had an incredible bank holiday weekend. In the end I decided to go to Clare in the west of Ireland. I got a lift with Ed, also in the car was Malcolm and Brian. We drove across to Mayo on Friday night and stayed at Ed's parents house. Then in the morning down the coast to Clare. On the way I think we toured about 8 roundabouts. Ed likes that centrifigal feeling. We circled the largest one three times, but eventually we had to head to that mecca of outdoor enthusiasts in Ireland, The Burren.

We drove along the coast road, right by the crag. Before heading down to the campsite we decided to have a look and see if it was dry enough on the crag to climb. While passing through Galway it had pissed out of the heavens. Heading out from Kinvara the sun came out and by Alladie the rock was dry. I got Ed to lad up Jug City, one of the best VS's in the country. He had never been on it before and lvoed it. Just next to it there is a route I had heard a lot about, Western Pride E1 5b in the old guide book, E2 5c in the new guide book.

A thin finger flake braking the face for the fist 5 meters. The rock was very sharp, then a skitter across the face to another crack system and up on reasonable finger holds and pockets.

I got down to the belay ledge and looked back up at the route. We had abbed in so I had to climb out or else we were facing a time consuming prussock up the ab rope. I got ed he looked at me and asked me how I was feeling. I was feeling slightly scared, but I told him I felt confident, I mean sure the route was inimidating, but I had climbed this hard before, right? I was strong right?. He asked me "feeling cocky ?', 'No' I quickly replied.

I spent a few minuets placing the first wire, god the face was steep, jesus it was even slightly overhanging. I fiddled in the first two wires, placed my fingers in the crack, lifted my feet, and I felt my weight come on my arms, there it was I was climbing now, move feet up, finger lock after finger lock, reach out left to the scoop, nice open hand grip, all the time my weight on my arms,

At the top of the crack I look back to where my first few pieces of gear are, they are good but far below me. My feet are bridged out between the scoope and the crack, I place a wire it goes in and I clip the extender, I see a good hold above for my hands and stupidly I leave the other wires behind at the placement. I move up, the hold is good but the route is still pumping me, I am cal, just one solid placement here, looking around. I ahve ed's rack on and can't find the right sized friend, I try again, something goes in but it's crap, I place a wire, it's half in, it should hold a fall but there is a chance that it might lift out when I climb past it. I'm really feling gravity now, I look up, need to move across. I make a ,lovely move, backstep the crack and pull over into the next vertical system. There are big holds here, I have to reach high above my head to get the hold for my left hand, shit, my feet are pretty pumped at this point, but i' still keeping it together, just one nice piece here. I realise that the wires that I need are below on hte face, I had left them behind, idiot.

Now the screaming starts, i'm finger jamming a crak and I get a friend into it, it goes in but it's not completly snug, rearrange my fingers and place a second one above it, they are both moving sligylt in the crack and the crak is looking back at me, taunting me, "place a wire in me" it says. "Fuck you crack, you know my wires are below me". I look down, I'm trying to sake out the pump, there can only be half a dozen moves left to the top, I want the on sight.

I'm fucking climbing, start screaming "NO, FUCK I WANT THIS,I'M ON A CLIMB, COME ON" Then the pump hits, my hold body is shaking I'm moving up trying to get a good finger lock, trying to get a rest. My screams turn from screams of frustration to screams of fear, i say to myself "I can't fall off, I want this too bad, no I can't fall off I'm too scared. As I falling, I know i'm gaing to fall, I know the gear is crap, one last scream

fuck this, who cares anyway


I fall

one of the two friends pops, the other holds, I'm hainging in air I've come down past the crux, shit I don't know, 5 meters 7 meters, something like that. I look up, The nuts I had left behind are above me, I manage to get them , place a piece or two of gear to back myself up, grin, get back on the route and slowly and surely finish the last four moves to the top.

Gently gently I pull myself over the edge, I look down at Ed and say "just give me a minute while I get my head together".

Turns out ed got rope burn while holding the fall (which explains why I fell so far). After hegets to the top he has to drive away to get some ice for his hand, He had to leave a couple of pieces of gear in the route cos t was too painfull for him to get them out.

I head off to find Brian and Malcolm in order to get someone to get the gear out with, this is the first day of the weekend !.

Later that night I meet Claire, She had come up from Cork. I had met her last weekend and completly failed to get off with her. I guess last weekend i didn't try and I had spent quite a lot of time in hte past week trying to fugure out why. For some reason I was not beering this weekend, sober then, and yes she is really nice.

After the pub We all went for a walk down to Doolin pier. I lay at the edge of the pier wall, head hanging back, looking over the waves, mars above the horizon. Claire lay down beside me, we chatted. After time the others left, she said "perhaps we should be going",
"wait" I said. "before we go I want to kiss you". She asked what would happen in she said no, I told her we would go back to the campsite without me kissing her.

We kissed.

Sunday, the sun shone, the forecast had been for crap. We lucked out this weekend. We went surfing in Lahinch. The no alcohol evening meant we were up and ready at the surf shop, an hour before the surf shop opened. There were about 12 people down for the weekend and some needed to hire some gear.

I'd never been surfing before. I caught the first wave that came along, accelerated into shore, suddenly the whole surfing thing made a point. I managed to stand three times on the board, but never rode the board beyond that. caught a few waves, mucked about and had a good time.

The evening we pickinicked on the cliff topes, the drizzle came in from the atlantic and we walked along the coast from Doolin, towards the Cliffs of Moher. The waves crashed down on Doolin beach, draggin the stones, the whole shore growled as stoned scraped against each other.

The Doolin cliffs are made of shale, it crumbles in your hand, but it is impermeable, makes the water route itself through the limestone, gives us the caves of Clare.

We saw sea caves, a hughe Zawn and in the back the bubbles on the surf formed the outline of some Giant bearded man lying in the sea.

One cave mouth rose 40 feet into the air. People were leaping from it into the sea. We planned to do this on the monday but didn't get our shit together to head out again.

Eventually we turned back, took the more direct route back to Doolin, had to get back for food.

that night back in the campsite a game of musical tent places was played. Claire and myself got to get to know each other slightly better, loveley night, she said that It was unusuall to find a gentleman, a gentleman I am!, well raised by my grandmother.

Then Morning, lazy beakfast, a visit to the cliffs of moher, my first time there, then home to dublin and I'm wondering when I will do Western Pride again, when I will jump off that cave mouth into the welcoming sea below, when I will climb in that virgin Zawn, and when I will see the girl from Cork again.