Sunday, January 27, 2013

'Oceans' 5 star classic 'rediscovered' at Dumby

Dave MacLeod's 'Oceans' - the attractive orange scoop on the southwest face of the Eagle Boulder, has always repelled strong climbers, and appeared as a total mystery to most. Given 7b+, it seemed within reach of the indoor-trained beast, but this is Dumby and requires a more tenacious and arcane approach! It was good to see it reclimbed and classed as one of the best at Dumby by Niall McNair and Fraser McIlwraith, before the rain returned on Saturday 26th January 2013. They rated it a 'hard 7c' and one of the most unusual and classy of problems at Dumby. The first move twisting up to a poor undercut, then stepping feet through on poor slopers to a vicious cross-through to a crimp only leads you to a further, heart-fluttering power sequence to the lip... many mats and much spotting help secure this, which makes a lone ascent even more impressive. Now on the list of favourites to do, this approaches the magical formula in bouldering: poor footholds, masonic handholds, unusual moves, technique, torque, power and commitment all melded into one.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The fishing season begins...


I always think bouldering is a little like fly-fishing. I was at Dumby on a still January day as the River Leven flooded at high tide. A large seal wallowed in the slack water looking for salmon, sandwich terns screeching and plunging about his head. I was stood under a cave in bitingly-cold conditions,with an extended rod with a brush on the end attending to a chalk-caked hold.

Each attempt at the moves is like the cast of a fly line: it's got to be timed perfectly, with all strength in balance, waiting the optimum time between casts, and hopefully the line lands without a splash and the sequence goes smoothly. If not, it is all chaos and disruption and a large wake in the smooth waters of gravity, scaring off the big salmon of the send... I'm stretching the metaphor a little, but it's the same process of cast and cast again, trusting to the belief that everything will come together eventually in one perfect sequence. And like fishing, I could stand there for hours, absorbed in an obsession of tiny perfections. No better way to spend an afternoon and even if I didn't land a fish, I know the tide will come in again...

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Arran 24 peaks

Reading through old books and perusing maps on dark winter nights leads to ambitious fantasies not unknown at this time of year. This little topo of the Arran hills got me thinking...would it be possible to summit every granite peak in 24 hours?

Climbing every distinct granite peak would include:

1. Beinn Nuis 792m
2. Beinn Tharsuinn 826m
3. Beinn a Chliabhainn 653m
4. A Chir 745m
5. Cir Mhor 799m
6. North Goatfell 818m
7. Goatfell 874m
8. Mullach Buidhe 829m
9. Am Binnein 665m
10. Ciche na h' Oighe 661m
11. Suidhe Fearghas 631m?
12. Ceum na Caillich 758m
13. Caisteal Abhail 859m
14. Beinn Bhreac East 575m
15. Beinn Tarsuinn North Peak 556m
16. Beinn Bhiorach486m
17. Meall Mor 496m
18. Meall nan Damh 570m
19. Meall Bhig 438m
20. Meall Donn 653m
21. Beinn Bhreac West 711m
22. Mullach Buidhe 721m
23. Beinn Bharainn 717m
24. Sail Chalmadale 480m






Arran Blocs

Arran Blocs by Stone Country Press
Arran Blocs, a photo by Stone Country Press on Flickr.

If you enjoy insecure pebble pulling and can't walk further than 20m from the road...

Arran North Glen Sannox

Fallen Rocks

Fallen Rocks by Stone Country Press
Fallen Rocks, a photo by Stone Country Press on Flickr.

3rd January and finally a still day with no wind and rain. These blocs provide conglomerate pebble pulling in an idyllic location with some big project blocs higher up the hill...

Maol Donn

Maol Donn by Stone Country Press
Maol Donn, a photo by Stone Country Press on Flickr.
Maol Donn is the indistinct brown lump above the Corrie shoreline and, despite a painful approach through rough ground and forestry, provides remunerative bouldering on numerous tan sandstone blocs...topo forthcoming...