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Messages - Dave Flanagan

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Bouldering Discussion / Closing forum
« on: October 05, 2018, 08:48:26 AM »
I'm hoping to start posting more Irish bouldering news on rather than theshortspan as I don't want to maintain two sites. So I'm moving all the blog contents, new problem database over there. As this forum has been very quiet I think I'm just going to close it. People can contact me via email or on FB, instgram, twitter. There is also an Irish bouldering page on facebook which might be of use for general questions and discussion.

Bouldering Discussion / Re: Incorrect name on problem in database
« on: June 30, 2018, 07:19:30 PM »
It has to be done manually. I will sort it.

Bouldering Discussion / Re: Bouldering pad near Dublin
« on: August 13, 2017, 07:04:08 AM »
Gravity Climbing Centre rent pads. Get in touch with them.

Thanks Luke. Hope the trip goes well. Actually I think the plan has changed and I'm going to wait until I have time to do a major update in the spring.

I've almost out of copies of Bouldering in Ireland and need to do another print run. I don't have time to do a major update - I will do one next time - however I'm going to make a few minor changes and tweaks.

I plan to replace the grid references with longitude/latitudes as I think they are more useful.

If anyone has spotted any errors, typos etc. or has any suggestions for tweaks then please let me know.


Bouldering Discussion / Re: Futher away from the numbers
« on: July 24, 2017, 01:11:42 PM »
The starting hold?

Bouldering Discussion / Re: Best crowded boulder spot
« on: March 28, 2017, 08:55:05 AM »
Hi Hauke
There are problably only two areas where you could show up at the weekend and have a good chance of meeting other boulderers - Glendalough and Fair Head. You could wild camp near each of them, no problem.

Bouldering Discussion / Re: Log Books
« on: March 18, 2017, 02:39:21 PM »
There isn't any that are widely used. If you want to get in touch with me I can help you put together a PDF which I think is the best way to share information about a new area. If you want to add them here

Thanks for posting Barry.
Maybe the term is very rarely used, but I think a lot of problems are de facto closed projects. The closure exists as an implicit agreement between friends.

I agree 100% that publicity was the issue. After all you can't climb a problem if you don't know that it exists. But I don't think it's correct to say that I publicised it widely. The most I ever said online was that it was in Glenmalure which considering the length of valley isn't really giving away much. I told a few people about it, as I trusted them, but obviously word slipped out, granted I didn't swear them to silence or anything. I accept that publicising it widely would be rubbing it in people's faces and not very wise, but I really don't think I did that.

I will have to use NDAs from now on or just keep my mouth shut.

As to it being a non-issue you are probably right on that. I can easily imagine how it would seem like a storm in a teacup.

It's a pity that more people haven't offered their opinion on the general issue and no clear consensus has emerged even among the few who have posted.

I'm not really interested in further discussing the specifics of the Glenmalure Wall, now known as The Rebel's Wall by the way, but I can assure John and others who don't have any time for closed projects that information it's inevitable that information isn't going to flow as easily in the future and I think that is a pity. 

If Dave cant find enough 'glory' now in doing the stand start someday then i wonder why he boulders. I hope you're not going to walk away from this problem now Dave, that would speak volumes...

I'm not sure what you are getting at Chris. But if I do walk away from this problem then all it will mean is that, without the lure of a first ascent, I'm no longer as motivated by it.

TheShortSpan: How much esteem do you place in the first ascend of a problem, are you only interested in your first (and subsequent) ascent of the problem?
JohnGill: My approach in the 1950s and 1960s centered on exploration and first ascents. I was never very interested in doing something that had already been done, when there was so much out there to discover so many untried problems to solve.


the interested party is maybe a half dozen people, their lives aren't somehow rendered incomplete because that haven't been able to climb it

Couldn't this argument be used against you? has your life been rendered incomplete that someone climbed this one rock when you have done many first ascents and will do more?

I don't think it really can. Missing out a FA is a little different then missing out on the chance to repeat a problem.

And no my life hasn't been rendered incomplete.

Good post Mikey. I thing the race analogy is pretty good but flawed. The thing is that there isn't just one race, there are lots of them, they can start at any time, and people are free to choose which races they take part in, there is no reason why it can't be one person per race ie. it doesn't need to be race.

The point I'm making is that it's not like this was the only boulder problem in the county and that all the other the other boulderers were just standing around waiting for me to do it. There is a huge amount of good stuff out there, maybe better stuff, I don't know, so why not focus on that stuff.

All that said I understand your point of view.

I don't know is it just me but the forum roll (new forum posts) never appears on the frontpage of theshortspan (I'm using chrome), I have to click into the forum through the link in the banner to see any new posts.. Might explain the lack of use the last while.

Probably be nice to have a similar roll for the new problem database.

Thanks Barry. I have sorted it, I haven't added a roll for the new problem database, if someone who knows a bit of php and wordpress want to do it great.

Thanks Mikey for your comments.

Would it have made you feel better or worse if you'd found out some random tourist climber who rented pad for the weekend stumbled across it and climbed it.

I would feel a little better. The tourist didn't intentionally go out to climb something that they knew someone else, who they knew personally, was working. Whether you believe in closed projects or not, I think you have to agree that that adds an extra bit of sting to it.


I'm not sure if anyone visits this forum much any more but it's the best place for this anyway.

