Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Ìosal, St Helen's bay, near Siccar Point

I was back to St Helen’s recently, an area I’ve developed back in 2014/15. 

I took a break from climbing and hadn’t been there since the release of the third version of Stone Country Press' Boulder Scotland.

I was glad to see the place has received some traffic – the Latha saor boulder was heavily chalked up, especially Ìosal ( which means low in Scottish Gaelic).

A recent comment from Andy Shanks on one of my previous posts confirmed what I already thought - this latter line is an eliminate.

Here are the holds I've used:
Ìosal, 7b

The true line would be to traverse low, rightward, all the way to poor holds, finishing up Tha mi nam shìneadh (7a) but that was beyond my abilities.

I’d love to know if someone sends the whole traverse and what method they use, so if that's your case, please let me know!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Bouldering near Edinburgh - Roslin Glen

What makes a good problem?

Solid rock, nice setting, dry conditions, safe landing and a cool line, easy to read and that will involve both technical and powerful moves.

Roslin Glen has a bit of that:

Monday, 5 September 2016

Bouldering at Hummell rocks (III)

Hummell wall - Gullane beach (near Edinburgh) 


Conditions were good at Hummell Rocks (Gullane beach) yesterday.

I managed to climb a couple of hard lines. I doubt that these are FAs but the moves are cool and not recorded anywhere, so just in case someone would be looking for ideas, here they are.

I've given them Gaelic names, just because I can - It's my blog, so I make the rules, but who cares about obscure climb names anyway :)




  1. Àirde An Làin, 6a : cool crimpy moves. Topping out is high and dodgy (mosh and bushes), Not recommended. Best is to escape rightward and down climb. 
  2. High & Dry, 5 - see previous post. It did not feel like 6a after all. 
  3. Leum, 6a: from a good side pull right hand, step up and reach high to a break. 
  4. An t-sliseag 6c+: Sit-start both hands on an edge in the red part. Pop to slopers above the lip, move right then pop up again high to a hidden hold. Get over the overhang's lip and finish diagonally up and right. Top out or down climb. 
  5. Àrd-ealain, 7a: Sit-start on poor crimps below the lip. Deadpoint to sloper above (hard not to dab) and again to better crimps above. The rest is much easier. Requires a good dry spell and cool conditions (an evening with no sea sea). 

Remember:

Don't use any hard/wire brushes ! 

Hummell Rocks is a soft sandstone crag by the beach. So holds will always be sandy here. In many cases, you will need to brush the holds before climbing but please, brush them very gently, using soft (not wire!) brushes, to avoid any damage to the rock. Soft nylon are the most popular, but at Hummel Rocks, even soft brushes need to be used gently! If you want to compete with the next guy, give him a chance to try the same climb ;)

Don't climb here less than 24 hours after the rain 

 Climbing on wet sandstone destroys it. Hand holds and footholds are softer and break apart more easily. Wait as much as possible, at least a week when there's been high humidity, cold temperature and already moist conditions.
So late summer is probably the best period to climb at Hummell Rocks.

Bouldering at Hummell rocks (III)

Hummell wall - Gullane beach (near Edinburgh) 


Conditions were good at Hummell Rocks (Gullane beach) yesterday.

I managed to climb a couple of hard lines. I doubt that these are FAs but the moves are cool and not recorded anywhere, so just in case someone would be looking for ideas, here they are.

I've given them Gaelic names, just because I can - It's my blog, so I make the rules, but who cares about obscure climb names anyway :)




  1. Àirde An Làin, 6a : cool crimpy moves. Topping out is high and dodgy (mosh and bushes), Not recommended. Best is to escape rightward and down climb. 
  2. High & Dry, 5 - see previous post. It did not feel like 6a after all. 
  3. Leum, 6a: from a good side pull right hand, step up and reach high to a break. 
  4. An t-sliseag 6c+: Sit-start both hands on an edge in the red part. Pop to slopers above the lip, move right then pop up again high to a hidden hold. Get over the overhang's lip and finish diagonally up and right. Top out or down climb. 
  5. Àrd-ealain, 7a: Sit-start on poor crimps below the lip. Deadpoint to sloper above (hard not to dab) and again to better crimps above. The rest is much easier. Requires a good dry spell and cool conditions (an evening with no sea sea). 

Remember:

Don't use any hard/wire brushes ! 

Hummell Rocks is a soft sandstone crag by the beach.
So holds will always be sandy here. In many cases, you will need to brush the holds before climbing but please, brush them very gently, using soft (not wire!) brushes, to avoid any damage to the rock. Soft nylon are the most popular, but at Hummel Rocks, even soft brushes need to be used gently!
If you want to compete with the next guy, give him a chance to try the same climb ;)

Don't climb here less than 24 hours after the rain 

Climbing on wet sandstone destroys it.
Hand holds and footholds are softer and break apart more easily.
Wait as much as possible, at least a week when there's been high humidity, cold temperature and already moist conditions.
So late summer is probably the best period to climb at Hummell Rocks.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Bouldering in Galicia - Zona Norte (around Ferrol)




The last problem is called "Home de ferro" (Iron man). It's a classic 6c in Cabo Prior near Ferrol. The granit is rough but the location is really beautiful.

