Movement Works – James Hale

Movement Works – James Hale

Movement Works

Ever increasing climbing aspirations and working full time in the industry takes its toll on my body. Long days on the hill tax my ankles and knees. Long days in a harness affect my hips and lower back. Route-setting kills my wrists. Climbing itself makes me hurt all over.

movement works

I know I am not doing all I could to take care of myself. I regularly ignore the advice I give others, on how to warm up properly and be careful of injuries.

Its easy to consider lower grade bouldering or routes as a good warm up. Its easy to ignore antagonistic exercises. Its easy not to do some simple stretching every day. But its time for me to put in more effort, to start looking after my body before the niggles and aches turn into large scale problems.

With this in mind, I booked a session with James Hale of The brief I gave James is that I want to (a) increase flexibility and mobility (b) learn time efficient and appropriate warm up exercises and (c) build up ankle strength, to counteract recurring sprains on both ankles.

First and foremost, James is a climber himself, as well as a climbing coach, so naturally he gets it straight away that I dont want to be told to stop what im doing and rest. No active person wants to hear this. Furthermore, having trained in strength and conditioning, pilates and physiotherapy he has a wealth of knowledge and it would be quite easy to spend a day picking his brains on so many topics.

We didnt have a day however, our session lasted 90 minutes and for this James charged 50 euro. Which, considering how much I learned and how good I felt after just one session, is possibly one of the most important 50 euros Ive spent of late.

James fulfilled the brief on all accounts and more. He takes his years of learning and training and distils it down perfectly and concisely.

I have an array of stretching exercises to do and most importantly he was on hand to offer corrections and input on the correct body positions to maintain through each move. You can find all theses exercises on line if you look, but it takes a trained professional to analyse and point out the nuances of how to complete each one effectively.

I’ve been armed with a host of movements to build supporting strength around the ankle and a massive choice of warm ups that were both challenging and importantly werent boring. I was worried that Id struggle to remember all id learned over the hour and a half, but James followed up by email with a PDF booklet detailing all we’d covered and some additional info.

He even found time to teach me a different  and seemingly less injurious way of using a hang-board.

Do you have to be a climber/hillwalker/instructor to visit James? No. Should you visit James at Movement Works? Yes.

Whether you have injuries already or not, are looking for prehab or rehab, do a session with him and find out for yourself.

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Climbing Howling Ridge, Carrauntoohill

Climbing Howling Ridge

Climbing Howling Ridge

Last Wednesday I climbed Howling Ridge again. I’ve been very lucky with weather on the occasions I’ve climbed it before and this was no different. While there were some very short downpours of rain and the occasional bit of mist, we spent a lot of the day in the sun. As always we were treated to amazing vistas and absorbing climbing.

howling ridge 2

Howling Ridge is a multi pitch climbing route on Irelands highest mountain, Carrauntoohill. Its a classic Irish mountaineering day out and while its graded at v. diff and full of adventure and exposure, the real test of nerve on this climb is trusting your hands and feet on less than solid rock. A lot of the hand holds and foot holds are loose and friable and a good sense of judgement is needed.

Climbing alongside my friend and regular climbing partner Vicki, we parked at Lisleibane car park and made the considerable hike in to the Heavenly gates in good time. From there we roped up and Vicki led off on the first of the pitches.

With over 400 metres of pitches to climb and even with us both moving fast through them, time can seem to evaporate on Howling Ridge. But who’s in a hurry. With views like this and good weather, where would you rather be?


howling ridge


The pitches finish with a beautiful airy traverse on a knife-edge section of the ridge. After that if you are comfortable and experienced on steep mountainous ground, you can dispense with the ropes and harnesses and ascend to the summit. I find this final 15 minutes or so strangely relaxing, as you pump the legs for a final hard section before the summit.

Obligatory touching of the cross ticked. Two hours or so back to the car from here. More great memories banked. The epitome of why I do all this: Adventure with friends in the outdoors. I would’nt change if for the world.


