Monday, 18 August 2014

Bouldering at Agassiz rock - The Lock Reloaded

Agassiz rock, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh


A major hold of the crag, an undercutting finger pocket under the small roof of the overhang, is completely gone. A flat edge remains, which opens potential for new versions of the classic lines.

Here's one of my owns, The Lock Reloaded, a cool sit-start that includes a couple of dynamic slaps and a high (but easy) top out:

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Bouldering near Edinburgh

Agassiz Rock Top-outs




The following problems can all top out. Descent can be done leftwards, via the small path at the top of the crag. Take care!

1. Rock over, 6a

Sit-start on pockets (heel hook right) to crimps above. Then rock over using a flat pinch, then top out.

2. Hula’s hop, 5+

Sit-start on small but positive pocket edges  to the big jugs above. Sort feet and reach for a crimp right hand and a hidden sharp side pull left end. Hop up onto the big ledge to the left and top out as the Rock over.

3. Step up, 4+

Sit-start as for Hula’s hop. A flat square edge above the line of big jugs leads to a hidden but good hold to the right of the bulge. Using it, step up onto the line of jugs and finish easily rightwards and up.

4. The Lock reloaded, 7a

A reload of the old "Lock" problem (see Stone Country press’ Bouldering in Scotland 2008 guidebook, page 60) after the "wobbly jug finger-lock" fell off. 

Sit-start at the base of the overhang and gain the heavily chalked up polished rail. From this rail, grab the undercut flat edge under the roof, sort feet out and lunge up for the sloper above. Match this sloper and lunge up again to a good jug (dynamic move) at the top of the overhang. Top out leftward on bigger holds (high).

5. Low Traverse, 7b

As per Stone Country guide to Bouldering in Scotland's description (2008, page 60).

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Craiglockhart - Update

Bouldering near Edinburgh, Wester Craiglockhart Hill


1. The Pinch, 6c+ 


From any hold to the right of the 'Shark' arete, deadpoint (or dyno) to a white sloper below the top and finish on the sharp jaws of the 'Shark'. 

2. The Pinch SS, 7b. 


Eliminate. Sit start at a broken brown vertical rib to the right of 'Shark' (harder for the tall). Any good hold on the left side corner/arete is out. Pull on small edges to gain a LH sloper and RH square pinch hold - or any other small edge and finish as for the pinch.

3. Hung Parliament, 6a+


Sit start under the bulge. Pull hard on crimps and sloper to reach the only good jugs of the wall. A technical sequence leads to hidden holds at the high break. Finish traversing left and down on ‘Shark’.

4. Hung Parliament direct 6a


As previous but finish straight up at the break on good holds.

5. The niche, 6b. 


Sit start at good but sharp crimp, slot or undercut into the small niche and reach for the flat diagonal side pull/pinch. From there, traverse left and finish as for ‘Hung Parliament’.

6. The niche direct, P

Eliminate. Sit Start as previous but straight up on crimps to the high break of ‘Hung Parliament direct’. The LH jugs and RH scoopish sloper by the ivy are out.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Bouldering near Edinburgh

Agassiz Rock and Salisbury Crags




Dynamic panoramic view of Agassiz Rock


According to Robert Craig, a self-proclaimed “native Scot with the inside knowledge that entails”, “the best-known bouldering area near Edinburgh is Aberdour”.

Craig goes as far as claiming that “Salisbury Crags aren't good quality climbing”.

Given the advice is available on a website called “Allexperts dot com”, one is tempted to take it for granted.

Dear Edinburgh visitor, who's joining the crowds of the Homecoming Scotland 2014, don’t listen to Robert Craig.

Judging by his assessment of rock quality, he's probably a hill walker who thinks that bouldering is another way to reach the top of a mountain.

In terms of quality (both rock and setting), Salisbury Crags are, by far, the best venue in Edinburgh, while Agassiz Rock, near Blackford quarry, by its overhanging nature and its profusion of holds, provides the best naturel training venue for bouldering in Edinburgh.


But if you think that soloing 10 meters high HVS routes above spiky rocks  - or at best above very shallow waters – is the definition of good bouldering, then yes, Aberdour is probably a good bouldering venue.

All experts indeed.


