GORSE OR FURZE?

GORSE OR FURZE?

I read somewhere that these are the only two words in the English dictionary with the exact same meaning, although it should be pointed out that Ulster folk invariably refer to it as whins. No matter, whichever term you prefer there is a lot of it about and nowhere more so than in the quarry. Having colonized the level areas of the quarry, the gorse is now slowly but steadily creeping down many routes from the top. It’s got to the stage where a secateurs is fast becoming an essential piece of gear for quarry climbing if you stray away from the over-used and increasingly polished group of climbs on either side of the flat area dividing east and west quarries. (Incidentally, environmentalists need not be concerned, all that is being called for here is some severe pruning and, in the long run, this will promote growth in future years. But that’s a problem for posterity and, as someone once remarked, what has posterity ever done for us.)

A forest of furze
The Eliminates
Tramp and Dirty Dick

Recently, while climbing Binglestein, I was struck by the large area of clean rock on the upper section of the wall on its right. I recalled that two routes, Fallout and Tastebomb, had been put up by the Windrims on either side of this area back in the seventies, but they never proved popular. This is largely due to the fact that, while the upper section gets plenty of morning sunshine, the lower section is shaded from the sun and the wind by the proximity of a number of trees, with the result that it is slow to dry after rain, thus encouraging the growth of vegetation. This vegetation got no more than a token cleaning at the time the routes were put up and soon reverted to its original state.

I decided to investigate further and discovered that someone had started to clean up the top of this section during recent years: there was an old sling in situ and signs of branches having been sawn off the tree and the gorse cut back. But they had abandoned the project before they got to the lower, heavily vegetated area or, perhaps, they were just setting up a spot to practice abseiling. So I took over. To make thing easier for myself I decided to clean a line directly below the ab point, thus creating a line midway between the two older routes. In the process, as well as stripping back vegetation, some loose boulders and flakes were tumbled, leaving more solid rock exposed, so, definitely a new line, with big holds and plenty of scope for nuts, hexes and big cams.

I climbed this line, with Brian and David, last October, finishing up via the highest groove, to arrive at the tree. While most of the route is about Diff, the crux is Severe, on excellent granite and with good protection. I was back there again on the morning before St. Patrick’s day, this time with Petra, adding a new, more difficult, finish, at about VS 4b (not too sure about the grade, these day I tend to recognize just two – handy or hard). Here are the details.

Bawl Out. S 4a Start about 10m R of Binglestein, at a boulder lying against the base of the wall. From the R side of the boulder climb up and diagonally L on good holds to reach some blocks. From here move straight up to enter the highest, R-slanting groove above. Climb the groove (crux) and move up over ledges to a tree belay. G.M., D. Jacobs, B. Lawless, Oct. 2016.

Snakes Out. HS/VS4b. An alternative finish to Bawl Out. Start as for Bawl Out and follow that route to the base of a R-slanting groove with a wide borehole at its base (large cam useful here). From the borehole make a short, delicate traverse out R, using a flat handhold, to reach a sloping ledge beneath a small overhang. Pull up into the groove above and climb over blocks to the tree. G. M., P. Tolarova, 16/3/2017

Bawl Out and Snakes Out

2 thoughts on “GORSE OR FURZE?

  1. Gorse!
    I’ve often wondered if there was any lines in that area. I should have looked harder! Great to see some new exploration and routes in the quarry.

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