Monday, 7 August 2017

Dead language at St Helen's

Someone climbed a new problem at St Helen's and called it Dead Language. I assume it was a reference to the fact that I had given Gaelic names to the initial problems (see John Watson's 3rd edition of the Stone Country Guide to bouldering in Scotland, pp. 76-77).

It’s a joke. Not the wittiest, but I get it.

To be clear though, Gaelic is spoken by at least 50 000+ people in Scotland, including 6000 people in Edinburgh and another 1000 in the Scottish Borders. A dead language, on the other hand, is spoken by no one alive.

Also, contrary to common belief, Scottish Gaelic was a dominant language of Scotland during several centuries, including around St Helen’s area and the Scottish Borders. In fact, the nearby parish of Old Cambus is an alteration of the Gaelic Allt Camais, which means ‘burn of bay’.

But the reason I started to give Gaelic names to these problems has nothing to do with local history. My son is a fluent Gaelic speaker and was with me when I first visited the place.

When I asked him about potential names for the boulders, he came up with latha-saor (‘free day’) because we were on holiday, and with Tha mi nam shìneadh (‘I am in my lying’) because I was lying on the ground trying the sit-start of the problem. 'Tha mi nam shìneadh' is actually the name and the first verse of a poem that he learnt.

We're used to Gaelic haters. They are plenty of them in Scotland and they always come up with the same predictable jokes.

So predictable, that Gaelic speakers have made a game of it - the anti-Gaelic bingo.

Guess what, 'Dead Language' is top of the league.

 :D

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.