Tag Archives: Kellan Head

The Nearly man

7th July 2017

Kellan Head

Zugzwang – E2 5a,5b – Alt Lead

Rock-a-bye-baby – E3 6a – TR (DNF)

So after a bit of a lay-off since Mallorca Joe, Dave and I returned to the Cornish Coast for a day out at Kellan Head. The news about Bart was made all the more poignant as we walked into one of the most beautiful locations for climbing in Cornwall. How many wonderful days have we had in the past with Bart at similar places; and these memories make the circumstances of his death even more tragic. Rest in peace buddy… no one can take away the good times.

The Waterslide

Every time we go to Kellan Head the waterslide ramp is wet, but the recent dry spell has worked wonders and the start for both the HVS and Zugzwang was almost clear of damp patches. This opening sequence has always been a bit traumatic for me. There is really no protection to speak of, so I made the decision that I’d just go and clear the fractured stuff and gain the first ledge. Probably about 15ft of climbing with no pro! Surprisingly everything held together and the moves went well, so I arrived at the first ledge and placed a couple of crappy pieces of gear, before traversing left to the main ledge.

Chilled Dave

But this is just the opening 5a pitch. Entertaining, but the real action starts from here as you move up to the strange angular protrusions. While Dave was napping on the belay ledge Joe set off up some of the grippiest rock around. Gear is OK and the moves are great. The bridging traverse move is tricky, but can probably be done a number of ways. For me it was full extension and udging as high as I could get before transitioning. There is loose stuff at the top but a pre placed belay using outcrops higher up means you can set a safe belay.

Sorting a belay

Dave ‘nearly’ made it, failing on the bridge having almost done all the hard work. But it was very ‘near’. ­čÖé

Rock-a-bye-Baby is much harder though. There are two cruxes. The first overhanging section and the move onto the main face and then the second overhang, with a viciously powerful move to get established on the upper slab. Joe persevered and got it in the end. For me, I managed the bottom moves eventually (two very reachy rockover type moves. But had no chance on the upper one. Need to get into Arnie mode.


Dave ‘nearly’ made the bottom crux. Nearly….

As is often the case we saw dolphins about. The disconcerting aspect of this was watching a rib chase them around the bay. Surely this cannot be right? There must be some law against harassing them.

Oddly we bumped into another climber ‘Danny’. This must be the first time this has happened in this area. Really just co-incidence but who’d have thought this was a venue we’d met someone at.

So a really good day back on the rock. Going to come back for the hidden amphitheatre.

To HVS or not to HVS

24th May 2016

Kellan Head (Upper Buttress)

Un-Named – HVS 5a – Lead
Mach 3 – HVS 5a – Lead
Ink and Ointment – E1 – Second

The upper buttress is a brilliant evening location. Fairly easy to walk into, non tidal and relatively close to Newquay (relatively…).

The rock though is not the best and the climbs are fairly short. That said, this particular venture was perfect and we successfully got three good climbs in.

What I would say is that the climbs as a whole are over-graded. Take one technical grade off for a more realistic indication. The severity part is probably not too far off on Un-Named because of the poor rock quality, but again for the other two, they are well protected so maybe one grade lower here too.

That said, they are still worthwhile climbs. Un-Named heads up the crack and face of the main slab and although not hard, is insecure and requires care. Both the others are one move wonders, but they are good moves that require a bit of thought. Tom’s E1 was tricky to start and probably the most technical of the three, but again, once through the hard part it finished quickly. Mach 3 actually looks harder than it is. Get your body shape right and its a breeze…

I’ve nearly climbed this venue out in two visits. There are still three more routes to grab, so no doubt this will be another visit when the tides are all wrong.


On Belay! Just don’t fall off…..

17th April 2016

Kellan Head
Hidden Amphitheatre

Gambit – Severe 4a – Alt lead

Its a shout that doesnt instil massive confidence. Mind you I should have realised this was no normal belay stance Dave was on when a football sized chunk of rock went whistling by and plummeted into the sea!

Slightly wet strat to the E1.

Slightly wet strat to the E1.

This trip turned into a great adventure. We had set off to climb a couple of fairly hard routes in the E1 range but they were still a bit out of condition. Seepage meant the opening moves were a bit dicey (no pro and wet foot placements) so we left them for next week hopefully.

Kellan Head_Apr16 (4)

Instead we went exploring. The guidebook suggests an abseil into the Hidden Amphitheatre, but there also looked to be a traverse around the point. Green and slimey in some places, but not where we climbed, it was possible to get around the nose of the zawn/bay and onto the main slab.

Sitting amoungst the slime.

Sitting amoungst the slime.

Its great fun, especially when you dont have a clue whats coming. As it turned out it wa a spectacular area of rock. High and a bit intimidating, but with plenty of obvious lines. It took us a while to get out bearings and sort out the routes. Still not sure about some but we did find a massive VS which looks epic. Next time though, as we were running out of light, so we settled on the Severe called Gambit to climb out.