Saturday, 10 May 2014

Undeniably Glendo

Glendalough from the sky



The beauty of watching British TV crime series is that you get to see Wicklow, where they are actually shot.








Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Loch nam Breac (Trouts Lake)

Bouldering near Gairloch/Poolewe, Loch nam Breac (Aztec Tower), Ross & Cromarty, Highland


Map of boulders near Loch nam Breac, Gairloch, Ross and Cromarty
Map of the boulders


1. Pressing is cheating, traverse round the flat boulder (knock 2 grades off for each press rest!) 6c
2. Ommff, SS, eliminate, rock over from lower flake, 5


1. Pressing is cheating, 6c
3. Pull your cac together, SS, 6b+


4. An Uaimh, SS, 6c


5. Taobh grianach na bheatha, highball-ish, hang start on jugs to the left (foot jam), 7a
6. Siubhdaibh a nigheanan! Climb the left side of the arête from a stand start, 6c
7. An Balla, 6a
8. Wee Dram, SS/deadpoint and rockover, 6b


9. Desperate project: 
overhanging blank face in a pit (roughly 4 m high, the picture doesn't give it fair credit)

10. Return of the Ommff, rock onto the slab from a SS, 6a
11. An Leac, middle part, 4
12. Arête, 3
13. Original route direct, high and technical at the end, 6a
14. Original route, existing brushed up undocumented line, 5
15. The Ommff with a vengeance, SS, eliminate, technical wall avoiding the arete, 6b


16. The Auld Layback, climb the left side of the right corner, 4


Gairloch coast

Bouldering near Gairloch (Carn Dearg YH/Sands camping) and North Erradale, Ross & Cromarty, Highlands


1. Black wall, SS, 3
2. Tank Top, SS + traverse, 5
3. Sex air an traìgh, SS/dyno, 7a
4. Topless, SS/deadpoint from crimps, 6b
5. An Buntàta reamhar, eliminate: double dyno (both hands) from SS, 6c


6. Font & low, SS, 6a
7. Font & low direct, SS, 6b
8. Project


Cave Area

Potential for highballs with bad landings or trad routes with good gear


9. Grug, SS from big sloper and deadpoint over the lip, 6a

10. The Croods' traverse, SS, 6b
11. Eep, SS to sloper traverse and mantelshelf and up, 5+
12. Guy, SS, wall and rock over mini-roof, 6a



13. Crack and flake wall, 5 (project from SS)



More bouldering/climbing potential around

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Finisterre - O Granito galego


Bouldering in Galicia - Finisterre trailer (Mens segment)


I've said many things along those lines before but here it goes:

"Far-off from Europe’s mainstream bouldering hotspots lies one of the continent’s most overlooked climbing regions.

Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, has many things to offer. Spectacular boulder fields litter the storm-tossed coast and the undulating hinterlands.

But it’s the locals that make this lovely spot of land so special. People like Ben de Corme or Finuco Martinez, who contributed to establish one of the most interesting bouldering areas, sparkle with motivation and hospitality.

Follow the three Austrians, David, Niko and Stefan, on a journey to the world’s end, where they find out, what bouldering in Galicia is all about".




Monday, 14 April 2014

Agassiz Rock - Undocumented boulder problems

Bouldering near Edinburgh, Agassiz Rock, Blackford Hill




Cool rock over problem using a flat pinch, SS on pockets, top out, 6a


1. SS deadpoint and traverse rightwards to finish on a big juggy shelf, 7a, or continue rightwards and finish up the black slab at the extreme right round the corner, 7b
2. SS deadpoint from borehole, campus edges to the upper crack, 6c

For existing documented problems : bouldering at Agassiz Rock, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh.


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Route or boulder traverse?

There's a thin line between a boulder problem and a route.


In 1995, when the hardest grade ever climbed was still 8c+, cheeky Fred Rouhling announced he had climbed a 9b line in Les Eaux claires. Called Akira, the line followed the roof of a cave and finished through a very steep section of overhang.



Most Americans dismissed the grade. At that time, the strongest of them were struggling on 5.14b - roughly 8c? European climbers were stronger anyway. That same year, Swiss climber Elie Chevieux sent the first 8b+ on-sight. But even the Europeans weren't too inclined to believe Rouhling. 

