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Castle Hill and the great Vertical Life magazine

Justin Wood on one of the original Flock Hill highballs, Jaws (V8). Image by John Palmer. Taken from www.verticallifemag.com.au

When trawling the internet for photos to include in Bouldering Essentials there were two areas that featured frequently in most of the best shots I saw – Bishop in California and Castle Hill in New Zealand. Both areas are open hillside with huge boulders and beautiful snow-capped peaks as a backdrop, this fits well with my preference for bouldering photos that masquerade as landscape shots – or vice versa. I definitely have seen many many more great photos of the bouldering in these areas than from Font.

This was hammered home when I flicked through a few issues of Vertical Life, an Oceanic (do people still use that term?) digital climbing magazine (free!). With neat design, really interesting features, and great photos it’s as good, if not better, than anything out there.

Vertical Life just posted an excerpt from great article on their blog today about the history of bouldering in Castle Hill. Written by Tom Hoyle, the NZ correspondant for VL mag, Tom also contributed an amazing deep water soloing shot to Bouldering Essentials. It’s a great read, here’s a flavour:

“…It’s hard to feel comfortable with being an aficionado of a sport in which the pinnacle achievement involves starting on your bum in the dirt. Slave to past perceptions, I still wanted climbing to be about going higher, not starting lower. Thankfully, I no longer fret about the ‘right’ time to tell my workmates that my biggest achievement in climbing is slightly bigger than the office photocopier. In recent times, as history has seemingly come around full circle, boulder problems are now high as well as hard and suddenly it is okay to be a boulderer. Bum-scraping sit-starts have given way to iconic problems like Nalle Hukkataivals’ Livin’ Large (V15) at Rocklands in South Africa; a problem significant for its majestic combination of height, difficulty, danger and aesthetic line; all the elements alpine climbers look for when selecting a goal. While not all boulder problems are high, and not all boulderers attempt highballs, finally it seems bouldering can hold its head up.”

To read Tom’s article (in VL6) and download the first 7 issues of Vertical Life go here.

Maybe Ireland needs a similar publication?