Friday, 13 June 2014

A Scottish Bouldering Odyssey

Over the past couple of weeks I have been driving around Scotland exploring and climbing on lots of boulders and short outcrops. I would have liked to have split this post up into 3 separate ones but with a trip to the islands looming over me I have tried to do it all in one big abridged post with lots of pictures.
All of these trips have been inspired by the Bouldering in Scotland guide, published by Stone Country. Stone Country produce a nice selection of guide books for Scottish bouldering and also have an interesting blog.
Scotland features lots of interesting rock types, which allows for lots of different styles of climbing in a small area. If your a crimp fan then the schist found at Weem or Glen Nevis might be more to your taste than the rough slopers, typical of Skyes's Gabbro. I personally have tried to just climb on as many things as I can. Glen Clova and Inchbae, both with a granitic composition, although neither strictly being granite, have been highlights of the trip. I liked the solitude which can be found at Inchbae, despite being so close to a major road, coupled with some brilliant climbing on lovely blocs. Some of these can be quite dirty but once uncovered the climbing is generally very good. If your ever driving between Ullapool and Inverness then stop off and seek out some of the problems here. My personal favorite was "Long Winning Streak" on the double boulders, however everything described in the guide is worth doing.
Long Winning Streak, Inchbae

Colonel Mustard, Inchbae
West Wall, Glen Clova
Glen Clova is another good venue to visit. It is less on the way somewhere than Inchbae, but it does have a lot more to go at making it worth a special visit. There is a good guide on the Scottish Climbs Wiki, which features lots of good problems. There is a lot of potential for new routing here too. My favorite climb here would have to be Lady Sam, a brilliant font 7a+ in "The Hollow" area below the sentinel boulder.
Lady Sam, Glen Clova
Climbing out of the Darkness of the Hole of Weems, Glen Clova
Torridon is a particularly popular bouldering venue for the highlands and even has its own guide book produced by Stone Country. I have visited the boulders in Torridon on other occasions but I have just gone to the classics of the Celtic Jumble and the Ship Boulder. This time however I decided to have a look at one of the outlying boulders close to Annat. The Balgy boulder is a Torridonian sandstone Erratic sat upon a Gneiss platform. The guide describes two problems, one of them the brilliant font 7a The Balgy Prow. If you attempt this problem then try and stay as true to the line of the prow as you can. It is easy to escape out left after a few tricky moves, and I guess you will have climbed the line, but with a bit of work the direct line up the prow becomes possible. You might loose a lot of skin, but it is totally worth it!
The Balgy Boulder, Torridon
Other very good venues include the Gneiss boulders found at Loch Buie on Mull, the Torridonian Sandstone boulders of Loch Kishorn and Reiff and The Gabbro boulders in Coire Lagan, which are totally worth the walk!, and of course the classics such as Dumbarton and Glen Nevis! Ill let the pictures speak for the rest of these though.
Lucky Break, Coire Laggan
Snake Attack, Coire Lagan
Hook and Go, Loch Buie
Nipple Attack, Loch Buie
Dannys Wall, Loch Buie
Dannys Wall, Loch Buie
The problem with summer scottish bouldering