The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Jun 2012

The Top 5 Areas for Bouldering in Ireland


Last week, while trolling through adventure videos, I came across a short of two guys bouldering in Ireland. It was a simple, effective edit: the rock was wet, the valley was green and bracken, the guys kept finding beautiful, big, dark rocks to climb. It inspired me to abandon my search for early morning news and type “bouldering Ireland” into Google. A site named The Short Span showed up in the first two spots. I clicked. There were videos, of “Ireland’s Strongest Dad,” of “The Beast from the East” and “The Wiener from the West,” and of the 2012 Gap of Dunloe Climbing Meet. There were forums and an archive of posts packed with data on remote Irish climbing locales.

Most of the posts were written by Dave Flanagan. He included pictures and detailed tips about where and when to climb. I eventually emailed Flanagan with a few questions, including why and when he started the site.

I just wanted to share information about the great bouldering I had found. The site started in 2000, I think. No one ever asks me where the name came from, I think they assume it’s related to bouldering, but it actually is a reference to a poem by a British climber and writer Geoffrey Winthrop Young.

 “In this short span between my fingertips and the smooth edge and these tense feet cramped to a crystal ledge, I hold the life of a man.”

 Stirring stuff.

I hadn’t asked the question either, but wished I had. Flanagan also sent his list of the five top bouldering sites in Ireland, which I did ask for. His picks are listed below. If you want to know more, you can check out The Short Span or purchase the e-book version of Bouldering Ireland.

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Alite’s Gear Lending Library Gives Urbanites an Outdoor Education

Tae_rangerstation Alite Designs cofounder Tae Kim at the Ranger Station library. Photo: Mary Catherine O'Connor

Tae Kim grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where, he says, “your crazy uncle teaches you how to go camping.” (His crazy uncle really did teach him how to go camping.) But in the lower 48, he found the concept of “the outdoors” much less accessible to people. Looking at most outdoor gear company offerings, you’d think the only way to go outside is to go huck a cliff, or climb a mountain, to take on a major expedition.

After a six-year stint as design director at The North Face, Kim co-founded Alite Designs in 2008. Specializing in packs, tents and camping accessories, San Francisco-based Alite targets young, hip, urban consumers who want to spend more time outside but don’t really know how to get out there.

“Tents are a huge hurdle for people to go out and buy,” he says, and what’s the point in buying a tent if you’re not sure you’ll use it more than once? “Our whole mission is to get people outside, especially young people. We want to make sure they’re not scared or inadequately equipped. A lot of these people grew up in suburbia and moved to the city and never really spent time outside,” he says.

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Downhill Mountain Biking Injuries: By the Numbers

Shutterstock_3204886A little air. Photo: Shutterstock

What are the most common injuries for downhill mountain bikers? A new study published in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine takes a crack at answering that question by examining the cases from one emergency clinic near the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

The park has three lifts that offer access to 45 trails with more than 155 miles and 3,800 vertical feet of riding. Helmets are mandatory. Five-year-olds planning to hit the dirt can forget about it. The minimum age requirement is six. There are ramps that easily allow riders to jump eight feet in the air and soar distances of more than 10 feet. There are rocks and roots for rumbling over. All of these obstacles are also great, of course, for biting it.

When athletes injure themselves, they often head to the nearby Whistler Health Care Centre. "We chose Whistler for a host of reasons," says one of the study's authors, Dr. Mary Pat McKay of George Washington University. "But primarily because there is really only one local medical clinic; this made data collection fairly comprehensive."

The clinic gave McKay, lead author Zachary Ashwell, and colleagues injury data from the 2009 season—which ran from mid-May to mid-October. Those people who were airlifted out of the park or went home thinking things "weren't that bad" were not included in this study. In total, 910 cases were catalogued. Twelve of those visits were excluded from the results because the injuries did not come directly from riding—think bee stings. Here's what the remaining 898 cases revealed, by the numbers.

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The Six-Month Test: Litespeed L3 Ultegra

The titanium masters prove they can do carbon just as well as they do metal.

The Litespeed L3 Ultegra

American bike manufacturer Litespeed built its reputation on high-end titanium. The company still sells plenty of metal—over half its bikes are titanium—but in recent years it has bowed to market pressures and launched into carbon too.

We were at first troubled by that development, fearing that the foray into carbon fiber would dilute the company's message and efforts. The release of the budget-minded M1 in 2011, which we found lackluster, seemed to underscore the point. Based on that experience we nearly didn't even try the 2012 Litespeed L3, and what a mistake that would have been as this new all-arounder turned out to be a fast, no-nonsense road bike that packs a lot of value.


Unlike most manufacturers who have had standard-shaped road bikes for years and then moved into aero, Litespeed, who just jumped into carbon, began the venture with the aero C Series before backing into the traditional shapes of the L Series this year. While I can't deny the benefits of aero road bikes, I still prefer the look and feel of a more traditional bike. It's a personal choice, but that set the L3 and me off on the right pedal from the start. Another sell: The L3 comes from the same molds as the pricier L1—the difference is a slightly lower grade of carbon. That means you get high-end shapes with just a little extra weight.

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Adventure Video of the Week: William Trubridge Freedives to 393 Feet

Earlier this week, 35-year-old German freediver Tom Sietas reportedly broke the world record for breathholding when he stayed underwater for 22 minutes and 22 seconds. That's just a bit longer—and probably a bit more exciting to watch—than the average television sitcom without commercials. Sietas has a lung capacity 20 percent larger than the average person his size and is a trained freediver. He doesn't eat for five hours before "going for it." The feat was impressive, but what may be more impressive, and definitely more entertaining to watch, is the dive above by William Trubridge.

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