Sunday, 2 March 2014

Farndale West - A New E7 And Some New Crags

Farndale West is one of the most stunning locations in the Moors. It catches a lot of sun and is exceptionally quiet. Whilst well-known for its daffodils, the amount of rock in the area is rather less figured out.  It has to be one of the top areas for new routing - both boulders and routes. That was the choice of destination for yesterday. The valley is long and stretches from Petersgate in the far south, to Middlehead at the head. Both these two extremes have seen a bit of attention, but what lies between is the focus of a few people's interests at the moment.

We started off at Low Mill and wandered up a little side-valley to check out Hawthorn Crag. We found a small selection of decent-looking boulders and a Buttress that provided some routes. It was really pleasant and sunny, with not a lick of wind. Quality wise? Nice rock and compact lines, but they're quite small and certainly not a destination for more than an hour or so. We climbed a VS, an E1 and an E5. The E1 was perhaps the best, following an arete to the right of a roof and the E5 climbed directly through it on the left. Typical Moors climbing, with some pokeyish moves above a not-that-great landing. We then carried on to meet Jack and Sam at the newly discovered Fox Ghyll.

Fox Ghyll is an interesting one, as it's quite expansive, but a lot of the expanse is rubbish. The entire centre of the crag is a bit dank and broken, with only the Buttresses at either end offering any lines to inspire. The right side of the right Buttress seems to go at E4 6b*, although we didn't top it out. A nice boulder problem up to a pocket, with another few difficult moves to top out. The left buttress was altogether more interesting.

The main line is a scoop, which is undercut at its base. You wriggles on to this and then perform some flexible moves to get the feet up near the hands. Luckily the holds at the base of the scoop are quite good and so you can reflex really hard off of these and span a long way to a poor crimp. After this its some serious balance stuff, with intricate foot beta, some blind reaches and a bit of hope you stay lodged in the groove. It's a bit like a Moorland Gaia, although totally without gear. Even with three spotters, the fall would be very messy and very far down the hill (even from the start move). I'm glad there were no hitches on the solo.

There are still a couple of lines left, but they need a bit of drying out.Video of the E7 to come.

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