Skip to main content

'Gabbrofest' out now!!

Right now, several square miles of wild boulderfields are lying amongst scree slopes and moorland on the Isle of Skye...

Not a bad intro! This is a labour of love and serious attention to detail, a quality addition to the bouldering topography of Scotland. James Sutton and Lee Robinson have produced an excellent map-guide to the bouldering on Skye, bringing clarity to the jumble of boulders in the great gabbro corries. The first thing that struck me was the simplicity of the layout, an A3 fold-out that packs neatly into a waterproof sleeve. Bird's-eye-view maps at 1:2500 scale locate you easily, numbered boulders refer to hand-drawn boulders, clearly marked lines and full descriptions, with V and Font grades... 39 diagrams, 150 problems... packs a punch all right.

If that's not enough, there are GPS locators for the boulders. The main areas described include:
Culnamean, Ghrunnda Boulders, Coire Lagan and An Sguman. Other areas mentioned are: Carn Liath, Skinidin, Elgol and An Caol on Raasay, though the concentration is rightly on the rough gabbro of the Coires. There are some excellent pics of classic problems such as Duck Boulder Arete, Snake Attack, Pump Up the Jam, Criss Cross and a classic shot of Ben Wear wiping off The Chieftain face out!!

I noted the inclusion of Si O'Conor's 'hard' problems with interest, having had my own share of frustration in trying to give Si the benefit of the doubt when it comes to cutting-edge problems. There is no doubt these lines exist as 'lines' and have been located by James, though Si still has to take responsibility for his claims and provide some core evidence of actually linking and climbing them. They are insanely blank propositions even to an experienced eye and to date Si has smoke-screened everyone who has tried to climb with him or film him on these problems... the author's own photographs are not enough to suggest full ascents. I guess James and Lee have shown a similar philosophy of generosity (describing Extradition, It's Over and Paper Tiger etc). Future guides and literature will not be so generous, I fear.

To get back to the guide, however, it is a thing of dedication and communicates the esoteric enthusiasm for gabbro bouldering... this is one of the wildest and most beautiful bouldering venues on the planet. You don't need a rope and rack to come home beaten up and exhausted by endless movement. There are hundreds of new problems to go at out there, but the circuit of problems described will cut your bouldering teeth (as well as your skin!). All-year round bouldering is possible due to the friction, though you won't want to be caught out on a still evening with the flying sharks... a dry winter day or a breezy summer afternoon are perfect here. The scenery gets you every time...

The guide should appear on the shelves of the outdoor shops soon, but to get a copy contact James directly at or check out

Well done boys... good production and an inspiring inventory of passion!


bestusedcarrs said…
I really enjoyed looking at your site, I found it very helpful indeed, keep up the good work.

Popular posts from this blog

Plato's Cave

In his famous 'allegory of the cave', the Greek philosopher Plato pondered the artificiality of reality in imagining how we could be fooled into thinking shadows on the wall (i.e. virtual reality) could be seen as 'real' life. I'm paraphrasing, of course. What has this got to do with climbing? Well, I was pondering this myself recently while sitting on an artificial concrete boulder at the new Cuningar Loop bouldering park in Glasgow. Does it really matter that a boulder is made of concrete, surrounded by plantation and skirted with kind gravel traps rather than tree roots and spikey boulders? Isn't the 'real' thing so much better: the isolated erratic bloc deposited by geology's long-term aesthetic artwork? Well, yes, that's entirely up to you, but sometimes the artificial saves the day ... I was scuppered by Glasgow's cross-town traffic and turned back to my local artifice that is Cuningar to climb the blue circuit I had imagined as

Timeline Walks of Scotland #Culbin Sands

The Moray Firth’s sand-bitten southern coast, between Findhorn and Nairn, is home to Scotland’s most cautionary tract of land. Now a wilderness of maritime forest, dunes, salt marsh and spits of sand, its human history has been dated to the Bronze Age, around 1300 BC, but it is a territory that since glacial times would have been mobile and mutable. The Laich of Moray is the fertile strip of plain squeezed between the foothills of the Cairngorms and the Moray Firth’s south coast. In Gaelic it is called Machair Mhoireibh (the machair of Moray), a perfect habitat for golf courses and rich arable farmland, threaded by the glacially-rivered straths of Nairn, Findhorn and Spey. Culbin is an old parish which is now buried under 28 square kilometres of duneland and recent forestry. Sweeping east of Narin and curving in to rise up to its greatest heights above the estuary of the River Findhorn, it is now managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, but it is notable that this is a humanl

Scottish Bouldering #New Glasgow climbing wall: The Prop Store

The Glasgow branch of The Climbing Academy (TCA) is just about to open its new bouldering and lead-climbing centre on Glasgow's north side. Its south-side twin ('The News Room')  is already a popular bouldering centre, but the new site will bring fresh inspiration to climbers on the north side of the Clyde. Situated in Maryhill, not far from the West End, this new centre is named after an old BBC prop warehouse, so it's been named ' The Prop Store '.  The centre feels roomy and spacious with a long profile. The holds and panels are super-grippy and there are some free-standing boulders to mantle out as well as an impressive offering of angles, roofs, slabs and subtly sweeping walls.  There is also a section of lead wall with auto-belays for top-roping practice, and a training centre upstairs. They should be open this December, but here are some preview shots.