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Rock Climbing in the Isle of Man
Laxey Head

 

From the Shore Hotel in Laxey follow the path North along the cliff-top for about half a mile to a point where the path turns steeply uphill right on the edge of the cliff, overlooking a vegetated broken slab (access to Ballan Rock immediately below). Continue steeply uphill, skirting the top of the first section of slabs until a steep stone chute is reached, just before a steep South facing wall. This steep wall bounds the main slab area. A descent to the main slab area can be made by gaining access to the stone chute from the very top of the South facing boundary wall.

BALLAN ROCK AREA

This is an area of very short climbs on mainly good rock. All routes start from sea level. Before the main slabs are reached, leave the cliff top path at the sharp bend uphill overlooking a stretch of broken vegetated slabs. Descend easily bearing slightly South. The climbs lie on a short steep wall just North of the descent and consist firstly of two slabs overlapping vertically to form an obvious clean corner. From left to right;

LOOBY LOO ~ 35' ~ V Diff
The obvious crack at the left side of the crack.

CHILD'S PLAY ~ 30' ~ VS 4c
The steep slab between Looby Loo and Teddy. Very thin at first.

TEDDY ~ 35' ~ Hard Sev 4b
The slim corner right of Looby Loo

ANDY PANDY ~ 35' ~ V Diff
The crack line 5 feet right of Teddy. Awkward to start.

ERMINTRUDE ~ 60' ~ Sev
Immediately right of Andy Pandy a slanting crack rises from a niche.

It is possible to traverse right (North) to the next short steep wall which contains a shallow square-cut recess topped by a small overhang.

ZEBEDEE ~ 35' ~ Sev
Climb the centre of the recess to the overhang. Cross this on the left (crux), the rock is sounder than it looks.

UNNAMED WALL ~ 35' ~ Sev
Start as for Zebedee and climb diagonally left to the arete to finish.

UP AND AROUND ~ 60' ~ Hard V Diff
Start as for Zebedee and traverse under the overhang to the seaward face and up to the top.

There is a route on the first belt of slabs which the grass caterpillar crosses on the way to the Maypole area (see below). The main feature of the slabs is a large, slightly inverted "V" overlap at half height.

TOBLERONE ~ 70' ~ VS
Climb easily up and left to a large triangular niche under the middle of the overlap. Step delicately onto the right wall and right using brittle holds. Continue up on the lip of the overhang and pull up to a bolt belay on easy ground.

MAYPOLE AREA

The next climbs lie on the broken slabs immediately North of the Ballan Rock area. From the sharp uphill turn in the cliff top path from which Ballan Rock area is reached, walk uphill a few yards on the cliff edge then traverse a grass caterpillar diagonally down across the slabs and over a short rock step where a prominent outward jutting jammed flake has become detached from the slab. The Maypole itself is the small sea stack, accessible at low tide at its Northern edge.

HELTER SKELTER ~ 100' ~ V Diff
A spiralling line up the Maypole prone to rope drag. Climb the slight arete to the right of the V-groove. Traverse right below the overhang and continue around to a short open corner. Climb the corner and finish up the left of the seaward facing slabs.

NUTS IN MAY ~ 45' ~ V Diff
Climb the V-groove and the wall above on the right.

Immediately behind the Maypole lies;

ASSAGAI ~ 170' ~ Sev
Climb the narrow slab in the rib and belay at the foot of a steep pointed slab. 2/70' Climb the steep slab on its left edge until it is possible to step right into the prominent crack splitting the upper third of the slab. Climb the crack and belay 40 feet above in wide cracks in the broken slabs.

ZULU ~ 150' ~ Hard Sev
1/90' As for Assagai and belay at a good spike on the arete just below the steep cracked slab. 2/70' Step left across an earthy groove, climb up and left across the flaky wall to join the arete just below the overhang. Cross this direct and continue up the edge of the slab above the large spike belay.

