Turn the amp up to 11, Scotland. The jingoistic pride of the SMC and Gary Latter demands that alleged superiority of climbing in Scotland is marked with one extra star compared to the rest of the still-United Kingdom. And who knows they may have a point, it's pretty good up here. Well of course it's pretty good down there too, no-one with half a brain will claim the best of Scotland is inherently better than the best of The Roaches, The Cromlech, Sharpnose etc. But one can agree with the accolade of 4 stars in theory....of course once such a thing exists, it's then there to be mis-used and inappropriated. A brief discussion with Tris and Stu on the concept of 4 stars turned from dismissal of the idea into skepticism of it's application, and further thought gave the following ideas:
New four stars:
Yir VS 4c, Ardnamurchan - Possibly the most perfect easy route i've done in Scotland. A great line, great location, and a full length of varied quality.
Whispering Crack E3 5c, Skye - astonishingly good line searing up a blank wall, with sustained climbing to match. As "must climb" as it gets.
Mother's Pride E4 5c, Skye - Wild, wonderfully positioned and shockingly easy for it's line, as good as jug-hauling gets.
Sarclet Pimpernel E0 5a, Caithness - An "esoteric" gem that laughs in the face of established classics with it's impeccable line above the sea, fascinating rock and delightful climbing.
Wall Of Flame E4 6a, Diabeg - Maybe a slightly personal choice but surely as good as slab climbing gets - like a quadruple size grit slab with holds and gear.
Brave New World E2 5c, Diabeg - Undeniably perfect, a grand line in a beautiful location, solid safe jug-hauling with the crux right at the top.
Arial E3 5c, Loch Maree Crag - If Spirit Air deserves it's 4 stars then so does this. As good and sustained as wall climbing gets, a day's climbing packed into one route.
The Fuhrer E4 5c, Creag Dubh - The Great Wall at Creag Dubh is 4 stars in itself and this route balances out the usual boldness with exceptional quality, with 3 distinct sections of individual excellence.
Pump Up The Jam V5, Skye - The best jamming in Scotland, without question.
Spanking The Monkey V6, Cambusbarron - The best slabby arete climbing in Scotland, without question.
Gale Force V7, Laggan - A stunning line, with continuous technical, powerful and committing climbing above a good landing.
Brin Done Before V5, Brin Rock - Geometrically irresistable, a definitive old skool E4 6b style highball.
Justified four stars:
The Pillar E2 5b, Diabeg - A stunning sheet of rock with the perfect balance of sustainedness and boldness. Any idiot who waffles on about it being one gets 2 stars maximum.
Monkey Man E3 5c, Sheigra - Dominating, brutal and butch, that gives the Second Geo veteran something meatier to aspire to.
(Grey Panther E1 5b, Skye ) - Stunning line and clearly a stunning climb.
Rat Race E4 6a, Dunkeld - In one pitch, a fantastically meaty and varied pitch, with a bit of everything and a lot of challenge.
The Hill Direct E2 5b, Creag Dubh - The plum line of the fantastic Great Wall, epitomising it's perfect bold jug-pulling. As good as soloing a Ratho F6b!
Romancing The Stone F6c+, The Camel - Why Scottish sport-climbing is far more than lapping Cave Crag routes. Classic conglomerate and perfectly named.
Storm HVS 5a, Glen Nevis - Seems the perfect mid-grade cragging experience, with great climbing and good rock.
Freak Out E4 6a, Glen Coe - A much better climb than I was a climber. Surely the dramatic South East nose is visible from space, and this line is the pick of the crag.
Not four stars:
Acrimonious Acrobat E0 5b, Ardmair - Good. But simply not that good.
The Bug E2 5b, Tollie Crag - Definitely 3 stars, but doesn't quite have the fly-on-the-wall experience of The Pillar.
Bloodlust Direct E2 5b, Sheigra - The worst E2 on the Second Geo wall, a direct finish to better lines with the crux fiddling in cams.
Afterglow E2 5b, Rosehearty - A fine line and elegant introduction to Rosey, but pokey to start and quite short.
(Spaced Out Rockers E4 5c, Reiff ) - Okay it's a great line, but it goes the wrong way!
Marlene F7c, Dunkeld - Painful and not a classic line of weakness.
Silk Purse F7c+, Dunkeld - Ditto.
Over The Hill E3 5c, Creag Dubh - More direct, but fiddly moves that spoil the balance of The Hill.