The Bluff View Guide to Climbing on Cayman Brac
April 2013 edition
This guide is offered to you free of charge and I hope it serves you well. I would like feedback whenever you discover an error, omission or get horribly lost trying to find a climb. Feedback on grades and quality ratings are greatly appreciated. I have tried to make the grades consistent but you know how that goes. What I desire most is that you are able to find the climb you’re looking for and then have the right gear with you. You can contact me at email@example.com.
There are a total of 70 named routes on the island from 5.6 to 5.13, with the bulk being tens, elevens and twelves. The rock is mostly clean pocketed limestone but the Spot Bay Sector is also rich in stalactites and flowstone.
I’ve used a four-star rating system to give visiting climbers a rough idea of a route’s quality. As always, take difficulty ratings with a grain of sea-salt. One day conditions will be crisp and a route will feel easy at its given grade; another day, if it’s receiving sea-spray, the route may feel “smarmy” and hard.
In general it’s best to climb directly over the bolts, or very near them, even when it looks easier to the side (it’s usually not). Don’t dive head-first into caves along the route: cave floors are often fine silt, a sticky dry lubricant. Climb on the outside edges.
There is no climbing shop on the island, so bring everything you’ll want. All routes are fully bolted so you don’t need to bring traditional climbing gear.
You’ll need a rap rope and a lead rope to climb at the Point. Rap ropes are usually available in the shed at Bluff View but check with me first. Leaving your old rope for others to use is appreciated and leaves room in your baggage for souvenirs.
The longest route requires 19 quickdraws. Six to eight shoulder-length slings with biners will be useful. Ascending devices (prussik, Tibloc, Ropeman) must be taken on all routes at the Point.
Due to hard starts and bad landings, a stick-clip is recommended for many of the routes! If you’re staying at Bluff View, a painter’s pole with a standard thread is available so you can just bring the “head”. If you are staying elsewhere bring tape, since there’s almost always a tree branch at the base of the routes and you can tape a quickdraw to the branch.
When you get back home, wash all your gear (rope, harness, quickdraws, Gri-gri, etc.) in fresh water to get the salt off.
Other Important Gear
I strongly recommend sturdy hiking boots and a pair of leather gloves to protect your feet and hands for the approaches and while belaying. There are all manners of cactus, yucca, thorns and sharp rock, and lots of vines waiting to trip you and end your climbing trip with a lacerated hand or foot.
Don’t be dismayed by the sharp quality of the rock you are walking on, the rock you’ll climb on is much friendlier. Bring a foam pad to sit on to change shoes, have a bite to eat, admire the sunset, etc.
Wear a sun-hat that has a brim all the way around (not a ball cap), sunscreen, and always climb in the shade.
As you probably know, the original stainless steel bolts are seriously corroded and no longer safe. It is pretty much certain you will be seriously injured or killed if you trust any of the old bolts. I’M NOT KIDDING! If you break off an old bolt or hanger with your fingers (not that unusual) you can take it home for a souvenir.
The Titanium bolts we are now using were developed specifically for the harsh environment on Cayman Brac and are now being used in many other places around the world. After 14 years the titanium bolts show absolutely NO signs of corrosion, have been fallen on many times and will provide safe climbing for centuries to come.
A Ti in the route description means the route has titanium bolts and is safe to climb. For clarity, the old steel routes are not included in this guide except for historical or location reasons.
If you lower off the middle of a climb do not leave anything on the bolts! Steel “quick-links” rust shut in days and carabiners last a few weeks before the gates can’t be opened. These can only be removed with a hacksaw! All titanium bolts can be directly threaded with the rope so you can lower off without leaving anything, just like you do when threading the anchor. You can easily thread two sequential bolts in the middle of a route for redundancy without going off belay.
The guide is organized starting at Love Shack and progresses counter-clockwise around the island. Routes over land are listed in the order you approach them looking at the rock. Routes requiring rappel access are referenced right-to-left, while looking towards the ocean.
LOVE SHACK WALL
Located on the South Side Road, 2.7miles (4.3km) east of the Ashton Reid Road (a.k.a. the Bluff Road), it is easily identifiable from the road by its left angling crack. It’s a three-minute walk from Bluff View. Shade about 3pm in March, noon by mid-May . Steep, white, clean, pocketed rock. Routes are listed left to right. A stick-clip is recommended.
