Monday, September 29, 2008

Essential Fontainebleau - Pre Publication offer!

The new pocket guide to Fontainebleau is almost here!

The pocket book is full colour with maps, approach notes, photo-topos of over 350 problems and key secrets to solving the problems. It has been designed to give new visitors to the forest an introduction to the art of bouldering in Fontainebleau, or it can be used by the experienced as a lifetime ticklist of the most-wanted!

The chosen problems (it was a difficult editing process!) range from 2+ problems through to 8a, but most are in the 6a-7b range and accessible to the on-sighting boulderer (if you are lucky and talented, being plain strong doesn't always help!).

The guide will be available late October or early November and as a special offer to those who check into this blog, I'm selling two copies of the new guide with a free copy of Pete Murray's Elements DVD for only 20.00. As the guide retails for 9.99, that's a saving of 15 quid! Plus you get a spare copy of the new Font guide or a DVD to give as a Christmas gift to someone! Those of you who helped contribute photographs will receive a free copy in due course, but this offer is open to everyone.

All pre-orders can be done securely through Paypal - simple, quick, you don't need a Paypal account. Just a credit card or Switch! Click on the Buy Now button on the right.

I'll email you as soon as the guide arrives and is posted, ready for that winter trip!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Scottish Bouldering 8b+ 'Gutbuster' at Dumbarton

Gut Buster 8b+ (note protection!)

Malc Smith has just climbed the hardest problem in Scotland to date, aptly named Gutbuster and more akin to hard power-yoga without the ground as support! It's a truly sapping excursion through the upside-down caves at Dumbarton Rock and the first problem to break into Font 8b+ territory. It anticipates the imminent arrival of the magical 8c grade as Malc already has spied another link-up that may not survive much longer. After a long time sitting in the dank BNI through-cave in mild autumn weather, Malc took advantage of a cold and breezy day on 27th September to bite into the angular basalt and complete the problem.

It is an inspiring natural challenge to any highend boulderer, logically linking his own Serum of Sisypus 8a+ through the crux cave sequences of Perfect Crime and up the 8b of Sanction which Dave MacLeod did in 2007. With MacLeod beavering on a possible contender for hardest Scottish problem in Glen Nevis, it was left to Malc to rejuvenate this project, a video of which will be posted by XtraLarge Recordings on this blog, so check back soon!

Malc is actually on the 8b+ for about five minutes, 3 of which are an ab-busting upside down rest on a painful kneebar, before committing to the desperate and tenuous hooking and slapping of Sanction, which leads to the mantel onto the BNI slab - the easy bit! - where he fell off several times on the redpoint before succeeding early on Saturday morning.

On the cave section crux 1

Congratulations to Malcolm on his continued enthusiasm and success in breaking our bouldering boundaries and bringing them closer to the global benchmarks of the high eighth grades.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Scottish Bouldering Autumn 2008

The far northwest coast north of Aberdeen was always a bit of a blind spot when we did the guide, not much had been developed or found there at all. However, things appear to be changing and after a tip-off from Chris Fryer, Russell Birkett developed the steep wall at the Buchan Ness lighthouse, a full topo is available here. Neptune's Kiss looks like a local classic!

Buchan Ness - Neptune's Kiss Font 6c

For stamina freaks and sport climbers looking for training problems, look no further than the classic traverse at Boltsheugh, Newtonhill, Aberdeen. Guy Robertson managed to eliminate as many jugs as he could and ended up with the Newtonhill Powerband, a staggering F8a+ traverse.

Newtonhill Powerband, F8a+, Guy Robertson

Guy reports:

Wilson’s (Moir) low level traverse without any of the jugs / resting holdz. Probably F8a+, whatever that translates to in bouldering money (don’t ask me!). It’s a pretty cool prob, and to my mind cleans up all the many variations on variations that have emerged over the years. The basic rule of thumb is “if you’re wondering if a particular hold is in, then assume it isn’t”! The only exception to this might be the big left-facing side-pull that forms the bottom left edge of the half-way block.

You'll need a guide if you go, but the rule of thumb is good, very similar to the classic traverses at Dumby such as Consolidated and the 'new-Dumby-classic' Shattered F7b+ on the everdry wall (repeated recently by Peter Roy, Jeremy Love and Malc Smith).

Steve Richardson on a 2007 repeat of Shattered Traverse, Dumby, F7b+

Just left of this in the through-cave, Malc Smith is currently working an extended traverse from the Serum of Sisyphus start through Perfect Crime and into Sanction... he's been close but not quite, falling off trying to get onto the slab. I doubt anyone will steal this immense problem from under his nose. He recently repeated Sanction (Dumby 8b by Dave MacLeod) after gluing back on a crucial block that had shattered off from a fire some one lit under the basalt roof. He also repeated the desperate dynamic sit start to Chahala which he reckons is hard 8a+ and not 8a.

Mal Smith, Scarpa powerhouse, on an early ascent of BNI Direct... pic Tim Morozzo 2005

The 'outer circuit' at Duntelchaig has been seeing some great development on some fine-looking steep walls. Richie Betts informed me that 'local youth' Mike Lee had succeeded on a nightmarish crimp move on the Knifewound Wall, to give the area another classic 7c... The Settler might even be harder. Richie will be doing us a topo for this soon and it looks like some good clean classics are beginning to appear outside of Ruthven and Brin.

Mike Lee on The Settler Font 7c Duntelchaig Pic Richie Betts

More news to follow as I receive it... just in! MacLeod sends the ridiculously long traverse at Sky Pilot!! Big Long Now (I can't believe it's only 8b!) traverses almost the whole length of Sky Pilot Crag from left to right (go and have a look!), which Dave used as stamina training for Echo Wall. The whole story is on his blog but suffice to say, it is an almost ungradeable and boundary-smashing climb in which Dave specialises, creating his own unique approach to high-end climbing. He really is dissolving all boundaries within our sport, creating a new discipline of meta-climbing (okay, that's one for the philosophers). Grades seem to be useless abstractions in cases such as Dave and Malc's recent superlinks... where numbers fail and commitment takes over...