Scottish Classic Boulder Problems: Craigmaddie
Thinking of the best lines in Scotland around the classic grade of 7a, which is rapidly becoming something of a warm-up for the indoor-honed youth these days, the usual qualities apply: aesthetic line, rock quality, features, moves, technique, trickery. However, sometimes not all of these need apply and the problem is classic despite being somewhat camouflaged from the standard qualities of a 'classic' boulder problem. There are many such problems at the sandstone venue of Craigmaddie where the rock quality is never perfect, the lines are generally not striking and are merged into vegetation, and to be fair many boulderers have just walked on by. But the outlook is superb and the climbing is often terrific. The best 7a at Craigmaddie? Many might say Abracadabra, but I find its lip-lunging a little repetitive and a bit morpho. My favourite would be Easyjet Direct - a butch roof problem on the higher tier which has a lie-down start in sheep shit, has no distinct 'line' and ends in a scruffy beg to the top on a lichenous slab. However, the moves on the solid rock roof section are superb and the whole thing is satisfying for some reason, plus it seems to be a popular problem as it exhibits two key markers of bouldering technique: finger strength and core strength. Plus a spare shoe or two for the ruinous heel-toe lock.