Almost three years to the day after Michael Duffy did the first ascent of Ireland's hardest problem, Soul Revolution 8b+ in Glenmalure, it has been repeated for the first time by David Fitzgerald. He also managed the second ascent of the neo-classic Wonderland 8b in Glendalough on the same day.
Fitzgerald, a 22 year old Trinity student, has been quietly ticking his way through Duffy's first ascents. Having been so far ahead of the rest of the pack for so long, Duffy has had first dibs on the hard first ascents in this country, certainly those in the Wicklow area. After his monumental day yesterday Fitzgerald, who has only been climbing 4 years, has achieved his goal, and has almost run out of established problems to climb in Wicklow.
"With each year, Michael is still, and probably always will be, pushing the sport to a whole new level. His dedication and hard work is something for which I will never be able to thank him enough. The lines that he has established have led to some of my most cherished memories and I still have a mountain of them to climb. Contact, The Model and Man Machine are to name a few and I am itching for an opportunity to try these lines. I just need a car…"
A climber doing a 8B and a 8B+ in a day in somewhere like Font might only merit a short post on 8a.nu, but here, in this bouldering backwater, it's a big deal. And if you see it as the two hardest problems in a country getting their second ascents on a single day then it certainly is significant.
"I had a total of eight sessions working Soul Revolution. I had perfect conditions for each of those sessions and it suits my style pretty well, yet it still proved to be resilient. It's the most intricately powerful piece of climbing I've ever tried, situated in one of the most idyllic spots in Wicklow. Wonderland has been on my mind for years now, it still remains one of the most inspiring lines I've ever laid eyes upon. I had a total of four sessions working Wonderland, however, it was wet for three of those sessions. Luckily it was dry yesterday and I was able to make the most of it…"
Soul Revolution 8b+ is a beautiful overhanging wall hidden away in a clump of pine trees not too far above the road in Glenmalure, Wicklow. The 7c+ stand start revolves around a dynamic move off a decent crimp. The sitter starts in a rounded bowl shaped cave with no holds only changes in angle before breaking out onto the face. After the first ascent Duffy said:
"It's the most technical thing I have ever climbed on. Took ages to figure it out. Starts off with tight little moves under a roof and then everything starts to open up and get big and dynamic, brilliant line, amazing climbing."
In contrast to the hidden away setting of Soul Revolution, Wonderland 8b sits smack bang in the middle of Ireland's most popular bouldering area, at the top of the valley in Glendalough, just a stone's throw from the path. As such the roof problem has received a lot of attention since Duffy did the first ascent in December 2010 but, in spite of this, it hasn't seen a second ascent until this week.
Wonderland consists of a series of compression moves across the roof culminating in a big slap to a good sloper on the lip, the crux is holding the swing.
I asked Fitzgerald what's next?
"I still have a very long list of projects to accomplish this year, it seems unending. They all inspire me in their own individually challenging ways. I've a few undone projects on my mind this year, so I'm hoping to give something back to the community in that way. "
This report originally appeared on TheShortSpan.com.