Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Scottish Bouldering Topos

I'll be adding a lot of new Scottish bouldering topo booklets, downloadable as full-colour pdf booklets on the new-look website at or on the Downloads page of the Stone Country site. They are nominally priced so we can reinvest in more topos - hopefully by the end of 2009 each venue or area will be fully covered.

The newest addition is the 8 page booklet 'Craigmaddie Bloc' available for only £1.50 - thanks to Fraser Harle for his editorial input!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

North West Rock

Toscaig Pier Rock

Back from an unseasonably but not surprisingly Arctic spring visit to Tromso in Norway, we trialled a VW camper van in a giant figure of eight round the North West, vainly chasing rumours of sunshine and catching the odd ray on the rock. First stop was the Inchbae blocs, where I managed to pull off some holds on the 'cottage boulder' roof down by the river... providing a good new eliminate from left to right, hard drop-down moves, the true version incomplete as the granite became more and more soapy as I brushed chalk into it and wimped out to a lip sloper.  

Inchbae Eliminate

Next visit was to be the Keystone up north but we decided to meander back south to Applecross where some fair weather allowed some exploration of new stones and the obligatory visit to Sand Bay Rock Shelter, plagued now by tourists looking for that ridiculously overproduced BBC thing with the chummy bloke with the mad dog (though the Applecross beer 'Reub's Ale' was very fine, I must add). 

Sand Bay Traverse

Shore Boulder Applecross 

Next day we moved north again but the Torridon weather was cold and windy with the odd gritty shower which stopped any rock fun, so it was back down to Glencoe, where of course it rained on us. I'm sold on the VW though.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Morar Bouldering

Easter brought a little sunshine to the west coast and some broken-yolk sunsets over Rum and Eigg. I visited Morar with Pete Murray to check out some bouldering, finding a pleasant wall or two in the evening sun but of course we didn't take the cameras and the light was stunning... if you know the west coast, it's easy to imagine being sucked away into the landscape without a care for recording or documenting it all! Here's a nice sunset over Camusdarrach bay (from 'Local Hero' fame).

I found a bunch of perfect Gneiss boulders in the hinterland behind Mallaig, which is an area that offers endless rock walls, crags and blocs, with some of the most pristine Gneiss I have seen - flashing white walls of metamorphosed ancientness - it's hard to find the right word for such an old stone. Rasping friction, curves and angles... you see these stones on hillsides and they become your bearings rather than any other waymarker. I traipsed over the hilly landscape for hours from stone to stone, like an ant between sugar grains.

The Galloway Project Stone

I picked this up from Roddy MacKenzie's blog after an Easter weekend of eager cleaning and crystal-clamping... looks like an attractive trio of hard lines. We'll get details soon on the problems but suffice to say they look quite beefy for granite. Tim Rankin also climbed a few lines here so we'll post a topo when the lads submit material and the location. Looks like a perfect little mountain...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bursting into Life

Mike Lee on Spitfire, The Anvil

Spring is here and strings of vegetation are wriggling from the earth, a bit like the veins in my forearms...

If you've survived a winter of indoor training and have no injuries, this is the time to be getting out on the early season sports routes, transferring bouldering strength to those fuzzy crux moves of that old project. Building up stamina is a painful necessity and hours of burning up the forearms pays dividends for the trad routes over the summer - after all that's what sport climbing and bouldering was invented for, was it not? How times change!

Bouldering news has been a bit thin, but Dumby has seen new eliminates, especially Dave Mac's quick ascent of the Totality eliminate. He also knocked off the last line on the Heather Hat in Glen Nevis - the obvious slopers through the right hand side of the roof, at a MacLeod '8a+'... as a local, this will no doubt be a 'local's' sandbag!

Also at Dumby Will Atkinson has been eating up the hard classics with friends, producing a nice smorgasbord of video here entitled 'Dumby Dosage'. Smooth climbing on the Rock all round lads, rather than round lads climbing smooth rock.

Stewart Brown and said Will Atkinson proved that the old sports testpieces hold no challenge any more for the Facebook generation (I guess the pre-wall era you could call the Coalface Generation) - anyway, both youths flashed Hamish Teds and Nic Duboust despatched Marlena second visit after failing narrowly on the previous onsight.

Steepness at the Anvil...

Pierre Fuentes visited the NW and discovered the best problems in Scotland as well as the 'Scottish side-effect' of rubber fetishism (turning up to the boulder in wellies with big tarpaulins and large mattresses) ... Richie Betts is the ubermeister of tarpaulin fetishism, I'm sure there's a website for this but I'm too scared to Google it.

For any boulderers interested in remote and new stones to climb on, I'll be producing an ebook end of the year called 'The Book of Lost Stones' which is exactly what it says it is: a compendium of giant stones lost in places awaiting a little attention. Some of these stones I've found on journeys, some were tip-offs and of course many still remain to be found, but the book will hopefully encourage folk to get out with their mats and climb to their potential... some of these stones have truly futuristic lines and are geological works of art, while some are moss-clad loners with the odd incredible line. I'll provide accurate grid refs and approach notes as well, so all that remains is for you to go climb them. Anyone wanting to add a stone to this list (if they're not keeping them for projects) just email me a jpeg and details, I'll patch it into the book.

Lost Stones...

Speaking of lost stones, the old Galloway project stone, discovered by Tim Rankin a number of years ago has been found by Roddy McKenzie.: it's an attractive granite bloc with some mighty hard lines to go, we await Roddy's attentions with keen anticipation...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dumby Sport

This fine sunny weather and still reasonably cool air makes Dumbarton a real pleasure and I got my psyche back for the sports routes there. Sufferance is an old bug bear and I need to get back on it, with the recent repeats by Will Atkinson and Nic Duboust leaving it well chalked and telegraphed, I am inspired, so no excuse.

For a quick evening's visit, we warmed up on Abstract Art but the top move to the greasy ledge is still wet - it's such a shame this route gets so green as it provides some excellent technical climbing for 6c. In fact this whole slabby wall would make good sports routes but some never-to-be repeated trad routes live here. The E7 I can (maybe) see as a classic highball challenge, but the other routes never get repeats and the trad ethic, though admirable, sometimes freezes rock into an historical lock-down and anti-social isolation! But I'm starting a dangerous argument, best leave well alone!

Wanting to test my respoint skills I went on to do Persistence of Vision, the super 7a+ 'slab' under Requiem. This is deservedly the most popular sport route at around this grade at Dumby, but the crux is putting the clip into the top bolt, you have to stretch with clipper in hand, lunge dynamically the last few inches, clip and hold as you swing off, extend, lower, then do the route! With the extended clipper it is a lot more do-able and a real cracker to redpoint.

Sufferance awaits as usual.