpoint road A2, you're on the wrong side) and take the Fathom Line (small road). After the border, this becomes the R173. In Omeagh, take a turn right at the Petrol Station and follow this road towards the windy Gap. After passing the Gap (main car park) you reach a yield: take the road to the left. After approx. 2.5km / 1.5 mile, Glenmore and the waterfall should be on your left hand side.

Put on your wellies and walk up the farm lane way. Follow the path that leads to the bottom of the hill side behind the fields (two gates and an old cottage ruins). Turn left straight up the hill following the remains of old stone wall (steep but no ferns). Pass a couple of berms until you arrive in the White Bog valley: the scree should lay in front of you at the bottom of a crag. (20Mn a walk).

Remember: Do not block the field gates, and always keep them closed. I talked to the farmer and he seems to be a nice guy so let's not piss him off.

The Starter Arete sits completely on the left, hidden in a hollow. The landing is excellent, the rock is not too sharp and the problems are easy, making this area perfect for warming up.

Starter Arete is the obvious corner arete. It can be climbed from a sit start and has an eliminate on the right (basically eliminating the arete!). Starter traverse is following the round lip of the boulder from the lower right to the top left. There's also a nice little crimpy problem on the left side of the arete. To the right of the arete is another smaller boulder with a couple of sit-start deadpoints: Dec’s sit start takes the round corner and Pierre’s sit-start is the overhanging mini-arete.

The plate boulder is the huge flat boulder at the bottom of the scree. It has a good overhang on the left side and a big blank roof on the right side.

Lesbian Treaty follows the crack line on the left hand side overhang. Sit-start on the obvious bottom side pull right hand. Using a high flake far left, slap up to the break, match and move right on the crack. Avoid the easy V gap and go for a dynamic finish via the upper crimps. Three Stars.

Media Tick is standing to the right of the plate boulder. Sit-start on the crimps in the groove with a heel hook on the left (harder for the tall). Cross through to the crimps on the right, slap to the lip and rock over.

The Nose is the big obvious pointy nose at the top of the scree. An absolutely awesome problem with a nice grassy landing. Unfortunately it is rarely in conditions due to a green terrace above that keeps water running onto it. Start under the roof. Using a crimp to the right, the sharp arete and a heel hook, slap up to the nose then rock over the lip of the roof. Descent to the right. Sit-Start project from deep back wall.

The pebble is the huge boulder sitting in the middle of the scree. It has a couple of slopey lips with
various slab top-out variations.

Blade runner
, Sit-Start on the obvious jug. Go left onto the sharp crimps and left again to a hidden jug. Then reach the lip of the overhang to step out via the left arete or rock over onto the slab and top out.

To the rear of the Pebble is a little overhang with a nasty deapoint sit-start. Pull hard on the rather sharp and awkward break to reach the upper jugs. If you managed to keep your feet off the ground then top out.

The ship boulder is the big outcrop that stands on the far right of the scree.
The leak is the sit-start to the vertical crack with a high enough top out. Water-line uses the same sit-start but traverses the horizontal break crack and finish round the corner to the extreme right.

Dublin, November 2008

Saturday, 1 November 2008

About sharing and more Glendo off-track

Weather conditions were very mixed for the last bank holiday weekend: although the cold wind was keeping the rock at the perfect bouldering temperature, rain was also around...

On Saturday I got a text from Michael Duffy saying he was meeting Ricky Bell in the Cooley Mountains to check "one of the best lines in Ireland". This frightened me a bit as I thought the boys were on the trail of my latest secret spot. Oops, did I just say it? The fact is I do have a nice little spot in the Cooleys, but it does not have one of the best lines in Ireland, but at least 2 or 3 of them. No need to get excited though, this is just my very subjective opinion.

Talking about opinions, I already had got fairly paranoid when Dave Flanagan gave his own on first ascents back in June stating that "by saying nothing you are relequinshing your right to complain when someone does the 'first ascent' of your problem. " But I do share my discoveries and first ascents and the proof is my good mate Tim Chapman rung me that day asking if I had read Dave's article: "Do you think he knows about your new place?" The fact is I met a good few hill walkers around there and it's only a matter of time before climbers hear about it so let's start the sharing:

As for northies, it turned out that it was not what they were after. They were actually trying some serious line on one of the numerous outcrops that can be found in the Windy Gap. I had a quick walk around there before, but had never bothered checking that overhanging bit. I did not take any picture, but let's just say it is a high enough awesome looking slopey prow with what looks like a strenuous overhanging start. Unfortunatly the rain arrived and ruined the guys hopes as the upper slopers became damp. I would not be surprise if we hear about it soon though.

Sunday was another good discovery day. Again Michael Duffy texted us saying he was going to try a good looking roof crack he had spotted high in the scree. However after having spent a good time warming up and brushing the line, the few attempts he and Ron Browner gave it were far from enough to crack the line before the rain. In the meantime, I had met my old buddy Michael Nicholson who had decided to explore the surroundings. A good idea that was: he found a couple of huge caves, one of them containing one of Glendo's best problems. Not that it is particularly hard (Michael Duffy flashed the first ascent) but it has the good benefit of being sheltered from the rain, a quality that is not common among Glendo's problems... I am not talking about moisture here: by 5 o'clock all boulderers had fled the valley under lashing rain except for me, Kevin Griffin and Michael Duffy, who also had the taste of bringing lamps to light up the cave. The problem itself is a roof line, not too unsimilar to Chillax, but slightly harder. I suggested the name "Perma-dry" but Michael has probably come up with something better by now.

So, Dave, if you are reading this, here is a thought for your website: how about a database of perma-dry problems? I'll start: Perma-dry, 7a?, Glendo, in a cave high in the scree, 100m straight up above superstars of the BMX.