Clyde bouldering update 2020-21

During the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, Glasgow boulderers looked to their back close (figuratively speaking!), finding adventure and social distance on the boulders on the hills and in the woods surrounding the metropolis, some finding surprises within the city itself. It’s been a rich period of micro-exploration, with many old and new venues catching the discriminating eye of the boulderer.

In 2020 Glasgow’s Northumbrian-style sandstone venue of Craigmaddie became popular as a local ‘lockdown’ venue. Lewis Roy added the desperate slab mantle of Twister Direct (7B SS) on the High Wall. The classic Alchemy (7C) saw some repeats as well, including an ascent by Natalie Berry.  David Elder added several traverse extensions on the Sheep Pen, including Necromancy (7C) as well as The Magic (8A)  which he described as a “true test piece of the crag” . The Magic links the newly established Esper (7C) into Alchemy to make “something absolutely mega”. Mike Mullins added a dyno out of the roof left of Abracadabra at Craigmaddie – essentially a very direct and fast-flying version of Predator Roof!

In October 2020, on the ‘dark side’ of the moor at the Lennoxtown Boulders, Thom Davies and Jack McKechnie climbed the big project – the roof direct. This eliminated the ‘cheat’ foot on the ramp of The Dark Side (7A) to make a harder direct to give Solus Rex (7C+). The nearby Gordon Bombay also saw some repeats, the grade settling downwards more towards 7B with new methods.

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Thom Davies on Solus Rex at Lennoxtown

At Dumbarton, the elusive grade of 8C remains elusive, despite Dave Macleod’s and Malcolm Smith’s forceful attempts. Still, the new generation of indoor-honed boulderers is arriving at the boulders 8A-ready, with Dumby’s classic 8th grades seeing many repeats (such as Sabotage and Pongo Sit). Hamish Potokar repeated most of the 8th-grade problems, including the desperate Firefight (8B) and gave us a classic and hard new 8A of Nature in 2020. Chris Everett added the Good Nicks link-up of Nik Naks (7C+) on the BNI boulder, climbing into You’re Nicked from a sit, as well as another impressive repeat of the desperate Firefight. Lewis Roy, on an impressive run of form, repeated Sanction (8B) and Supersize Me (8B), and Fraser Moodie also managed Supersize Me (Pongo start). At the end of 2019, it should noted Will Bosi had also repeated Supersize Me and quite promptly Firefight (8B) at the start of 2020.

At the Clochodrick Stone, Colin Lambton added a new 6B traverse called Auchenshee’s Traverse on the lower right-hand side of the boulder facing the access over the wall, traversing across towards the top left. In May 2021, he added a new aller-retour traverse at the pleasant Windyhill Quarry above Johnstone to give Finger and Rewind Traverse (7A), a good addition to an under-rated wee venue.

In 2019 in Paisley, Joe Kelly discovered a remarkably accessible sandstone bloc in Charleston Park, calling it The Andromeda Stane. He added some excellent roof and wall problems. John Watson added the traverse into the prow to give The Andromeda Strain (6C+/7A). 

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The Andromeda Strain (John Watson)

At the old trad venue of Craigton, Jack McKechnie  made the third ascent  of the repeated the esoteric Far From the Maddening Crowd (7B+/7C) in spring 2021, the second being in the late 90’s by Darren Stevenson who flashed it after watching Andy climb.. Jack used a different method to Andy Gallagher’s original ascent (in the 90s, without mats)., but Andy mentioned he was delighted to see it getting a repeated after all these years of neglect.

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Jack McKechnie repeating Far From the Maddening Crowd at Craigton

The artificial boulders at Cuningar saw plenty of attention during lockdown, and an imaginative approach has led to some hard traverses and straight-up eliminates to push the grades beyond the enjoyable circuit problems. John Watson added the extended Volx-Tusk Traverse on the Mammoth Bloc to give a long 7A before Craig Thomson upped the eliminate bar with the contorted desperation of Low Volxage (7A+) – a low left-to-right reverse of the Volx traverse. Scott Mora added another high variation of the One More Volx Traverse Eliminate (7A). As you can imagine, the elimination games will continue at Cuningar …

At Craigmore, the original climber of Jamie’s Overhang (Jamie Taylor) returned to his old haunts to climb a hard eliminate of Terminal Arête at a suggested 7B grade, calling it Keep It Clean. It still awaits a repeat, but it is good to see Craigmore still providing new problems for the dedicated Glasgow boulderer.

At the Cochno Stones, Colin Lambton added the tricky eliminate traverse of the Red Streak Wall to give Covert-19 (6C+/7A), with Jamie Taylor further eliminating holds to give Lo-Co 19 (7B).

Written by John Watson, June 2021

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