An ideal single pitch venue for beginners! Not! Despite its easy access, single pitch nature this wall has far too many ‘chop’ routes for its own good. Whilst there are a couple of amicable lines that won’t kill you, there are some real frightners with marginal gear and sustained friable climbing. The Cad, The Bells! The Bells! and a lot more besides.
John Redhead’s ascent of The Bells!… in 1980 was the first E7 in the country. The cave also hosts breeding seals for about a month after the autumn equinox in late September. Well worth a visit to view from the clifftop but please do not go into the zawn at this time, you would disturb them, they may bite you.
The cave under North Stack is called Parliament House Cave on account of the great concourse of nesting seabirds “making a disagreeable gabbling noise, as if in some mighty debate concerning their civil policy, the better regulation of their fishery, or of some other affair of moment. It has been observed by some wit or other, that the cormorants represent the bishops, the peregrine falcons the lords, the razorbills the commons, and the gulls the people”.
Peter Crew, 1969
North Stack Wall
The Randy Rhinog HXS
Goes up to the right of the escape route at Parliament House Cave. There’s very good wires to start a hard slab move and then several bits of metal to clip as it gets overhanging, theres an ice axe blade, some ice hooks, a peg, I can’t remember, you need a few friends, there’s a section of hands, there’s a little hard move just before the end, its a very interesting climb. Its very steep but it doesn’t grossly overhang, the rock isn’t great but it isn’t so bad that it stops you wanting to do it. I left the ****** bits in, because I thought the route would be lost, the blobs of rust might indicate to an old hand that some one went up there!
Wall of Horrors E3 5b
The wall left of the cave entrance is serious territory. Start below the arete which descends from the left side of the lip of the cave. Climb the arete rightwards onto the face. Continue to a small ledge (peg gone) and move up into the yellowish groove above (peg only useful as a way marker). Step right and climb the wall until moves back left over the top of the groove lead to the large flake crack. Climb the groove to exit leftwards to the upper slab. Ascend leftwards over this to a niche then move left on flakes and finish up the loose groove at the top as for The Whip.
C Phillips, N Horne (4 points aid) 2 May 1970. FFA P Whillance, D Armstrong 27 Aug 1978.
. . . ..
Birth Trauma E6/7 6b
Apparently, “the obsessions are: flaccid penis, excrement, anxiety and birth trauma”. This worryingly fragile line is much tougher than it appears and the peg is now in a bad state. Climb up and right to the loose flakes and arrange some good gear before a long reach (or dyno!) to the break and possible cam placements. Make a desperate series of moves (yes, this is the crux) to get established over the overlap and clip the rotten peg. Another sustained sequence of moves lead up the thin crack in a very bold position to improving holds and some welcome gear. Continue upwards more easily breaking out leftwards to a thin crackline up a steep wall via another peg to gain the slab of Wall of Horrors, finish up the wall above.
John Redhead and Andy Pollitt, 27/5/84.
The Whip E1 5a 44m
The long groove to the left of Birth Trauma is a dangerous route, friable and bold. Start at the sloping platform at the foot of the groove. Climb the groove on friable holds and increasingly poor protection, avoiding a loose block near the top on the right.
D.K.Scott, B.Palmer May 1968.
Headbutt 40m E6 6a
An uninspiring and dangerous pitch on dubious rock. Start a couple of metres left of The Whip. Climb up leftwards to a peg at 10 metres and pass this before stepping left after 3 metres. Ascend the open scoop (poor peg) to the shattered roof. Climb through this leftwards and finish on creaking holds.
Nick Dixon and Craig Smith, 18 July 1986.
Tom’s Shredded Slippers 40m E4/5 6a
A bold undertaking. Start beneath the slim groove right of Green Gilbert. Climb the groove and thin crack to a junction with Headbutt. Traverse left into Green Gilbert and finish up this.
John Redhead, Bobby Drury, M Boater, 18 July 1986.
Green Gilbert E1 5a *
Not the horror show you might expect! Only slightly friable rock, quite a lot of average runners and fairly decent climbing! Follow the obvious flake crack just right of Blue Peter to the top of the crag.
M.Boater, S.Johnson, R.Perry, 1970.
Art Groupie E6 6a **
Follow Blue Peter to where it moves left. From this point a hidden hold provides the key to gaining the wall above, climb this trending rightwards slightly to a hands off ledge and small wires (from here it is possible to escape up Green Gilbert) . Move back up leftwards following the obvious line up the wall to a junction with Blue Peter, finish up this. Andy Pollitt and John Redhead, 27 May 1984. Second ascent Mark McGowan and Duncan Bond, May 1988.
