Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bouldering in Scotland 2007


With the new edition of Stone Country almost ready to go to press, it's been a year where it's fair to say I have maybe not been reflective about the bigger picture, having been swamped in detail and numerous new venues, repeats and quality new lines. It's the time of year to sit back, pour a glass of port and mutter on about all the good things we did...

That said, what strikes me as possibly a watershed in scottish climbing activity is the army of young boulderers coming out of the walls and finding their own way, that is, exploring their own abilities in a wild landscape. Trad may not exactly be dead, but everyone wants to do something new, and if you're young and keen (or just old and know no better), bouldering is a Yukon of gold rock and new possibilities. The amount of new venues that get mentioned to me (usually casual hints as I'm about to print a book!) is encouraging and it's good that Scotland is providing new impetus in mountaineering circles to continue the explorative tradition. It's indicative of the mountain spirit that bouldering should be developed in such landscapes - it's a simple need to do personally meaningful things in big places... climbing Font 7c on a remote stone in the Highlands is no mean feat, considering the midges, the bogs, the humidity and the darn cussedness of the Scottish weather systems! So I'm glad so many strong young (and old) boulderers are out walking the glens with big mats catching the wind...

The new bouldering guide then will feature this spirit of development: recording the 'big new secrets' of the boulderer... the Craigmaddie gritstone revelation (drive out of Sheffield, gain the M6, go north 300 miles...), the meteorite chaos of Carn Liath on Skye, new 'red grit' classics at Torridon & Reiff in the Woods from a strong northern crew, Cummingston sandstone, Cullen quartzite, Clashfarquhar schist (near Portlethen), Inchbae granite, the bizarre Mushroom on Arran, the endless problems falling out of Brin's rocky forest... so in terms of geology it's been an exhaustive year. In terms of the quality of problems, here are my highlights of the year, (apologies for missing anyone's personal favourites):

Sanction Font 8b Dumbarton
A truly awe-inspiring line from Dave MacLeod before he packed his bags for Fortwilliam, climbed early in the year (February). We maybe get too used to Dave pulling off another world-class cutting edge feat of strength and seeing it online or on the screen, but no-one can touch him for versatility, resilience, dedication, training and mental fortitude... 'chapeau', Dave, as they say in Font. Scotland's hardest problem to date.

Put My New Shoes On Font 7c Brin
Ben Litster, before heading off to Magic Wood all summer to turn into a clone of Chris Sharma, did just what his problem says and got his sticky new heels on the wicked slopers of this blank lip at Brin. Pointed out to him by the all-seeing eye of Dave Wheeler, this was a fine effort from Ben and the first hard line since Dave Redpath's visits a few years before.

The Mission Torridon Font 7b
...and what a mission it was... Richie Betts enduring cold, rain, swamps and patio-building to finally claim this impossible-looking line on the rippled face of the Ship boulder. A bizarre sequence of 'french' moves, contortions and reachy, tenuous balance manouevres, this problem is truly a pencil-chewing maths equation of kinetics and levitation.

The Zealot Glen Ogle Font 7b
Glen Ogle's 'Holllow' boulder had puzzled me for years, such a great looking roof surely should have been climbed? It was duly scrubbed, brushed and flossed, then sent by a rather surprised John Watson, proving of excellent quality (the problem, not the boulderer). Mike Tweedley did a quick repeat and Richie Betts typically found an easier tall man's sequence, but neglected the sit start... no points there boyo.

Cubby's Traverse - Etive Boulders - Font 7b - Cubby had been missing in 'inaction' due to hip operations, but quietly got himself back climbing in his unassuming and modest manner, quickly showing his technical nous and finger-strength was still there. This excellent granite lip traverse on the Etive boulders was the highlight of Glencoe bouldering (it doesn't have many!). I'm still trying to get a name from him for it, really it's too good just to be another 'Cubby's Lip'!!

The Dagger - Duntelchaig - Font 6c+
Duntelchaig is usually too midged, damp, boggy, wet or simply minging to boulder, but on a good day it is terrific for finding new problems in the jumbles. Richie Betts discovered this elegant problem on a fin of rock supposedly impossible to find, even with GPS. A perfect example of what you can do if you look hard enough.

Diesel Canary - Lost Valley - Font 7a+
This may not have been a first ascent but this bloc has always looked so alpine and un-Scottish that it deserved a bit of attention. This line climbs the right-hand crimp line. All down to how you hold the crimp, and when the sun hits it!

Clach Mheallain - Reiff in the Woods - Font 7a
Ian Taylor has quietly bagged everybody's favourite projects anywhere near Ullapool, because he lives there and he can! This excellent arete means 'little stones' (ie 'hail') in gaelic, which gives you an idea of local conditions... but a superb line and one of too many to name at this excellent venue.

TP & QC Reiff In the Woods Font 7a
Okay, another one at RITW... Lawrence Hughes solved this 'Technical, Powerful and Quite Committing' roof, throwing heels in, using odd shoes, and topping out the highball arete... impressive and lusted after for a long time.

The Catch Scatwell Font 7b
Young Mike Lee has slowly been gaining muscle to his thin frame, though still insists on a studenty 'legoman' hairstyle, maybe that's the youth these days. Anyway, he bagged this powerful problem at the excellent new boulder at Strathconon near the Scatwell slabs. Richie Betts wins the prize for the best-named problem of the year... 'Road to Domestos'

The Susurrus Brin Font 7c
Stolen from under the nose of Ben Litster, Mike Lee unashamedly campussed out the desperate finish to this soaring roof at Brin, when Ben had been trying a forlorn heel-hooking method for months. Oh well, c'est la vie... they now share a flat together. I'm surprised they don't poison each others' cornflakes.

Sweet Cheeks Clashfarquhar Font 7b+
Tim Rankin has quietly been producing hardcore problems in Aberdeen without the aid of Dumbarton! He found an excellent steep boulder at Clashfarquhar and put up some hard problems up to Font 7c, but probably the best is this classic powerful clampy arete. These puppies are desperate for the grade as well, must be that NE air!

Abracadabra Craigmaddie - Font 6c+
The new gritstone/sandstone venue near Glasgow has produced a heap of classic wall and roof problems for the jaded volcanic afficionado of the Central belt. Colin Lambton worked out the proper sit start to this long and infuriatingly complex roof lip. Very easy to fail on!

