Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Arrochar Classic from Niall McNair



Niall McNair has climbed a classic and stunning arete in Arrochar: Ajare E6/7 6b. The crag can be spied by lustful trad climbers from Arrochar, but until now no-one had breached the impregnable lines on this crag. The route was climbed in a flash ascent with a cursory abseil to check quality of rock on the dangerous crux, which is a technical 6b sequence over poor RP's leading to thank-god gear in a high niche. Niall repeated the climb smoothly for the cameras and thought it bold E6 climbing on second ascent, but this might still mean a possible ground-up E7 serious onsight, let the repeaters decide...


It is good to see routes of this quality still appearing in Arrochar... this is almost as stunning a line as Dalriada in my opinion. More lines will be forthcoming and the crag will soon be revealed in all its hardcore glory...

Ardnamurchan 'Ring Cycle'


A flying visit to the Ardnamurchan ring crags and another batch of problems to add to the great 'Ring Cycle'. Walking the volcano is long enough, but add on a few highball problems and easy solos makes for a very interesting and exhausting day's climbing. Start at the central camp-site by the wee river (before Achnaha), go up the back of Creag an Airgid and circumnavigate the boulders and crags anti-clockwise to finish over the craggy back of Sanna and the long ridge home to the campsite. Climb anything that looks good... the slabby crags are highball VS at most and steep short roofs add a little bouldery intrigue. The best bouldering is around the crags and boulders between Creag an Fhir Eoin and Achnaha Buttress, but doing the whole thing will provide up to 1000m of actual climbing on rock, depends how much you want to do!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Summer Bouldering Updates



The weekend was a washout, especially for the Great Climb on the BBC, shame they had no flexibility built in as High Pressure is just round the corner... as a climber in Scotland you always need a wet weather alternative... so on a wet afternoon in Inverurie, I raced up to the Cullen Caves and bouldered away merrily on the dry steep quartzite caves, doing a few lines on St Duane's Den, with a particularly good traverse and a desperate straight-up (Duane's World, Font 7a+). Topos will appear in the forthcoming Stone Country new edition, but suffice to say some hard projects remain... the caves stay dry in torrential rain, but take plenty of chalk as the quartzite can be damp.

Guy Robertson completed his 8a+ (French grade) traverse at Boltsheugh. This is a low-level traverse of the right-hand sports crag and is a real pumper, though you'll need a local to point out the rules...some holds are plain no-no. Good effort, this is no mean feat to link... a bit like Consolidated...nowhere desperate but very long.

Lee Robinson sent me some pics of a fruitful trip to Applecross, Skye and Torridon, with many new problems and venues discovered. The pick of his achievements seem to be a new testpiece at Torridon called Captain Ahab just along from the Ship boulder, as well as a striking arete at Carn Liath he called Cetorhinus Maximus.


If anyone else has some bouldering news, let me know at boulderscotland@googlemail.com




Monday, August 13, 2007

Northwest Blues




The far northwest... land of blue skies and hope... it's a committing trip in an insecure summer like this, but we piled the car up with boulder mats and headed through horizontal rain for 6 hours, ending up in Kinlochbervie sheltering in the bar playing pool until chased out into the rain and the tents. The morning broke clear and as promised: wall to wall sunshine. The Gneiss up here dries quicker than B&Q emulsion and we drove on to Oldshoremore to check out a few venues and find some new bouldering rock. The beach bouldering showed some promise between the two bays of Oldshoremore and Oldshore Beg, the rock a delightful pink and tan gneiss sea-washed so clean you could eat off it. The warm dry rock and biting crystals felt good biting through the miasma of a few beers from the night before.

We moved on to the Akita boulder which Dave MacLeod had reported a while back. Despite being a superb piece of rock, the landings are poor and need more mats than we had... a committing venue we skedaddled from as a few damp holds caused a couple of nasty wipe-outs. Shame it isn't on a knoll of firm grass!

However, the Rhiconich stone, having seen some drainage work, was safe as houses despite its height. We climbed some of the easier lines including the excellent roadside arete - Blooded - Font 6a - and I broke yet another hold on the Blood Music wall, it's 7c now and rising... good luck to anyone on this.

Down the road to Ardmair for a shoulder session on the roof, with Ian Taylor engramming the local testpieces and looking fit if midge-bitten... he will be authoring the Stone Country Northwest Bouldering Guide next year so get those projects sent for the first edition!

The next day Reiff saw a few new additions on the Pinnacle roof, probably variations on a theme but fun nonetheless: The Green Men Font 6c+ and Greenblue Font 6c, a cross-through combo on the Blue Men cave. The Wave Traverse low variation needs colder conditions (and more skin than I had!) and the big arete left of Leaning Meanie at the bouldering cliff is a must for the 8a boulderer out there... C'mon!!

A final fling on the Link Boulder twin lips on the way down the road past Aviemore ended a nice little recce trip, with the cooler and drier conditions of late summer and autumn nearly here... what a dreich old summer it's been! Not many days like this:



Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Loch Arklet Boulders

The Flood - Font 6a+


If anyone is in the area, the Loch Arklet boulders, normally submerged, are completely free of the loch and there's a fine collection of problems between Font 3 and Font 6c... some good wave-washed schist. They can only be seen from the Stronachlachlar to Inversnaid road, but park in a gated layby 200 m before the T-junction to Stronachlachlar and head down the track to the obvious stand of trees by the inlet station and you will come across them... where did all that water go, I wonder? A thirsty Glasgow, or did it all evaporate and rain on Gloucester? It's a good spot for a picnic or some lazing by the shore.