Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bouldering rampage Scotland-style

I hate the term 'rampage', as though boulderers are locusts devouring some resource and moving on, it's an awful term and I'll talk about it in another post, but it's maybe an apt term to explain the pent-up energy released when weather and new blocs coincide in Scotland. Cabin-fever can lead to a frenzy of sudden activity after the long winter months, on boulders so good they crave movement and release themselves.

We've had a good spell of weather recently (now over!) and the usually dank blocs have dried out. I won't release any location details out of respect for the hard-working and civic-minded pioneers, but the Highlands in particular have always held project stones generally ignored by the global bouldering community, maybe they have good reason. If they want 8c's and 9a's, they are here for the taking, though we're hoping some home-grown talent finds a way to move Scotland onto new levels. After all, this is the home of Malc Smith and Dave MacLeod, amongst others, who have somehow found international levels of strength and grace on rock, despite the weather!

Here are a few tasters of Scottish bouldering stones currently in development, if you do stumble on stones with chalk and cleaning marks, please respect the projects, though it's unlikely you'll find these stones without a highly developed radar which only kicks in when you've lived in Scotland for a while ... or you have something to trade!

 Hige Girvan bloc awaiting a low tide...'USS Enterprise'

 New Traverse from Pierre Fuentes at Agassiz Rock 7b+

 Pierre's new traverse at Salisbury - 7a 

 This giant arete sits in someone's garden unfortunately...

 Loch Lomond giant awaiting someone strong...

 Giant roof with a possible 9a for someone who likes huge spans...Pierre Philosophale but harder

 Colin Lambton on the Aberfoyle project bloc, coming soon...

 Dan Varian near Strontian...on the project bloc

 Tom Charles-Edwards on his Arran project

 One of the giant blocs at 'Mini Magic Wood', details from Alex Gorham forthcoming


Glasgow sandstone bloc topo to be released soon...





Sunday, February 08, 2015

February bouldering

With the high pressure settling over most of Scotland and providing windless weather and cold temperatures, the bouldering conditions are pretty good at the start of February. Some new projects are being worked on across the country.

On the Moray Coast, a new sandstone roof venue akin to Cummingston looks excellent, if this little video is to go by, thanks to Hamish Fraser, Dave Wheeler and friends.

New Bouldering Project, Moray Coast from Hamish Fraser on Vimeo.

In Glasgow, Serious Climbing is putting the finishing design touches to the Commonwealth Games legacy project that is the Cuningar Loop Boulder Park. This park is due to open in the spring sometime, and first glimpses look jaw-dropping. The site features what appears to be about a dozen moulded blocs on a forested plot of land in a loop of the Clyde river, near Dalmarnock.



Alex Gorham has blogged a picture of a nicely-cleaned sandstone bloc near Milngavie, hopefully we'll have some hard projects to work soon when he reveals where. The sandstone escarpment that runs under the Campsies from Faifley to Lennoxtown has a number of undeveloped spots, dank roofs and lost blocs, often requiring significant cleaning, but this looks like another belter to rival the Lennoxtown roof.



Kintyre has seen some exploration round Carradale, where a tortured schist geology provides unusually juggy steep climbing and some giant highballs.




In Arrochar, a number of large blocs have been discovered recently, with Dan Varian about to reveal an awesome hidden bloc sure to be a new classic in the area. John Watson has been developing some new areas in remoter parts, just waiting for the elusive combination of conditions and form ...


In Coigach, it seems slabs are the fashion of the day, perhaps because they are so often ignored due to the profligate ubiquity of roofs and steepness on the sandstone. 'Flexor Strain' is the 'hardest slab in Coigach':


Nigel Holmes looking for holds on the Coigach slabs...




Friday, January 09, 2015

New Year enfolded in Kintyre




The years fold into one another, and layers appear...

We ran away to Kintyre over New Year, to the sheltered nook that is Carradale, on the east coast of Kintyre, facing the west coast of Arran, to ride out the storms and see in the New Year, a convenient 10-yard meander from the Cruban Bar (and an old-fashioned pool table I came to know well). In the short 6 hour window of light (and the 3rd of January was spectacular in its stillness between the fronts), the plan was to find some bouldering on the east coast -  I'd never found much aside from the shark-fins at Skipness which were not that satisfying. Finding the perfect line in a remote corner of Scotland is always invigorating and you just know the fractal coast will reveal something amazing just round the next bay if you keep going.



So I took off round the headland south of Carradale, which on Google Earth looks like a giant pointed-finger cursor pointing south to the open sea. Most of the headland is a rhododendron-jungle populated by wild goats, but it is fringed with a unique schist geology - heavily banded, juggy lateral rock, folded and crimped into bizarre scalloped features, giant blocs and endless caves. It doesn't make for hard bouldering, it's too generously featured, which was good as my shoulder was wrecked, but rather provides remarkably steep roofs and prows climbed on juggy ripples of mostly-solid rock, but snappy enough in places to provide the thrill of insecurity. The best I found was just opposite the headland fort on the path down to the shore - a rising traverse up a prow not far off the tracking bank of grass, and not much more than 6a. An excellent place to explore if you like steep hauling and monkeying around footless.



The whole point of exploration I think, certainly on your own, is getting enfolded in the landscape, losing the mind for a while and coming 'back to consciousness' in a different moment. There's a lot of words written about this by many philosophers, not least Heraclitus and his idea of not stepping in the same river twice, so I'll not labour a good point badly, suffice to say Carradale is a good place to dissolve yourself for a while . . .

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Essential Fontainebleau 2nd edition - OUT NOW!

The new edition of Essential Fontainebleau is now available to order at £11.99 (plus a little PandP), we've just got copies in and it looks terrific, we think! Order it now and we'll post out first class for next day in the UK.

The full-colour guide introduces the climber to the classic bouldering in the forest of Fontainebleau. This new edition has been expanded and improved to include:

Classic circuits and highlight problems
Walk-in oriented topos to over 30 key venues
Test piece tick-lists 5+ to 8c for 320 classic problems
Photo topos for multi-problem blocs
Visual index, maps and detailed access notes
Essential information for first-time visitors
Feature bloc photography

Have a look through the preview on Issuu below: