28 Sep 2009

The Red Planet

Referring to the red sandstone on the Applecross peninsula, Scotland, (one of my favouritre UK bouldering destinations). There's so much to go at it's like being locked in Harrods at Christmas! The rock is a very smooth red sandstone, the climbing is varied and there is something for all abilities; but most of all the scenery is breathtaking.

Applecross O/S map sample, the dots are boulders
Key areas are the Russell Burn boulders, Kishorn shoreline boulders, both sides of the Belach, Meall Gorm and Sgurr a Chaorachain.

Enjoying Sgurr a Chaorachain
Walking here feels like you are on another planet, passing by layers of terraces, weird shapes, colours and patterns on the red sandstone, you could be on Mars! In this landscape are two impressive boulders in Coire a Chaorachain, that I have only viewed with binoculars! On the other side of Applecross is the MOD cave with the Brae boulders nearby, on which are problems developed by Nic Ward. He has also found new problems near Culduie and Shieldaig. For a sample of these and accompanying map see below:

Nic's follow-through Culduie Applecross
Nic Ward (Pre Head Shear)

Alistair McGregor on Egypt Himself 7a+

Culduie Map
For further info and problems see the Stone Country Guide, Bouldering in Scotland (Watson 2008)

27 Sep 2009

Your Climbing Bench mark

After a four month break due to injury and an indulgent honeymoon holiday, I was wondering if the grade you are think you are climbing is what you are actually achieving? Attempting problems that are not in guides can give you a sense of doubt, so I asked myself what are my benchmark problems?  Pongo 6c+: Dumbarton, Monty Pythons SS 7a: Northumberland, T Crack 7b: Peak District, King of Drunks 6c: Llanberis Pass, nice problems on very different rock. This weekend was a bit of an indian summer so I decided to go somewhere local and test my strength on bench mark problems that I have struggled on in the past! With renewed psyche, I headed to the tranquil Spofforth pinnacles, near Wetherby in Yorkshire to tick some previously visited test pieces, the best of the day being:

Backwards 6c+ SS from a rail to a lefthand
curved groove aim left to a faint crimp and
stretch with difficulty up to the jug, unbelievable!

Stretch Armstrong 6c SS The most direct way up
the arete, the reach is massive, and the foot
sequence to control the swing is brilliant, enjoy!

Crimple 6b+ Using the small undercut crimp
pull up to the sloper, lock off hard on the right
and finish in the sloping pocket to the left, ***

21 Sep 2009

Crafnant Circuit and Projects

During a long overdue return visit to the jumble of boulders in the tranquil Crafnant valley, we were determined to hunt out a good set of problems and were not disappointed. After a two hour jaunt around the dense cluster, it was clear there were lots of problems and projects all around -  so the almighty curcuit began. This included a clutch of the brilliant problems added previously by: Chris Doyle: Break Away SS; Wonderwall Danny Cattell: Grasswind, Mark Katz: Cruella and Sam Cattell: Filthy Hunks; Wonderwall Arete.

                              Candyfloss Sheep SS

Starting in the middle at the bottom of the field, we made our way leftwards ticking off many problems from F5c to 7a. The highlights: Initial warm-ups were taken on the Pyramid block at the bottom left of the field, which I refer to as the Triangular Elephant -right arete from sit is Chocolate Elephant ss 6b. On the left arete including the left block for feet is Elephant Fondue ss 6a. Located on the back of the block to the left of this on a clean sloping face bearing side rails containing the problem (but no use of side walls or the other close blocks) Candyfloss Sheep ss 7a.  Further up the hill on the right-hand side of the Breakaway block is the most photogenic problem of the valley Digital Distruction 6a, which can be extended with a possible but painful quartz-pulling sit start project. Moving over to the right side of the field are a few easier problems, plus an imposing blank block at a 15 degree angle. This has a nice left-hand arete and a very satisfying problem with a reachy standing start, ultimately finishing left on a large spike Reach For The Stars 6c+. The direct finish is is a slopey mantle-climbers dream! ?8a+
All in all around 20 problems were done on the day - knackering hardcore Welsh bouldering.

Some of the problems need 3 mats and at least two good spotters  - well worth the effort though!

If you have already done the problems described or want more info contact: lee@betaguides.com

                                 Digital Destruction

Craigmore Classic - Glasgow Bouldering

Craigmore- The Sun Tzu Dyno from John Watson on Vimeo.
From Glasgow the A809 finally gains open country outside of Bearsden. The road winds out to Drymen and Loch Lomond, but before this, just after the biker-haven of the Carbeth Inn, take the first right along the B821 link-road to Strathblane. After the green hut community of the forest, the crag is on the left, hidden in trees by the fields, just before the West Highland Way. Park carefully in a layby or under the trees further east and walk back. North-east facing, it is best in a dry spell in spring or autumn. Avoid the midge season and don’t go if it’s damp as the mossy old forest retains the moisture. The best of the bouldering can be completed as a Fontainebleau-like circuit, providing a good work-out on varying styles of problem. The Southern section is predominantly bouldering on the main crag buttresses, while the Northern section gives dispersed boulders and walls all the way to the end. The rock is a dimpled basalt which chalks up to good slopers and small crimps. Fingerlocks seem to be the key to many problems, as well as good technique with the feet.

Dobb Edge

Sometimes we need a change, going the same old place, repeating the same problems!

For me, looking through old guides or old books with photos of places long forgotten can be of inspiration for a trip out, so while browsing through the Chatsworth Guide to the Peak, a crag caught my eye, Dobb Edge, not heard of that one Mmmm, so curious of what sort of problems would lurk there, a trip was in order.

And yes we were pleasantly surprised! The bouldering at Dobb Edge is set in the Chatsworth country estate landscape, complete with resident fallow deer, hares and even the odd daredevil flying display visible from the big house around holiday weekends! the circuit is pleasant with grades from font 3 to projects around 7a and up. Most problems are relatively short, though there are a couple of highball projects around. Spotters are needed for some.
the topo will be available soon at www.betaguides.com when the PDF links are sorted, for the meantime feel free to browse the areas as we add them.

                    Photo Rob Lonsdale on a classic arete
                 The Duke SS, Plus free aerial display behind

                       Dobb Edge residents, Fallow Deer

Welcome to Betaguides

Welcome to the Betaguides news feed. This is a blog to accompany the new Betaguides online comprehensive bouldering guide. Our aim is to get people out there to venues all over the UK and Ireland, including those obscure places you never knew existed. 

We also aim to use a more inclusive approach to bouldering guides.
Guides to venues will include extensive routes and descriptions, accurate mapping and photo topos to locate the problems (we all know how tricky this can sometimes be!), plus circuits suited to all abilities.

The Betaguides team consist of a mixed bag of individuals based in various locations around the areas to be covered. We are in possession of a wealth of bouldering experience at all grades and are keen to pass on the information gained.

The guides are PDF-based and will be available for download at a small fee. Some info will be freely-available.

As the guides will be online, they can be constantly edited and updated to keep them fresh, so we would welcome any feedback.

If you have produced a guide and wish to get it to a wider audience via the Betaguides format, please contact us by email.

England and Wales: lee@betaguides.com
Scotland and Ireland:stonecountrypress@btinternet.com