Climbing is a peculiar thing. The lessons we learn along the road can impact us in ways that may surprise us. The attitude that we carry towards our discipline can play a significant role in whether we succeed or fall short of a set challenge. We listen to our own advice, and from that, we ask our bodies to comply, however, this is not always the case. Some, like me, will pursue and strive for an obstacle that presents a great deal of failure. From this, the need for our bodies and minds to work, in sync, with one another in order to overcome the challenge, is key. Climbing has the ability to become the most frustrating thing in the world at any given time, but, it can also be the activity that brings us the most joy. There are so many lessons to learn, and ones I have yet to experience, along with those few that I will have to work through more than just once. The idea of being presented with a challenge that tests our limits in terms of both physicality and mentality is where obsession is generated. Once this challenge is buried, a thought eventually begins to scratch away at our minds, telling us there is something bigger and bolder at which to throw ourselves. This is why I love climbing and why I will always climb. The sense of reward after directing every ounce of energy into completing one block or one slender streak up the face of an entire cliff-band is one that is unparalleled in any other aspect of my life. My experience with this sense of reward is limited; however, it is the on-going pursuit that keeps me motivated and will always keep me motivated. Whether it is gained from small progress on one of my most inspired, longstanding projects or completing a climb faster than I had previously imagined, there is always going to be a sense of drive in what I do. And so the addiction is born…
To bring you up to date, my name is David Fitzgerald and I live in Wicklow, the granite bouldering mecca of Ireland. There is still so much potential for developing in this area and a lot of the best lines are being established right next to the boulders people have been climbing for years, or even on the same boulders themselves. As of now, I have decided to focus on repeating as many hard boulder problems as I can, however, I won’t just launch an assault on any hard boulder problem just because I feel an obligation to complete it, it must inspire me to some degree. The reason for this is that I find most of the harder lines in Wicklow and in other areas very appealing in terms of the challenge that they present, I don't simply want to do them so that my tick-list will look nice. I want to climb everything and in every style so that I will progress as a climber. Generally I don’t like one move problems as they don’t require an awful lot of thought, and to be honest, I don’t really call them ‘boulder problems’ anyway. Or maybe I should call them problems, however, in most cases they are easy problems that are hard to do. They are nice testaments of strength, that’s for sure, and I do admire them in their difficulty. More so, I prefer climbs that present some form of struggle, and in some ways, an ‘on edge’ feel when I’m climbing them, where every move feels desperate. It is from this desperation, in some ways, where the biggest rewards are plucked. Sure, it is nice to say that you have pure 7A crimp strength, pure 8A dyno power or whatever it may be, but I feel that there is more reward to be found in completing a boulder problem that contains multiple aspects of climbing ability.
Right now, I’m working on a climb called Leftism in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. It’s a 7C+ established by Michael Duffy in December of 2008. It’s long. Very long. Longest boulder problem I’ve ever tried and very atypical of Wicklow bouldering. I have had roughly three sessions on this problem with a few attempts here and there on slightly miserable days. For me, It’s an overwhelming project to undertake and one that has already taught me quite a few lessons. With this problem, you can’t rush the results, it will only cause frustration. I remember when I started climbing the goal was to improve, just like everyone else. I remember my first day out bouldering in Glendalough and seeing this huge, overhanging arête that looked quite blank with one nice hold in the middle. I wondered to myself if it had ever been climbed before, still oblivious as to what people could actually achieve on rock. Right now I feel privileged to be working on such a line and going through the learning process that many have tackled before me. The big one, however, is that I can no longer be concerned with getting to the top. I chose to work this line as I knew it would present me with great challenges both mentally and physically. From my experience on plastic, I knew that my power endurance was not very impressive, so I knew that working such a long and powerful line would present me with the serious challenge that I was looking for. Mentally, I knew it would be draining, as are most long lines. Often you make gains and then suddenly you start to feel setbacks and doubt begins to creep in as to whether the line is possible for you or not. This is why I can no longer be concerned with getting to the top, and instead, I must only focus on each consecutive move as I progress through the problem. As with most climbs, you get to the top, you celebrate for a little while and you move on to the next biggest thing. This is why the process of working these lines is even more important than just sticking them down on a tick-list. In order to progress quickly in my climbing, I feel that I must learn how to be patient in order to succeed, as paradoxical as that may sound.
This winter/autumn was my first bouldering season outdoors. I started climbing in November of 2011 and by the time I got rolling I had already missed out on the good conditions. This winter, I quickly became obsessed with granite bouldering and how the movement was so different to anything I had ever experienced before on rock. I had a few projects in mind and I feel fortunate enough to have sent them alongside my good friends. After sending the sit start to 2.4 Pascals (7B+), everything kind of fizzled out after that in terms of outdoor climbing and I returned to the gym. School work began to pile up and the weather began to change. Now that I have some free time I am getting out as often as I can in order to complete a few projects, which include: Leftism (7C+), The Hills Have Eyes (8A) and Space Machine (7C). I thought that the weather would be too hot and humid to climb on the Wicklow granite, but it turns out that it's just fine. I had the opportunity at some point in February, I think, to have a session on The Hills Have Eyes and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It suits my style perfectly. It’s a 30-35 degree overhanging wall that follows a series of crimpy, powerful moves along a crack-line that leads to an easy arête finish. As soon as I work through Leftism, I’m going to invest all of my time into completing this line.
|The Hills Have Eyes 8A|
2.4 Pascals (SS) 7B+
One lesson I have learned is that you should never underestimate how much you can achieve if you invest all of your time into something you are so passionate about. At the beginning of last winter, I would never have imagined completing the moves to the sit start of 2.4 Pascals, or the sit start to the Groove, or even the sit start to BBE, which was my style at the time. However, when I was climbing at the gym (Gravity Climbing Centre, Inchicore) or even on the bus to and from college, my projects would never leave my mind.
And so, I am writing my first blog post here, which will hopefully serve as a medium through which I can sort out my thoughts in writing and share them with the climbing community. Climbing will always push me, inspire me and allow me to have some form of measurable progress in my life. This is why I do what I do. Always willing, always psyched.
“There is no strong or weak on granite, It’s a matter of approach” – Dave Graham.