3 Wise Monkeys Climbing Logo

Heather Hat Topo

One of the all-time classics of Glen Nevis bouldering - Heather Hat is a "must visit" venue for any boulderer entering the glen. Its close proximity to the road, short approach and easily protect-able landings makes it a regular pit-stop for anyone wanting to squeeze in a quick climb before or after work.

It doesn't quite receive the accolade of being Glen Nevis' wet weather venue of choice, but you can still work on the start of the problems that lie directly underneath the overhanging roof, in the worst of weather conditions.

Its also a boulder that isn't surrounded by trees, so if there's any amount of midge-defeating wind running through the glen, you can be sure that it'll run by Heather Hat.

Most of the problems cover the large overhanging roof , with a few others scattered around the boulder. Here's a selection of the best on the overhang...

1) The Wall – f6c**

A crimpy classic on the obvious flat wall facing the Polldubh hillside. Start at the foot of the tallest part of the wall, with the main roof of Heather Hat to your right-hand side. Climb up until your feet are established on the sloping ledge and gaze up at the sea of micro-ripples. Spend the remainder of your time looking up, and down, and up, and down again to find the best combination of micro crimps. Gasp a sigh of relief when you catch the top and finish by mantling onto the heathery summit.

2) Theory of Relativity – f5+*

The best beginner or warm up problem on the boulder, but don’t think that it’s just a walk in the park. Start in the bottom left hand corner of the big overhanging roof of Heather Hat and follow the edge of the overhang, until you top out above the left-hand corner of the large overhanging roof. Once you’ve followed a selection of averagely good holds (feet trailing here, there and everywhere), you’ll reach the sharp cornered edge of a small sloping ledge. From there you’ll have time to contemplate… You could consider the intermediates, or you could just be bold and go for it.

Naomi Hatto making the big move over the final lip near the end of Theory of Relativity.

3) Maisie Gunn’s Magic Midgie Cream – f6b***

Not quite as photogenic as Theory of Relativity or Perfect Size, but definitely worth the extra stars. Sit start at the base of Heather Hat’s overhanging roof, left of centre, on the most obviously chalked holds. Continue in a diagonal line, using any nearby holds, to the left hand corner of the overhanging roof and top out above.

4) Pagan Uilleann – f7a+***

The hardest of the 3-star classics at Heather Hat, with more than one way to by-pass the crux. Sit start underneath Heather Hat’s overhanging roof, left of centre, on the most obviously chalked holds. The line of the problem goes almost directly backwards, via the holes on the glass-textured face, until you appear out from the overhang and mantle the wall directly above. Pronunciation (Uilleann): Imagine you've got a friend called Ian who's a bit ill. You'd call him "ill ian". Now say it without a pause (and the slightest hint of a semi-silent "u" at the beginning. Then put it all together, and you've got Pagan Uilleann (ill-ian).

5) Pagan Direct – f7b+**

A harder eliminate alternative to the classic Pagan Uilleann. It follows the same direction as Pagan Uilleann, but it runs parallel to the right-hand side. Sit start right in the centre of Heather Hat’s overhanging roof, with a big ledge for your feet and small crimps for your hands. A video can be found online showing Dave MacLeod’s first ascent, if you want to check the allowed holds.

6) Under the Hat – f7c*

Is it an oxymoron to say that this is the perfect dyno for shorter people?! Sit start on two tiny crimps at the base of Heather Hat’s overhanging roof, right of centre. Make a move backwards to two sloping ledges under the roof before cutting loose to the letter box hold, half way along Perfect Size, on the lip of the right edge of the roof.

7) Midnight in a Perfect World – f6c+**

The lip traverse in all its greatness and one of the easiest lines to follow. Sit start in the bottom right-hand corner of Heather Hat’s overhanging roof and traverse the right-hand and front face of the overhanging roof. Finish by topping out above the left-hand corner of the roof. Make sure you leave something in the tank for the last section.

Dan Timmis just passing the beginning of either Perfect Size, Midnight in a Perfect World, or Killer Instinct.

8) Perfect Size – f6b+**

The most photogenic boulder problem nearby with a tricky little sting in the tail. Sit start at the bottom right-hand corner of Heather Hat’s overhanging roof and traverse the edge of the overhang until you reach the corner. Use the good holds just around the corner to top out. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity for the Cinderella-like heel hook near the start of the problem, that should be the Perfect Size.

9) Killer Instinct – f6c+***

An amazing problem that opens up the potential of an endless number of link-ups with other problems. Sit start in the bottom right hand corner of Heather Hat’s overhanging roof and traverse the lip for a few metres until you reach a letterbox slot that’s slightly underneath the roof. From here, make a big span sideways underneath the roof to a sharp hold, before re-appearing out of the roof, right in the middle of its front face. Finish by mantling the wall above as you contemplate all the amazing link ups you can now do with Midnight in a Perfect World, Pagan Uilleann and Maisie Gunn’s.

10) Bight Sized Life Direct – f8a

Sit start on two tiny crimps at the base of Heather Hat’s overhanging roof, right of centre. Make a move backwards to the two sloping holds on the underside of the roof. Throw to a wide pinch, left of the letterbox slot (landing hold for Under the Hat dyno), and finish to the left. (Paraphrased from Dave MacLeod's description, following his repeat of the problem, first climbed by Si O'Connor).

11) Bright Sized – f6b

A small-scale problem, following a not very natural line. Whatever angle you look at Heather Hat, the lip traverses scream out the loudest, followed by the looming shadow of the overhang. This line is a little more unorthodox, but a nice change from most of the others. Start on the obvious jugs at the start of the right-hand lip traverse. Continue along the jugs for a few moves until you can pull upwards onto the face above via a giant pocket.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS Throughout the latter months of 2018 and beginning of 2019 a few local climbers have been busily developing the often untouched side of Heather Hat. The addition of drainage soon helped dry out the landing area and has left a good selection of problems to be climbed.

Topo and descriptions courtesy of Adam Morris!

  1. 1. Sit start right hand corner follow small holds up left. R/h Jug not in. 7b. 2. Sit start straight up jugs to finish. 6b.
  2. 3. Stand start on quartz follow arete (quartz only for start holds). 6a.
  3. 4. Sit start low crack follow and top out. 6b.
  4. 5. Sit start crack. Up and traverse arete. 6b