Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Craig Minnan

A forgotten, windswept moor with broken old crags overlooking Inverclyde, it's a good spot to escape in the high summer. I'd be keen to know if anyone has bouldered here - Little Craig Minnan, in particular, was a terrific  buttress with exciting problems over good grassy landings. There appears to be more rock in Muirshiel than I remember, as though I'd missed some vulcanism in the last decade or so. Buttresses everywhere... but sometimes the high contrast summer light makes them seem more substantial than they are!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chilling Out and Freaking Out

Taking photos in Glencoe. Managed to catch Daniel Laing and Murdoch Jamieson on the Freak Out wall ticking the classics, then some pleasant bouldering down at the boulders beside Loch Achtriochtan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hutton's Arran

In my palm, I roll around three small stones taken from the waters. One is a blue schist pebble, slightly chipped, another a perfect egg of sandstone conglomerate and the last a pink and white granite sphere. When I force my brain onto the rack of geological time, exploding it out into a thousand ‘civilizations’ or so (my attempt at imagining a million years), then multiply this by, say, 50, I just about get an idea of each stone’s provenance. I feel I am rolling around three small planets in untouchable orbits; three lost worlds of breathtaking beauty, shape and form; elegant worlds which have been crushed, eroded, rolled into one another and, briefly, given this current page of a pop-up book: there you go, this is your planet for now; turn the page another million years and another world pops up. Stones are border guards of the unknown and secretive territories; bureaucratic knots in our states of understanding deep time . . .

...for the full article, visit the E-books page

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Circuit bouldering Scottish style

Caisteal Abhail summit tor the Press problem one of the finest on Arran Font 4  NR 967 442Laggan Limestone Bouldering NR 978 507Laggan Boulders NR 978 507Kildonan The Prow - Claire YoudaleKildonan GabbroSannox Blocs NR997493S John watson on the lip traverse
Sannox Blocs NR997493S John Watson on the 6a lip traverseSannox Blocs NR997493S Great white problem follow the chalkSannox Blocs NR997493S Great White bloc the 6a lip traverseSannox Blocs NR997493S Claire Youdale trying the dynoSannox Blocs NR997493S lip traverse cruxMushroom Boulder Merkland Wood NS 026 38 Claire Youdale on the pocket roof project
Mushroom Boulder Merkland Wood NS 026 38 Claire Youdale on her projectsMushroom Boulder Merkland Wood NS 026 38 Claire Youdale on the Flakes roofMushroom Boulder Merkland Wood NS 026 387 this chappie fell on his head two seconds laterKildonan Gabbro Gully wall topoSannox Blocs Great White Problem Sannox Boulder 7a plus NR997493SSannox Blocs NR997493S Great White Boulder
Glen Rosa Lower Rosa BouldersKildonan The Prow - Claire YoudaleSannox Blocs NR997493S Great White Dyno 5+ Claire YoudaleKildonan GabbroCorrie Blocs left hand roof 7aCaisteal Abhail summit tor The Press problem   NR 967 442
Arran Bouldering, a set on Flickr.
The biggest, meanest, longest bouldering circuit?

I'd say Arran has a good chance of winning this one. Hop the 7am ferry, get a bus to North Glen Sannox and walk up into Coire nan Ceum, do about 20 of the best problems there (mostly slabs but a few choice roofs up to 6b), then nip up the Witch's Step to the Caisteal Abhail ridge. This has some fine bouldering all the way to the summit on some isolated blocs and on small tors beyond.

Drop down along the big arced ridge to the Cir Mhor summit and some architecturally challenging domino blocs with body-munching properties (and the Rosetta Stone, if you can find it). The silvery slabs on the south west flank of this hill have some compact rock and balancy problems.

At this point you might want to stop for some lunch, you'll be about 40 to 50 problems in. Got enough water? I couldn't find those springs marked on the 1:25,000 map, though I was convinced I could hear bubbling water under the stones.

Now drop down to Fionn Coire under the Rosa Pinnacle. Lots of fine easy bouldering on the howff boulders under the crag, then nip across the stream to the A Chir boulders, a fine compact collection of technical problems (and some big projects). About 30 or so problems up to 5c/6a.

By now, your feet should be raw meat, if it's a hot July day, and you'll be drinking water from the streams at every opportunity. Cramp-thighed, stomp down Glen Rosa to the Daingean boulders by the bivi stone at the path (Cuckoo pockets etc). About 10 problems here up to 7a, but you'll have no skin for that level.

A final haul down to the lower Rosa boulders (about 15 reasonable problems) and a well-deserved dip in the plunge pools of the Rosa burn, then see if you can make the 4.40 ferry.

To extend it properly into a form of alpine torture, walk over Goatfell's south ridge to drop down to Corrie and finish on this classic circuit and catch the later ferry (over 200 problems in total, about 15 miles walking). I made it to plunge pool in Glen Rosa and was done in . . . a blistering circuit, indeed.