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WEST CORNWALL - NORTH COAST

South Coast | The Lizard (now on separate pages)

Guidebook: West Cornwall Authors/Year: loads (edited by Nigel Coe) 2001 Publisher: The Climbers' Club

Cornish Rock by Rowland Edwards, Tim Dennel and Mark Edwards

A selection of the best routes in the area can also be found in South West Climbs by Pat Littlejohn (Diadem)

Further details on the area


North Coast

Gurnard's Head
Boswednack
Robin's Rocks
Halldrine Cove (full guide on separate page)
Bosigran
Bosigran Ridge Area
WhirlPool Slabs
Pendeen Cliffs
Carn Vellan

Evening Slabs

Carn Kenidjack
Aire Point
Sennen

Land's End


# - unconfirmed

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Gurnards Head Area

Pedn Kei Zawn, The West Wall

The following route is the first on this stunning looking wall. However it never gets the sun, is always damp and the rock is very crumbly and a number of cormorants nest here so no climbing before august!

Who Wants to Live Forever E2 5b 50m #
Start at the corner above the rock pool at the far right of wall
1.15m 5b climb the corner(wet)step right follow the open groove exit this rightwards climb the bird limed wall above to a good ledge with poor peg belay.
2.25m 5a climb to an obvious hanging corner swing right to the ledge above move slightly right and up to gain the next break,step left to end of ledge(peg for seconds back rope advised)climb down the rotten corner(with care)until the large ledge system can be followed left,half way along this step up hand traverse left to belay at the foot of the clean corner.
3.10m 4c climb the corner to the top.
FA Luke Pavey, Andy Steimberg (pitch 1). Luke Pavey (pitch 2and3) roped solo! (8.2004)


Robins Rocks

To the left (facing in) of Sensible Shoes is a buttress with a short gully on its seaward end. The following route starts from small barnacle encrusted ledges at the base of the gully.

Alpine Blisters Very Severe 5a #
65 feet
Step down and traverse rightwards to a ledge just above the high tide mark. Make hard and bold moves right under an overlap and continue easily up a groove, move right through a small roof and finish up the center of the slab. FIRST RECORDED ASCENT: Barnaby Carver, Tobi Carver, Matthew J. Berriman 6th August 2000 (on-sight).

The route lies on the slabs left of Sensible Shoes Lowish tide. (it sounds similar to the above so needs checking to see if independent?)

Flip-Flop Hard Severe #
25m 4b. Start on narrow ledges at the base of a slabby corner immediately above a tidal pool 20m left of the groove of Sensible Shoes.Traverse right then up and across a slab to an undercut nose. Climb the corner to its left to the top.Mark Hounslea (solo) 01/08/2007. Crocs Continuation 15m 4b. At the undercut nose, swing right and follow the slabby arete to the top. FA Iain Peters, Clive Davis, Bob Peters (02/08/2007)

Tight Black Rubber E3 5c * #
The overhangs and crack left of Sensible Shoes. Start off the small island between two rock pools at low tide. Climb the barnacle covered wall to reach the overhangs. Jam and contort through these to reach the crack in the upper wall which is followed to the top. FA Stu Bradbury & Mark Kembal 10/8/08

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Halldrine Cove

Full guide on new page

Drop Out Hard Severe 4b #
Traverse at Halldrine Cove. Traverses leftwards under an overhang starting from the bottom of Limpet Slab. Continue horizontally until able to step down onto an airy ledge under a second slight overhang. The route finishes up and left of this face. Can be done in 2 pitches to minimise rope drag on the end section. Good gear apart from on the final traverse section. FA Thomas Gilbert, Theo Floyd 15/09/03

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Bosigran

Tea’hupo E8 7a *** #
The stunning diagonal line across the Diamond Face has finally been climbed: Bosigran’s hardest route is also one of its finest. The ‘move’ may only be possible for climbers with an ape index greater than 6”4’! 100ft Follow Beaker Route up into the steep groove where bomber gear should be arranged on a long sling to reduce drag. Rock out on to the sloping shelf using a small crimp on the very L edge of the wall and make an outrageous leap for the tiny undercut in the base of the seam (crux). Make tenuous moves out L (short knifeblade peg placed here on the FA and removed afterwards to avoid it rotting and damaging the placement). Once the base of the seam proper is reached, glorious laybacking at E6 6b eventually leads into the crack of Kafoozalem. FA Dave Pickford (unseconded). May 19th 2007. (Headpointed after two days’ effort).

