Its been three months since I’ve climbed on dry rock. Three long months of incessant rain and washed away hopes. Too warm for ice, too wet for rock. The west coast of Ireland doesnt care. Its a harsh place in winter, sometimes as harsh in summer.
Storm Imogen passed through last week and with it another week of training indoors and plastic. Fantastic. But Friday brought dry weather and a promising forecast for the weekend. Hopes rise again.
Sunday morning came and didnt disappoint. Driving down the gravel lane way at Lackglass, with the sun shining across the Atlantic, all was forgiven. The walk down to the coast from the car takes 10 minutes. 20 if you havent been here for a while and stop regularly to take in the view.
Down to the waters edge, where its immediately obvious. Imogen has rolled through and with her has come change. Natures routesetters have been in. The Here today…. boulder is gone. Not just moved, or tilted, but gone and nowhere to be seen. With it went one of the best 6A’s in Doolin. A mix of power and balance and never a given.
More change in the Base-camp area. Recent classics such as March sun and the never repeated Lazy Sunday (given 6B, but only accurate if youre a sadist and like doing monos with your fingernail) have been reclaimed by the sea. In their place remains a newly exposed face of rock, with a massive cap stone boulder above. Yellow and gritty to touch, I set about cleaning the loose and unwanted.
I throw down the pads and chalk up. The first three lines looked harder from the ground, but go a bit too easily. Some excellent climbs have been lost to make way for these new ones and I feel disappointed in the quality so far. They’ll make decent warm ups from here in.
Theres a prominent crack line running up the main face, but I ignore it for now. Tonys on the way and it’d be great to share working the problem with someone else.
The first worthwhile line goes at about 5+. Climb It Change. A sit start low on the left hand side of the left most boulder. Moving right, hands matching and crossing along the right trending diagonal lip, before topping out. Excellent. My style of problem, made all the better by Tony arriving to share the first ascent.
Tony warms up on some of the the new climbs before putting up a first ascent of his own. Scutter Butter (ss) 4+. Easily indentified by the buttery yellow streaks on its face. A fun climb with a hidden jug on the high top out.
Warmed up, attention turns to the prominent crack line in the face. Disappointedly it too goes too easy. In a flash im topping out for the first ascent and what should be excitement is quelled by it being just that bit too easy. Id wanted a battle. Its decided the line would be significantly harder without the jug down low.
We try it again and while it serves to be a more technical challenge, it still succumbs too easily. Prize, a solid 5.
We explore whats new throughout the rest of the day. Through the gap in the rocks and to where the Nose once was we find what is surely to become a hit. A newly exposed face, with barely enough to work with. We try it repeatedly, but cant unlock it and it becomes clear that I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. A collection of side pulls and crimps and no apparent way to top out. A challenge worthy of all the good friends lost. Its not going down today, maybe not even tomorrow. But it is dry tomorrow, so ill be back here with fresh skin and arms to get acquainted with Doolins best new project.
A. Climb It Change (ss) 5+ B. Tutorial 3 C. Arete 4 D. Scutter Butter (ss) 4+ E. Prize 5 F. Warm up 3
All new climbs listed on The Shortspan website