Tim Rankin has shown a fresh burst of energy and strength early in the season to claim the North East's first major boulder problem of the year - Optimus Prime - with an ascent of the dramatic and highball prow at Cammachmore south of Portlethen. This oft-spied line was thought to have an impassable blank section, but Tim managed to find a solving sequence on brushed edges, arete clamps and poor slopers... he says it goes at about V9 but Tim is unsure of the grade as the climbing is so unusual and specific, just expect it to be well hard! Tom Kirkpatrick filmed the first ascent. Named after his son's skills with the daddy Transformer, which leave most adult visitors gobsmacked, same as the problems!
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