Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Update on Dumbarton Rock access

MCOS and myself attended a meeting with Historic Scotland at Dumbarton Rock with David Mitchell (HS Director of Conservation), Ian Lambie, (District Architect for HS) and Stephen Gordon (Head of Applied Conservation at HS): they are keen to 'de-schedule' the crags and boulders so climbing can become official, but there are a few issues to resolve first. A geo-technical survey commissioned by Historic Scotland will allow a climber to accompany the survey to promote better understanding; there will be a council meeting with a climber representative to discuss landscaping; and any graffiti cleaning will be accompanied by a climber so no damage to holds is done (cleaning is a priority for the non-climbing crag face below Omerta). Cleaning methods will be discussed and whilst non-climbing rock might be blasted, climbing rock will use a non-damaging solution/steam cleaning method.

So, good news really and a real opportunity to keep our heritage alive at the Rock... thanks for everyone's help and statements, please email any concerns/letters/statements to me John Watson: stonecountry@virginmedia.com

MCOS are of course involved, and their access officer Andrea Partridge will be at all meetings, but I will make sure bouldering/climbing gets understood as a valuable asset to the community. If anyone wants to get more closely involved or add to the literature we have to support climbing at Dumby, please do give me a ring 07546 037 588

John Watson

Monday, July 30, 2012

Raasay Classic climbed

Dave reports on his blog about the success and pleasure of bouldering in wild and haunting places such as Raasay. plus he bags a 7c+ classic, giving Raasay a big pin-marker on the bouldering map of Scotland!

Check out geolocation for the access (prow at bottom left of pic) >>>

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coiregrogain Blocs

A very wet Sunday in the Arrochar Alps, so I put the running shoes on and took the long escalator-paced track up to the Allt Coiregrogain in horizontal, soaking drizzle. I'd been tipped off by Tom C.E. that there were some impressive blocs in the hanging glen between Beinn Ime and Ben Vane. He isn't wrong! Some giant stones with attractive, steep walls and flying aretes... the usual bogs might be an issue, but a dry week might make them just about approachable, if you like 5km walk-ins with big mats. Some nice camping spots, so perhaps a dry spring trip would see some big lines climbed. Apologies for the retro-style photo - the phone battery was so low, this was the only camera app that would work.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Bouldering

The sandstone boulders under the cliffs of Raasay have seen some serious attention from top-end climbers Michael Tweedley and Dave MacLeod. Dave reported an amazing and very continental-looking project on the giant boulders round Screapadal. Dave reports on the stunning potential of the area in his blog:

'We spent ages looking round the boulders finding countless problems in the V0-V3 range that looked great, but not much for ourselves. But finally we stumbled upon one line that changed our psyche - the biggest, baddest Font 7c/+ roof in Scotland!'

Beastmaker Dan Varian has written a hilarious blog about the ups and downs of Scottish bouldering, cranking out some big new testpieces in Torridon and Applecross in June. Lovingly entitled '3 days in Paradise, 1 day in a Shithole', you can tell he wasn't impressed by Dumbarton! Don't worry, Dan, we feel you and are trying to get the place cleaned up! See here for further developments on the clean-up and development of Dumbarton Rock via the MCOS >>>.

Wee Baws, 7b, Torridon

Ann Falconer, Nigel Holmes and others developed some more accessible circuit problems at Coire nan Arr around the Dam boulder and on the excellent wee boulder across the loch, with possibly the cleanest rock in Scotland! The dam area is extremely accessible and has a good mix of hard lines, projects and perfect 4 to 6a problems. 

Ann Falconer on a Coire nan Arr traverse

In the south, a few Glasgow-based climbers have been developing Arran's remoter corries with some enjoyable circuit-style bouldering and the odd 'blankety blank cheque book and pen' i.e. any granite testpiece:

The Whangie has seen some attention as a summer venue for boulderers. This crumbly crag, long a classic trad ground for developing nerve and control on poor rock, actually has an enjoyable circuit of problems from Font 4 to 6c, with the Traverse proving a camouflaged classic 6c - very hard to onsight! If you're limited to an evening's bouldering and want to escape the midges, this will catch any breeze going and the outlook is biscuit-tin classic.

The Whangie >Andy's Lip 6a+

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Dumbarton Rock Update

It seems there has been some confusion and misinformation about cleaning of the boulders/crag at Dumbarton. Currently, the issue is in the hands of the MCoS, Historic Scotland and SNH, so please check for official statements on the MCoS website, the most recent of which is here >>> official news.

Whilst we may all have different views on how best to manage visual pollution such as graffiti - some would like to see it go, some feel it is part of the urban character of the place - the best we can do is represent our feelings on climbing heritage to the MCoS as our official access representative.

My own personal statement in defence of climbing here remains:

1. We LIKE the place and USE it a lot, in all seasons, so naturally want to see a balance between conservation and the rights of our climbing heritage.

2. We clean the place up independently every year and ought to be recognised, or at least consulted, when decisions are being made on 'cleaning' the rock, which, from our point of view, is a delicate topic - we treat the rock much more precisely than anyone e.g. sandblasting and/or chemical treatment could damage the rock and radically change the nature of many climbs.

3. This heritage is not notional - climbers have brought decades of sport, social inclusion and personal development on a uniquely independent scale to Dumbarton and its population. Many people, young and old, have enjoyed the mental and physical benefits of rock-climbing at Dumbarton Rock. We also might cite the achievements of Dave MacLeod who began his career here - arguably the world's best all-round climber.

4. Climbers are generally active conservationists and have the venue's long-term future at heart. If visual pollution by chalk is deemed a problem, we can change to eco-chalk, liquid chalk on hands, no loose chalk and police our own pollution. Climbers have also made significant efforts to counter their own erosion by using mats and gravelling out erosion channels.

5. Hundreds of climbers visit Dumbarton every year, FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, as it is seen as a world-class crag - thus bringing significant revenue to the town through transport, shops, petrol etc.