SEA DRIFT ~ 100' ~ HVS
Start as for Assagai but traverse right across the thin slab until just below an inverted v overhang. Climb straight up to this and pull over the overlap to the right. Climb the much steeper slab above direct to easier ground. Trend up and left to belay on the arete overlooking the finish of Assagai.

Eighty yards North of the Maypole, above a belt of broken boulders lies a short steep slab / wall with a narrow projecting buttress, left of centre, forming two obvious corners.

PINKY ~ 45' ~ V Diff
Climb the left facing corner direct.

KRISS KROSS ~ 65' ~ Sev
At the foot of the buttress between the two corners. Climb the diagonal crack turning the overhang on the left. Step left across the corner of Pinky and climb the centre of the steep narrow slab to a mantleshelf finish (crux).

PERKY ~ 30' ~ Sev
Climb the right facing corner direct.

RISING DAMP ~ 40' ~ Sev
Starts at the lowest point on the slabs, below a prominent zig-zag crack. climb the crack, thread belay well back.

FIRE FINGERS ~ 35' ~ HVS 5a
Starts 8' feet left of Rising Damp. Follow the very thin crack up to the small square recess at the top of Rising Damp then left and up. Belay on pegs.

MAIN SLABS AREA

From the top of the rib traverse into the stone chute and descend to large ledges below the slabs, or abseil from the piton in a block on the top corner of the slabs. There are no tidal problems and many eliminates at VS / HVS are possible. The first two routes are on the steep left bounding wall of the slabs.

REVELATION ~ 45' ~ Sev
The obvious corner-groove in the middle of the wall. Climbed with increasing difficulty but with good protection.

REQUIEM FOR LITTLE TOM ~ 45' ~ Hard Sev
Starts 10' right of Revelation and climbs the wall to a ledge. Finish direct on small holds and suspect rock.

PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE ~ 60' ~ VS
Starts well down the wall just left of the recessed area, at a point where the wall bulges out in a shallow flaky groove. Climb more or less directly to the top finishing a little left of the upper corner groove. Some loose rock, care is needed.

At the foot of the left bounding wall is an obvious recess below a large roof.

DAMNATION ~ 70' ~ VS 4c
Climb the flaky wall to the recess and turn the overhang on the right using an undercut crack. Climb the short overhanging crack above (crux) to finish up Twinkletoes.

SUGAR PLUM ~ 140' ~ VS
Starts at the lowest point of the rib left of the main slabs. Climb the centre of the rib crossing the line of Twinkletoes at the foot of a diamond shaped slab. Continue direct and surmount the overlap at the highest point of the slab (crux).

GENESIS ~ 150' ~ Mild VS
A direct line immediately right of the left bounding arete. A 120' traverse left to belay.

TWINKLETOES ~ 80' ~ Sev
The rib bounding the slab on the left is climbed fairly direct via a crack and overlap.

ROUTE ONE ~ 90' ~ V Diff
Climb the obvious line up the corner on the right, with a dirty crack on its right. The route will become both easier and better as the crack is cleaned. A harder variation can be made on the right.

FINALE ~ 140' ~ HVS 5c
Start above highest point of large rock on shoreline.
1/ Climb up the easy slab to a flake crack and a crack two feet above, belay.
2/ Move 8' North until below the big overlap. Climb the very thin steep slab to the big overlap. Climb the overlap to the top. Belay in gorse bush.

TROUBLE AVOIDED ~ 110' ~ Sev
Start at the lowest point of the slab, climb direct to meet Double Trouble at 40'. Continue for a few feet then follow a diagonal crack left to easy ground. 150' of rope is needed.

DOUBLE TROUBLE ~ 140' ~ VS 4c
From the right side of the slab an overlap runs across to the top left of the crag. Start just before this and climb up and left to a large cleaned ledge below a corner. Pull out left and climb almost up the edge of the slab to meet the overlap left of a gorse bush. Traverse left to finish.

THE BUNYIP ~ 130' ~ HVS 4b 5a
At the Northern end of the slabs low down there is a large yellowish overlap, left of this is an inverted "V" shaped overlap. Start below this, climb up and through to a large V-shaped overlap, belay on North facing wall.

