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Showing posts from November, 2006

Climbing on Mars

From: Scottish Mountainner 25

Climbing on Mars
By J S Watson

‘Like morality, mountaineering ethics looks to be a matter of discovery rather than
decision, and to some degree always a matter of conscience.’
Rai Gaita – ‘Sacred Places’



What if we colonised Mars? Think of all the new rock, the new gravities, the new climbs? And what about ethics; what lessons would we bring from Earth-climbing?

It could be argued that we are more ethical climbers these days and ‘ready’ to colonise: we have a well-documented knowledge of the do’s and don’ts around this inanimate, oblivious stuff called rock and ice. We know we are not supposed to take drills to mountain crags, or retro-bolt others’ more vital achievements. Most feel secretly guilty pushing winter climbing onto bare summer rock routes. Or we watch films, instead of relying on the traditional mythic story-telling, to reassure ourselves the ‘purity’ of ascent is guaranteed. We resist hammering and hacking at the stuff because we know we’re just no…

Rock Poker

Dave MacLeod on 'Smokescreen' original method

Alan Cassidy has reported an intriguing new version of Dave MacLeod's Smokescreen, originally a desperate Font 8a+, it has now been reclimbed at a more amenable grade of Font 7b+ . Alan said he discovered a go-again slapping sequence that got him up the crux hanging slopers.

It goes to show that there are often other perspectives to problems, and that it is worth trying all sequences on your projects just in case... it also shows how rich our climbing world is... other people can often produce radically different results and it is worth absorbing as much as you can from watching other climbers. It's where you learn all your technique after all. Well done to Alan for discovering a sequence that will make this tespiece more accessible, I hope Dave is not too disappointed to hear the news... it won't make Pressure any the less impressive, but will mean there is an easier finishing sequence. That said, finishing up Firestart…

A Spanish Interlude

You would be forgiven for thinking Spain a hot limestone potato balancing on the nose of Africa, too hot and steamy for bouldering, one for the sports climbers maybe. Well, a little research and googling dragged up some interesting counter-points. The mountains are cooler, anything over 1000 metres and the Pinus Negris forests hide boulders and rocks entirely alien to the geological bully that is limestone, and the temperatures are more convivial to holding slopers. What I found hidden up here looked suspiciously like the clean red Torridonian sandstone of the North West of Scotland, nestling in the cool shade of pines. There was one online topo and a few photos that persuaded me to book flights to Valencia. The place? - ‘Albarracin’.



Albarracin is a remarkable medieval town perched precariously on rocky slopes in a deep valley in the Montes Universales. These mountains lie west of Teruel (two hours drive north from Valencia airport) in the province of Aragon. A ten mile straight road…