Buddha's Choice Cummingston Font 6b
Dave Wheeler is the Buddha of Brodie, if you didn't know, and the quiet master of all things Cummy... this is one of his fine additions to the Cummingston roster of classics, a lovely technical roof tucked in an echoey cave... Dave has thousands of these and I can't be bothered listing them all... one day I'll cruise Bird Man as well!

Deep Breath Glen Nevis - Font 8a
It's apt the year should end with a deserved 'deep breath'. Dave MacLeod finally climbed this notorious steep wall at Glen Nevis, providing the glen with its first 8th grade problem, and deservedly so after so much mythology of hard problems existing here... Dave's ascent was incontrovertible and impressive, repeating it first time for the cameras, indeed three or four times for the hell of it!


Notable repeats:

Tom Charles-Edwards cracks Turbinal Nose at Glen Croe, saying it is maybe 7b+ if you're tall... proving a popular project problem and one of the gems of Glen Croe. I still think it's 7c, Tom.

Dumby - King Kong falls to Godzilla, masquerading as Alan Cassidy.

Dumby - the enduring strength of Mal Smith sees a quick repeat of Pressure, but you knew I was going to say that. Is he now our elder statesman of bouldering?

Niall McNair, in his usual onsight style, continues to destroy any boulder problem he comes across, repeating almost at will with a Duracell-bunny-style full attack mode, quite remarkable to witness. Some of his repeats: Lock, Stock ... at the Trossachs (7c), The Victorian (7b) and he nearly picnic-onsighted the desperate Out of the Blue at Loch Lomond... jeezo


... well, that's all I've time for now, Happy Festive Fun and here's to an even better 2008!




Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fontainebleau Redux



November may be autumn in the forest but it's a time of revival. Waking in the tent at 4am, I wriggle about in my cocoon a bit, wrapped in a chrysalis of decaying dreams. A rain of leaves whispers on the skin of the tent... the morning chill snapping them off the birches. I am beginning to go numb, so I crawl out, open the car and wipe my breath off the dashboard thermometer: -10 degrees.



Minus ten in the forest, a star-studded sky that's already going from black to purple with the promise of perfect egg blue at noon... everything is frozen: the olive oil a thick lime-green cake in a bottle, the water taps spilling out their clear mutant forms. I feel invigorated with hidden movement... the bouldering will be perfect. The stove roars up a protest against the silence and the coffee acts like oil for the diesel engine, we begin to throw our arms in circles to loosen shoulder tendons, crack fingers outwards, begin a slow rhythm of waking to the forest, an old friend... a place of limitless dreams and movement.

For a week we move through the forest silently, onsighting whatever problems look good, quietly conferring with parties of similar folk, swathed in golden rock and cold sunshine. Failure is never a disappointment and only a spur to move on, to keep moving, to absorb as much of the forest's circuitry and telemetry as possible. Fingers begin to grow steely and what was once hard feels open and accessible, bodies seem to grow into the stone's simple reasoning and movement becomes precise and economical, doing just enough and applying the purest equations of pressure and release.



This is the internal clockwork of Fontainebleau which ticks away in the long months of absence from this magical place, its memory a perpetual reflux of spinal memory: of throwing for sloping holds, of tensioning on crimps, of the body tightening round a sculpture of stone, or toes twisting on the faint squeak of friction... I come away from each visit reinvigorated, lighter spiritually, uncluttered and repaired by a simple landscape of tree and sand and stone...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stone Country Reviews

We are gearing up a little for Christmas and providing a few offers if anyone is looking for gifts for that keen boulderer!

All items can be bought securely through the STONE COUNTRY SHOP :

Stone Play - The Art of Bouldering £19.95

'The prints excellently portray the many aspects of bouldering, from aggression, technicality and confusion, to calm, subtlety and mastery. The essays complement the prints, taking the reader into the minds of some of bouldering's main protagonists – old and new. Overall this is a thought-provoking book for any climber, prompting personal reflection on one's own style, attitude and habits.'

Dave Redpath

Free additional T-Shirt with each T-Shirt order (£9.99) ie. two for a tenner!!


Stone Country Edition 1 - NOW ONLY £9.99 !!




Free draw - win the new Bouldering Guide!!



The new full colour edition of Stone Country will be available by February 2008, and I'll be entering everyone who gets in touch in a draw to win a free copy, deadline is Dec 31st 2007.

Just send an email with your name and address to boulderscotland@gmail.com

Also in the shop, I'll be selling more guidebooks and DVD's. To start with, there's Pete Murray's Chains at £16.99... Pete is currently working on a new film which will beavailable through Stone Country in 2008. Pete always provides an intelligent angle on our climbing world, showing us that there is deeper meaning and personal politics to our obsessions in climbing...



I was also sent a copy of the new Hotaches film Committed Vol.1 and enjoyed it thoroughly... it was another palm-wringing adventure through extreme British trad climbing and I hope it is the start of a fine documentray tradition of DVD's from the Hotaches crew. The production was excellent, the routes jaw-dropping and some of the fall footage is becoming legendary... these should come with an X-rated warning that you will spoil yourself, especially the footage of Meshuga in the new film! Congratualtions to Dave and Paul and the crew for continuing a high-quality independent film company... it's a hard shift traveling and producing and editing those thousands of minutes of footage - they deserve our attention and a little of our Christmas money! The film (and the excellent E11 movie are both available through their website).





Next year will see a busy production schedule for Stone Country guides. We'll have local bouldering guides, individual area topos available laminated and online, as well as Pete Murray's new bouldering movie. There will also be a guide to a European venue and quite possibly a collection of essays on Scottish Traditional climbing... so keep checking back on the blog.

Let's hope for a cold, crisp, sloper-sticky Christmas and New Year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stone Country News November

Image from 'Stone Play' - can you guess where it is?


It's been a hectic period putting books together, but finally Stone Play has been released and is receiving some good reviews. Two years in production, it maybe took a while, but hopefully folk will enjoy a bouldering circuit of historical photos and literary musings! Now I'm full time, I'm seeking publication ideas and commissions, so if you've something you want to publish, drop me an email at stonecountrypress@btinternet.com

Stone Play is available in shops now, or order online for Christmas from Cordee

On the Scottish bouldering front, I heard that Dave MacLeod, newly resident at Fortwilliam, is cleaning up the bouldering mythologies of Glen Nevis. He climbed the first confirmed ascent of the problem formerly known as The Morrighan which is the awesomely steep crimpy line under Pinnacle Ridge crag - we await a reappraisal. A few other projects fell in the glen and will be reported soon, John Watson having cleaned up an excellent traverse (Sylvestris Font 7a+) on the Pine Alp boulders above Whale Rock.

