Showing posts from March, 2005


Mohammed-Ali-Boulder-1-web Originally uploaded by jsw2004 . Rope-A-Dope V4

How Bouldering Turned Me Blind

A weekend of untouched boulders and hero stones, fine rewards in lost places, I pay thanks to the golden ratio: for every good day we must suffer so many bad... the necessary trade-off of awry days, bad weather, midgies and plain stupidity... ‘I could see them from Glen Etive, one eye on the road, the other chameleon eye scouring the hillside above. The car kept lurching into roadside ruts on the single track so I stopped and pulled out a pair of binoculars. Shakily, I held them against my spectacles and briefly granite came into gleaming focus - sun beamed off clean white prows and my heart leapt with bouldery anticipation. But I could be wrong: I had been fooled before – stone giants had become lichenous dwarfs when I arrived. I tried to judge their size by the shrubs and trees around – they seemed to belittle the shrubs and respectably diminish the proportions of a stand of Scots Pine high on the hill. I resolved to climb them. The only problem was a Great Barrier Reef of Rhod
Stronachlachlar dynamics
'The Menin Road'

Give Me the Strength to Let Go!

We wind up the A82 looking for fully-formed icefalls. This winter has had a late cold snap lasting weeks, but little snow-cover in the west, so the icefalls tend to form brittle chandeliers and crash off in the blazing sun like wind-chimes from rotten string. We stop at Orchy and binocular into the Coire... Fahrenheit 451 hasn't quite touched down and looks like the afternoon sun will strip it, but 'Salamander Gully' has a thin rake of snow leading to a fat icefall, so we bash in before the strengthening March sun creeps round Dorainn and gets its superman eyes on the ice. Climbing in Scotland is so often to do with opportunism... I'm reminded of five years ago, on a day up here with Murray Dale... "Oh My God, give me the strength to let go!" I never really understood this statement. It was uttered by a friend on the crux of a new and rather unexpected HVS on a Donegal sea-cliff. Then, it was a plea in extremis, later it was the humorous route-name with the st

Soul Traffic

The traffic conspires with the balance of mind and inertia chokes the city, but the sky is blue high above. By the time I'm at the Erskine Bridge, I'm opening the window and pitying the Tollbooth guy. The rest is freedom up the A82 to Arrochar, bar the odd Citylink bus... but we're all headed north, that's fine. I check the Brack, too lean, the Cobbler is stripped. I bank on Miseach and head up to the Tharsuinn corrie, looking for big stones on the way. The north groove that is Philosopher's Gully is lean but icy. I wind up some Grade 3 icy drapes to cut across to the gully as a snow-storm beats in behind. The sun is just behind the crags now and there is that curious Godlight and all these millions of snowflakes driven up towards the light like millions of little manic souls all jostling to get there first... soul traffic... I disappear like a sinner into the black-walled gully. It goes fine and has good icy diversions, especially at the top slab, where I commit t