Harlots Duel E6 6b ** #
The superdirect version of Kafoozalem – a seductive battle straight through the heart of the Diamond Face. 120ft Start as for Kafoozalem. Climb the crack leading up R to a big ledge, where a side runner should be placed high on the R. Step back down and arrange poor gear on the L if possible. Now blast straight through the ‘nose’ boldly and with some difficult moves to join Kafoozalem at the base of the slanting crack. Follow this until Kafoozalem breaks L, then go straight up the continuation dyke / seam of darker rock (good small wires on the R near Evil Eye). Make hard, bold moves up the dyke (more small wires / RP’s) to move R slightly at the very top. Finish just L of Evil Eye on scary slopers. FA Dave Pickford (unseconded) September 2007. Top section brushed prior to leading, first crux onsighted.


Bosigran Ridge area

Waltzing Matilda HVS 5b ** 130 ft #
An excellent, sustained traverse of the Gallipoli area, with a strong line and perfect rock throughout. 1. 50 ft 5a Start at the very foot of Bosigran Ridge, as for Dolphinarium. Climb this for 15ft to a break, then make hard moves right to the arete. Move up and round to a ledge and then make fingery moves to belay in Cure By Choice.2. 80 ft 5b Move easily up and right before making exciting moves across the top of a steep wall to join Imphal. Hand traverse the obvious break across the wall, with a particularly difficult move to join Gallipoli. Continue awkwardly along the break to finish on the ledge of Mandalay. FA Rik Meek, Brian Hannon, Martin Dunning, Pete O'Sullivan, Spring 2005

Kagutsuchi E7 6b ***
60ft
The daunting, virtually protectionless wall left of the corner of Imphal (E2 5c) is one of the more serious leads on the north coast of West Penwith. Magnificent climbing rewards the brave. Start at a short flake crack a couple of metres left of the corner of Imphal, Climb the crack to its end at a spike runner and RP 2 at 2.5 metres (the only gear protecting the crux at 10 metres). Take a deep breath and make a sustained and intricate sequence directly up the centre of the wall, to a thank-god break at 40ft and bomber cams. Relax, shake out and proceed directly to the top, with a tricky move to finish.

FA: Dave Pickford (unseconded) June 2005. Kagutsuchi is a fearsome fire-god of the Japanese Shinto religion, whose powers were much feared throughout ancient Japan. The first ascent was made in the direct sunlight of a midsummer's afternoon, making the crucial crimps somewhat fiery, hence the reference. Climbed headpoint style after top roping


Whirlpool Slabs / Rosemergy Cove

Guide on separate page. Click here.

Brandy's Zawn - Brandy's Slabs

These diminutive but delectable slabs are hidden away at the foot of the broken ridge of Osborne's Carn 100 metres S of the prominent "finger" above Brandy's Zawn. Despite a somewhat tortuous descent, they are well worth a visit, especially if combined with a climb or two on the neglected Monolith Slab of Rosemergy Ridge.

From the Count House, take the Coast Path above Commando Ridge and pass through a gate to the flat-topped rocky Osborne's Carn on the right. Go down the r/h side (facing out) through another gate and follow a faint path which leads to the foot of Rosemergy Ridge and the Monolith Slab. Bear left towards the "finger" above Brandy's Zawn and contour leftwards for 100m to reach the slabs. The upper slab is easy angled, whilst the lower is split by an obvious cleft. Routes are described from L - R.