Climbing Howling Ridge mountain training logo leave no trace ireland Climbing Howling Ridge


The Gaisce Award – working as a Mountain Leader

The Gaisce Award – working as a Mountain Leader

The Gaisce Award.

Ive just finished two days work in Wicklow, working with a transition year group from Lucan on the Gaisce award. What a brilliant scheme and great to work on too.

The Gaisce or Presidents award, is an award for young people in Ireland. Gaisce can be translated from Irish as “achievement”. This is the basis of the award, that the activities taken on by the young person should be challenging, both physically and mentally.

Through my work as a mountain leader I meet a lot of young people who are attempting to gain part of the award from completing an adventure journey.

While not all the award is based around the outdoors, its generally through the bronze award where I meet participants. Their goal is to take on a hike, walking between 25-35km over two consecutive days.

The students usually take up the challenge as part of transition year and for some it can be the first time they  ever step into the mountains or wild countryside. While the ground can be covered by taking tracks and paths, to me its a wasted opportunity not to get off the beaten track and enjoy the mountains or coastal paths of Ireland.

This is where my involvement begins. As a Mountain Leader my first and main obligation is to ensure that the hikes are safe, appropriate to the level of the group and meet the brief of the award. But I also have an obligation to the young people involved to make sure they gain the most from the walk, be it from involving them in route selection, navigation, awareness of the environment and group participation.

And therein lies the fun of working on the Gaisce award. Yes, at times the group can be struggling with the physical effort needed, but in general they dig deep and get on with it, push through the sore feet and tired legs and achieve a true distinguishable goal.

Some may never walk on a hill again. Some will. Some may even be inspired to get out into the hills on a more regular basis. Whatever they decide, through the Gaisce award they will have laid a foundation to future achievement through personal effort.

I hope the award continues for years to come, not only because it provides me with fulfilling work in an industry I love working in, but also because it helps add to the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts in Ireland.

Gaisce Award Wicklow
Gaisce Award Walk, Wicklow


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Doolin bouldering, new problems

Doolin Bouldering

Doolin Bouldering

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.

Climb It Change
 Climb It Change

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.

Doolin Bouldering

Doolin Bouldering

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

Doolin Bouldering

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Climber Friendly Hostel, The Burren

Climber Friendly Hostel

Climber friendly hostel

Are you are going  climbing or hiking in The Burren? The Burren offers stunning scenery for the hiker, world class sea cliff climbing, amenable inland crags and one of the best bouldering areas in the country.

Some people will enjoy combining their outdoor adventure with a camping trip, but if you’re looking for something a little more relaxing at the end of your long days activities in The Burren, then consider staying at Doolin Hostel nearby.

This isnt a blog entry as such, just a ringing endorsement of a local hostel, with whom I work with all the time.

Doolin Hostel, Climber friendly hostel.

Doolin Hostel is an award winning and family run hostel. The owner, Anthony Moloney, likes to climb himself and when not busy running the hostel, can be found bouldering at nearby Lackglass.

The hostel is situated in the centre of Doolin village, opposite the bus stop and a stones throw away from the pubs. So when you’re finished enjoying the outdoors, you can spend an evening listening to traditional Irish music in the world famous Doolin pubs.

There is plenty of parking at the hostel if you have your own car. Plus Anthony can arrange for safe and secure gear storage. Or,if you need to rent a boulder pad, he can help you rent one. Or even a bike, if thats your thing.

Its worth noting this isnt your usual run down back packer hostel. The rooms are fresh and clean, the facilities are modern and the atmosphere is friendly. They offer dorms, family rooms and private rooms. So if you’re travelling solo, as a family or as a small group of back packers, they have something for everyone. Theres even a drying room on site, because occasionly it rains it Ireland, but only occasionly.

If you want to find out more, then go on over to their website and check them out,

Guided hill walks and hikes in the Burren

Rock climbing lesson in The Burren

Bouldering in  Doolin


Climber friendly hostel, The Burren, Climber friendly hostel, The Burren, Climber friendly hostel, The Burren, Climber friendly hostel, The Burren,