**Parrot Trooper Ti, 12c/d 4 bolts + anchor, stick clip. A hard boulder problem start (finger size dependent) leads to a rest and tough technical finish. LG
*** Throwin’ the Hoola Girl Ti, 12a 7 bolts + anchor. A Houdini route, the moves are never quite what they seem. If it looks hard, it’s easy, and vice versa. JE
*Bric-a-Brac Crack Ti, 12b 6 bolts + anchor. Shares last bolt & anchor with Hoola Girl. The left diagonaling seam. Use pockets at the start and cross the crack near the finish. LG & JE
***Cayman Daze Ti, 13b 6? bolts + anchor. Unblemished, marble-like stone. Climb small, technical holds to 11+ exit moves. Open project. VW
***Cayman Nights Ti, 12c 6 bolts + anchor. Powerful dynamic moves on perfect rock. MS
About 35m east of Love Shack, or a two minute walk west of Bluff View, is a stellar panel of marble-like white stone. It has a conspicuous round cave at the top with a tree growing out of it (photo). Shade about 3pm in March, 2pm in April. A cairn marks the start of the trail which snakes through the vegetation and between two boulders to avoid the evil velcro bushes. A stick clip is highly recommended.
**Betelgeuse Ti, 9+ 7 bolts + anchor. (a.k.a Not so Sirius) Stem, bridge and mantel up the obvious dihedral until some airy moves allow you to join Sirius for the last two clips. Venturing into the black rock on the left will get you a taste of Orion’s sword. Best route of its grade. JB 2011
***Sirius Ti, 12a 6 bolts + anchor. Start from either side and power up big pockets for two bolts then crank continuous thin moves to a Thank-God pocket. JB 2011
***Canopus Ti, 11a 6 bolts + anchor. This jewel of a route starts at the blocky dihedral on the right side of the wall. JB 2011
THE ORANGE CAVE
Park at the East end of the South Side Road where there’s a sign for The Great Cave. Hike about 4 minutes further east along the iron shore until you’re opposite the Orange Cave (cairn), then hike up to the base; maybe 10 minutes total. Shade about 2pm in March. When the wind is strong, sea spray can make the holds slippery like wet soap. If the wind dies, the next day it can be dry and crisp. Routes listed left to right. A stick clip is recommended.
**Chum Buckets Ti, 10b 5 bolts + anchor. The left-most route. Big moves on big holds (that suddenly appear right where you want them) lead to thoughtful climbing on the headwall. The very first route on the Brac. SH
CAUTION: When lowering and cleaning, or top roping Goin’ to Cayman or Orange Fantasea, be very aware that rope-stretch may cause a swinging climber to crash into the boulders at the cave mouth! Clean the bottom bolt by clipping directly into the bolt above. Stand up to belay and keep the rope tight!
**Goin’ to Cayman with a Snorkel in My Jeans Ti, 10d 5 bolts + anchor. Gymnastic climbing up the left side of the cave leads to a devious headwall. One look should convince you to stick-clip the first bolt. CL
**Orange Fantasea Ti, 11a 7 bolts + anchor (shares anchor w/ Snorkel). Start inside the cave on the right. Powerful pulls lead to a bizarre rest. Pull the lip while the cameras click. Use double-draws on the third and fourth bolts to avoid rope drag. CL
**L’ Orangerie Ti, 8d 5 bolts + anchor. After a difficult crux to get past the first bolt, style your way to the anchors. SH
*Boy Georange Ti, 8 5 bolts + anchor. Was that a Karma Chameleon? Stick clip #1. Better than it looks with the crux at the last move. JB & VW 2011
** Lord Slime Ti, 7+ 4 bolts + anchor. Lots of options until the steep finish. Don’t be fooled, even though it looks blank, climb directly over the last bolt. JB & VW 2011
The Ology Sector
The following routes are 200′ (60m) East of the Orange Cave at a low roof.
