John Watson took the bull by the horns, left his job and jumped in his car for the best part of two years travelling repeatedly around the glens to make the first Scottish bouldering guide a reality. And here it is, in my lap! Wow!
Bouldering in Scotland details in full, inspiring colour 60 of the best bouldering venues with superb photos, topos and and a straightforward layout. The standard and payout of the guide is reminiscent of the recent Peak bouldering guide. Really, all there is to say about the standard of production of the book is that it competes with anything that is out there, and you’ll find it a pleasure and an inspiration to use.
The interesting thing to talk about is the content. John has opted for the selected approach for describing problems, which in many people’s opinion is the best way to go for many rock types in the sport of bouldering. In the 60 areas covered in the book, there are many problems not described. But here’s the problem – if you are a local, you know all the eliminates anyway. If you are a visitor, you just want to find the best pure lines. The nature of bouldering means a lot of climbs get squeezed into a small area. Over describing the climbing at a venue takes away from the classic lines. Bouldering, still young, seems to be still moving in a direction where it’s considered better to work on the best lines and overcome their barriers of difficulty, rather than potter on a thousand eliminates at the same level and never progress. So the book shows you the best bouldering lines that have been found in Scotland to date.
Some gorgeous photos lead off each area section, with more small shots, all in colour to help you quickly find your way around and spy the most appealing lines to try. It fulfils the important guidebook attribute of making you want to go out bouldering RIGHT NOW! As well as just passing on information. I particularly liked the ‘circuit’ approach John used to describe Scotland’s big daddy bouldering venue, Dumbarton Rock. We used to do circuits based on British tech grades, but these are so variable it made for an unbalanced session. A session trying to complete John’s ‘yellow’, ‘blue’ or ‘red’ circuits will be a blissful experience! Anyway, I’m wallowing a bit in memory lane there…
For sure this edition is the first in what will no doubt be a series. It’s as essential a part of Scottish bouldering kit as the mat, midgy spray and beanie. In the next one I’d love to see photographic contributions from a wider range of photographers. For instance, many a stunning shot resides in Cubby’s spare room that should be inspiring climbers in this book. But hopefully this edition will be a platform for John to keep celebrating Scottish bouldering in print. Us climbers owe you one John, thanks for this book!
If you want a copy, you can get it from my webshop. Posted straight to you and remember I’m giving away my ‘How to Climb Hard Trad’ E-book with purchases from my shop. So you are getting more for your cash than if you waste a potential bouldering session walking to the shops to get it!