At Dumbarton, a young Glasgow Uni crew is eating up the 7c's and breaking down the 8a's rather too quickly for this veteran's liking! Ben Litster repeated Silverback, committing to the final move with an ear-shattering power yelp! There was an unassuming and impressive repeat of Pongo SS by Simon Westway (name correct?), and the harder lines seem a little closer to repeats by the younger generation.

'Silverback', Ben Litster cranking out another 7c

The North: earlier in the autumn Mike Lee did the first ascent of the Brin roof Susurrus Font 7c, which is an impressive line and an excellent testpiece for the campus kings. Richie Betts, Dave Wheeler and friends continue to develop the Inverness area, with new problems up to 7b at Duntelchaig, Cummingston, Kessock, Scatwell and Meig. Ian Taylor, Richie Betts and Lawrence Hughes have added more class problems to the Torridon Celtic Jumble, which is by no means worked out! Dedicated guides for these areas will follow in 2008. Clashfarquhar on the Aberdeen coast is now the new hard area to visit, with Tim Rankin having put up a number of impressively hard lines on the Big Grey boulder cluster, including Sweet Cheeks 7c+ and the hardest 7a on the planet (Clash Arete sit start!).

Clash Arete, Clashfarquhar

So what's next? Hot on the heels of Stone Play is the new Bouldering in Scotland guide, which we expect to be out early February. 80 venues or so, most of them refreshed, updated or just plain new... so get your projects done by Christmas if you want them in!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Bouldering Book – ‘Stone Play’


The bouldering season is here and Stone Play has just been published! The book is 160 pages, only19.95 and available in all decent bookshops, or online through Cordee distributors:

http://www.cordee.co.uk/CTC173.php

This is the first collection of bouldering writing and photography ever to have been published. It’s a global tour through the history of bouldering, including writing from as early as Oscar Eckenstein and Harold Raeburn, through to the modern era, including Klem Loskot, Jacky Godoffe, Bernd Zangerl and Dave MacLeod. We have Niall Grimes, John Palmer and Nick Dixon on the Peak; we have Geoff Dyer on Hampi; Tim Carruthers on Patagonia; Jacky Godoffe on Fontainebleau…. from the ‘golden age’ of American bouldering we have Pat Ament and John Gill… the list goes on.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Stone Country 2 New Venues


I'm currently finishing off the new edition of the Stone Country companion, a full-colour guidebook to Scottish bouldering. I've got about 80 venues, many of them recent and new (including a gritstone venue, ha ha ha Sheffield), so this is a call to any boulderers who would like their new or classic venues listed and mapped out... just let me know what I should include.



Some highlights include Craigmaddie, Glen Nevis updates, the Arran Mushroom, Dumby updates, Clashfarquhar, Muchalls Shore, Clova, Shelterstone, Aviemore venues, loads of far northwest stones, Carn Liath, Applecross, Scatwell, Glen Coe, Tom Riach, Brin Rock of course...the list is extensive, but it's all about what information I can dig up.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fewer Chicken Heads but Deeper Dishes

Staggered

The weather basked on the fringes of a high pressure and rain was attending one side of the country like a distracted bully, so we headed east and to the delights of the County. Bowden was visited after an aborted look at Raven's, proving too rough on the skin for a weekend of mostly skin management. We headed up to Bowden, gleaming in the sun like a petrified golden wave. Pairs of worshippers touched rock all along the length of the crag. Busy. Choose a spot...you can see the white dot-to-dot rubrics of the classics from half a mile away. We chose the winter-snowflake storm that is the Roof. Soon it was crawling. Still climbing gingerly, I snuck off to the west end to do some classics and noticed the crag was suffering just as much bouldering injury as me.

Poverty

Anyway, the weather was perfect and some classics were done, Colin cranking hard through the Bowden right roof, getting close on Poverty (the foothold is now so worn, it really is harder, nothing sticks now!), Child's Play (fewer chicken heads but deeper dishes) and the new classic Staggered saw a repeat from one of the locals.

A secret bivvy in Belford and a few pints saw us waking blearily to wind in the trees and the complaints of crows at dawn. A dusty rain threatened to turn into a downpour, so we packed and left for Kyloe-In, which for about half an hour was finger-cool and sticky, like the finest conditions at Font in November. Getting absorbed in some classics, we didn't notice it was raining hard, then things started to go weak and tired, the body gave in and another weekend in the County was over, the law of diminishing returns allowing me to use the rain as an excuse!


Monty Python's


As for the question of the rock... the question remains... to pof or not to pof?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Scotland's Top 100 Problems over Font 7a

Here's a list of what I thought might represent the best of the hardest problems in Scotland... please have a look through and get back to me on any opinions/inaccuracies or additions... it's just a matter of opinion, but I'd like to get some feedback for inclusion in the new edition of Stone Country.

Scotland Top 100 Boulder Problems Font 7a and above…

Font 8b V13

Sanction Dumbarton Rock Dave Macleod 2007 Plain hard.
Pressure Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2005 Aggression needed.
Super Size Me Dumbarton Rock Malcolm Smith 2005 Very long.
Perfect Crime Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2005 Contorted.
Zillion Dollar Sadist Clifton Paul Savage 2002 Blank and slopey lip.

Font 8a+ V12

Sosho Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2007 Convoluted tour.
Serum of Sisyphus Dumbarton Rock Malcolm Smith 2007 Perfect Crime escape.
Sabotage Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2003 Technical prow.

Font 8a V11

Chahala Sit Start Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2007 Tricky dynamics.
Hokku Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2007 Half of Sosho.
Pongo Sit Start Dumbarton Rock Malcolm Smith 1998 Classic power problem.
King Kong Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2003 Sustained tension.
Chinese Democracy Thirlstane Paul Savage 2000 Eliminate rules apply.
Firestarter Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2004 Finger nasty.
Kayla Portlethen Tim Rankin 2006 Technical and powerful roof.

