Finley’s Folly [ice(tr,trad)]

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It was about 50 feet tall, involved some neat stemming, and had some short but steep steps separated by nice stances where I could sink stubbies.  I estimate it went at grade 3-3+, and it was especially fun because one of the guys who was also out at the crag by coincidence said I was crazy to try to lead it, but I thought I could do it, so I tried it and got away with it!  Cool!  I’m a mensch!  The top-out was impossible (for me) because I couldn’t find anything in the moss fluff to hook my tool on, but the same person who thought I was crazy generously tossed me a piece of his top-rope anchor and let me hook it to pull over the bulge.  So it wasn’t all that hard, wasn’t a redpoint, and was pretty short–but I had a great time, felt like a million bucks when I got to the top, enjoyed the pleasure my friend took in following it, and would do it all again in a heartbeat!

In case you’re wondering, the route is at a crag we call Finley’s Folly, because the guy who told us about it is named Billy Finley.  It’s a cool crag because it’s high up, has nice views, and comes in early after a relatively short spell of cold.  I don’t know if Eddie Begoon soloed it in flip flops years ago; if so, he kept his mouth shut about it.  We call the route “The Central Gully” because it’s a big gully in the middle of the crag!  To get there, park at Reed’s Gap at Milepost 13 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and walk north on the BRP a little less than a mile (?).  Just before a big grassy bank on the left with a big boulder, scramble up the hill on your right about 100 vertical feet (?) to the base of a little cliff, find the gully in the middle, and have at it!  There’s also a nice little corner on the right side of the crag which is a blast when it’s in, and some thin slabby stuff on the left that you can TR.   Matt