***Ick! Theology! (I’d Rather Study Cod) Ti, 10b 9 bolts + anchor. After piling cheater stones as high as your conscience allows, boulder past a bolt, pass a small cave, then haul steep jugs to the top. EH/SB/AP 2000
**Nameology Ti, 10c. 8 bolts + anchor. A much harder boulder problem start than Ick! makes stick clipping #2 a smart move. The climbing above is really fun. A double-draw in the cave will prevent rope drag and cross-loading the biner. MS & JB 2011
Orange Streak Sector
*Brac Snack Ti, 6 3 bolts + anchor. Too short but sweet. SH
*Orange Streak Ti, 7 6 bolts + anchor. Climb cool pockets and edges, then lay back, avoiding the hideous loose block on top of the dihedral. Unknown
*Shark Bait Ti, 9. 5 bolts + anchor. No longer as sharp as it was. Climb moderate fun rock to a big crux move right at the end. Unknown
***Fake Left, Move Right Ti, 10d. 7 bolts + anchor. Starts just left of the cave. Juke, bob and weave your way up white rock with hidden pockets. Spicy, so have an alert belayer! JB 2012
THE WAVE WALL
The Wave Wall is another 15 minutes of walking past the Orange Cave and offers a wide variety of high quality routes. Unfortunately, it is only approachable during calm seas. Boots and gloves recommended for this approach. Goes into the shade about 2pm in March. Since carrying a stick on this approach is difficult, the first bolt will be reachable from a good stance.
Hike east to First Cay which has a sharp, pointy top (photo). Pass above it, then below a pinnacle that looks like a seahorse. Here is the test: if you can’t pass below the seahorse, even by timing your crossing between waves, then you won’t be able to cross the sloping shingle beyond either.
Once past the seahorse pinnacle scramble through a boulder field at mid-height and come to a section of sloping rock with the overhanging wall on the left and the water on the right (photo). Even moderate waves can make this section extremely dangerous! Do a 3rd class (sometimes 5th class!) traverse to the last large shelf (~100m). Routes listed left to right.
**The Huckster Ti, 12b/c 6 bolts + anchor + belay bolt. The first route you come to starts below an obvious cave. Big dynamic moves between pockets, may be harder for shorties. Hucking amazing! JA 2013
***Pirates of Piss Ants Ti, 12d. 6 bolts + anchor. Powerful, continuous pockets on a very steep shield of rock. LG
****Conched Out Ti, 10d. 7 bolts + anchor. After deciphering the starting moves (climb directly over the bolt), pull through beautiful Caymanite bands and crystal grape-clusters in a small cave. Shares the last bolt and anchor with Frolickin’ Frigates. LG
***Frolickin’ Frigates Ti, 10c. 8 bolts + anchor. Climb up to a ledge, and then crank directly over the bolt on the finger of rock (or worm your way around it). Now race the pump to the anchors. LG
Recognize the next two climbs by the vertical, white rock which leads into a shallow alcove, then up to a long dark roof, and then over this to a vertical headwall. You need a 60m rope to lower from the top anchors, although you can lower/rap twice by using the Ray’s Gar and Krill anchor with a 50m.
**Reef on This! Ti, 10d. 13 bolts + anchor. Pick a hold, any hold…until the finish. Shares the anchor with Parrot Preserves. LG
****Parrot Preserves on Rye Ti, 10d. 11 bolts + anchor. Climb moderate rock to the overhang, crank that and find the technical crux above. LG
*Jumbo Shrimp Ti, 10c. 2 bolts + anchor. A short extension to Reef on This and Parrot Preserves which will get you to the top of the bluff and within 15 minutes of the Spiral Staircase area. Combine with either route for one long, four-star pitch. A 60m rope will just barely get you down (tie a knot in the end) or rap twice using the Ray’s Gar and Krill anchor. EH
**Ray’s Gar and Krill Ti, 8. 3-4 bolts + anchor. Climb either Reef on This or Parrot Preserves to a two-bolt anchor below the big overhang. EH
(For several decades a life-sized statue of a black pirate graced the departure lounge at the Grand Cayman airport. Next to him was a story-board titled “The Legend of Big Black Dick” in large print. Unfortunately, American Political Correctness has crossed the sea and we have lost his grinning visage, and a good chuckle, but his legend will live on!)
****The Legend of Big Black Dick Ti, 11a. 12 bolts + anchor. Start on featured vertical rock, negotiate the slab, then power up the pockets. Don’t be strikin’ ye colors before the anchors on the overhanging arete. JB 2012
****Unsuspecting Remora Ti, 12a 10 bolts + anchor. Climb pockets up a black and white streaked face (watch out for shark-bite!) to a rest. Steep jugs left of the cave lead to a devious, difficult finish. Take a doubled draw for the first bolt on the headwall. EH
***Shooting the Curl Ti, 10a 8 bolts + anchor. Immediate crux, then overhanging buckets to a large cave. Experience the exposed finish by climbing out of the cave to the right. Take a long sling for the bolt in the cave. SH
**Hang Ten Ti, 10d. 9 bolts + anchor. A difficult start leads to a good rest. Use it; it’s pumpy the rest of the way to a difficult blind finish! Shares the anchor with New Wave. SH
***New Wave Ti, 10b. 8 bolts + anchor. After a stiff start, jug-haul into a small cave. Climb out the roof of the cave (look down here!) to another crux at the final bolts. JE
***Old School Ti, 8 7 bolts + anchor + belay bolts. Steep and fun. If you’re not on a bucket, you’re off route. JE
ADVENTURE CLIMBING AT THE POINT
Read this TWICE before climbing a route at the Point!