Recent events have got me thinking about closed projects (an unclimbed problem in which a climber - probably the one who found/cleaned it - requests that other climbers give him the opportunity to do the first ascent).  I have written about closed projects before ( (Out of curiosity on posted on UKBouldering to get a sense of what the UK angle is on the subject,25929.0.html)

Just to be clear I don't think that any climber believes they 'own' a piece of rock, or that they have a' right' to it, or that no one else is 'allowed' climb on it. There are no hard and fast rules, this whole idea is based on informal agreement, there is no punishment for transgression.

Also the concept applies only really to new areas, I don't anyone would 'red tag' (this term comes from sport climbing where the climber who bolted the route would tie some red tape on the first bolt to signify a work in progress) an obvious gap at a well established crags.

I will first give a bit of background and then make some general points, I would be really keen to hear other people's opinions on this subject.

In July 2011 I found a really nice problem in Glenmalure, probably the nicest I have ever found, a steep wall, about 30 degrees, with a few incut rails on it it, about 14 feet high (see photo above, Lee is on the sloper that marks the stand start, his left foot is on the starting hold of the sitter). I cleaned it up, built a landing and started working the moves. After a good bit of work I realised that the sitstart was beyond me and just focussed on the stand. I posted a video ( and a few shots but was vague on the exact location. I told a few people about it and implied that I wanted some time to get it done, I was satisfied that they would respect that. So four years later I still haven't done it, getting on it regularly but not all that often.
At the start of this year, aware that time was getting on, I made a plan to get it done and started training specifically (trying to loose a bit of weight, I built a model of it on my board, fingerboarding and doing core work) for it (don't laugh, I know lots of people could do it in their runners), my last session was in late April and I was getting close, I had done all the moves and linked a few.  This video is from a session in late March of this year and here is another one from early January 2013

Two weeks later I broke my elbow mountain biking. A few days after the accident I get a message from John asking about it, I said that I was getting close and would like more time, he seemed ok with this. Then a few days ago I get another message saying that he has climbed it. It was a long message, spelling out his reasoning, which I won't paraphrase, he can post here if he wants.

I was very disappointed to hear that the problem has been climbed. John is a good guy, and I wasn't angry with him, more confused. Now I get that a lot of people will say big deal it's just boulder problem, who cares who does it first, and they might well have a point. But I do care who does it first, I can't really articulate very well why it's important to me but it is. I have spent a lot of time over the years searching for, cleaning, climbing and documenting new problems.

The line itself is really nice, quite unique for Wicklow, steep on small holds. And you might say that it was a shame for me to selfishly hoard this problem just to satisfy my own ego. Why can't everyone enjoy it? I suppose part of it is that I feel that the FA is some kind of a reward for finding the problem. Plus I don't think that there is suddenly going to dozens of climbers queueing up to do the problem, the interested party is maybe a half dozen people, their lives aren't somehow rendered incomplete because that haven't been able to climb it, and anyway there are many, many great unclimbed problems out there, plenty to go around (some of which I have found on my travels and shared with others).

Now I acknowledge that my attempts to climb it have gone on for a long time, maybe too long, and I really appreciate the patience of those who held off. And maybe the time had come to offer it up, especially considering I'm injured and likely won't be able to climb for 4 more months. I wasn't 100% comfortable with the idea of having this project closed for so long, believe me I would of loved to have done it years ago, but I suppose I felt that it's reasonably obscure, there is a low chance of someone just finding it 100% under their own steam.

Maybe in this regard I was lax, I told a few people about it, told them where it was. I was happy to do this as I trusted them. I documented some problems very close by. I even put up a video and a few photos of it. Maybe this was my mistake, if I had done everything I could to keep it hidden well then maybe things would be different. This is the main reason why I think closed projects aren't such a bad thing, they encourage the flow of information, or rather a lack of respect among climbers for each other's project creates a culture of secrecy. I shared information about other problems nearby, I tipped off Michael about what became Soul Revolution, Ireland's hardest problem, which is about 500m away from 'my' yoke, I documented the 45 degree wall in the second edition of the guide, these things mightn't have happened if I felt very that it was open season on the problem I found.

The other consequence of a world of open projects is that the best climbers get to hover up all the problems. I think it's fair to say that someone who has to work really hard for a long time to climb a problem will get more out of it then someone who does it easily in a few goes.

Also if you accept that some climbers value first ascents (even if you don't) and are prepared to put in effort (searching, cleaning etc.) to achieve them, in a world of open projects they risk having 'their' price taken from them, this could act as a disincentive to seeking out problems, which would be loss to the wider climbing community (even those who don't value FAs). So I don't think it's as simple as equating closed projects as good for the individual and open projects good for the community. (I have reposted an old article I wrote in 2008 about first ascents

As for the idea of attaching zero value to a first ascent, I would imagine most climbers would disagree with that. They mean as much as you want to think they mean and they are potentially some sort of ego thing, but the idea of valuing first is a fundamental part of human nature I think.

If a climber wants to protect a FA in a new area and they can't trust other climbers to stay off it then the only alternative is to keep the whole area secret, this means that the community, rather then just having to keep off one problem, misses out on a whole area.

Within all this is the fact that closed projects aren't documented anywhere, and someone could quite innocently find a problem that some consider closed and climb it. Nothing that can be done about this.

I don't think that this whole thing is equivalent to the Germans rushing out at dawn to put their towels on the best deckchairs, I see it more about respecting the efforts of a fellow climber. Imagine someone spend the whole day arranging dominoes, is it right that they get to be the one to knock the first one over?

Lastly I'm not saying that every new problem should be a closed project, far from it, but in certain situations I think its worth considering the idea of giving someone the time to see out something that they started.


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