Top pitch Gambit

Top pitch Gambit

Probably not as straight forward as the guidebook suggests. It’s described as ‘slight’ which in comparison to the other routes it probably is. But ti shouldnt be underestimated in the context of the rock, which in places is loose and unreliable.

For the most part it follows good rock and has a couple of good sections. The start of pitch two which Dave led was great, but again not easy. Well worth Severe 4a/b and possibly higher in the severity grade because the pro is there, but will it hold?

The final hanging slab gives good exposure and lots of dodgey rock. Dave’s belay was more likely to caused a cliff collapse than hold me in a fall. Still you have to work with what you have. I think I might run a rope down from the fence posts if I know we will be topping out here next time. Safer and easier.

After Gambit

After Gambit

We finished with a stunning setting sun and the whole area glowing gold as the lichen caught the suns rays. Truly amazing, but a little cold as I only had a wind stopper. So back to the car park in what must be one of cornwalls most scenic places to climb.


14th April 2016

Kellan Head (Upper Buttress)

Big Dave’s Serpent – VS 4c – Second

This was a new venue for me and Dave. I have to be honest and say I didnt even know it was there. I’d heard of the Waterslide and Hidden Amphitheatre but not the upper buttress.

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

To be honest, the rock is not brilliant and the area is a bit green, probably through lack of traffic. It could clean up, but on some routes (Daves for example) I don’t think there is any escaping the loose rock.

Big Dave's Setpent

Big Dave’s Setpent

Dave’s VS was not technical or difficult, in fact 4c is a bit high, but it was VS if only for the top 10ft of precarious flakes. The fact I stood over to one side describes my reaction. Still, it has some good moves, but I think the E1’s and HVS further along are probably the better climbs.

The terrace

The terrace

It was raining or drizzling for much of the time we were there and we got soaked on the walk out, but its a venue that’s easy to get to and non tidal so I’m sure we’ll be back shortly. And of course its in a stunning location.

Fulmar Country

25th April 2010
Doyden Point

Caprice – VS 4c – Lead
Lotus – E1 5b – Second

Things looked bleak stood in the car park at Port Quinn sheltering under a wooden porch staring at the bay. A heavy rainstorm had come through and climbing at that point looked unlikely.


However, after meeting Nick we decided to mooch over to Doyden point and Kellan Head and scout the place out in the hope the stiff South Westerly would dry things out. Doyden point has a remote feeling to it and a strange square house built out of local stone which adds to the atmosphere. You can’t see the crag from above, but we assumed we’d found the ab point. We anticipated that the Fulmars may be nesting in the area with two of them swooping around us. The thought of Fulmar puke was not a pleasant one, but as it turned out we neednt have worried. Still waiting for things to dry we checked out Kellan Head which was also very impressive. A steep and somewhat damp area, you could see the potential.


Once things had dried Nick ab’d in only to find a tricky traverse not really explained in the guide. It’s possible, but a fall in freezing cold sea didnt seem a good idea so we moved across and dropped in around the top out point of Caprice. This was still a tricky decent , requiring a move left across the crag face and avoiding a nasty swing back around the arete.


Once on the ramp you are still very aware of the sea. My advice would be to avoid climbing in all but small swell conditions. The chance of a rogue  set catching you is all too possible.

Caprice is a stylish VS, not hard for the grade, but with a couple of tricky moves. Excellent climbing and lots of fun. The final top out of a few metres is the most worrying part, crossing very broken and precarious rock. I think it is more dangerous to place protection here than to solo it. Fall on a nut wedged in a crack here and the cliff might follow you.


Nick had his eye on Lotus so we dropped straight back down and set up in the sunshine. Lotus climbs a steep crack and then heads off to the right, crossing a very steep face and finishing up a ramp which slopes away from the cliff and down from the top. Not that I’m familiar with E1’s but the climbing seemed hard, but more importantly very exposed. Having watched Nick climb smoothly up and across, my effort was not as dignified, but I found out what all the practice at the wall was for.


I loved it. Scary, but each move seemed to lead into the next and the whole climb was very varied. Of course watching Nick snap a hold and lob off on the final move with 40 odd metres of rope out, didnt help my nerves (or his I would think). Take into account rope stretch and the distance to the nearest gear it was impresive, although I dont think thats the correct word. Luckily it was straight down with nothing below.


The rising ramp was the highlight for me. The move up was hard and I felt right out there. Luck was obviously with us this day, with the day ending in a completely different way to the start; the sun shining across the bay silouetting  the Rumps over at Pentire. Strangely quiet as well, after a day in the gusty wind.

All in all a brilliant day out and I would recommend Doyden Point as a venue. OK, on to Rock a Bye Baby…………