Blue Peter E4 5c 30m
Gains and climbs the open groove bounding the RHS of the main wall. Feels bold but rock quality and protection are adequate. Start left of the flake crack of the Green Gilbert and right of the groove of Sarah Greene below an overhang. Surmount the overhang and trend left to gain the open groove/crack.
P Whillance and D Armstrong, 2 Sep 1978.
Sarah Greene E4 5c 30m
The obvious direct start to the groove of Blue Peter.
Dirty Derek Hersey and A.Haynes, 1983.
A Wreath of Deadly Nightshade 30m E7 6b ***
Fantastic climbing with adequate protection on the steep right arete of the wall. Follow the Sarah Green Start to Blue Peter to the junction with the latter and arrange protection. Follow an obvious series of overlaps out leftwards passing some small wires until it is possible to pull around onto the edge of the wall. A small wire runner and a foothold provide some respite before tricky moves lead straight up past a break to easier ground on the traverse of The Bells, The Bells. The wall above is climbed with more tricky moves past a crucial small wire placement and continues with sustained climbing to the top.
Andy Pollitt and Adrian Hughes 20/5/88. Second ascent by Paul Pritchard, 30/9/88.
Flower of Evil E6 6b 30m
The original line up the right arete of the wall. Serious and largely superceded by the more direct version of Wreath. Follow Sarah Green and Blue Peter beyond the Wreath exit for a few metres to where a horizontal line leads leftwards to the arete (Stroke of the Fiend). Gain the arete and move up to gain the upper traverse of The Bells. Step left and climb the wall above (same as Wreath) past a crucial small wire.
John Redhead, Dave Towse, May 1986. Second ascent Andy Pollitt, 9/Aug/1987.
The Angleman E7
1. 25m 6b. Start as for Wreath. Climb this until at the small wire runner at the top of the steep groove. Reverse Stroke of the Fiend directly leftwards to arrive at the peg on The Bells at head height. Climb the crux of this until level with the old bolt scar on The Cad gain this and belay.
2. 20m 6a. A rising traverse left from the old bolt scar on The Cad until you arrive at a hard move into The Long Run to finish.
Dave Towse, John Redhead, July 1988.
Used The Cad bolt plus abseil rope to belay and therefore the current description appears to be defunct. Maybe could be re-climbed using The Cad flake plus abseil rope back up to belay? This would be more serious than the original method.
The Clown E7 6b 40m ***
A counter diagonal to The Bells, The Bells
. Has it’s fair share of hard climbing which is often difficult to read. Where it’s not so hard it’s either bold or serious. Another magnificent epic outing on this criss-crossed wall. Start left of the obvious open groove of Sarah Greene
below the biggest overlaps. Climb up a left facing flake to the first overlap and protection which requires extending to prevent rope drag later. Tricky moves over this lead to the second overlap (small wire out right). Surmount this to achieve a good rest near the right arête of the wall (junction with The Bells, The Bells
). Forage along leftwards in a rising diagonal traverse aiming for the prominent flake of The Cad
. There is serious groundfall potential on this section. Lace the flake with protection (small thread in the top leftmost section). Follow the dwindling left hand continuation of the flake until it peters out in a pink area of wall (RP runner). Difficult moves (crux) through the small overlaps above lead to easier ground which takes you to a junction with The Long Run
at the horizontal break. Finish up this.
John Redhead, Dave Towse, John Sylvester, 25 April 1984. Second ascent Andy Pollitt, 8/Jan/1987.
One of the top 5 E7s in the country according to James McHaffie in this UKC article
The crucial section of North Stack with George Ullrich on-sighting The Clown. Photo Dave Gill. The crux sections of The Clown, The Cad, The Bells/Hollow Man, bolt scar and peg are all visible in this pic.
The Hollow Man 30m E8 6b ***
Brilliant but heart-stopping climbing up the magnificent wall between the lines ofThe Cad and A Wreath of Deadly Nightshade. Essentially a direct version of The Bells, The Bells. Start as for The Clown beneath overlaps left of the groove of Sarah Greene. Follow The Clown through the overlaps to a good resting position near the right arete of the wall (junction with The Bells, The Bells). Continue up The Bells, The Bells past the peg runner (crux) and continue to easier ground where the The Bells, The Bells goes right. Move up and left to a good pocket and crucial small cam placement. Continue directly to the top.