The slabs about 50 yards North of the rib contain a large double overhang towards the right edge.

SANDWICH ~ 80' ~ Hard VS 5a
Climb directly up to the first overhang and cross this at an obvious crack. Traverse left into a corner and finish awkwardly to a piton belay above.

Further North above the rocky beach is another group of small, but good buttresses.

OAK TREE BUTTRESS

These crags lie in a stand of small oak trees about 400 yards North of the slabs. The easiest access is from the main road by the farm on the right. Cross two fields and descent through a cluster of trees. Lower down on the right as you descend is Acorn Buttress which gives the following routes.

ACORN CHIMNEY ~ 25' ~ V Diff
The stepped-chimney in the centre of the crag. Loose blocks at the top, but with care it can be used as a descent.

IVY CRACK ~ 25' ~ Sev
Climb the obvious groove at the right end to a small roof, which is crossed on the left.

CORNFLAKE ~ 25' ~ Hard VS 5a
The wall just to the left.

FLAKE OUT ~ 25' ~ Hard VS 5b
Start a few feet further left, and just right of the chimney. Climb steeply onto an obvious flake ledge, then finish up the crackline above.

MEMOIRS OF A LANDSCAPE GARDENER ~ 40' ~ Hard VS
In the main buttress is a fine V groove. Hard to enter and still extremely dirty even after extensive excavations.

On the shore just above high-water mark and immediately below Oak Tree Buttress are a number of short problems.

SQUARE CUT ~ 20' ~ Diff
A short shallow square-cut chimney.

STARTER FOR TEN ~ 25' ~ VS
A fine short layback crack with an awkward mantleshelf finish, on the left wall of a large block.

NO CONFERRING ~ 30' ~ Hard Sev
Just right of Starter For Ten, up a black / red groove on the front of the block. Trend right above the overhang.

OYSTER CATCHER ~ 30' ~ Sev
The black / red coloured right arete of the block.

A few hundred yards North of Oak Tree Buttress lies a huge boulder with a very prominent slanting V groove on its left edge.

BENTLY BEETHAM STRIKES AGAIN ~ 60' ~ V Diff
Climb the slanting groove to the top then walk up the hillside to finish up a short steep boulder face.

Just past the above route is the aptly named Waterfall Buttress, so far unclimbed.

SQUARE GULLY AREA

Further North again lies a wide square-cut grass gully bounded to the North by a large South facing black coloured buttress with a prominent grassy corner.

BLACKJACK ~ 120' ~ Sev
The grassy corner itself, more or less direct.

BLACK MAGIC ~ 110' ~ Hard Sev 4a
Climb the wall on the right, directly up its centre, crossing a large overhang at the top.

The next routes lie on the seaward face of the buttress, starting first at the base of a deep recess containing large boulders.

CHEWBACCA ~ 40' ~ V Diff
Climb the obvious short corner and the easier slabs above, scramble 50' to a spike belay.

DARTH VADER ~ 25' ~ Hard V Diff
To the right of Chewbacca at the foot of a clean crack crossing the overlap at its widest point. Climb to the overlap, step right and pull into the crack above to finish at a peg belay.

JEDI JUMP ~ 25' ~ V Diff
Start at the foot of the slab below the right hand corner and climb easily to the overlap. Cross this and finish up the corner above. Peg belay.

R2DETOUR ~ 25' ~ Hard V Diff
Immediately right of Darth Vader climb up to and over a bulging flake in the middle of the slab. Cross the overlap on good holds.

DROID ~ 25' ~ Hard Sev
Between R2Detour and Jedi Jump is a steep crackline. Climb this direct and cross the overlap on good holds.

JABBA ~ 25' ~ Sev
The right end of the seaward face is lower and contains a short overhanging black wall containing two thin cracks. Climb the left hand crack, difficult start.

RIGHT CRACK ~ 25' ~ Sev
Climb the right hand crack, difficult start.


All text © Manx Fell & Rock Club and Mike Caine