Pete Murray and myself travelled up to meet Dave MacLeod at his '8c' cave in Morar. This secretive and impressive venue took us a while to find, but was obvious once we did - a 50 degree walled quartzite cave with no moss or drips or lichen and a singular line of chalked holds disappearing into the triangular darkness - Dave's 8c project. I pulled on a few holds the first day and tried one or two moves, but the sheer brutality and power required was too much and we let Dave show us his rubric of moves and contortions that allow the cave to be climbed. The 'easiest' lines appear to be butch 7a's and the top level is close to Dave's idea of Nirvana - long power-plays and complex link-up sequences. We bagged some good film and a short interview about the place which will be forthcoming in a new short film from Pete Murray, to go along with a new collection of writing on bouldering from Stone Country.
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