Long live such autumns: clear skies, frost-cold rock and an orange-filtered low sun. Finally the bouldering season seems to have kicked into gear... I've been projecting at Dumby before the sudden sunsets above Langbank on the other side of the Clyde, and enjoying the pseudo-grit of Craigmaddie higher up on the moors for a change of geology. It seems everyone else is burrowing into their projects and enjoying what free time can be stolen in the shortening days. A full afternoon at Dumby went by in stop-motion oblivion as the tide crept up to the sea boulder from a low tide... no better way to dissolve the stress of deadlines and office life.
It seems Torridon is maturing into Scotland's best bouldering venue considering all the qualities we associate with the sport: aesthetic rock, stupendous landscape, variety, king lines, accessibility (well, it's beside a B-road!). This autumn and winter should see another assault on the tiers above the village, with plenty of projects remaining and easier circuit lines galore. As Queen Victoria observed: '...not a lot of people come here.' Shame!
The recent geo-engineering survey at Dumbarton Rock, commissioned by Historic Scotland, on the NW face (main climbing area above the boulders) has thankfully found no major instability and we hope that responsible climbing can continue as normal at Dumbarton. The report summarises the situation thus:
'The principal potential hazard noted at the NW inspection area is unstable blocks becoming detached from the face and falling onto areas below. It has been established through visual inspection of the area that the rock mass is generally tight, and although there are a number of well developed joint sets, there is little evidence that the intersection geometry is creating significant viable or active rockfall events. This is not say that rockfall will not occur, as from time to time material will dislodge from the face due to natural processes, but these are likely to be relatively infrequent and are impacting areas with only transient pedestrian traffic. Given these criteria – inf…
Thanks to Chris Fryer for pointing out this video on ethics and development of climbing/bouldering in Mount Evans etc. in the US. Whilst Scotland is unlikely to suffer huge impact in terms of the volume of boulderers visiting new and pristine areas of our own Scottish wilderness, our responsibility is nevertheless undiminished. Places such as the Shelterstone, Torridon, Arran, Lewis, Rum etc. all have similar boulderfields to the one in this video.The weather, remoteness and danger (snapping an ankle in a talus field...you've a Joe Simpson on your hands) might all mitigate our impact on the environment, but it's worth stopping to think, especially for guidebook producers, film-makers and sponsored climbers, what are we promoting? How should we do it, if we do at all?
We have come a long way from the original stand-up start, indeed this didn't exist as a concept until we sat on our arses to add a couple of moves to a tired old boulder problem. The sit start is now so ubiquitous it might be better to highlight in guides which problems start 'homo erectus'. We have by no means stopped there in the evolutionary journey backwards to be as prone as a flounder under a piece of rock for fear one single, aesthetic udge might be missed. We created the traverse as a crabby, contorted pump simply for the fun of it, or to create our own bibliography of extensions: ben, jerry, tom... Then came the crazy-golf world of the 'eliminate' which is kind of like an apartheid for holds, where mostly big holds suffer a deletion of rights.The modern bouldering corollary to all this arbitrary nonsense is the link-up, the bastard son of the eliminate. The traditonal idea of the line is, apparently, subverted and twisted out of all normal, mountaineery m…
Craigmaddie flyover, a photo by Stone Country Press on Flickr. Blissful autumn day at Craigmaddie, working through some classic problems and nailing down more aesthetic and less snappy sequences on the ! top tier. Abracadabra is definitely 7a, don't let anyone tell you any differentIf anyone can remember the beta for Farmer's Trust, Pete and I would love to know, we flailed about like demented goldfish... updated topo on the way.