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Rock Climbing in the Isle of Man
Pistol Castle

 

The following area is a little complex to describe in the absence of a diagram. The crags are best approached from the Old Castletown road, along the Balnahow track to the disused rifle range (parking close by). From here walk down to the lowest corner of the shooting field to assess the situation.

Looking North a line of crags can be seen, which increase in height from right to left until the base of the crag reaches sea level at a point out of sight. This is the start of Ricochet. Further right, high on the face is a huge overhung left facing black corner. Below this, hidden from view, is a complementary right facing corner (Moody Groove), which can be reached by an abseil almost down the seaward bounding right edge of the crag. From this bounding arete the crag turns North out of sight, forming the wall of Magic Roundabout.

Just below ones vantage point a bracken covered spur juts out into the bay. From this, looking South it is possible to see an area of large easy angled slabs. These are reached from the South end, down a gully just past the Southern flag-pole, and can be climbed anywhere at V Diff to Severe. Routes are up to 300' long, belays scarce.

PISTOL CASTLE SLABS AREA

PURE FRICTION ~ 295'
Diff Start on the Pistol Castle slabs, just right of the scree above the high-water mark.
1/80' Climb a groove on the left of a yellow slab, over three overlaps, then traverse left to the edge of the slab with a thin crack. Piton belay.
2/80' Traverse right on a good crack, then up a grassy groove until opposite a small detached block. Piton belay
3/135' A short traverse left over a detached block leads to a corner. Up this on small holds, then slightly left to grass. Piton belay below the headwall. Traverse left high on the slabs for about 80' to finish.

TRIGGER ~ 310' ~ V Diff
1/100' Start just left of a short easy angled buttress lying against the slabs, and climb the corner crack and the crack above, then move left to a piton belay.
2/90' Move back right onto cleaner slabs and up to obvious overlaps. Surmount the first , round the second on the left, then move back right over the overhang and belay up and left.
3/70' Up to the large overhang, then under this to the left until it is possible to step back right to a belay.
4/50' Zigzag up the steeper wall above, avoiding loose rock.

TRAJECTORY ~ 400' ~ Sev
Starts from the extreme right hand end of the slabs. Climb trending left at first and second overlaps. traverse left at third overlap to join main slab. Continue up slightly left to the foot of headwall. Traverse left in two pitches to the gully.

CENTREPOINT ~ 300' ~ Sev
An eliminate line direct up the middle to the head wall. Traverse 90' left to finish in gully.

FISKETALLR WALL AREA

The wall is best reached from the bracken covered spur that juts out into the bay. Scramble down on the North side of this and cross the pebbly beach to reach the start of Ricochet just a foot above high water mark.

RICOCHET ~ 290' ~ VS 4c
The route roughly follows the line of the arete, threading its way around several overhangs. A serious route, less so now that the belay before pitch 4 has been bolted.
1/80' Climb an obvious ramp left to a corner and stance.
2/60' Climb up the corner for a few feet, then move delicately left round the arete and up to beneath an overhang.
3/60' Climb to the overhang, then step left on the lip of the overhang and continue up a bulge to a stance in the corner under the overhang. Bolt belay.
4/90' Climb up to the right, then finish carefully up to the top wall. poor protection.

The next route lies almost on the far seaward arete of the wall and is reached by abseil down the slabby side of the arete.

MOODY GROOVE ~ 150' ~ Hard Sev 4a
From ledges at the bottom of the abseil, climb up and left into a white corner, then follow this with increasing difficulty to the top. A finishing pitch can be made up the loose slabby walls above and left.

Just North is a most impressive sea cliff, which can be reached from the North end down a steep ramp, with a through cave at the bottom. The cliff contains a large sea level cave, and a very distinctive triangular niche at mid height.

MAGIC ROUNDABOUT ~ 140' ~ E2 5b 5a ~ (T)
1/70' From the bottom of the descent ramp make a wide bridge over the watery chasm to large ledges. Climb easily left, then right, onto a large square ledge above the chasm and below the steeply overhanging right edge of the crag. Use a piton aid to become established on the next ledge, then hand traverse right and pull up onto an easy groove, and climb this to a roof. Hand traverse left round the arete onto the main face. Good belays but poor stance in the quartz bands just below the triangular niche. Great care is needed with rope-work to avoid restrictive drag.
2/70' Climb into the niche and left onto the face, then up to ledges above the niche. Traverse delicately left and step down awkwardly onto sloping ledges below a slim corner, and finish up this. Very poor protection.

BHOKASSA ~ 70' ~ Hard VS 5a
The route follows the line of the prominent steeply overhanging black groove in the buttress high on the hillside, above and right of the Magic Roundabout Wall. The line cannot be seen from the South but is very prominent when viewed from the North. Some rather bad rock still remains and care is needed.

From the access ramp to Magic Roundabout it is possible to traverse around at low tide or walk through a tunnel to reach the crags just to the North. Once reached they can be traversed safely at any stage of the tide and a relatively easy way off is available, right at the North end. Two routes have been done, one new and one long forgotten.

FORGOTTEN CHIMNEY ~ 100' ~ Severe
From the North end of the tunnel traverse onto barnacle covered rocks and across a few feet until an obvious chimney groove line breaks through the overhang. Climb this direct.

WALKING THE PLANK ~ 50' ~ HVS
Several yards further North is a very large flattish rock ledge bounded on the right by a very steep wall containing a huge overhanging sloping corner, and on the left by a series of hanging corners, cracks and grooves. Climb the whitish coloured corner where the two bounding walls meet. The left wall appears to be an easy slab, but appearances are deceptive. The holds all slope alarmingly and protection is poor. A feeling of insecurity prevails but the climbing is good. Finish on a large ledge and traverse left around the corner to find a way off.


All text © Manx Fell & Rock Club and Mike Caine