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Showing posts from January, 2009

Handicap Bouldering (grades)

Okay, this is all a bit of fun, and grade-obsession in climbing only disillusions me, but a comment on the ever-entertaining Sam's World of Pain popped out at me, and being older and heavier than most boulderers these days, I thought I'd develop my own grading system! According to Sam, via Steve McLure, half a stone (7lbs or 3.2kg) is equivalent to half a grade (a 'plus' or 'minus' grade eg. 8a to 8a+). This got me thinking, is there not a handicap system out there, like there is for horse-racing? In my world of new grades, skinnies should be climbing with weight-belts and fatties get a numerical headstart!

1. Work out how many half stone you are above or below average weight.

The 'average man' principle:
The average man is allocated 110 lbs (50 kg) for the first 5 feet (1.524 m) in height. Thereafter, he is allocated 5½ lbs (2.495 kg) for every additional inch (0.025 m) in height.
Thus, a man 6 feet tall (1.829 m) would be allocated 110 lbs (50 kg) plus 1…

January Bouldering News

Hopefully we'll see a few more new problems once we get less stormy weather, but Mike Lee informed me he had completed the Scourguie Woods project, which has fallen at the reasonable grade of 7b+ and is known as Walk the Dog. Knowing Mike's lighter-than-air abilities, I'm sure this is value for money!! The video makes it look very flat and staightforward, have a look at the pic to get an idea of the steepness, then imagine crimping up that!





Tim Rankin managed to repeat Twilight Princess, which is a tremendous start for the year - he confirms it at the 8a grade, anyone for a third repeat? Tim also reclimbed Crimp Like a Chimp on the Portlethen Sports Wall, which he says is now 7b+.

Richie Betts continued the theme of broken holds and returned to Malc's Arete at Torridon Ship Boulder, scene of a recent finger-crime. The crucial half-height ledge holds snapped but the problem was repeated at 7a+ and for the crouch start you now get 7b without change.

Tom Kirkpatrick has also…

As the Days Lengthen...

Not Scotland... Punta Grande Patagonia

An old woman in Ullapool stopped me in the street over New Year and said 'As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens...' and she shook me by the elbow like it was some portent of doom. But she is quite right and the old saying rings true in Scotland... as the days stretch imperceptibly in January we tend to get a cold moist period with high level snows, it seems the hills will be freeze- thawing this month, quite nicely thankyou very much. So in between sessions at the local wall trying to get some fitness for the year, I've dug out my old battered Quasar axes and will be sharpening them with anticipation of days like these photos. 

Salamander Gully
Crest Route, Glencoe
I've always felt that winter days can provide the rarest quality mountain experience in all the climbing disciplines. They are usually the most memorable because your senses are sharpened by proximate mortality, freezing your ass on belays, torture-rack hotaches, smash…

The Craigmaddie Mystery

Anyone who has walked the low sandstone hills around Craigmaddie, sandwiched between the volcanic plain of the Clyde and the volcanic Campsies to the north, may have noticed some odd things. To the west of the crags there is an arena-like hollow with a triplet stone known as the Auld Wifes' Lifts. This is a heavily carved stone, mainly stencilled with the excessive initials of vigorous Victorians, suggesting it was a popular tourist attraction at one point. Jill was here, apparently, as was 'JR'.
The Auld Wifes Lifts
The myth goes that three local 'wifies' from neighbouring villages had a competition to see who could carry the biggest stone in their aprons. The third managed to set the biggest on top of the two smaller ones, with a smacking of her fat hands no doubt. Local traditions suggest the space under the main capping stone was crawled through by women to ensure they did not die childless, and no doubt the classic 'wedding' tradition of crawling throu…

Sunshine on Lith

The stubborn high pressure system that has been sinking cold air all over Britain has been a rare treat for lithophiles. The rock has been sticky as the sides of a freezer and the boggy approaches in Scotland have been rock hard, allowing an approach in dry trainers, though some comical Billy Elliot moments occurred on great tongues of ice and frosted top-outs.

Ben More Coigach Stone Pavement

I was in the sunny North West over New Year and continued development is apace on the red grit and on some obscure granite boulders. Even interlopers like myself can find projects galore. I enjoyed a session at the excellent Rhue Blocks, managing the crux crouch start to the Forge before falling off on the slab, by which point my skin was too shredded to continue!

Ian Taylor at Reiff in the Woods

In the south Tim Rankin has been busy repeating the harder Thirlstane classics and finally working out how Paul Savage's problems work best. He repeated Tied Up and Swallowed at a 'short-man's&#…