Andy Pollitt and Johnny Dawes, 2 Oct 1986. Second ascent John Redhead. Third ascent by Mike Owen 17/6/90. Fourth ascent by Twid. Ground-up ascent by Neil Dickson 2000s.
The Bells! The Bells! 40m E7 6b **
The first E7 in the UK climbs the wall right of The Cad after starting up that route. Very serious. Follow The Cad up the initial shallow groove to surmount the small overlap and gain a reasonable spike runner in the wall above. Traverse horizontally right on the lip of the overlap to a good resting position near the right arete of the wall (junction with The Hollow Man). In the wall above are 2 peg runners in a vertical crack , this is what you are aiming for. Climb the wall with difficulty (crux). The pegs are much easier to clip if there is a sling on them. If there is no sling then they cannot be clipped until after the crux. Continue up the slightly easier wall above until a rightwards traverse can be made to a no-hands rest on a ledge on the arete. The crack/groove in the arete leads in a very serious position to a sloping ledge and then the top with much relief.
John Redhead and Chris Shorter, 30 June 1980. The first E7 in the UK. Second ascent on-sight by Andy Pollitt, 22/7/1986. Third ascent by Mike Owen 9/June/90.
John Redhead on The Bells, The Bells. Photo David Jones from Rock Climbing in Britain.
The Cad 35m E6 6a ***
About F6c….can’t be that hard, can it? This super-classic is worthy of it’s reputation. Start at the centre of the wall, 15m left of Blue Peter. Climb the shallow groove and surmount the small overlap to a reasonable flake runner. If you’re feeling immortal, The Bells… heads off rightwards here. Climb carefully up the wall trending slightly rightwards towards a prominent undercling-flake. Gear and sometimes an in-situ thread. The flake flexes very slightly but has held falls. Move up right past the remains of a bolt (which can still be looped with a small wire) to a foot ledge. Go straight up the wall above (crux) to a deceptive break, easier ground and a pat on your back from your second. Life feels good again.
Ron Fawcett, Chris Gibb 17 Sep 1978 (2 bolt runners and 1 peg). Ron named the route ironically because me and Jim (Moran) climbed the line on a top rope but thought it was too pushy. Ron then placed two protection bolts, nobody else in the UK had the authority to do that in those days (Al Evans). Second ascent by Pete Whillance, 1978, eliminating one bolt runner. Third ascent by John Redhead, 1978, eliminating the peg runner.First bolt-free ascent by Nick Dixon, 1987. Nick did not remove the bolt until he had done the route without clipping it. I still have the original hanger. Soloed by the late Jimmy Jewell in 1987.
Ron Fawcett on The Cad. Photo from Welsh Rock
The Cad Direct Start E6 6b
Start between The Cad and The Clown and climb over the lap to gain the parent route.
John Redhead Nov 1988.
The Long Run 35m E5 6a***
Fine climbing. Has more gear than The Cad although nothing in the crucial middle section is completely convincing. Start as for The Cad, moving left before the flake runner to gain the right hand end of an overlap (small cams). Climb the wall above trending slightly leftwards initially then straight up on sometimes friable rock until the angle eases and a horizontal break with excellent gear is gained. Traverse right 3m then go up and diagonally back left.
Pete Whillance, R Parker and D Armstrong 30 Sep 1979.
The Long Run Direct 30m E6 6b ***
A direct start and finish to this amazing route. Start directly below the vague line of the parent route. Climb directly up and over the overlap to join the parent route. Continue up this to the horizontal break where The Long Run goes right. Get some good runners in then blast straight up the seam above which continues to tax until your hand is on the top of the cliff. Pull over with relief.
Dave Towse, John Redhead, Nov 1988. The 1988 Climbers Club Journal names this route Light Haulage.
Stroke of the Fiend E7
Used The Cad bolt plus abseil rope to belay and therefore the description on p231 of the Ground Up guide appears to be defunct. Maybe could be re-climbed using The Cad flake plus abseil rope back up to belay? This would be more serious than the original method.
Dave Towse, John Redhead (AL), Martin Crook 28 May 1986.
South Sea Bubble 30m E3 **
An unbalanced but nevertheless worthwhile pitch, which follows the prominent crackline after a worrying start. Climb the short wall to a small right facing corner, line sling. Gear can be arranged further right, but it might not protect the crux rockover the roof to get established on the wall above and reach the sanctuary of the crack. Delightful and well protected climbing up the flake crack leads to a narrow ledge. Contemplate a tricky boulder problem up the wall above, or scurry off left!
