Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Glen Lednock Blocs

A fine collection of rough boulders under the dam at the top of Glen Lednock, this bouldering venue was developed by Kev Howett and friends in 2003. We'll be updating theStone Country site soon with a collection of topos, Kev has kindly donated a guide to the bouldering here. Here are some of the best problems Lednock, and a wee vid of what you can expect.

Ambience: picnic with the family
Rock: compact schist – rough as gabbro
Season: spring and autumn, exposed
Gear: mats, wire brushes, skin cream
Grades: good easy blocs for kids, testpieces 6a to 7b
GR: NN 727 286

Approach: From the A9 Perth-Stirling road, take the exit signed to Braco along the A822. Just after Braco, take a left onto the B827 signed to Comrie. Once in Comrie turn left at a T-Junction after the river. Drive round a sharp bend and at the next bend turn right uphill into the forest. Continue to open country and into Glen Lednock proper. Drive to the Invergeldie farm steadings and head uphill past the Sput Rolla waterfall. Close all gates behind you and park just before the dam at a U-bend. The blocs are obvious in clusters on grassy alps across the wee wooden bridge under the dam on the flanks of Creag nan Eun. 5 minutes walk at most.

Tsunami 7b
The slabby low bloc on the first little plateau amongst the ‘Kids’ Blocks’. SS at the obvious layaway at wee cave and use slopers up left to get onto the slab. Looks easy, doesn’t it? Tim Carruthers 2003.
Feathering the Penthouse 6a+
Twin blocs above path: ‘The Eiffel Blocs’. This climbs the super hanging thin vertical crack above the track. SS on jams in the deep crack. Up into the thin crack and pull up and right to the top. Kev Howett 2003.
Best in Toon 6b+
The flat-faced boulder right of the Eiffel blocs: ‘The Lamp Bloc’. SS on the flat hold in centre left, up and right passing a good hold and then into the vertical crack which may need a good brush. Kev Howett 2003.
Red 22 6a
Reiver’s Bloc. SS glen face at obvious ledge. Snatch up to layaways right of the diagonal crack, gain a crimp up and left, then go again for a poor LH sloper, heel hook on the face and reach a sloper at the apex, pull over.
Sneak By Night 6a+
Reiver’s Bloc. The slabby right arête itself. Start on a good flat hold at head height in the steeper side wall to the right. Direct up the right side of the arête on small holds, take the edge of the slab to the top.
Reiver’s Logic 7a+
Reiver’s Bloc. SS from the obvious shelf at the base of the arête up to the good flat hold of Sneak by Night. Reach diagonally right via desperate crimping to a good hold in the centre of the wall, back left to the arête.
Breaking Wave 7a
Dam Blocs. A superb problem direct through the centre of the ‘wave’ feature wall. SS in the centre of the diagonal crack and pull direct through the wave, reach right onto the glacis above on dimples. Kev Howett 2003
Manic Stupor 7b
Dam Blocs overhang. Crouching start at two central crimps in the big curving shelf which runs through the roof. Power dynamically upwards to the lip with a sneaky heel-toe, traverse left to rockover. Tim Palmer 2003.
Rock Around The Block 7a
Real Estate Blocs lowest downhill from the Reiver’s Bloc towards the glen. A good hard girdle traverse of the east and north walls. The crux is turning the arête between the two walls. Lawrence Hughes 2004.
Keep it Unreal 7a+
The Real Estate Blocs’ west wall. This hard problem takes the blunt reddish arête SS then layback up the right hand side. Sloping holds. Tim Carruthers 2003.
The Elegant’s Stool 6a
The Upright Bloc left of Real Estate blocs. Climbs the scoop in the arête SS on the right side of the arête at a thin horizontal ledge. Pull into the base of the scoop & top out on the arête. Kev Howett 2003.
Delicatessence 6a+
Upright bloc slabby face. The main slab via two horizontal cracks. SS on a thin flake and gain the first break, then climb delicately to the second. Reach for jugs at top. Font 5 from standing left. Kev Howett 2003.

Glen Lednock Bouldering from John Watson on Vimeo.

'Red 22' - a fab 6a with subtle technique required on rough slopers. On the glen side of the big Reiver's Bloc. Named after the Fontainebleau tendency to sandbag this particular red circuit number... all red 22's in the forest are desperate and secretive!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Down Tools Old Men

Much as I was impressed by the news that Stevie Haston had creatined himself stupid to climb 9a over 50, the future belongs to kids like this... surely the limit for him is just how long and thin they can make ropes: 200m silk/carbon rope pitches of Font 8b cruxes - what would that be? Bring it on I say. An impressive piece of climbing:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ben Macdui

I'd never been to the top of Ben Macdui, shame on me, but once on the Cairngorm plateau it really doesn't look like a mountain top, more of a bowl of piled gravel so I'd never got beyond the Ben Avon basin. This remote paradise is far more spectacular and alpine in its dramatic sweep of rock and water than the plateau, so it tends to suck the climber downhill amongst the waterfalled crags into the heart of its monolithic geology.

