Tuesday, 18 February 2014


I gave up Climbing for a PhD. This was probably not a mistake because I don't remember most of the past four years on account of not writing important things down, and hence, no time seems to have past. The clock paused for four years, and, with this, is unpaused. Rewind is not an option, alas! Nothing is as motivating as a list, so here's one I've working on in the back of my mind for a few years. It's a set of 5 problems - one from each boulder. Assuming all the holds are still there.

Dumby 7B+ Challenge - climb them all in a day/lifetime/whatever.

1) Consolidated. Long like a route, low like a sit start.

2) BNI direct. including direct top out.

3) The Shield. Without "wee undercut".

4) Mugsy traverse. Only a 7B because...

5) Silverback. ... is 7C

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Font 1

For a range of pitiful reasons (laziness), I'd never been to Fontainbleau. So when my office buddy/climbing friend Arran asked if I wanted to go with him John and another Inverness Mike, I needed a bit of persuading. Particularly with a danger of having to share a double bed with Arran, I eventually agreed.

People say, "Font is the best". As I really like other places, I didn't want these to suddenly seem crap compared to Font. Better to stay at home? It took me a while (years), but I realise that whatever Font is is irrelevant, what matters is one's relationship with place. With this in mind, I could fearlessly travel to Le Bleau knowing my cherished memories of Duntelchaig were safe. Also there are no good photos of Font as cameras can't capture the light and dark at all well compared to the eye.

The team:

I was the youngest, with 3 of our year of births following the 11 times table 66, 77, 88. John having fantastic knowledge of the forest which saved so much faff and probably doubled the amount of climbing we did. Mike had an excellent vocabulary which turned bumps in to crenulations and others things which I've sadly forgotten. Arran brought an SLR so I'll ask him for some pics which are better than mine above. I brought "business" jokes; here's examples:

-I'm in business
-Oh really, what business you in?
-The magic business
-Nice, hows it going?

-I'm in business
-Oh really, what business you in?
-The see saw business
-Nice, hows it going?
-has it's ups and downs

-I'm in business
-Oh really, what business you in?
-We sell sea shells by the sea shore
-Nice, hows it going?
-Hard to say

The highlight had to be finding a board game in the gite, Peak Experience, tag line: "you don't need to be an expert climber to play Peak Experience!". Sure, you could in principle play; answer multiple choice questions to make it to the summit of K2. I arrived at base camp a good while behind the others (slowed by my sampling too much of the local food and trying to burn animal dung) only for bad weather to push me back 2 places. Mike battled for a number of turns to get off the summit, at one point forced down climbing the top pitch of his chosen route. John eventually glissaded down the descent to victory. The next night we got a 5l barrel of wine.

Real climbing wise, I adopted the adage, "a 7a a day keeps the doctor away". It worked; none of us needed medical attention. Most of the time was spent amongst the mushrooms, lost in the woods, cleaning sand off from everywhere. I got scared on some highballs, learnt a bit more about slabs, the difference between dry and clean shoes and how not to mantel. Sabbot, Elephant/Cuvier, Apermont - just three days climbing; my appetite whetted for Font 2.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Looking back/forward

So, since last time. Well, the climbing flat, my home for the past four years, has ended. That is the occupants have moved out rather than the flat has burned down... although that nearly happened at the end of year one there. There were certainly plenty of good times there.
For those were around, I'm thinking of Murdoch being a Christmas tree, Murdoch and Ben's climbing debates, building a woodie, learning to juggle, the day King Lines arrived, putting up the finger board, drinking a bottle of Jameson with Danny, Boost buying a red light bulb for the bathroom, Boost putting his lecture notes in the bin, the man downstairs complaining about my dancing shaking a picture off his wall, Stew throwing a Mars bar at the guy downstair's window, going round to the girl next door's flat party and not fitting in.... ooo we had a blast! The three of us (Nic, Murdoch and I) have moved on to new things. For me, I've moved in with my girlfriend which I think was very brave. I've only slept on the couch once and that was because Cath was away and I was drunk. Anyway, my new flat is dead close to Hynland Railway station which is great for getting out to Dumby (I'm still waiting for some good weather to get there though), or to the Kilpatricks, where I've done some running.

On the climbing front, well my skateboarding injury is pretty much mended... I have a good bit of keenness to get out climbing after a year of basically nothing. The first year of PhD-ing has been good fun, but on reflection I could've done more climbing. In recognition of this, a couple of weeks ago I bunked off work at short notice and headed to the peak with Cath. This was the first trip where there was no rain the entire time. What a lot of blue sky! As such, the tempo of the days was slow and peaceful, I meandered up a few easy solos and took Cath up some of the Diff's.

Next up is trying to get as much into my days as possible. Getting a few things done this year of my PhD will set things up for an good final year, hard work now will certainly pay off. Also, I'd like to work on my music skills, and chess skills, and get in shape for climbing hard projects. Optimism... It might happen!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Kennedy Boulder

The Kennedy boulder is the big one in the middle. 2 howff boulders to the left of it are big, left again this boulder has easy slab, good arete and crimpy wall. In front are 2 boulders with easier stuff though mossy. Out of shot on the left is a roof problem which looks good (desperate) and further downhill is another large boulder. Up hill from here looks like boulder jumble choas.

Impressed is how I'd describe myself when I first looked at the Kennedy boulder. That was yesterday, when I paid a visit to the Glen Croe giant. Firstly, the walk is fine. I've been on much more epic walks to bouldering and the stuff here is not bad at all. What else is there are more boulders here than the Kennedy boulder, and not in as much of a "despora" as the north side of the glen. Add to that mostly flat grassy landing around most of the blocks, range of grades (beginners welcome), open hillside for midge beating breezes, good rock if a bit mossy in places, and it's what an hours drive from Glasgow? Sounds to me like a great venue.

Also, I broke a hold on The Nuclear Button, the second crimp which used to be in-cut is now slopey. I couldn't pull off the floor so how much it's changed, I don't know.

P.S. If you enjoyed the music in that video, it's probably because the backing guitar is played by Nic Duboust...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

I need to climb more

My mum bought me a second hand book; "The New Encylopedia of Knots". Written by Derek E. Avery in 1988, it's a 1998 reprint. One useful knot found in there was the French bowline, basically a bowline with two loops. After that, I spent a while this evening trying to remember how to tie a double loop figure 8. I've made it now, and I'm thinking about what other handy S.P.A. things I've forgotten. The reason being that past few times I've been climbing, I've been out with people from work. I had 7 folk out top roping it up at craigmore last week, putting my S.P.A. skills to the test. I never got round to doing to S.P.A. assessment, and my two year time window is just about up.

Yesterday, I had a top evening on the Cobbler, where it was NOT windy. We did incubator into Wither Wether. And we ran back to the car on the backside of the hill. Evening climbing is so nice, and runnning down the hill in the gloaming reminded me of evening sessions at Ceuse.