For more info, get the topo for all the bouldering spots in the north of Galicia:

Boulder en Galicia, Guía Zona Norte, (in Spanish), 
By Alejandro López Sánchez, 2013, 
Published in A Coruña, Galiza (Spain) by Campo IV 
Available at: Terra Deporte Aventura, Pi y Margall Street, no 53, Vigo 36202  (Tfno: 986 439 431) 
and also at www.libreriadesnivel.com/libros/boulder-en-galicia/9788493990718/

Monday, 6 June 2016

Coastal bouldering (part 3)



Earlier this year, I sent my latest project at the local seaside venue that I discovered last year.

It's called "ìosal". It means "low" in Scottish Gaelic, because it is a low traverse and well... you can't climb it when the tide is high.

I haven't got a clue about the grade. It felt like the hardest climb I've ever sent, but then, every time I send a project, it feels like that. Still, this one is 5 or 6 moves long - the end part being much easier, so it's a solid 7b problem, probably harder.

There are a few other cool problems around but I won't give more details here - there should be plenty within the next edition of John Watson's Bouldering in Scotland guidebook.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Bouldering in the Burren at Oughtdarra

Leaba Na hAon Bho in Oughtdarra is an inland crag a little further up the road pass Ballyryan crags in the Burren (park at the Crumlin stone sign).
It's a bouldering option when Doolin boulders are soaked by sea spray - because the same sea wind that sprays the boulders in Doolin dries those further up inland.

Tayto Boulder - South Face


The cracks and features of this boulder were filed with empty crisp bags. 
This may be part of a local cult but given the proximity to the crags, it is possible that this dirty practice belongs to various social groups including hill walkers and climbers. 
I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
I've removed many of these bags but if you find some more, please take them home. 
The Burren is no one's backyard. 



1. Tayto, 5. Sit-start in the groove crack and go straight up to top out.
2. Mister Tayto, 6a. Same start but traverse the diagonal crack to reach holds beyond the round prow then top out.
3. The man inside the jacket, 6c. Traverse from far left (sit-start on big vertical crack) and link into 'Mister Tayto'.


The reach (6a?)



The cool moves of this problem are actually the start to a trad route called The Reach (E1 6a).
Start to the left of the slab with both hands on a sharp pocket and reach far right for an obvious crack. After this, it's either an easy highball or a jump off back to the bouldering mat.

 Arán Is Im 



1.  Arán, 5. Sit-start on the bottom right of the prow and climb it straight up on sharp holds. Top out.
2.  Im, 6a. Stand start on the left side (north facing) and climb up using a system of cracks. Top out.
3.  Arán is im , 7a. Hard link. Sit-start on Arán but cross leftwards using a slopey crimp (right hand) on the arête to reach the cracks to the left. Then finish up as for Im.


Location




Monday, 19 October 2015

Muile - bouldering at Loch Buie

I’ve visited Loch Buie Boulders on Mull. It's a great bouldering spot.

The grades were generally soft (I on-sighted my first 7bwhich feels a bit disappointing once you realise that you are not as strong as it first appeared.


Hook and go, 7b SS, but it felt more like 7a.


Flesh, 7a, but it felt more like 6b unless I eliminated some holds 
Apart from that disappointing feeling, the rest is 5 stars.

Loch Buie has this much sought after feeling of safe remoteness - beautiful see sights, wildlife (eagles and otters!), old castle, beautiful beach with fine clean sand...

The walk-in is less than half an hour, on flat ground, and is accessible with a push chair : bring your wee bairn and don't worry about adders. Or cars.

Problems come at all levels, in all shapes and heights and many, with a perfect landing. And if you flash the 30 or so established problems, there's plenty more to explore (I found some stuff, but I'll stick it in another post).

The rock is a coarse gabro, but much nicer than that of Coire Lagan on Skye - I spent three afternoons bouldering here and did not get a single skin cut even though I had little hard skin prior going.

The mushroom boulder seems to suck all your attention, thanks to the various possibilities of its overhangs.

Nipple Attack, eliminate version. 3 star problem but 7a at most.


Apart from the problems that I managed to identify in the guidebooks, I also climbed a couple of other problems.

They probably have been done before so I name them here only for the purpose of identifying them.

(And also to stick with the existing semantic field of vocabulary that characterizes the Mushroom boulder)


G-String, 7a+

G-String is a solid 7a+. It goes up the blank looking vertical part of the boulder, using holds in the crack and a high hidden crimp to finish on good slopers. Can be done statically (heel hook, harder) or by stepping on (easier). I haven't done the sitter though.


Au Naturel, 6b

Au naturel climbs the far left corner from sit-start on a big flat ledge within the corner.

You can't beat Torridon for quality bouldering in Scotland.

And you certainly can't beat Dumbarton for hardcore bouldering.

But when it comes to fun bouldering in Scotland, Loch Buie is my number one.





Oh, and in case you wonder... not a midge in sight!!!