French man Jibé Tribout, who was competing with Ben Spoon and Gerry the Muppet for the unofficial title of world's top climber, was no particular friend of Rouhling. But he went on to try Akira. He said he found it to be a very dangerous line because "you hang at three or four meters off the ground and with some of the moves, you take the risk to land flat on your back". He thought it was a quick step from 8c+ to 9b, but reckoned that Akira was nevertheless much harder than anything that had been climbed before (read his interview in On the Edge n°102 if you can find it).

There was also an excellent article by Pete Ward and Tim Kemple in Climbing Magazine, featuring a discussion with Alexander Huber where he questions Rouhling's track record : 

Huber gestures with his hand: “If Rouhling’s level is here,” he says, holding his hand at chest level, “and then with Akira it is here” — he holds his hand at his forehead — “then there should be many other routes around here.” The hand is level with his nose. “Where is this track record?” Huber asks. The hand moves to the side of his head, palm up. “Why hasn’t he done many other hard routes soon after Akira?”
 Tim leans into the table and says, “Because he couldn’t climb for almost two years.”
 “Why is this?” Huber asks.
 “Because he had two kids, and his wife had brain surgery and almost died.”

Well since then, Rouhling has actually repeated a few other routes, including Fred Nicole's Bain de sang, 9a, though Dave Graham, who has also climbed it, thought it was easier than Wolfang Güllich's Action Directe (first established 9a). But Akira, on the other hand, hasn't been repeated ; neither by Huber, nor by anyone else.


What if Akira was a boulder problem?


What's interesting in all that debate is that everyone defines Akira as a route. But on the Youtube video, Rouhling uses no rope, no harness, no quickdraw. What if it was a boulder problem? 

Its 9b grade would correspond more or less to an 8c+ in bouldering money. What else is available at that grade? Tonino 78 (Meschia, Italy, 15 moves, FA Mauro Calibani 2004), The Wheel of Life (Grampians, Australia, 60 moves, FA Koyamada 2004), Terremer (Hueco Tanks, USA, 11 moves, FA Fred Nicole 2006)? 

The 60 moves of The Wheel of Life are actually considered to be a boulder line (the original grade being V16). What would make it harder than Akira then?

Monday, 24 June 2013

Do you feel the pain?

How many times have I come back in bits after a long session outdoor? Why is it that my body aches so much after just a few problems? More interestingly, why does it ache so much more than it would after a similar - or more intense - indoor session?
I’ve often wondered and attributed this pain to the consequences of various factors: 

1. Conditions


It’s cold outside. Colder than inside. So my muscles contract more, hence more pain the next day. That and Her Ladyship, Ms Dampness. The humidity factor definitely has an impact on the repeated intensity when working on a problem. Don't you know the famous Irish saying "it's getting dampish, pull harder!" 

2. Focus 

I tend to push myself more when outside because I really want to send those (un)established problems while I don’t really care about indoor pink resin problems that will eventually be stripped from the climbing wall. Furthermore, I’m not distracted when outside because there’s no music on, no other people to watch, no clock on the wall, no signs of human presence - or so much less. 

3. Shock absorption 

I don’t notice it but I hurt myself when outside. I keep knocking my elbows and my knees. I have a mat but it’s very small compared to the big blue bed laying at the bottom of an indoor climbing wall - why is it they are always blue? - which means that in the end, added together, all these little outdoor jumps represent a bigger resistance force applied to my body structure than that of those indoor jumps, because less shock absorption is taking place.

But it actually hit me. It’s not that, it’s the rock itself. 

When I pull on resin, the overall elasticity of the body+climbing wall system is bigger than that of the body+rock system, because there is a lot of elasticity taking place in the connections between the resin hold, the screw, the wall timber panel and the wall structure.

Whereas the rock, well, it’s not known for being particularly elastic (apart from that flake at the start of Superswinger, but that’s an exception really).

(I thought I could sketch these properly in 3D on computer but I prefer to use my spare time for climbing sessions these days)
So, in the case of rock-climbing, as opposed to resin-climbing, more of the elastic absorption is done by my muscles and my skeleton. Hence the pain.
It's kind of obvious now that I think about it and I’m sure this must have been studied somewhere by someone but my climbing readings are scarce at the moment. 
So anyone feeling the pain?