Since my last blog, just after getting back from Skye back in June, I’ve been clocking up my air miles, with my first and second ever trips to the southern hemisphere. I have to confess the work to holiday ratio this summer has been pretty amazing, and it’s been great having the opportunity to get away so much.
My summer started off with a short but amazing paddling and climbing trip out to Owey. The Islands of north west Donegal (Owey in particular), have seen their fair share of attention over the last few summers with John McCune being the main driving force behind the development. It was great to finally get out and see what he and the rest of the guys have been up to, and with immaculate pink granite cliffs rising steeply from the Atlantic it’s not hard to see the attraction. We enjoyed not only some excellent climbing, but fantastic paddling and camping in a wild and unspoilt area, it was great to have such a big adventure so close to home.
Keeping with the Island theme June also saw me take the memorable flight (I’ve seen bigger minibuses than this plane!) across to the Isle of Man for my first bit of film work. I spent a few days working for Kierron and the Isle of Man based company blueprint, helping to provide safety cover for crew and cameras around a cliff top filming location. This was my first taste of working on such a big project, and although it was a great experience all the standing about waiting for takes and re-takes left me feeling that its maybe not for me!
My flights to the Isle of man were to be the first of many this summer, and after flying back to Belfast on Friday night, Saturday morning found me on a flight from Dublin to meet up with Victoria in Malaysia. Not really a climbing or paddling related trip, but too good not to mention. Beach fitness is a lot easier to gain than hill fitness!!
After an amazing couple of weeks spent out on the Perientian Islands it was time to do some work. Back home I spent 6 weeks working on a range of climbing and paddling courses with a bit of rope access work in between. As well as local work for Tollymore on their SPA’s I also had the chance to do a bit of work for a different view on the north coast, and I even made it back to Donegal again this year working on a few more SPA assessments for mountain training.ie.
The highlight of the summer however had to be my trip to visit Victoria in Australia, where I had not only the chance to do quite a bit of travelling, meeting some great friends old and new, but I also had to chance to experience some fantastic climbing!
Throughout my 7 weeks in Australia I managed to get climbing in quite a few different areas with trips to the Arapiles, the Grampians, the Blue Mountains, Point Perpendicular, and Mount Beckworth.
As great as the climbing was I have to admit that it took me a while to get to grips with it, and my first experience was a bit of a shock to the system. I wasn’t sure if it was the heat or my spider paranoia that was leading to my sweaty palms, but the end result made me feel like I was constantly about to grease off the dusty sandstone holds. This combined with the fact that I was trying to get my head around an alien grading system certainly didn’t help me to relax! Thankfully this uneasy feeling wasn’t to be the theme of the trip, a bit of mileage soon sorted me out and I ended up having a great time, climbing some amazing routes.
Australia is a country that I had never had a burning desire to visit, with the main attraction being friends who live there, and if Victoria hadn’t been there I don’t know if I would have ever actually made it to Australia. Thankfully though I did, and found an amazing country full of friendly people, a huge variety of landscapes and a lot of unbelievable climbing. If your into the outdoors and aren’t put off by the long flights then get yourself down under, you wont be disappointed!