Font 7c+ V10

Shrinking Violet Sit Start Thirlstane Paul Savage 2003 Eliminate cave crimper.
My Evil Twin Sandyhills Paul Savage 2001 Eliminate prow. Orig. 8a
News in Pidgin Gaelic… Glen Nevis Super-crimpy roof.
Press Gang Glen Nevis Dave Macleod 2002 Eliminate power.
Axeman Glen Croe Dave MacLeod 2002 Brutish.
Georgie Boy Portlethen Tim Rankin 2006 Undercut power roof.
Mike’s Problem Applecross Mike Adams 2006 Undercut puzzler.
Out of the Blue West Highland Way Chris Graham 2005 Butch technical roof.
The Nuclear Button Kennedy Boulder Dave MacLeod 2002 Power surge.
Central Belt Mafia Clashfarquhar Tim Rankin 2005 Slopers and crimps.

Font 7c V9

Precious Glen Croe Mike Tweedley 2003 Power arête.
Turbinal Nose Glen Croe Dave MacLeod 2003 Dynamic arête.
Beatleback Traverse Glen Nevis Dave Cuthertson 2000 Technical classic.
Silverback Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2001 Body tension.
Smoke Screen Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2004 New sequence, still slappy.
Pongo Direct Dumbarton Rock Malcolm Smith 1998 Stand-up start to crack.
Far From the Maddening Crowd Craigton Andy Gallagher 1998 Bold arête.
Consolidated Extension Dumbarton Rock Andy Gallagher 1995 Super-classic traverse.
Put My New Shoes On Brin Rock Ben Litster 2007 Slopey lip.
The Sword Loch Morar Boulders Chris Graham 2006 Bizarre feature crimpfest.
In Bloom Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 1998 Tenuous traverse into Pongo.
Catch 22 Glen Nevis Dave Cuthbertson2000 Classic dyno.
Frantic Torridon Dave MacLeod 2004 Lip slopers.
Knife Party Clifton Paul Savage Slopey granite lip.
Susurrus Brin Rock Mike Lee 2007 Campus crux.
Craig’s Wall Sit Start Thirlstane Tim Rankin 2005 Crimpy and dark.
Sweet Cheeks Clashfarquhar Tim Rankin 2005 Overhanging arête.

Traighd Route
Lewis Dave MacLeod 2003 Crag traverse.
Curmudgeon Garheugh Dave MacLeod 2003 Innocuous crack…
Rapier Glen Massan Dave MacLeod 2002 Sharp and reachy schist.

Font 7b+ V8/9

The Shield Dumbarton Rock Malcolm Smith 1994 Bullworker problem.
Beyond the Edge Reason Portlethen Tim Rankin 2006 Slopey lip.
Turtle Traverse Portlethen Tim Rankin 2004 Wave-washed smoothness.
Free Energy Loch Sloy Dave MacLeod 2002 Pocketed roof.
Moir’s Traverse Boltsheugh Wilson Moir Eliminate low traverse (F8a+)
Consolidated Traverse Dumbarton Rock Andy Gallagher 1994 Classic pump.
Liar’s Lair Portlethen Tim Rankin 2005 Short version Kayla.
Oceans Dumbarton Dave MacLeod 2001 Desperate undercut.
Hardcore Superstar Thirlstane Paul Savage Eliminate traverse.
Tied Up and Swallowed Thirlstane Paul Savage Mantel.
The Tombstone Ben Ledi Niall McNair 2006 Scary block.

Font 7b V8

The Zealot Glen Ogle John Watson 2007 Crimpy roof.
Mugsy Traverse Dumbarton Rock Andy Gallagher 1993 Sloper crux.
Right to Silence Glen Nevis Dave MacLeod 2002 Roof and wall.
Pagan Uillean Glen Nevis Roof cross-over.
MacTavish Glen Nevis Dave MacLeod 2002 Undercut and technical.
The Mission Torridon Richie Betts 2007 Technical reachy wall.
Ginger Rides Again Cummingston T.C.Edwards 2004 Blunt arête.
Supercrack Glen Croe Dave MacLeod 2002 Slopey jam-crack.
Crucifix Ardmair Ruins Mike Tweedley 2004 Roof contortions.
The Main Issue Reiff in the Woods Richie Betts 2006 Sloper dyno.
The Cutting Room Glen Croe Dave MacLeod 2002 Sharp as hell.
The Catch Scatwell Mike Lee 2007 Dynamic and powerful.
The Victorian Trossachs Boulders John Watson 2007 Roof and lip crimps.
Cubby’s Traverse Etive Boulders Dave Cuthbertson2005 Granite slopers.
Mother Farquhar Clashfarquhar Tim Rankin 2005 Undercut crack.
Rudeboy Ben Ledi Mike Tweedley 2004 Sloper traverse.
Altered States Garheugh Mike Tweedley 2003 Undercut roof.
Broadsword Glen Massan Dave MacLeod 2002 Highball finish to traverse.

Font 7a+ V7

Toto Sit Start Dumbarton Rock Cameron Phair 1994 Crimpy crossing.
Slap Happy Dumbarton Rock Andy Gallagher 1993 Classic sloper crimps.
Virgin Suicides Stronachlachlar Dave Redpath 2001 Slopey traverse.
Clach Mheallain Reiff in the Woods Ian Taylor 2006 Technical arête.
Diesel Canary Lost Valley John Watson 2007 Crimpy dyno.
Mestizo Sit Start Dumbarton Rock Dave MacLeod 2000 Heel-hook crux.
Big Up Orra Glasgae PeepsTrossachs Steve Richardson 2005 Insane mantel.
Pit Boy Glen Clova Tim Rankin 2005 Perma-dry roof.
Three Streaks Annat Mike Tweedley 2004 Technical groove.
Sonic Mook Loch Buie, Mull Mike Tweedley 2003 Cave roof.
Ace of Spades Glen Croe Dave Redpath 2001 Overhung crack.
Enthalpy Loch Sloy Dave MacLeod 2002 Crimpy wall.
Nipple Attack Loch Buie Slopey nose.

