Having been ravaged by disease (or alternatively suffering from a miserable cold) for most of week, I wasn’t in any fit state to go climbing in far flung reaches of the UK this weekend. Instead, I decided to take advantage of the only sunshine that I’ve seen in an eternity and visit the new boulders in Hackney.
Recently, two granite boulders were transported to darkest Shoreditch Park and Mabley Green from Cornwall as part of the art project Boulder.
Knowing that the boulder is part of an instillation artwork somewhat coloured my perceptions as to what it might be. Would it have lots of chipped holds to make it ‘accessible’ or would it be decked out with lots of ‘warning: danger’ signs culminating in having to sign a waiver form just to touch the rock? Indeed, when faced with the approached over a completely inadequate, trampled down fence I started to wonder if I was part of a demonstration of modern man’s inclination towards disregarding laws that he deems preposterous.
As has been demonstrated time and time again, I was wrong. It’s a proper boulder. In Hackney. You can climb on it. It has holds. You find lines, you crimp, lunge and ultimately top out, just like you normally would.
The Shoreditch Park Boulder is a proper granite boulder about 4-5 meters high and weighing 85 tonnes. I can only imagine the engineering feat not to mention the vast sum of money involved (Deutsche Bank has greatly risen in my estimation) in moving the monolith, but in my opinion, it was well worth it.
Seeing the soaring prow of the boulder upon entering the park is a surreal experience and once you are completely absorbed in the intricacies of climbing you can almost forget that you are in London. In fact the granite texture is slightly reminiscent of the Buttermilks in Bishop, California minus the crimpy patina.
After the awe wore away, we got down to business. There is a line of bore holes left from the boulder’s quarrying which serve as a good descent route. A quick survey revealed what we thought were the easiest lines. The right hand arête of the north face goes at around V2 and the slabby front face at a crimpy V3ish. These problems fit the bill for an introductory session to quarried granite bouldering. We then spent the remainder of the time trying out various other lines. There is a great looking line on the South East face at a proposed V2/3 details here.
Plenty of lines remain, but little info is available as to what has actually been climbed. There was a contest last weekend where I suspect all of the reasonable projects were bagged.
Bouldering in a situation that is one removed from the usual experience did have me thinking about the nature of climbing and what is exactly required.
I’ll spare you my philosophical musings, but I can say that it's all there in Shoreditch and I will be spending many happy days sussing out all of the possible lines and enjoying climbing a mere 20 minutes from my flat.
UKC crag database here.