Penlas Rock

If you head south from Ellin’s Tower for some 500m, where the path turns right, there is a grassy hillock infront that makes a headland where the path runs out.
Scramble down the grassy slope to gain the col between the mainland and the grassy hillock. Then hike over the hillock and either scramble down the ridge or make an abseil into a steep zawn facing out to sea where most of the routes are. Or via sea level from either direction. From the North a 5a wall at low tide. From the South is easy but you are coming from Natalie Zawn which needs an abseil approach or a swim from Blacksmith’s Zawn.
Mirage VS 76m (R)
This route is approached along the traverse from the north and climbs the wall just before the tunnel route to Yellow wall and the ridge above.
1 40m. Climb straight up moving right below the overhang. Traverse left between the two overhangs then continue to broken ground and belay below the sharp arete.
2 21m. Climb the short steep wall on the right, move back left to the arete and climb the arete to belay on the ridge.
3 15m. Continue along the ridge to finish via a steep wall.
LE Holliwell, B Whybrow Jul 1971
The pinnacle in the bay is VS.
Echo Madness E6 6b 30m (R)
Climbs the overhanging crack in the seaward end of the sea arch. Non-tidal. Start at the foot of the overhanging cracks, the left hand one. Haul up to a resting ledge before climbing out along the obvious crack. Hard moves at its end lead to a painful bridge (for the short). Climb straight up and swing out left, 3 metres from the top, to a ledge and belay. An extra rope is handy to run back to a block on the other side of the arch.
Mike Turner, Chris Wentworth. 1995
Grand Plié and Twin Horn E5 5c (will clean up to E4) (R)
Go to the arch on the north side of the peninsula. 17 metres right of Echo Madness is a striated wall, facing out to sea. Climb the left hand edge of the wall with a move slightly right at half height, over a bulge (the twin horn) to eventually gain a shallow recess. Loose and interesting.
George Smith, Noel Craine 1997

Stochastic Groove VS 120 feet (R)
On the lighthouse face of the rock is an obvious groove capped by an overhang. start at the foot of the groove.
1 45 feet. Climb the curving chimney-corner on the left of the main groove to join it at a small stance.
2 75 feet. Follow the groove direct to the big overhang and exit on the left. Scramble to the top.
IG McNaught-Davies, A Alvarez, G Clarke 16 Oct 1966
Serendipity VS (R) 180 feet (R)
A direct version of the previous route.
1 45 feet. Climb the groove direct.
2 80 feet. Follow Stochastic Groove to the overhang. Make a delicate traverse to the right under the overhang, following the obvious line of quartz, to the arete and belay.
3 55 feet. Climb the arete, trending left through the overhangs to easy ground.
C Bonington, M Thompson 4 June 1967

Cherish The Jug 60m E2 5b (R)
The short overhanging groove 6 metres right of the arête has a difficult move left past a bulge at the top. Continue up easier but rather loose ground, belaying as necessary, to the summit.
G. Smith, C. Waddy, T. Loxton (on-sight) 1999

Staggered 60m E3 5b (R)
2 metres right of Cherish the Jug, climb an open groove to a large spike. Step right into diagonal breaks then forge a line up and left through the overhang to join Cherish the Jug on the easier ground. Continue up this.
Andy Cave, Sean Myles, Greg Rimmer, Adam Wainwright (on-sight) 2000

Polymastia Traverse E5 (R)
1 15m 5b. Start as for The Callipygian Groove but continue directly left of the iguano flake to take a hanging belay at the start of the upper diagonal left to right traverse line.
2 35m 6a. Follow the jugs on the diagonal traverse line to re-join The Callipygian Groove below the crux and climb this to gain the belay. A nice rack, cams and extra mams useful.
3 10m. The Callipygian Groove p3.
Jack Geldard and Adam Wainwright Sep 2007
The Callipygian Groove E6 (R)
A good but serious climb taking the zig zag groove line above the centre of the sea arch.
1 10m. Gain the Iguano flake easily.
2 40m. 6a. Climb steeply rightwards up fins in the groove above the ledge to a niche. Follow the groove leftwards past a peg to a resting ledge. Continue up the groove above and wall to its right, past a block to a difficult pull onto the vegetated slab above. Go up and left to ledges and a belay.
3 10m. Follow a line of least resistance to the top and belay well back.
Adam Wainwright. George Smith (on-sight) 27 Sep 1996
Callipygian means possessor of fine buttocks
Tonton’s Macoute E6 (R)
An excellent outing, steep, strenuous and well protected following diagonal bands rightwards over the centre of the arch. Take many camming devices.
1 10m. Gain the Iguano flake belay.
2 20m. 6a/b Follow breaks and ledges easily into the zawn for 3 metres to reach diagonal breaks leading rightwards out over the apex of the zawn. Follow these breaks, steep and sandy, passing an in-situ Hex 11, to commence battle with fins leading to a resting niche. Move rightwards onto ledges and easier ground.
15m. Escape off rightwards.
Adam Wainwright, James McHaffie. (ground-up) 23 Sep 2003
Rock of Ages E7 6b (R)
This wonderful route climbs the stunning roof crack splitting the zawn itself. Start on the left wall of the zawn 8m out from the back of the sea cave. Climb quartz jugs and flakes towards the top of the cave until one can bridge the walls of the zawn. Bridge and jam outwards with great difficulty onto a huge hanging fang. Bar along this into the crack beyond, follow this to easier ground eventually reaching the Iguano flake belay. By far the best route in the western world.
George Smith (ground-up) Aug 1997
George Smith on Rock of Ages. Photo Ray Wood from OTE magazine
Pre-Cambrian Wrestler E7 6b 23m (R)
An unlikely looking scenario through the roofs right of the sea cave. Around French 7c/7c+. Start opposite Rock of Ages on slabs to the right of the zawn. Swing onto jugs from the slab and ascend steeply to huge blocks. Hand traverse these leftwards into a shallow niche and poor rest. Wildly climb outwards along the left side of the ship’s keel on a quartz vein to the lip of the roof. Surmount this into breaks in the wall above and rightwards to a disappointing rest, below a small brown roof. Pull over this to reach belay ledges at the top of Tontons Macoute. Escape off rightwards.
George Smith (ground-up) 1996
Penlas Rock - Gogarth
Jack Geldard on Pre-Cambrian Wrestler. Photo copyright Dave Pickford

Plimsoll Line VS 130 feet (R)
Start from the highest leftward ledge at the southern end of the channel between the rock and the promontory.
1 30 feet. From the keft hand end of the ledge, climb the steep chimney-groove to a platform.
2 60 feet. Follow the rightward slanting gangway and move left to belay under an overhang.
3 40 feet. Traverse left to the second little chimney, climb it and turn the final bulge on the right.
H Drasdo, N Drasdo, K Carr 30 March 1967

The following routes are on the mainland part of the cliff south of Penlas Rock.

Nonentity VS (R)
2 pitches starting halfway down the gully.
D Durkan, D Williams 27 July 1967
Moonshine VS (R)
2 pitches starting as for Nonentity then taking the wall to the left.
D Durkan, D Williams 2 Aug 1967
Triffid Groove VS (R) 60m
2 pitches up the obvious corner in the slabby wall on the other side of the zawn south of the col of Penlas Rock.
R Conway, CT Jones (AL) Mar 1968

Red Cracks VS (R) 60m
2 pitches up the red wall 100 yards south of Penlas Rock.
R Conway, CT Jones Mar 1968

Rock Climbing Information for North Wales