Font 7a V5/6

Mugsy Dumbarton Rock Dave Cuthbertson 1980’s Dyno and sloper.
Malcolm’s Arete Torridon Malcolm Smith 1990’s Overhanging arête.
Pump Up the Jam Sron na Ciche Boulders James Sutton 2004 Jam crack from hell.
Pebble Mill Reiff in the Woods Mike Tweedley 2004 Pebbletastic.
Corkscrew Ardmair Ruins Mike Tweedley 2004 Twisty and fun.
Helipad Lost Valley John Watson 2007 Sloper crux.
The Pit Portlethen Tim Rankin Undercut then dyno.
Razorback Reiff Unleashed power move.
Jihad Thirlstane Paul Savage Pocket dyno delight.
Cavalcade Kennedy
Boulder Mike Tweedley 2002 Dynamic.
No Traighdbacks
Traigh na Berigh Dave MacLeod 2003 Rounded crag horror.
The Cnipper
Traigh na Berigh Niall McNair 2001 Crag traverse.
Man of Mystery
Cameron Stone Dave MacLeod 2002 Crimpy roof.
Galtee Merci
Glencoe Rannoch Stone John Watson 2007 Granite sloper rail.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Brin V9 Susurrus

Ben Litster on an early attempt at Sussurrus

Michael Lee, haunted by a whispering need to get on the big roof at Brin, took advantage of Ben Litster's absence (unlucky Ben, don't be too hard on him!) to campus out the last crucial moves of Susurrus V9. The line is obvious when you walk into the woodland wonderland of Brin bouldering... a cavernous roof with a footless hanging prow, like a Scottish version of Eclipse. Mike thought the problem to be about Font 7c with a new cunning sequence at the start. Great to have two higher-end problems at Brin (the other is Ben's Put My New Shoes On), prompting questions.... is there an 8th grade somewhere in the forest?

Mike's Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Arrochar Classic from Niall McNair



Niall McNair has climbed a classic and stunning arete in Arrochar: Ajare E6/7 6b. The crag can be spied by lustful trad climbers from Arrochar, but until now no-one had breached the impregnable lines on this crag. The route was climbed in a flash ascent with a cursory abseil to check quality of rock on the dangerous crux, which is a technical 6b sequence over poor RP's leading to thank-god gear in a high niche. Niall repeated the climb smoothly for the cameras and thought it bold E6 climbing on second ascent, but this might still mean a possible ground-up E7 serious onsight, let the repeaters decide...


It is good to see routes of this quality still appearing in Arrochar... this is almost as stunning a line as Dalriada in my opinion. More lines will be forthcoming and the crag will soon be revealed in all its hardcore glory...

Ardnamurchan 'Ring Cycle'


A flying visit to the Ardnamurchan ring crags and another batch of problems to add to the great 'Ring Cycle'. Walking the volcano is long enough, but add on a few highball problems and easy solos makes for a very interesting and exhausting day's climbing. Start at the central camp-site by the wee river (before Achnaha), go up the back of Creag an Airgid and circumnavigate the boulders and crags anti-clockwise to finish over the craggy back of Sanna and the long ridge home to the campsite. Climb anything that looks good... the slabby crags are highball VS at most and steep short roofs add a little bouldery intrigue. The best bouldering is around the crags and boulders between Creag an Fhir Eoin and Achnaha Buttress, but doing the whole thing will provide up to 1000m of actual climbing on rock, depends how much you want to do!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Summer Bouldering Updates



The weekend was a washout, especially for the Great Climb on the BBC, shame they had no flexibility built in as High Pressure is just round the corner... as a climber in Scotland you always need a wet weather alternative... so on a wet afternoon in Inverurie, I raced up to the Cullen Caves and bouldered away merrily on the dry steep quartzite caves, doing a few lines on St Duane's Den, with a particularly good traverse and a desperate straight-up (Duane's World, Font 7a+). Topos will appear in the forthcoming Stone Country new edition, but suffice to say some hard projects remain... the caves stay dry in torrential rain, but take plenty of chalk as the quartzite can be damp.

Guy Robertson completed his 8a+ (French grade) traverse at Boltsheugh. This is a low-level traverse of the right-hand sports crag and is a real pumper, though you'll need a local to point out the rules...some holds are plain no-no. Good effort, this is no mean feat to link... a bit like Consolidated...nowhere desperate but very long.

Lee Robinson sent me some pics of a fruitful trip to Applecross, Skye and Torridon, with many new problems and venues discovered. The pick of his achievements seem to be a new testpiece at Torridon called Captain Ahab just along from the Ship boulder, as well as a striking arete at Carn Liath he called Cetorhinus Maximus.


If anyone else has some bouldering news, let me know at boulderscotland@googlemail.com




Monday, August 13, 2007

Northwest Blues




The far northwest... land of blue skies and hope... it's a committing trip in an insecure summer like this, but we piled the car up with boulder mats and headed through horizontal rain for 6 hours, ending up in Kinlochbervie sheltering in the bar playing pool until chased out into the rain and the tents. The morning broke clear and as promised: wall to wall sunshine. The Gneiss up here dries quicker than B&Q emulsion and we drove on to Oldshoremore to check out a few venues and find some new bouldering rock. The beach bouldering showed some promise between the two bays of Oldshoremore and Oldshore Beg, the rock a delightful pink and tan gneiss sea-washed so clean you could eat off it. The warm dry rock and biting crystals felt good biting through the miasma of a few beers from the night before.

We moved on to the Akita boulder which Dave MacLeod had reported a while back. Despite being a superb piece of rock, the landings are poor and need more mats than we had... a committing venue we skedaddled from as a few damp holds caused a couple of nasty wipe-outs. Shame it isn't on a knoll of firm grass!

However, the Rhiconich stone, having seen some drainage work, was safe as houses despite its height. We climbed some of the easier lines including the excellent roadside arete - Blooded - Font 6a - and I broke yet another hold on the Blood Music wall, it's 7c now and rising... good luck to anyone on this.

Down the road to Ardmair for a shoulder session on the roof, with Ian Taylor engramming the local testpieces and looking fit if midge-bitten... he will be authoring the Stone Country Northwest Bouldering Guide next year so get those projects sent for the first edition!

The next day Reiff saw a few new additions on the Pinnacle roof, probably variations on a theme but fun nonetheless: The Green Men Font 6c+ and Greenblue Font 6c, a cross-through combo on the Blue Men cave. The Wave Traverse low variation needs colder conditions (and more skin than I had!) and the big arete left of Leaning Meanie at the bouldering cliff is a must for the 8a boulderer out there... C'mon!!