Monkey Magic E1 5b15 metres
Start beneath the left hand arete of the slab. 15m 5b. Climb the rib direct with the crux at the top. FA Bob Peters, Colin Struthers 27/07/2007

Guacamole Jeff Very Difficult
Climb the obvious cracks near the left hand arete of the slab. FA Alan struthers, Colin Struthers 27/07/2007

Monkey's Breakfast Severe 4a
17m 4a Start below the obvious cracks near the left hand arete of the slab.
climb rightwards then direct up the middle of the slab. FA Iain Peters, Martin Mandel 27/07/2007

Monkey's Lunch Severe 4a
Climb the groove in the centre of the slab, finishing up the thin crack FA Martin Mandel, Iain Peters 27/07/2007

Hurdy Gurdy Arete Hard Severe 4b
15m 4b. Climb the sharp arete forming the left side of the cleft FA. Mark Hounslea, Rob Hastings, Bob Peters29/07/2007

Monkey Business E1 5a/b
18m 5a/b. Climb the right arete of the cleft. Nice, technical slab climbing but unprotected. FA Iain Peters, Martin Mandel 27/07/2007

Gorilla Groove HVS 5a
18m 5a. Climb the slabby groove to a heather finish.

None VS 5a
18m 5a. Start up the wide crack forming the leaning flake. Swing round right onto the front face and finish up a thinner crack. FA Martin Mandel, Iain Peters 27/07/2007

The following three routes are on the easy angled outcrop immediately behind the main slab that’s home to Iain Peters and company’s routes from 2007 (see above). The main feature of this outcrop is the rib of Grooved Arête. Routes are described from left to right.

Ramalina Siliquosa Hard Severe 4b
11m Start just left of the rib. Climb the leftward rising grey-black vein and finish up the testing lichenous jamming crack above. First Recorded Ascent: Barnaby Carver (solo), 2 June 2008 (on-sight).

Grooved Arête Difficult
The pleasant rib direct finishing via a hollow flake. First Recorded Ascent: Barnaby Carver (solo), 2 June 2008 (on-sight).

Dy’ Lun Difficult
Climb directly up the slab just right of Grooved Arête. Easy friction climbing but with little protection. First Recorded Ascent: Barnaby Carver (solo), 2 June 2008 (on-sight).


Pendeen Cliffs

Pendeen Watch

A climb beneath the sewage outlet pipes at the top of the zawn climbed during a `barron` period of activity not recomended otherwise.

Andy`s Route HVS 5a #
65ft 5a
.Aproach by the rightwards traverse from below the pulpit block as for Sick Dreams to belay at the start of that route 100ft 4c Climb rightwards and follow the obvious corner to the top. Now wash your hands! FA Luke Pavey,Sam Palmer 16.8.03

The Hod. 33m. HVS 5a # (**)
A right to left rising traverse of the north wall of Horn Zawn,Pendeen. Abseil stake above east wall. Start at base of chimney in back of zawn. Climb the slab moving left below the roofs into the groove of Painted Lady.Make a move up this then left to a pocket. Move up to gain the horizontal groove which is traversed leftwards on improving holds to finish. FA J.Ford. P.Bristow. Gareth.Palmer.19/3/05 (onsight)

Its a Dogs Life. Severe 4b
18m.
Zawn escape route. A left to right rising traverse of the south wall. Abseil stake above east wall. Start on the large platform. Step across the trench at the lowest point to take the first corner on the left. Move back right 4m to the second corner(beware of the perched block above)and pull onto the ramp which is traversed easily rightwards to finish. FA . J.Ford, Gareth Palmer. 2/4/05 (onsight)

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Boswednack - Zawn Dredd

(West Cornwall guide, page 75)

The right wall of the zawn is rarely in condition, but when it is (summer evenings), it provides good climbing on solid rock. Routes by Neil Foster, Claire Reading Routes are described from R to L. The first two are approached by traversing carefully left above the barnacled roof to belay on good ledges at the base of the prominent right-facing corner system which runs up the face.

