A Day at the Beach

Well, at first glance it seems this title is a little…..off.  Not really the thing to be on the Mountianeering Club site, eh?  WRONG.  Read farther and you shall come to understand.

But first, this is as the kids say ‘My condiment of choice’ (my jam for all you oldsters).

Now, on the day of yesterday’s tomorrow, with reference to the Hen trip (and yes that does amount to the day after Hen) a few of the older folk had planned a day at the beach….OH MY!  My sincerest apologies folks, I seem to have misspelled Dalkey Quarry.  For one could be mistaken after all, once we realized how much sand there was to be swept out of our bags.

For the simple minded people (that includes all the committee and the freshers), Sand-bagging is the act of grading a route to be easier than it actually if or feels.  A prime example of this is Jump Route on Hen, graded VS 4c, in reality it is hard VS 9b+.

This was in full effect at Dalkey the day we arrived, but first the preparations.  As all good stories and adventures, this one began the Tuesday beforehand, in the pub.  There are better ways to plan things, but non more cheerful than this.  The plan amounted to “Dalkey?” and over the coming days became a more organised one, until it solidified as gather the morning and set forth in various vehicles.  The ever eager Prebble and Vye duo were heading a tad earlier, at about 8 it ended up.  Sadly as Toby was my lift I also had to be up at this time.  The other cars left at about 9 as I was told later.

We were southern bound, but on this the Sabbath were dare not miss the morning service.  We tuned into the radio service, from Derry that fine day, and the comforting sounds of hymns send me off to sleep.  Now when I was jolted awake I remembered the great flaw in this plan.  I am dirt poor, and so couldn’t buy coffee or food for the day when we first stopped at McDonald’s.  Upon awakening again in Dalkey town, and had resolved to delve further into the black hole that is my overdraft, I remembered we were in IRELAND on a SUNDAY, so no shops were available.  You would think after just about 21 years of living in the bloody place I should know better.  It appears you have yet to truly know the nature of your dear writer, Conor Cadden.

Though the morning air at Dalkey was……bracing, we walked on in a daze, seduced by the magic of the quarry.  We arrived at the bottom of route such as Paradise Lost and began the day as a 3.  Things went swimmingly, at least until we climbed above the treeline.  One by one, Toby being first, we were amazed to find that out of the cold shade of the quarry floor, on the sun kissed walls, it was…..WARM.  This was a shock to the system, and resulted in the usual complaining about the weather.  “How are we meant to climb in this heat? The holds will all be slick with sweat!”  After three of the spot’s quality routes (not actually sarcasm) we saw our first allies, the other cars had finally arrived.  When we reached the bottom we took tally.

We were now joined by Roisin, Jamie, Jo, Jonny and Liz.  New pairs were formed, me splitting from the dream team, to join with Liz.  While the ever psyched Roisin and Jamie paired, and the cripples felt an affinity with each other (that would be “Iron Ankle” Jo and “Limp Wrist” Jonny).  Jonny began his first lead outdoors since his wrist had recovered (brave man) and Jo her first outdoor climbing (I believe) since her disagreement with Beg (also very brave).  While they began, the rest of us headed off in different directions.  Toby and I thought it would be good to relive our Fairhead experience, that is, climbing sister routes for added banter between climbing pairs.  This was a good idea.  We looked to the slightly less used area of the quarry, and in the shade, this was not a good idea.

Toby selected a slightly overhanging VS corner crack, and I some balance using route involving bore-holes, also VS.  The sandbagging began in force.  Toby found the lower section a challenge, but not one he was unequal too, quite the opposite.  But the top-out was a mudslide.  I can attest to this, as a lot of it ended up on my head as I began my route.  The idea of my route was to traverse right and gain the arete, however there were not enough footholds to do this low down, so i used the bore hole as a foot hold.  However there were no hands.  And no gear of any merit.  Through much “ummmms” and “aahhhhhs” I managed quite the nest in a thin crack.  This nest composed of a size 1 RP, a size 2 RP, a small ball-nut, and a white tricam.  If one wishes one can google, but all this “gear” amounts to a slower fall rather than stopping it, though the ball-nut was probably fine looking back on it.  Interestingly the white tri was in the way of the only hand-hold.  While Toby abseiled after a successful route, he had stumbled across me just in time to watch perhaps the closest call of mine in recent times.

I removed the tricam for use of the small crimp, gritted my teeth, and made a one-handed-flying-foot-swap in the annoyingly muddy and small borehole.  Replacing the tricam, I moved round the corner to move up the the top-out.  Similar to the route beside it this was shit.  A wet, grassy, muddy, clopping ledge mantel was called for, then some fast grabbing for the most solid bush in reach.  After reassuring Liz that gorse bush anchors were bomber, and that this one even had a steak, she was on second.  A fabulous and diverse string of swears saw the valiant Liz atop the grassy ledge, where I apologized  greatly for route choice.  Thankfully she is a fool, and believed it was simply the hobby of climbing which agitates her.  I slide by guilt free once more.

We regrouped with Prebs and Toby after their second route at this wall (we were slow to finish, and the climb took a while as well) and headed back to the main pack.  We saw that Jonny and Joe had successfully conquered the section of wall they had hoped to, and all other parties had also lived through the experience with all limbs intact.  We looked to Dalkey town for a solid meal in a pub.  Solid chips and such.  Now the drive home, for which I could not make the first part fully alive.  I awoke at the Applegreens North of Dublin, and gave in to the need for coffee we all felt.  After a bollocking by Prebs for being shit craic previously, I did my best to chat.  We ended up commenting on the merits of long mix music and sometimes just saying things like “Nearly there”, though we were far from Belfast, largely to see if our driver Toby responded, or if he had died of exhaustion and caffeine overdose.  All very real dangers.

Finally we landed in the haven (living cesspit) that is Belfast.  I made many promises of lifts in repayment for Toby, likely to Fairhead for bouldering this winter, and threw my shit in a waiting car driven by my dear mother.  I then told her I had already had a service this morning in the car, and went back to my default mode of the day, I fell asleep.