A final fling on the Link Boulder twin lips on the way down the road past Aviemore ended a nice little recce trip, with the cooler and drier conditions of late summer and autumn nearly here... what a dreich old summer it's been! Not many days like this:



Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Loch Arklet Boulders

The Flood - Font 6a+


If anyone is in the area, the Loch Arklet boulders, normally submerged, are completely free of the loch and there's a fine collection of problems between Font 3 and Font 6c... some good wave-washed schist. They can only be seen from the Stronachlachlar to Inversnaid road, but park in a gated layby 200 m before the T-junction to Stronachlachlar and head down the track to the obvious stand of trees by the inlet station and you will come across them... where did all that water go, I wonder? A thirsty Glasgow, or did it all evaporate and rain on Gloucester? It's a good spot for a picnic or some lazing by the shore.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scatwell Bouldering



Richie Betts on 'Road to Domestos'





Legoman Mike Lee on his new Font 7b...



A new Inverness venue thanks to the efforts of Richie Betts and Mike Lee has resulted in some rare summer bouldering news! Richie had scrubbed up a fine boulder in the woods round Scatwell (Strathconon area) and passed on a line or two to young Mike, who despite the Lego-man hairstyle (Mike, see a hairdresser, son) has cranked out a hard-sounding Font 7b called 'The Catch', which seems to be the testpiece of the area... can't wait to get on it, sounds like a roof-monstrosity. Richie himself wins the prize for the best named problem of the year ... 'The Road to Domestos' (roll your eyeballs) which looks like a great font 7a... he says it's a super funky slappy affair... anything funky is bouldering-speak for damned fine...let alone super-funky.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Tibet in the Lakes...


Lakes boulderer and translator Tim Carruthers has announced the release of his translation of the full autobiography of Heinrich Harrer: Beyond Seven Years in Tibet. Here are the details:

This is the first publication in the English language of the full autobiography of one of the world’s best known adventurers: Heinrich Harrer, who died early in 2006. Best known in book circles for his bestsellers Seven Years in Tibet (1953) and The White Spider (1958), this book brings to life those and his many other adventures.


Heinrich Harrer, traveller, explorer and mountaineer led one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century. He famously spent seven years in Tibet
(made into the film in 1997 starring Brad Pitt as Harrer himself) and was tutor, mentor and a lifelong friend of the Dalai Lama. He made the first ascent of the notorious North Face of the Eiger in 1938 (told in his book The White Spider). The Eigerwand had been a scene of carnage in the years preceding Harrer’s success - an achievement partly overshadowed by the perennial debate over the extent to which the climbers were ‘sponsored’ by the Nazis. He now candidly recounts his meeting with Hitler in the late 30’s.


In this dramatic autobiography he recounts all his adventures, from the early days of climbing in the
Alps, through his time in Tibet, to his later expeditions including exploring the Congo with the King of Belgium and travels to remote parts of Asia, South America and Africa.

The book can be bought direct from Cordee



Saturday, July 14, 2007

Consolidating



In between days of drizzly rain or tropical downpours, it's hard to commit to Scottish climbing: the mountains are wet, the bracken is too high and tick-ridden to walk anywhere off-piste and the weather is too muggy for bouldering or sport. So oddly Dumbarton Rock has been an interim saviour until things dry out properly. The hefty breezes and morning showers cool the basalt enough to make it fairly gritty and the slopers don't feel too bad. I started work again on the harder 7c extension to Consolidated, the one which drops down to the triangular block and fights it sway to the cave, which I'd never really 'consolidated' enough to complete. Three sessions have re-wired old engrams in my brain, one session with Mark Garthwaite proving I should stick to the short-man's complex sequence of endless 'adjustment' moves (Garth stretches and spans through ridiculous long crucifixes, making it shorter but maybe more sapping in the end...), so I found myself twice 'round the corner', but what is easy in isolation becomes desperate at the end of a thirty move 'approach'...it's a real redpoint crux and very much like traversing the endless lip of a sports cave. One more session....I know what will happen, skies will clear and I'll blow it by dissolving into the mountains until the autumn bouldering season!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Chasing the Birdman of Easter Island

The logo for Stone Country finds its source on a remote volcanic island...here's the story:
Easter Island



Chasing the Birdman of Easter Island

I was chasing the Birdman of Easter Island at 30,000 feet... nothing but endless cumulus shrinking in perspective, the comforting thrum of the Airbus maintaining its faith in degrees of magnetism and riding out the turbulence with ease. Then it comes into view through the porthole windows, easily encompassed by this small frame, as absurd and tiny as a beer bottle top afloat a reservoir. Five hours in a jet-plane from anywhere... this is true isolation. Easter Island is the story of what happened after Hotu Matu'a first arrived in his astonished canoe on the sands of Anakena beach sometime in the first millennium CE.


The story of its people - the Rapanui - is a tale of paradise, loss, rebirth, tragedy and persistence. From the basalt 'Moai' heads that populate the island with noble countenance to the sports-autocracy of the Birdman cult, to the asbestosis-lunged poverty of the modern era (barely offset by the ambiguous balm of tourism), Rapa Nui, or Te Pito o Te Henua (the local name means something like ‘the edge of the world’) still maintains its human spirit and aura, despite its fretful abuse of paradise. Countered at every turn by predictable but unavoidable strife, its history is a living story-board of human weakness and ruined potential. The Moai gaze at the skies, or at the ground, with a palpable nonchalance, a code of silence pursing their lips, testament to the idea of a better and more creative world, whereas the fallen Moai remind us of the fragility of human ambition.


Everything about Easter is a seductive mystery: the Moai; the almost-vanished Polynesian bloodline; the Birdman cult... the very fact that this island was found in the first place, poking its three meagre volcanic noses above the vast blue tablecloth of the Pacific, 2300 odd miles west from Chile, with Pitcairn Island a further 1300 miles to the west. It's a tiny target to find from a plane - despite radar and GPS - so how did the Polynesians discover it from sea-level: without compass, without a map, without even the faith that it was there?


The 'greatparent’, or Hotu Matu'a, was a Polynesian king who set sail from one of the nearer Polynesian islands - most likely Pitcairn or Mangareva - in a sailed catamaran canoe caulked with moss, with a crew of intrepid and trustful souls, with chickens, seeds, dried provisions and faith in their navigational skills. They would have canoed out boldly at a favourable time of year when the trade winds reversed, possibly during regular ‘El Nino’ events, at night they would have looked east, maybe taking bearing from the rising moon or a familiar star, or even watching for landward-trailing streaks of bioluminescence. During the day, they would have kept lookout for the signs of land: seabirds, floating weed, cloud clusters or changes in currents and swells suggesting archipelagos. The most reliable sign of land however, were seabirds, which would have covered the mainland of Easter Island (now the noisy boobies, frigate birds, albatross, terns and petrels are confined to the safer subsidiary islands and stacks offshore). Considering a seabird's feeding range is up to 100 miles from shore, this gave the Polynesians an imaginary landmass of about 200 miles wide to discover, so maybe this evened the odds a little. Still, it must have been a tremendous relief to have found Rapa Nui and have claimed it for themselves in those early and bountiful years. Easter would have been covered by landbirds, turtles, great Chilean palm trees, skirted by cliffs with screaming seabirds, the crashing deep waters filled with dolphin and tuna. Hotu Matua would have been able to proclaim this land his own kingdom and look what riches faith in him rewarded!


