So yesterday we were still on a high from climbing Raindrop and The Go Between and decided to return to Borrowdale. Reading Bill Birkett’s Classic Climbs in the Lake District conviced me that Lower Falcon Crag wouldn’t be that bad and that we should go and have a look.
We parked at the small car park on the Ashness Bridge road and headed up on path that was overgrown despite the bracken being on the decline! The crag was imposing and steep. We decided to climb Illusion (HVS 5a) a three pitch route that traverses under a large overhang (think Pluto on Raven Crag Langdale).
The first pitch was a gentle and short warm-up to a large block belay. It was a good introduction to the nature of the rock which was very angular with some suspicious holds, the gear was also a little spaced. The second pitch was the main event. It started with a pleasant ascent of a groove. Once you reach a large flake it is used to make progress rightwards, I chose to use the flake for my feet this involved placing a sling over a spike with my right foot! The rest of the traverse had well-spaced gear and a series of holds not 100% attached to the crag. There appeared to be two possible lines, we both took the lower one with positive foot holds. I was concerned about the lack of protection for Penny so I put in a rubbish micro-nut that was only there to stop her getting too concerned. After the horizontal section of the traverse a large corner/groove allows a couple of reliable cam placements. This relaxed my nerves and also gave me reassurance that if Penny fell off the traverse she wouldn’t swing too far. From here it was not far to the belay ledge, this was not very well supplied with gear placements so I got one small cam and three small nuts in before breathing a sigh of relief. Penny seconded this pitch confidently (and more calmly than I may have expected) before we completed the easy six metre final pitch.
I noticed some tat on a tree at the top but we followed the guidebook description for the descent which involved a steep scree gully. Should I pluck up the courage to return I will probably abseil off in future.