Monday, October 25, 2010

Benmore Glen

I spent a fine Sunday amongst the early Autumn snowcap peaks of Ben More and Stob Binnein,  stomping round the giants of Benmore Glen. In summer, this area would make a good venue if you can stomach carrying mats up this far to protect some of the highball lines. The  landrover track from Benmore Farm makes this higher glen reasonably accessible and an hour's slog at most. Some good short steep roofs can be found on the bigger blocs such as the Heather Head. There is some sound clean stone as well as the usual lichenous schist found on higher altitude stone, as though it needs a rhino skin to protect against the withering bealach winds.

The best rock was found on the giant of the upper glen - the massive and lonely Benmore Bloc which can be seen from the old rotten footbridge as you gain the higher glen. Sitting in the bowl of the upper glen under the Bealach, it has four distinct and just about boulderable faces (in terms of height). The bloc has some fine easy lines, some hard mid-range classic '7th grade' lines and some futuristic lines on its steep north face. All the landings are good (while other stones are typically boggy). The best stones are: the Heather Head boulder just uphill of the old bridge; the Ben More boulder itslef and the Bealach blocs.


View Ben More Boulders in a larger map

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dumbarton Guide - Now Published

Stewart Brown's guide to Dumbarton Rock and Dumbuck has finally arrived! It is an 80 page, full-colour guide to the complete bouldering and sport at Dumby (and Dumbuck).

Stewart's efforts to reclimb (and clean) many forgotten as well as classic lines means the beta for the descriptions is very fresh and in many cases cleaned up from the 'fuzzy logic' of some mysterious lines and grades that had lain dormant for so long. All grades have been rationalised and updated, but it is Stewart's dedicated efforts to add his knowledge and detail that will save a few of us from battering away at hopeless sequences! The guide offers the most comprehensive tick-list to date for the sport and bouldering at Dumbarton, with 211 dedicated problems, plus all the sport and a little of the best trad. Circuits have been updated and included (Yellow through to Black) and projects are included, as well as feature classics, photo-topos for each boulder/sport face and some fine photography from Jonathan Bean of - thanks Jonathan!

The guide is exclusively available through this site at £6.99 plus some P&P with first class next day delivery in the UK. It's an essential guide book for the Dumby afficionado and the visitor alike. To get a copy just follow the Paypal trail >>>
Sample of the Introduction:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fontainebleau Notes

Fontainebleau in October. It's like Christmas morning for boulderers, stepping out of the hire car and running into a pile of rocky presents and tinsel leaves under a pine tree. You get the idea. And despite the barricades and strikes and French indignation at the 'retraites', we made it there and back again. Arriving at Potala's ochre rocks in perfect autumnal stillness was, in Colin's words, 'as good as it gets'. Then the fun began...

The actual physical and debilitating ache of climbing every day in Fontainebleau for nearly 10 days has tramsformed into a nolstalgic ache (and lingering tendinitis!), but it was magical to have clear cool blue skies and crisp conditions to hand every day. Resting consisted of working through blue and orange circuits as it would have been criminal not to climb. Blistered pinkies from the sand at Cul de Chien led to customised rock shoes with flaps which allowed a day at Cuvier on some harder lines, but the Joker still spat me off with a perennial disdain.

To be honest, in such good conditions, it was more fun just traipsing through the forest getting away from the crowds and finding lonesome boulders with stunning lines, or just working my way through the circuits. The forest was truly at its best and walking in the footsteps of Denecourt, Millet and Stevenson only added to the mystique. There's much more to Fontainebleau than just the climbing...


Ban Lieu Nord 7a

La Vie D'Ange, Cuvier 7a

Le Surplomb Allayaud, Jean des Vignes - surely 7a!!!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Back on the Boulders

Well, it seems we are well into bouldering season again and despite some hefty rain showers, September had some pleasant days as the leaves turned golden and the air cooled and cleared after the mugginess of August. Time to get off Willie Arrol's sports walls and get the boulder mat out again.

Richie Betts took advantage of some fine weather to revisit the Coire nan Arr boulders in Applecross, some of which look like the most perfect rock imaginable. A visit to try The Universal (below) is high on my list, but time and weather has so far conspired against a visit to the north. Hopefully we can get the area mapped and topo'd for the new Torridon and Applecross guidebook for next year.

The Universal - Photo by Richie Betts

Speaking of guidebooks, I've just received the proof of the Dumbarton Rock guidebook by Stewart Brown. It looks terrific and I should have stock by mid October in time for those returning from Fontainebleau to test their mettle... it's an 80 page guide and so far the most complete guide yet to the bouldering (it also includes the sport routes and Dumbuck).

Below is a wee vid of a good 7a eliminate of the Zig Zag sit . I dug some stones away and this allowed a better position for the tricky first move of the sit start. I think a good digging session might link the base of this to the black cave...anyone brave enough to dig down further under the Eagle boulder?

And check out Betaguides new bouldering venues in the UK: this site is a terrific resource for the itinerant boulderer and has plenty of PDF topo's embedded in its pages.