The weather was settled with high pressure stamping out any hint of summit winds, so I took the excellent path up into Sneachda by the bubbling burn and over the goat track down into Shelterstone. Adrian Crofton and Graham Tyldsley were steadily inching their way up Cupid's Bow, so I took a break to boulder around the blocs, chased by unusually potent midges. I was lured into the big gully to the left of Sheltertstone by the bubbling sound of two Ring Ouzels boulder hopping. I'd never seen these birds before, though I knew this rocky talus and scree was their perfect habitat. Bouldering birds: you hear their chirpy hollers before you see them.

The gully was a deathtrap, surfing large mobile blocs as they shifted upon each other, but I regained the summit and walked up to Carn Etchachan summit. The basin below was resplendently still, Loch Avon a verdi-gris mirror pocked with trout rings. I looked about and saw the distant 'summit' of Ben Macdui and thought I should climb it as it is our second Scottish mountain, albeit with a rather bald dome. I thought I'd explore the plateau first and get to know this unusual habitat, taking some photos of whatever grabbed my attention: shattered quartz blocks that look like they've fallen from the skies; tufts of autumn-auburn grass like punks buried up to their foreheads; fluorescent green lichens on pink granite... this habitat has its own unique charms.

After an absorbed meander across the normally hostile plateau I'd rock-hopped to the the little trig-point and stone fort of the 'Grey Man'. Breariach swept its curtains of rock across the west beyond the Lairig Ghru and the air was still and echoey. The atmosphere was impressive, like an oxygenated bubble on the moon and your breath felt rarefied and precious. Someone arrived at the summit with iphone earplugs welded in, the little white leads banging around. He ran up the little stone fort without a word and tapped the summit trig like a chess clock...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bonanza Time

It's not often you find your dinner ready prepared while bouldering. On a perfect autumn morning I visited a local venue to catch some cool bouldering conditions and went mushroom hunting nearby. I came back to my boulder mat with a bag full of dinner: chanterelles may replace broccoli as the weapon of choice for the Glasgow boulderer. I picked the biggest and ate them all, sorry, they were just too good!

Oh, and the bouldering is coming into good nick across the country. Unclipping mats, squeaking boots, chalk rubbings, brushings, attending to faded sequence memory - the rubric of bouldering begins in earnest! May this high pressure last for months, God knows we deserve it...

Here's a vid of the classic Jamie's Overhang sit start called 'The Art of War' 6c+ at Craigmore. I also took the opportunity to turf in the big holes someone had dug in the belief they could move the prop boulders. You can't, and the ground is back to nice and flat - I lost a few pounds with the spade, so please don't try to dig out the boulders. A flat landing is better than the leg-break holes...

Craigmore Jamie's Overhang from John Watson on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Achray Blocs

At last the sunshine is here and those crisp autumnal mornings are back. I drove over the Dukes Pass in a kind of hysteria, like a prison break lost by the hounds. Having been camped indoors for a month I was a little giddy with the sudden fine weather and the prospect of some dry rock. A reliable roadside venue can be found on the Achray Blocs below the overgrown crag beside Loch Achray. Though limited, the main bloc has some fine movement and always seems to be dry, hunkering as it does under giant beech trees.

Red squirrels bounced around like rusty springs as I set up the paraphernalia: tarp, mat, chalk bag, rags and brushes. The holds were attended to, some moves rehearsed for warm-ups. Clapping chalk into the autumn air in this little rocky amphitheatre, I felt energised enough to climb the main arete - a superb sequence from the sitting start. Energy is vital to bouldering and I always feel the atmosphere, the 'spirit' of the landscape and your inner buzz (without being too much of a crystal-swinger about it), is crucial in any climbing. If you don't generate or find this first, you won't measure any real success. For the first time in ages I regained the point of it all, locked away in a private world for a few hours of climbing 'without purpose'.

Trossachs Bouldering from John Watson on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Guide to Arrochar and Cowal

The new Blocsport Guide to Arrochar and Cowal is now available as a 16 page full colour PDF download for only 3.50. It is a guide to the best bouldering and sport climbing between Arrochar and the Cowal peninsula. It is a precursor chapter to the new area guides from Stone Country, so if you purchase a copy of the PDF please let us know if there are additions or inaccuracies and we'll correct for the print issues. Also, we are seeking photographs for the new print guides, so if you have any good sample jpegs send them through and we'll consider for inclusion (free guide if you are included).

The contents list goes as follows:

1. Ardvorlich Sports Crags including Hidden Walls & Quarterdome
2. Loch Sloy Blocs
3. The Narnain Boulders
4. Glen Croe Blocs
5. Kennedy Boulder
6. Coilessan Blocs and projects
7. Glen Kinglas , the Restil boulders and the Butterbridge Bloc
8. The Anvil Sport Climbs!!
9. Tighnabruaich Sport Climbs at the Viewpoint crags
10. Glen Massan House Bloc and Miracle Wall sport near Dunoon

Remember, select the highest quality option on your printer, use good paper and select the 'Print as Booklet' option - this will print the guide as a handy A5 portrait booklet which you can staple.

Enjoy your climbing and I look forward to some feedback on new routes and problems!

Add to Cart

Sample pages:

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ruthven Boulder News

Well done to Mike Lee for finally solving the big roof of the Ruthven boulder and its horrific slopers. Mike was filmed by Richie Betts completing the problem, at a grade of 7c, the hardest straight-up on the boulder to date. It takes the roof through the flake to the sloping top-out just left of Barry Manilow. He called it QED... and he demonstrates it so...