Jim Moran, Simon Horrox, Al Evans, Geoff Milburn, 30 July 1978.
The Demons of Bosch 30m E7 6b
Ascends the wall between South Sea Bubble and Nice n’ Sleazy.
John Redhead, Dave Towse (1 bolt, famously unclipped by the demons during the ascent), 11 June 1984. Second and bolt free ascent by Andy Pollitt and Paul Williams, 12 Aug 1988.
Nice n’ Sleazy 30m E1 5a
Pleasant climbing up the crackline 7m left of South Sea Bubble. A good introduction to the wall. Start beneath the crack and climb easily to where the crack steepens. Warily follow the crackline until it finally closes, move left to a big flake and easy ground.
Al Evans, Geoff Milburn, Jim Moran. 30 July 1978.
Talking Heads 30m E2 5b
The obvious crackline through thr RHS of the big roof. Start 2m left of Nice’n Sleazy (low tide, or abseil to a hanging belay).Traverse left just above the sea until direct beneath an obvious overhang. Climb the wall and a crack easily to a bulge. Move up right to the overhang. Awkwardly gain good holds above and continue to stand on them. Move left to the final crack and follow this more easily.
Jim Moran, G Milburn, Al Evans, S Horrox, 30 July 1978.
Pulling For Two 30m E6 6b
This route is less strenuous if you are good with your foetus.Climb Talking Heads to the roof a long reach left gains a strenous pull up over a roof via an obvious crack. Peg up left. Traverse left on the quartzy vein and follow the quartz vein and holds to join the finish of Live at the Witch Trials.
Mike Twid Turner and Louise Thomas, 6 June 2005 (Louise was 6 months pregnant!).
Live at the Witch Trials E6 6b 30m
A direct eliminate through the roof between Talking Heads and Not Fade Away. Possibly less serious at high tide (according to the first ascentionist). Start up Talking Heads beyond where Not Fade Away exits. Step left and climb directly to the LHS of the roof. Cross this and continue up the steep Cad-ish wall above to a horizontal break. Step right and finish up the short crack.
Crispin Waddy Sep 1988.
Not Fade Away E5 6a 30m
Climbs the wall between Talking Heads and the lower square cut roof to the left. Start as for Talking Heads then continue diagonally leftwards to gain the arete above the square cut roof. Continue directly (peg) via flake cracks in the wall.
Jim Moran, Geoff Milburn 28 Oct 1978.
Penelope Undercling E5 6b 30m
A direct start to Not Fade Away. Sea-level traverse to beneath the overhangs, belay in the groove. Up the groove towards the square cut roof until it is possible to make desperate moves up and rightwards (in-situ RP4 on first ascent) to join the parent route.
Martin Crook, Dave Kendall 4 Aug 1987.
Le Bon Sauveur E3 5c 30m
Right hand exit from the big roof capped groove.
John Redhead, Keith Robertson Aug 1984.
Sincerely El Cohen E3 5c 30m
Left hand exit from the big roof capped groove.
Martin Crook, Freda Lowe 15 Aug 1986.
The Wrath of Deadly Lampshades E5 6a/b 30m
The obvious cracks left of Le Bon Sauveur, are hard for 17m then more easily lead up the left hand side of the large overhang.
Alister Hopkins, George Smith, May 1991.
End Game VS 4c 30m
The left hand arete of North Stack Wall
Andy Newton, J Peart 1982.
Pawn HS 4b 25m
The chimney and crack left of End Game.
Nigel and Barbara Jones May 1990.
Bank Holiday Bypass VS 4c 25m
Climbs the chimney/groove to the right (looking out to sea) of End Game. Bridge up the chimney until it is possible to pull onto the slabby wall on the left, then climb the wall and groove to the top.
Nigel and Barbara Jones May 1990. Rediscovered as by Drug Buddy by Pete Greening, 5/12/95.
Rickety Fence Route HXS 5c/6a 25m
Exact location unclear, maybe near the rickety fence?
Glenda Huxter, Howard Jones 1998.
The Jigs Up E5 6a 25m
Start as for Rickety Fence Route at a hanging belay on the arête. Move up the groove in the arête to holds below the first bulge. These lead leftwards onto the overhanging face. Climb a fragile flake to a rest at its top, then sprint straight up to the top.
Glenda Huxter, Howard Jones 1998.