This is the beginning of the story of Easter Island. It would be another millennium before the Europeans arrived; in the meantime, they had a civilization to build. The island is an anthropological museum in itself - noble Moai heads stand testament everywhere, carved with a magical stylized beauty, gazing out from their stone platforms (ahu), overseeing abandoned villages and flat areas that once saw cultivation. Standing in front of their stern visages, you can palpably feel the ghostly bustle of life around you: the chickens rounding round, children playing, people lighting fires in supplication, or the distant sound of community effort as the latest revered head is dragged along with thick ropes towards their radial destinations from the great 'nursery' quarry on the slopes of Rano Raraku. It would have been an awesome sight - lines of lithe Polynesians, hauling along these delicately carved heads, some of them up to 90 tons in weight. The feeding, organization and political stability to carve, transport and erect nearly 700 statues on the island, is testament to a powerful and complex social system. While trees were plentiful, food abundant and population low, Easter Island allowed the first settlers to grow their civilization and erect their stone statues and live in some idea of Elysian paradise. So what happened? Why, when you visit now, do the restored statues only amplify the tragic and sad visages of so many hundreds of toppled Moai?


The island in fact would prove more delicate an ecological system than this early paradise would suggest. You have to look closely at the reality of Easter Island's physical nature. It is an island of volcanic suddenness, like a brief geological experiment (it's only 3 million years old). Lava from deep oceanic faults welled up and solidified above the sea and cinder cones grew around and filled in the gaps between the volcanoes. Eventually an island 66 square miles was born, shaped a little like a triangle with three corner craters where the main volcanoes of Poike, Rano Kau and Terevaka (in order of age) swelled the landmass. Then plants would have taken root: grasses, the Toromiro shrub-tree, Wine Palms... birds settled on the cliffs and on the mainland, for there were no predators or mammals, and it would have greened over slowly as the rich bird-guano fertilised the more sheltered areas. However, it is still a barren and bleak place, the winds blow constantly and the sudden downpours strip the land of fertile red soils. Only the sheltered corners round Hanga Roa (the modern 'capital') on the west and Anakena to the north would have allowed trees the shelter to grow. When Hotu Matu'a arrived, it was a smorgasbord of birds and greener than it suggests today, though the modern Rapa Nui have planted Eucalyptus, banana and other trees so it can feel quite tropical around Hanga Roa. But this belies the thin skin that is the fertility of the island. Great middens of bird bones suggest the early islanders culled at will. Native ducks went extinct, as did any other landbirds, leaving the seabirds to escape to the sheer cliffs of the Motu's or island stacks. It seems that over a millennium the Easter Islanders came to understand the fragile nature of sustainability.

They did cultivate land however: large Hare Paenga, large elliptical stone house foundations, suggest an elite culture of overseeing priests, who managed agriculture, irrigation (there are no rivers and on the island, just three crater lakes) as well as shelter (stone houses for chicken coops, stone-walled gardens). Sweet potato was brought in (maybe later from South America), and it did get to the stage, as kings demanded larger and larger Moai to represent the honour of their bloodline, that a kind of Tesco-culture took over... centralised supply systems, well organized and integrated, must have kept the culture alive for centuries, allowing a labour/slave culture to be at least well-fed, a bit like our own at the expense of the poor and powerless? Meanwhile, the weather was clement, 50 inches of rain a year, a few storms, but no frosts and a constant temperature. The volcanoes were no longer active and the crater lakes would have provided fresh water and reeds for domestic use. The island rang to the sound of stone chisels and industry.


When Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutch explorer, arrived in 1722, and James Cook fifty years later, they noted a few standing Moai, many toppled Moai and a small population subsisting on what looked like a barren land - Roggeveen wondered where the materials (trees!) to transport these giant heads had vanished. The land was a windy lava-scape with locals pecking out an existence just like the chickens. What happened in between is a tale of mostly mystery (and what happened after European arrival is a tale of disease and slavery and human catastrophe).


The key to the downfall of the Moai culture is undoubtedly closely linked to the ecological tale of vanishing resources and unsustainable practices. It is estimated the apogee of population was likely to be at least 15000. Imagine the trees 'required' for work (ropes, sleds, cranes for the Moai), for firewood (there is precious little driftwood on the island) and for housing (the Hare Paenga required thatching and had elaborate wooden scaffolding)... these pressures over the key 'high-civilization' centuries between 1200 and 1600 would have put tremendous strain on the ecology of the island. Trees would have been chopped faster than replenishment (it takes an hour to fell a tree with an axe, over forty years to grow it to harvestable size) and food would have become a huge issue, especially as the Moai suggest a culture of betterment was followed (bigger and bigger statues, more and more workers, more food required...). Birds disappeared to the islands and gathering eggs and seabirds would have become more like the dangerous St. Kildan model of cliff-climbing and bird culling... indeed this mutated into the later Birdman cult. Trees for good canoes would have become scarce, (dolphin bones disappeared from archaeological records after 1500) eventually leading to small surf-board style reed-built rafts.


All in all, things just got too big and disorganised and war broke out, the whole industry ground to a halt (tools were downed at the quarry, half-carved Moai just left to history's gaze) - indeed, it all looks like Revolution from a distance. Certainly the culture descended as far as cannibalism at one point (cracked human marrow bones in middens bring shivers to the spine).


What is certain about Easter Island history is the Moai culture was brought to ground - literally, the clans or the plebiscite pulling down the Moai onto strategically placed stones so as even to break their necks (many restored Moai have their heads 'cemented' back on). The colourful red 'top-knot' stones (pukao) lie strewn everywhere, the prone Moai lie mumbling into the earth, or the supine Moai eyes fill with watery tears in the rain... nothing is as sad as this once great Kingdom's worn face in the punishing tropical rain.


