Friday, January 19, 2007

Bolt Holes and Boulder Books

Ali Coull cranks out another V7...Boltsheugh

In a winter such as this, more an extended wet autumn, sunny days have been at a premium, but the NE bags the best of the rain shadow days and glorious sunshine on dry rock is a strong lure away from the dreich overhangs of Dumby... a couple of phone calls from an A90 layby and I found myself basking in the sheltered sunny rock bays of Boltsheugh at Newtonhill. Always a good local bolt-hole and training ground, the sports walls are now more regularly bouldered, including the excellent eliminate traverses and straight-ups... Guy Robertson was quick to point out the many 'illegal' holds I was using, but hell, I didn't mind, it was dry, the sun sank slowly like a lost flare and my eyes hurt to look at it all, no wonder really...

Updates on the next Stone Country books: Stone Play - a global collection of bouldering writing and photography - should be out in May, just finalising a few last articles and photos, then it's off to Italy for the giant digital loo-roll treatment that is modern printing... you remember Bagpuss and the mice who ran the chocolate biscuit factory that so confounded Professor Yaffle...? it's a bit like that, but books come out and the mice are Italian and eat Salsiccia.

A boulder in the NW...

End of the year should see the first Stone Country Companion, which will really be a new edition of the Stone Country book in disguise. It will be a stuffed companion to the best bouldering in Scotland, full colour, with over 100 venues in preparation, many of them entirely new (despite the claims of wizened veterans that they did it years ago in wellies!!), and some very surprising rock formations to boot... it's again an exercise in showing what Scotland has to offer the boulderer apart from midges and bad weather: I'll only be placing in the top problems in each area, as to be completist would be absurd. It's more a dedicated reference for the keen boulderer, with photo-topos, maps etc. explaining classic and new venues, but still giving clues and pointers to unclimbed lines and areas... in conjunction fuller topos and updates will be available online at the website.

Should be a breeze...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

North West Bonanza

Ian Taylor at Rhue

The red gold that is Torridonian sandstone is being mined in a hurry, lots of ancient Greenland pebbles being popped from their mother stone by scrabbling little rubber toes... winter up here, between the frenzied fronts of painful hail (which can bruise your ears and lips), provides windows of flash-pump traverses and numb straight-ups, hardcore heaven for the masochistic boulderer.

I dug Ian Taylor out of his winter slumbers and persuaded him to don beanie and show me the local sites - a tour of Rhue blocks, Ardmair and Reiff in the Woods led to no ground-breaking problems (we wilted off Richie's 'Main Issue', too cold and scaredy to go for the dyno!), but the highlights of the day were The Forge V4, Skinshredder V5, Corkscrew V5 and Ian repeated his own excellent solution to the pebbled arete that is Clach Mheallain V6 (little stones in Gaelic ie. hail)... a very hard supple hip and heel lock being the secret. Then it darkened blue and black, the skies threatened again and Ian's thoughts turned to ski-ing and not breaking ankles before his trip (don't worry, no-one will bag your projects while you're away, certainly not me!)

Meanwhile, Riche Betts has got around the Gairloch area and found some problems at Mellon Udrigle, that mellifluously named corner of delight on the west coast... some excellent V4 problems and more to follow in the area soon, here's a video link of him on a compact-looking delight at Opinan

Richie somewhere in the NW

The spring should see a host of new problems in Applecross, Torridon, Gairloch and Ullapool areas, bring it on!

Saturday, January 06, 2007


A recent post on Scottish bouldering dyno's had me trawling through my video collection and I found a few interesting ones and it made me think of the great Gill era of American dynoing and the whole ethic of using dynamic moves to bypass difficult static sequences. There are those who swear by 'static' methods and sneer at these athletic shortcuts of dynoing as a form of cheating gravity, or giving in to a lack of forethought. these are usually hardbitten trad climbers, who naturally wouldn't countenance a full on throw half way up Torro, or on the Etive Slabs (though I know people who have fallen on the slabs and attempted to turn and run down to the ground).

Dynoing is mostly a bouldering art and fits it perfectly, allowing impressive 'parkour-style' solutions through gravity's well, without the threat of crumpling groundfalls or nipple-grating slides. Boulder mats allow a little more adventure in this respect as well, so it's not unusual for boulderers to seek out the perfect dyno. These can be found anywhere with a little use of imagination, but classic dyno's such as the Buckstone dyno in the Peak, or Vienna at Bowden, are rare.

Scotland has a few classic dynamic-style problems - my list would include:

Cathc 22 V9 - Sky Pilot Glen Nevis
The Shield V9 - Dumby
Slap Happy - V6 -Dumbarton (dynamic version) Andy Gallagher dynoing through Slap Happy
Boomer Dyno - V2 - Stronachlachlar Stronachlachlar Boomer Dyno V2
The Pit - V5 - Portlethen The Pit dyno Portlethen
The Main Issue V8 - Reiff in the Woods (bold)