Climbing at the Point and Edd’s Place is an amazing and unique experience. However, it can turn into a serious situation should anything go wrong. Remember that unless there are some other climbers around, no one else on the island can rescue you but you! Always carry ascenders (prussik, Tiblock, Ropeman) on all routes!
Often the wind and the sea breaking on the cliff make it impossible to hear each other while climbing. Establish rope signals (see below) or make other arrangements to communicate with your partner before rappelling over the edge
The rappels present unusual challenges for many climbers, especially since most of them overhang and you will be rappelling on a single rope. I suggest you use the following time-tested procedures.
First of all, evaluate the surf conditions before rappelling. Be sure your targeted belay stance isn’t being hit by big waves or wind-driven spray. If the belay looks wet it often means it’s been hit by a big wave within the hour and will be again! You might choose another route or a different area for the day.
Setting up the rappel (abseil)
Slide a piece (or two) of garden hose (in the shed at Bluff View) over one end of your rappel rope and then anchor it to a tree or thread on the top of the bluff. Then tie a figure-8 on a bight with enough slack for the knot to hang about 2′ below the bolt anchor that’s over the edge of the cliff. Use a locking biner on your belay loop to clip into this knot and you’ll be protected while you down-climb to the anchor.
Slide the hose into position to protect the rope from any sharp edges and/or stuff some other padding under it. Don’t throw the rope yet.
Down-climb to the anchor and clip two quickdraws to the bolts. Now clip directly into the bolts using two runners girth-hitched to your harness (not on your belay loop). Leaving about 10′ of slack between knots, tie another 8-on-a-bight. Clip this knot to the quickdraws in the anchor. Move your runners down, one at a time, to the bottom biners on the quickdraws; this gives you enough slack to get on rappel. Now you’ll be hanging from the quickdraws and you can unclip from the safety knot.
Now clip the free end of the rappel rope to the back of your harness to keep it out of the sea. Now you can toss the rope and get on rappel in the normal way. The slack you left between knots allows your partner to pull up the safety knot, clip it, and down-climb to the anchors while you’re rappelling.
Depending on your rap device, you may want to add friction to the system. Add a second biner for ATC-like devices.
The first person to rappel takes the quickdraws and lead rope in a bag; a bucket-type rope bag is best. As this person descends, they must clip the rap line into enough of the bolts to stay in contact with the cliff! If they don’t they may find themselves hanging 10′ from the wall and 30′ above the water!
When the first person gets to the belay anchors, they clip-in using the slings girth-hitched to their harness. Then unclip the rap-line from the back of your harness and clip it into the anchor too. The second person unclips the rap rope from the draws as they descend and may end up hanging over the sea. The first person then pulls them into the belay.
NEVER use a long (e.g. 70m) rope, do a double-rope rappel and pull it down to use for leading. Having a fixed rope is essential for self-rescue (prussik, Tibloc, Ropeman) if for any reason you should not be able to climb the route. Usually there are rappel ropes you can use in the shed at Bluff View, so you only need bring a lead rope.
One of the most common mistakes is for both climbers to rap down and then discover they left the lead-rope on top of the cliff! To combat this, we’ve developed the “one-two-three” check before starting the rappel:
- Am I safe? Double check your rap setup, anchors and harness.
- Am I taking everything I want? Such as the lead rope, draws, ascenders, camera and chalk bag.
- Am I leaving everything I don’t want? Such as sunglasses and hat (you’re rapping into the shade). I stuff my hat and glasses into a convenient hole so I can put it on while belaying my second and not get sunburned.
After the leader reaches the top of the climb, they should belay from the anchors below the rim to avoid running the lead rope over any sharp edges. Since it’s often difficult to hear each other, the leader can pull up the rap rope to signal ”Off Belay”. Afterwards, I use 3-tugs for ”On Belay” and a 2-tug response for ”Climbing.”