Or is it sad? Is it not just a reflection of people's democratic grievance against kings gone mad with megalomania? I watched the Saddam Hussein statue toppled in Baghdad on satellite TV - a local man even took off his slipper and smacked Saddam round the ears... is this not a natural human response to abuse of power? The Rapa Nui certainly took matters into their own hands but could not replace the social structure and complex stability of the previous culture simply because the resources were gone. The population imploded, death became commonplace and then, as if things were not bad enough... visitors arrived.


The afore-mentioned Jacob Roggeveen may not have been the first outsider to visit, but he was certainly the first to document his visit and gave the modern European name to the island (they arrived on Easter Sunday). There were other visits in the 18th century, most notably a Spanish survey ship of 1770, which produced the first map of the island, then James Cook's visit of 1774, who found the island humanly 'miserable'. By then (and since from about 1680) the culture had become a war-torn feudal system under the 'matatoa' warrior clans - no Moai were erected any more and people were cowering in caves along the coast, afraid for their lives.


This is where the Birdman flew into Rapa Nui history. A cult developed round an obscure yearly ritual - the gathering of the first Sooty Tern egg. This cult was centred around the Orongo village on the cliff-top of the southwest caldera of Rano Kau, above the modern town that is Hanga Roa. Basalt outcrops still bear the beautiful petroglyphs of anthropomorph birdmen (tangata manu), their crouched bird bodies and long beak-faces over an outstretched human hand proffering a single egg. Lean, large-eyed faces loom out - this is Make-Make the creator god.


One wonders why this village is perched so precariously between a crater-lake and a crumbling 1000 foot cliff. The answer is with the birds. As I mentioned, resources had become a premium, trees had vanished and birds became the gold of the new culture. Offshore of Rano Kau, in full sight of the Orongo village, are the three small islands of Moto Nui, Moto Iti and the sea-stack Moto Kau Kau. They are packed with noisy terns, petrels and frigate birds, all nesting safely from predation. Only no longer... the Birdman culture would have gathered birds, eggs and fish from the islands and waters round these islands, using reed-canoes and body-floats for swimming. A yearly sports-autocracy developed round the Birdman ritual. Each chief would choose a fit representative (most likely ambitious young warriors) who would race and climb down the treacherous cliffs, cutting themselves to ribbons no doubt, or falling to their deaths. They would then throw themselves on their reed-boards and swim to the islands, nervous of the blood spoor they were leaving for sharks. If they were lucky enough to reach the flatter distant island of Moto Nui, they would gather a single tern egg, wrap it carefully in a head-cloth and make the return journey. The first back would present the egg to the new Chief, who would be secreted away to grow his fingernails in a luxurious year of largesse and attendance. This gladiatorial opera could be watched from the booth-like village on the cliff-top, the low stone houses with grass 'picnic' mezzanines for roofs. This was Orongo... this was the cult of the bird and one of the most bizarre and mind-boggling cultures we have created in our human history.


It was also fairly stable politically, maybe it was the low population and hand-to-mouth sustainable nature of a limited resource, but it endured for around two hundred years even into the 'modern' era with the last ritual held in 1867, before the Catholic priests aborted the whole affair with their missionary zeal (though the wooden Crucifixion Christ in the Hanga Roa church still retains the head of a bird).


Disease, especially smallpox, was the next disastrous import to Easter, responsible for sudden haemorrhages in the population. Then in 1862 Peruvian slavers abducted over 1500 islanders for work in the Peruvian mines, the aforesaid Catholic missionaries arrived in 1864, and by 1872 the population had declined to as low as 110 pure-blood Polynesians. 1888 saw Chile annex the island and turn it into a sheep farm (owned by a Scots company), herding the locals into the fenced-off concentration camp based in Hanga Roa. A rebellion was quelled in 1914 and the islanders only received nominal freedom in 1966. Modern Rapanui still tell of their grandfathers' memories of being contained in the 'camp'.


Perhaps the greatest hope for the human culture of Rapa Nui lies in modern tourism. The island is largely preserved as National Park and development has been thankfully kept in check. A few flights a week bring precious money and tourism to Hanga Roa natives, cruise boats cannot berth by the wharf-less lava coastline but must send in landing parties, and recent attempts by corporate hotel chains to turn Easter Island into the new 'Tahiti' have been resisted.


I felt privileged to watch the indigenous Polynesians practising their traditional 'story' dances, their language rich and rhythmic, their dancing at once vibrant and warrior-like, the next subtle and subdued, telling the 'Rongo-rongo' tales of past glories and fables. They are proud of their bloodline, are politically at odds with Chile (who have sold them cheap and deadly asbestos for building material). But inevitably, modern Rapa Nui has become a blend of European, Colombino and Polynesian. The Polynesian asserts itself most strongly. Ugo, while teaching me the Polynesian Ukulele, points at a frigate bird gliding over, touches my elbow and speaks out its name plosively in Rapanui: 'Ma-KO-he'... then lets me resume my arrhythmic European strumming. All the animals are sacred on this island as there are so few and their history so intertwined with the human population. The Sooty Tern, the Frigate Bird, the Turtle, the Tuna fish (which Tuti mixes raw into a seafood salad to cure our hangovers). There are no mammals indigenous to the island, except perhaps these descendants of Hotu Matu'a . All the rest are introduced: horses, cattle, sheep, goats, rats, cats and the clone-like skinny Alsatian dogs that roam everywhere and bounce off the wings of cars in yelping wheel-chasing hordes.


This is an island to savour and cherish, to arrive excitedly and leave sadly. It is an example to us all of human failure in the face of delicate ecology, also of human resistance and endurance in the face of adversity. We can only hope the local culture endures and the island's magical aura will remain in future for us all to find a distant mirror of our potentials.

Above all, the Moai will remain here long after we abandon ourselves to carelessness or immolation. They stare through our theories and explanations, they mean more than all of us can say, their eyeless gaze a clearer lens through our murky cataracts of awe and wonder...

John S Watson 2007



Further Reading
1. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond - Penguin Books 2005 – 9780140279511
2. The Enigmas of Easter Island by John Flenley & Paul Bahn - Oxford 2002 - 0192803409
3. The Mystery of Easter Island by Katherine Routledge – Cosimo Classics - 978-1596055889
4. Among Stone Giants: The Life of Katherine Routledge and Her Remarkable Expedition to Easter Island by Jo Anne van Tilburg – Scribner 2003 - 978-0743244800