Meeting in the Mournes

This Saturday I had the awesome chance to meet up with some cool ladies and climb things in the lovely Mourne Mountains. We detoured through some winding Irish country roads in order to avoid the Irish Open, which is a golf tournament for those who care about such things (note: I do not).

I was excited to get out and climb knowing that I would have the chance to lead a couple more things. The first route I led was scary because it was my first time being entirely in charge of myself while climbing, but the grade itself was easy as pie. I was keen to head on up a Severe to see what that felt like.

We had a good ratio of women who came out, about 4 who had outside experience and 4 who didn’t. Walking in was a bit slow as we also had a ratio of people who were fit to people who weren’t, but hey- climbing, like roller derby, is for everybody (and every body).

The day was lovely and not too many clouds threatened to make things miserable. The wind was rushing down the gully where we set our stuff up which made things cold, but not unbearable. I led my first Severe (called the North Wall) and flew up it- woo! I was nervous, but not scared. Leading makes me aware of precisely where my feet and hands need to be, and to be entirely confident of what I am doing with my body. Putting gear into the rocks wasn’t as much of a struggle as I usually make it, and before I knew it I was at the top with an anchor and hauled one of the newbies up after me.

I got to lead a second Severe called New Decayed which was, if possible, more awesome than the North Wall! I really enjoyed, and the me who is scared of heights/falling/spiders/other series of unfortunate events was nowhere to be found. This climb got precarious, but I didn’t mess it up.

Until I clipped the rope wrong on a bit of gear and made things super hard for myself… rope drag is a bitch. Aside from that brain fart and the subsequent tug of rope I had to do to set up my anchor, I was pretty darn happy with the day.

Climbing with ladies is awesome, because there’s no inherent competition. When I’m around the lads I find there is always a competition to get a certain crazy move right first, or race up a certain route the fastest, or just generally playfully fight over who is top dog. This isn’t a bad thing- it’s just how guys operate sometimes. Climbing with the women I climbed with allowed me to converse while climbing, take advice that was needed, laugh, and learn from others more experienced than me while teaching those who are much newer than I to this crazy awesome sport. I was right in the middle experience-wise, near the top fitness wise and definitely one of the most stubborn… Haha.

It started to sprinkle as we got to the base of our route after our second climb, so we hightailed it back to the car as the heavens opened. The weather in Norn Iron has been on again, off again rain for the last few days… can’t take anything for granted weather-wise over here. The walk back to the car was long and sodden, but the rain tap tapping on my (new) raincoat* hood was oddly therapeutic.

My semi-waterproof trousers had officially lost their semi-waterproofness, and soon I was forced to walk with fingers through my belt loops to keep them from sagging to the ground completely. Socks and trainers were soaked, but thank the deities for rain covers on rucksacks. I was still riding my happy high from my two climbs and humorously noted that I could pee my pants and no one would notice.

We finally made it back to the cars and into town for a much needed stop at the chippie. Drowned rats we may have looked… but at least we weren’t one of the people outside watching (or playing) golf! The course might be world class, but Irish weather certainly isn’t.

Happiness was a hot shower and my pajamas, sleeping in the knowledge that I’m slightly less of a crap climber than I was last week. For now, anyways.

This week I’m off to do an outdoor safety course for climbers (back to the Mournes where I hope against all hope that it will be dry), this weekend is a meet up in Fairhead with some cool climbers getting together, next week we’re off to the Republic for a climbing/camping trip and then my weekend in Spain (with an added derby game to boot) will introduce my sun-deprived body back to warmth!

In academic news, classes have ended, my supervisor is still terrible, my research still hasn’t been approved and my dissertation is metaphorically gathering dust. So… yeah. Not the most exciting or interesting part of my life.


My first lead of a Severe (North Wall) and first independent anchor built. Woo!



North Wall


New Decayed


GAH RAIN go away.

  011  015

*Side note: you know you’ve lived in Ireland for awhile when you get madly excited about a new rain jacket. Sad.

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