Glen Massan

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From a guide originally by Mike Tweedley

Alastair Morriss on Blade Runner.

Although this is a bit of a pain to get to it is well worth a visit if combined with the new sport routes on Miracle Wall, near Dunoon. While living in Dunoon I trained at Glen Massan, where I found several good boulders, one being of outstanding quality. The boulders are at the top of Glen Massan at the end of the road with the House boulder being in the corner of a field next to a cottage and its grounds. It is huge and is crimpy in nature and mats are a must as all of the top outs are high and slopey. The rock is Mica-schist, and consists of crimps and knarly quartz pockets. This boulder has got to be my favourite around Dunoon as it's steep and very technical. The other boulders are in a farmer's grounds and can be seen cleary from the road. Although also mica-schist, these are sometimes different in character, often giving lovely slopers. The farmer has been fine about access so far, but please ask permission first as a few of the boulders are in her garden!


Getting there

Drive from Glasgow to Arrochar village and then follow signs to Dunoon. Signs will then lead you to Glen Massan - if you get to the Cot House pub and Strone then turn off and carry on up road to Dunoon before which a right turn takes you to Glen Massan. You can also get a ferry from Gourock to Dunoon, 20 min sailing, and catch a bus to Glen Massan turn off from where you can walk up glen (a fair distance) or hitch, passing Benmore gardens on the right. The boulders are obvious on the right-hand side of the road.

The farm house is called Stonefield, and the National Trust have now put up a signpost at the bottom of the drive that says "climbers access to Stonefield boulder". Follow the driveway up, along the left hand side of the house and there is another signpost pointing you in the right direction. Access to the first two boulder is through the gate, access to the larger boulder is through the second gate at the end of the field.

Gary Latter has talked about the boulders but has not recorded any ascents. Now bouldering is more popular I have decided to write about these wee gems. If you enjoy rock jumps go down to the rock pools and enjoy the many jumps into the raging pools. Hope you enjoy the problems, almost all are good, just don't expect Font. The Font grading system has been used.

The problems


Boulder A

House Boulder - Big boulder in corner of field, defined by overhanging front face).

1. 7A+
SS. From pocket make hard moves to gain the top.

2. 6C
Climb wall on dinks.

3. 6A
Crimps then dyno to top.

4. 6A
Pockets to right of arete.

5. Blade Runner 7B+
SS. Pull up and use small side pulls and a poor crimp to make a desperate move rightwards to finish in a pocket half-way up the overhanging wall.

6. 7B
Traverse from obvious large holds at the left of the wall to the right arete. Make strenuous moves rightwards to gain undercuts, then pocket moves takes you to a small spike on right arete. If you beast around the arete into problem 9 and finish up this, award yourself a Font 7C/+ tick (Dave Redpath's Extension).

7. 6C
Highball in every sense. Start on face left of crocodile at a large flake. A hard move gains the arete where you can climb up and move onto the right face. Float to the top and change into your spare underpants.

8. Crocodile 6B+
Start at the right arete and use a hold that looks like a crocodiles head to gain and climb the wall above.

9. 6A+
Climb the groove on the right wall. Crouching start, 6C+.

10. 5
Climb the groove to right of 9.

Start on the small boulder. Traverse left on jugs to finish up problem 10. Garden Boulders - By sheep pens in farmers grounds. Seek permission, she's a friendly lass.

Boulder B

Perched next to Boulder C is a smaller boulder with slopey holds

1. 6B+
SS. On right there is a slopey pinch. Gain the crack and make weird move to finish.

2. 6C
SS Start as for 1. Traverse left on slopers and mantel out into a vague groove.

Boulder C

Rectangular boulder

1. 5
Climb up the left side of the slab.

2. 5
Climb arete on the right.

3. 6A
Up the narrow face to the top.

4. 6A
Gain obvious jug on right arete and dyno to top.

5. 6A
SS. Climb the wall just right of the arete on good holds.

6. 6C/+
SS. Climb central wall.

Down the road on the left lots of problems have been done by Benmore centre. These will not be detailed here as it will let you just climb and enjoy easier bouldering without worrying about grades. However, one boulder must be mentioned:

Boulder D

Obvious boulder with the 60 degree roof

1. 6A
Starting from the jug on the left, climb the vertical left wall.

2. Shaolin Buddha Finger 7A
Start at the jug as for problem 1 and fly out along the lip of the roof to a sloper. Climb the slopey arete, possibly using a mono, straight up to the top.

3. Jurassica 7A
SS. From the obvious huge hold at the back of the roof gain and then use the undercut in the roof to reach the slopey lip. Do a sneaky match and go for the big jug at the top.

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