My summer got of to a great start with the trip out to Lofoten in June, one of the great things about being away climbing and exploring in new areas is that it massively revives your enthusiasm, so I arrived home super psyched and ready for a summer of rock climbing……it wasn’t to be. Due to a pretty damp summer and any good weather managing to wait until I was working before it appeared, I ended up getting very little rock climbing done.
Its at times like these when being a paddler, as well as a rock climber, really comes into its own. When your on the water it doesn’t really matter too much if it starts to rain, and it certainly doesn’t bring with it the same amount of dread as feeling spits of rain when your halfway up a crag!
I spent quite a lot of time paddling around the down coast, with a few trips up to the north coast aswell, but I also managed to get a little further from home, exploring some amazing areas of Ireland that were previously undiscovered to me.
In August I was joined by Davy, Neil and Mikey, when we headed down to explore Inishboffin off the Connemara coast, spending four days paddling and camping in weather that went from pretty grim on day one to absolutely glorious by the time we were heading home.
This part of Ireland was somewhere, (i am ashamed to say), that was completely new to me,and was a fantastic area to be explored from the sea, with continuously interesting coastline set in front of the amazing backdrop of the Connemara mountains, a stunning place to spend four days.
|Exploring caves on the first evening|
|One of the arches on Inishboffin|
|Making the crossing back to the mainland on glassy seas|
September saw Davy, Neil and myself loading up the boats and heading south once again, this time heading for the Dingle peninsula in county Kerry, where we planned to paddle out and around a group of islands called the Blaskets. The weather seemed to follow the same sort of pattern as our inishboffin trip, with wet and windy weather on the first day, followed by a few days of settled weather.
|Day 1, definitely not a climbing day!|
The Blaskets are an amazing chain of islands, looking like submerged mountains with just the tops jutting out of the sea. Although this makes them look very impressive, it also makes them very hard to land on, as most of the coastline consists of cliffs dropping straight into the sea, meaning that a trip around the islands has a certain feeling of seriousness to it.
|The view from one of the outer islands back towards the mainland, just visible in the distance.|
We spent three nights camping on the Islands in continually improving weather, and managed to explore quite alot of the coastline. The Blaskets, and many of the other islands off the the coast of Ireland, all share a great feeling of being somewhere that time has forgot. They have all remained largely unspoilt since the last inhabitants made their final trip back to the mainland, leaving their Island homes behind, and for me this makes them an incredible place to spend a bit of time. I think this is probably part of the attraction of sea kayaking, as it allows you to reach these places, explore and enjoy them in a way that not many other people can.
|Paddling along the sheltered southern side of Great Blasket|
|The view from a little storm beach back towards Great Blasket|
|Ruins on Great Blasket|
|Sunset on our final night on the Blaskets|
As amazing as the paddling was over the summer I still managed to get some rock climbing done, and have just returned from a three week trip out to Yosemite. This was the first time I had ever been out, and was a great way to finish off the summer season, climbing some great routes in the sunshine!
We spent sometime in San Fransisco on either side of the trip, meaning that we were in Yosemite for just over two weeks.
With a summer of virtually no climbing back home I struggled to find my form on the rock, and found the style of climbing out there rather hard to get to grips with, thankfully my climbing partner Eddie had spent a lot of time climbing in the valley, and had the style dialled, it was good to know at least one of us would be able to climb us out of any sticky situations!!
We climbed a number of routes over the trip ranging from two pitch routes right up to 24 pitches, all of fantastic quality, even though a tad polished in places. For me I think the highlight of the trip was probably climbing the regular route on the north west face of half dome. This was my first ever big wall, and it had a little bit of everything, free climbing, aid pitches and bolt ladders, which for me was a completely new experience. We started at 3am and were still going at 3am the following morning! reaching the top at around 4am. It was the longest time that I have ever spent continually climbing on a route, and I was truely glad to pull over the top and arrive on the summit. Again, I was extremely glad to be climbing with Eddie, his knowledge of aid climbing and his expertise in climbing chimneys definitely got us through some spots that I would have had a hard time on without him.
Although I found the climbing a bit frustrating at times it was a great trip with good company, in an amazing part of the world, and it was great to be able to spend so much time on rock after the rather damp summer.
|Lovely cracked slabs on Glacier point apron|
|Looking up the valley from Glacier point, with half dome just about poking out on the righthand sky line.|
|Amazing featured slab on snake dyke|
|Eddie making the most of the friction on crest jewel|
|A room with a view on half dome|
|Looking down the top pitches of crest jewel towards the valley floor|
|At the top of the regular route on half dome…eventually!|