An Audience With Milton Thomas E2 5b #
15m
Follow the line which rises from halfway along the approach traverse finishing up the thin crack just left of the right arÍte of the zawn. FA Neil Foster, Claire Reading 25/6/01

The Man Engine HVS 5a #
15m
The corner system and continuation to exit at a notch FA Claire Reading, Neil Foster 25/6/01

The next 3 routes start from a block ledge with an obvious crack leading up from its left hand side.

The Shambles E2 5c #
15m
Climb the hanging groove in the arÍte above the right end of the block ledge, exiting left to gain a shelf. Pull onto the slab and tiptoe carefully up the gangway which leads rightwards to finish up the last few moves of The Man Engine. FA Neil Foster, Claire Reading 25/6/01

The County Adit E2 5b, 5c #
25m
1) Climb the steep crack and continue via the mineral vein on the left, to a perfect flat stance at the base of a slabby area. 2) Follow the left-leaning groove in the headwall on the left, finishing at the V-slot. An interesting pitch, reminiscent of Tremadoc. FANeil Foster, Claire Reading 25/6/01

The Coffin Level E5 6a #
25m
The line of Zawn Dredd. Follow the slanting recess which runs up left from the block ledge to good runners in the obvious horizontal break at its top. Make a committing pull up left to gain the steep headwall, and sprint up this (Fr 3.5) to the top. FA Neil Foster, Claire Reading 30/6/01

The following route goes up the wall to the right of the Ways to be Wicked.

Just Before Thirty E4 6a ** #
Great moves with just enough protection! 18 meters Start on the ramp about four meters right of Ways to be Wicked. Follow a line of good holds and mantle into the diagonal break at 3 meters. Move up and left boldly on spaced but good holds until a good jug is reached and feet are on the foot ledge (shared with Ways to be Wicked). Arrange runners awkwardly at foot level. Long moves up and slightly right lead to good holds and protection. Thin, tenuous moves take you through the crux, moving slightly rightward to a large flat hold before moving left up the wall on good holds to finish about 2 meters right of the crack of Ways to be Wicked. FA Bruce Kerry, Tom Starbuck April 2007 (after top rope inspection).

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Carn Vellan

The Short Good Friday HVS 5a #
50ft On the wall right of Insurance Drain climb up the thin crack, past an obvious large wire placement, on surprising jugs. Trend up and right to follow the obvious line of weakness under the bulge, then finish direct where the angle eases, just left of a loose-looking corner ("Kurtzer"?). Some loose rock.F.A. James Marshall and Kate Morris (9/4/04)

The following is not really a "new route" as it was climbed in 1999. However, given that it's probably one of the hardest leads in the Country here's a full description:

Rewind E10 7a #
Mark's original description: "This climb is possibly the hardest of it's nature in West Penwith, and maybe beyond. Bolder than Question Mark, with some suspect rock in areas. Also technical in extremely powerful positions requiring a degree of mental control to overcome the seriousness of this climb.

A climb of immense character through the obvious weakness of this huge impressive roof. Natural in line, extremely bold with serious groundfall impact from a great height guaranteed. The route had been climbed a few years earlier (than the FBFA date below) with pre-placed protection, as a bolt-free headoint. It became the challenge to climb the route ground-up placing the gear. Unfortunately most of the protection on the headpoint ascent was impossible to clip, due to the requirements of the moves, also placing the gear requires both hands, obviously not practical on such a steep roof. Therefore many RP's and small wire placements became redundant. This is worrying knowing that you must climb past them un-protected. Another worry is the weather as the climb rarely comes into condition; northwest facing, catching the sun only at its lowest axis, and prone to sea mist and spray. You just have to be lucky and in top condition at the same time - not easy! (many visits ending up in The Queens Arms due to seepage).

There are two points of danger. First, climbing over some suspect rock to the only rest hold (several holds have snapped here during the bolted sports climbing ascents). Secondly above reaching the upper crack/groove (although this can be slightly tamed if the crux is reversed after placing two poor small Aliens). The crux is then reclimbed and a long run-out made to the groove/crack and the best protection ever (a fall from below this point would result in a 90ft groundfall and a good chance of hitting the Gnome Boulders - not recommended). Note: if your belayer is willing to take the 40ft jump of the boulders then the grade could be reduced, but reserve a hospital bed first!"

