Strange days these. I've been working contracts for the RSPB for almost three years now, but my last one ended at Christmas so I'm starting the year with lots of time on my hands but no money to spend on fuel for adventures. When I'm working I always complain about the lack of time to get out. Oh the irony! The application closing date for what could potentially be my dream job came and went on Monday so all I can do is sit around and hope I get the call offering an interview.
In the mean time I've regained my status as the only/keenest/most desperate boulderer in Strathspey. Armed with rope, jumars, prussicks and all the wire brushes I can carry I've spent this week visiting some of our small collections of boulders and giving them a spring clean. The sad truth is that I'm probably the only person who'll benefit from all this work, but it's already paying off with one or two good new problems and lots of oldies in better nick.
In particular the Aviemore local's favourite, Burnside Bouldering Wall, has had a face lift and now you can top out all the problems. The desperate crimpy wall in the middle finally gave in to my attempts. I'm sure Mike Gale and the old school will have done this years ago, but at least now there are holds rather than moss at the top. I also went to re-aquaint myself with Jules' find at Creag Pityoulish and the highball wall at Creagan a' Mhuilinn, both of which are typically Strathspeyian, to coin a word: quite an effort to get to but actually pretty good once you get there. Also typical of round here there are very few proper hard problems (proper hard for me means into the Font 7s), but lots of good mileage 'circuit' problems up to about Font 6C. On paper the Cuca Boulder sounds like it should be what I'm looking for, with a smattering of two and three star 7A/7A+ problems in John Watson's Bouldering In Scotland guide, but the sad truth is that every time I go for a look its dank, dripping and uninspiring.
However, this all pales into insignificance next to the Laggan boulders. There are two seperate areas either side of the village and I know that over the years a few of the locals like Mike, Jules and Scott Muir have been up and climbed a few of the lines, but for some reason word has never spread to the rest of the Scottish bouldering fraternity. It seems mad when folk are out scouring the high mountain corries in the remote North West for the last great problems when these perfectly good venues are right next to the road in the central Highlands. Quite bizarre really, given that they're as good a collection of problems across the grades as any places I've bouldered in Scotland. Now I either need to get very strong and good very fast, or gather a gaggle of handy climbers to mop up the projects, and then I'll try to write up a wee guide for them. It'll give me something to do to while away the hours.