Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dumbarton Rock article in World Archaeology


Bouldering might feel just appear to be just a bit of athletic fun on some rock, but some take it very seriously indeed ... even archaeologists. The latest issue of the academic journal 'World Archaeology' features an article on the idea of 'counter archaeology', as practised by boulderers at Dumbarton Rock (amongst other visitors such as graffiti taggers/artists). It's always worthwhile taking some reflective time to consider what our activities mean in the greater scheme of things, and how they might appear to someone who has never witnessed this activity. In more imaginative contexts, some might see bouldering as 'costly signalling behaviour' (showing off), or consider it a pure form of non-representational theory (talk to John Hutchinson), and some might just call it 'bonsai mountaineering' (my term). Anyway, it was all a collective effort instigated by some kind archaeologists at ACCORD, an enlightened group of enthusiastic people who believe in opening archaeology to everyone... check out some of their projects at this open access site >>> which includes a 3D model of the Pongo boulder.

Here's the abstract: ' The notion of counter-archaeology is echoed by the opposing faces of the volcanic plug of Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. On the one side is the ‘official’ heritage of Dumbarton Castle, with its upstanding seventeenth-century military remains and underlying occupation evidence dating back to at least the eighth century ad. On the other side lies a landscape of climbing, bouldering and post-industrial abandonment. This paper develops counter-archaeology through the climbing traditions and boulder problems at Dumbarton Rock and brings to the surface marginalized forms of heritage. Climbers and archaeologists have co-authored the paper as part of a collaborative project, which challenges the binary trope of researcher and researched and provides a model for a collaborative, co-designed and co-produced counter-archaeology.'

Check out the collective article on Dumbarton Rock in World Archaeology's latest journal issue >>> 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Rum Bouldering 2017

Hamish Fraser's energies and enthusiasm for king lines has added to the burgeoning wealth of bouldering on Rum over the last 5 years. Despite the weather, midges and difficult logistics of approaching these allivalite giants, high under the looming presence of Hallival, it's all truly worth it! Some of the first ascents from this year's trips can be viewed on this video.

Rum Bouldering 2017 from Hamish Fraser on Vimeo.

His updated guide for 2017 is now released. You can download it here on the Boulder Scotland website.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Plato's Cave


In his famous 'allegory of the cave', the Greek philosopher Plato pondered the artificiality of reality in imagining how we could be fooled into thinking shadows on the wall (i.e. virtual reality) could be seen as 'real' life. I'm paraphrasing, of course. What has this got to do with climbing?

Well, I was pondering this myself recently while sitting on an artificial concrete boulder at the new Cuningar Loop bouldering park in Glasgow. Does it really matter that a boulder is made of concrete, surrounded by plantation and skirted with kind gravel traps rather than tree roots and spikey boulders? Isn't the 'real' thing so much better: the isolated erratic bloc deposited by geology's long-term aesthetic artwork? Well, yes, that's entirely up to you, but sometimes the artificial saves the day ... I was scuppered by Glasgow's cross-town traffic and turned back to my local artifice that is Cuningar to climb the blue circuit I had imagined as something akin to the real Fonatainbleau. With the wind shivering through the tree canopy and the sun catching the light-coloured moulding of the concrete, I was almost in the real thing. That was good enough for me - Plato can cast all the artifical puppet-shadows he wants, I'll accept the story it tells!

If you want to sample the bouldering park, here's an access topo for a representative 'blue' circuit of 22 problems between Font 3 and 5+. Dropbox PDF topo >>>

Or visit the Boulder Scotland companion website >>>

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dumbarton Rock article in World Archaeology

Dumby gets an academic approach in this article published by World Archaeology. This multi-authored article was the result of archaeologists, climbers and heritage professionals examining the meaning of Dumby for those who frequent the place, especially climbers.

Abstract
The notion of counter-archaeology is echoed by the opposing faces of the volcanic plug of Dumbarton Rock, Scotland. On the one side is the ‘official’ heritage of Dumbarton Castle, with its upstanding seventeenth-century military remains and underlying occupation evidence dating back to at least the eighth century ad. On the other side lies a landscape of climbing, bouldering and post-industrial abandonment. This paper develops counter-archaeology through the climbing traditions and boulder problems at Dumbarton Rock and brings to the surface marginalized forms of heritage. Climbers and archaeologists have co-authored the paper as part of a collaborative project, which challenges the binary trope of researcher and researched and provides a model for a collaborative, co-designed and co-produced counter-archaeology.