FA Mark Edwards as the sport route Blue Sky Lightning First Bolt Free Ascent Mark Edwards


Evening Slabs

Bulldog HVS 5b #
46 metres A more interesting and dynamic entrance to the slabs. Start 4m left of Notidwal (page 214 in guide) below a steep crack and overhanging groove. 1. 16m Climb the overhanging groove and then swing left onto the slab above. Continue leftwards up cracks and a smooth slab to a belay ledge in the middle of the slabs. 2. 30m Continue up and leftwards via slabs to the grassy exit. FA S. J. Scaife, C. J. Griffiths 24 May 2010

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Kenidjack Main Cliff

Kin-ard-crack! E4 6a #
120 ft
Takes the harder-than-it-looks overhanging attractive crack overlooking the Gneiss Gnome corner. FA Mark Edwards Rowland Edwards & Kevin Thomas (his1st new route). (on sight)


Aire Point

Varicose Zawn

These two routes start between Varicose and Claudication.

Little Fault Very Difficult 4b
50 feet Make a hard pull up onto the slab at a crack right of Varicose. Climb flakes up rightward to a tricky finish in a wide crack.FIRST RECORDED ASCENT: Barnaby Carver (solo) 29th May 2001. Climbed on-sight.

Big Fault Very Difficult 4a
50 feet Directly up the large flake and crack in the centre of the slab. FIRST RECORDED ASCENT: Barnaby Carver (solo) 29th May 2001 (on-sight).

Peppered Monkey Hard Severe 4b
70 feet Start as you would for Landing Strip, continue directly up by jamming the right side of the bulge, lay back on the large flake above, and finally jam up the last crack to gain access to the ramp above. First ascent: Ben O'Connor, Steve Parry - 23/05/2006.

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Sennen

Black Zawn Area

Squirt Hard Severe 4b #
10m
Start below and to the left of "Cut Price Comedy Climb", and below a small roof cut by a shallow groove/crack. Pull over the roof and follow the crack to the platform below the start of Gillian/Golva.FA Mark Edwards July 2004 (on-sight solo)

Heart E8 6c/7a 25m *** #
Another good hard quality line. It tackles the stepped overhangs up the arete below the huge roof of Much Ado about Nothing and right of Slippery Slab. The landing is solid granite, and therefore the grade must be reduced depending on the quantity of crash mats and spotters! Start below the first roof right of the overhanging arete. Make hard pulls off the ground to reach over the roof and trend up leftwards towards the arete. Once established on a good but strenuous hold, make a difficult sequence of moves to reach the edge of the roof; first protection in crack on right. Make an awkward mantle, and continue boldly and without protection up the slab right of Slippery Slab. FA Mark Edwards (head-point solo) September 2002

Also at Sennen… “29 Palms” has been re-climbed without the pegs for protection. And now can be climbed in three different styles:

With pegs…E6 6c | With sliders in the peg slots…E7 6c | With no use of peg placements…E8 6c/7a (only possible due to the recent invention of micro cams.) The latter style has a harder technical grade because a hold must be unused due to it being occupied by a micro cam, and therefore making the climbing much harder.

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Lands End

Armed Knight Buttress

Damsel in Distress E2 5b #
1)75ft
Start on the seaward face right of "the brave warrior".beneath a small overhang. Make a tricky step up onto a a prominent jutting foothold move up and traverse diagonally right across the slab to the arete. Climb the thin crack above. FA G.J.R Everitt, C. Griffths 21/07/2005

Rubber Dinghy Rapids E7 6c ** # 25 metres
Climbs the huge stepped corner and easier arete above, on the LHS of Longships Wall. Holds may need drying before an ascent. F.A. Ken Palmer 20/7/12 unseconded


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