Finding the routes
A T in the route description indicates the route area has been Tagged with a yellow marker at the top of the cliff to help you orient yourself. These are often tucked into pockets or depressions to keep them out of the elements. Nonetheless, each year a few tags deteriorate and disappear. I replace them regularly, but I apologize if one is missing. (All verified or replaced March 2013) I tie them on with white clothesline, which never blows away.
At the Point and Edd’s Place the bolt count is designated as: 2/10/2, meaning there is a 2 bolt belay at the bottom, 10 bolts on the route and 2 bolts at the top. Always take an extra draw or two.
Brown Boobie Birds
The Brown Boobie is a rare, protected species that climbers must be considerate of. They nest on top of the Bluff and on ledges alone or in small groups. One year they will be nested in one area and the next year somewhere else.
If you find a nest (a sitting adult, eggs or fledgling) please keep your distance. They are quite tolerant so if you get prepared away from the nest, then move slowly to the anchors, they’ll usually squawk at you but not flush. You don’t want to flush the parent leaving the egg/young unprotected for a long time. If the parent flushes, they will usually return immediately if you move away and/or get on rappel over the edge. Obviously, you don’t want to walk through the nest. Use good judgement.
EDD’S PLACE (aka The East Bluff)
Although there are only two routes at this writing, they are worth the walk. Boots and gloves for this approach. Make the walk only if the sea is fairly calm on the east side or you’ll be wasting your time. The walk is difficult, but in general staying within 50ft of the cliff edge is the easiest. Follow the path of least resistance.
(See Also the description of Jumbo Shrimp at Wave Wall for an alternative approach to Edd’s Place.)
You will pass three square, concrete “DOS” markers along the cliff edge. These often have a red-painted marker. Don’t worry if you miss one. There are also several rock cairns on the edge along the way.
See description for the Northeast Point (below) for directions to the Lighthouse. From the Lighthouse walk to the cliff edge and then turn to the right. After 20 minutes of non-stop hiking you will be in an area with no large vegetation near the cliff edge, hopefully near DOS #154. Look over the edge of the cliff to the right. You should be able to see huge boulders in the ocean farther right, and an obvious large buttress beyond that. Spiral Staircase is just past that buttress, so you are about halfway there. After another 20 minutes or so, the vegetation suddenly gets really thick with cactus and rhododendrons, forcing you away from the cliff edge. Angle to the right into the thick vegetation for about 150-200’, then angle left towards the cliff edge, following the path of least resistance.
If you’re lucky, you will find the cairn and yellow tag at the top of Spiral Staircase, which is the right-most route. If you’re not so lucky, look over the edge at the water near the cliff for a “deadman”; a rocky piece of coral that broaches the surface in between waves. This deadman is right below Limestone Pirate. Shade about 2pm in mid-February, earlier otherwise. Total approach is .7 miles and can take anywhere from 40-60 minutes.
****Spiral Staircase Ti, T, 10a. 2/12/2 The farthest right route. One of the island’s best tens with an outstanding lower belay position! Shares lower belay with Limestone Pirate. Pre-clip the first bolt while still on rappel to prevent a factor-two fall onto the belay. Smooth pocketed rock leads to a cave. Climb back out and ascend the spiral staircase, or crank straight over the bolt (mid-5.10). Check out the window into the cave at ceiling level.
****Limestone Pirate Ti, 11a. 2/12/2. Steep and excellent! Fun moves with a couple of interesting reaches. Shares Staircase lower belay. Top anchor bolts are hard to find from above, just under a small overhang. Pre-clip the first bolt while still on rappel to prevent a factor-two fall onto the anchor. JE
Jumpin’; 11d/12a. 2/10/2 Surprise holds; obvious big move at beautiful Caymanite shelf. Might as well jump! JY
THE NORTHEAST POINT
Drive down the Lighthouse (Major Donald) Road about 6 miles (10km) to the east end of the island and park at the lighthouse. Follow the obvious trail to the left. Boots and gloves highly recommended for these approaches! Routes listed right to left as you look towards the water. Look for tortugas and dolphins while you belay! Shade almost all day in winter, starts to get sun at the top in late-March. By May there’s shade on most routes by 3pm.
About 100m from the Lighthouse car park there is a cairn next to the trail. From this first cairn, look straight out towards the edge to see some large bushes with a few palm trees.
*What’s the Point? Ti, T, 5.9 2/13/2. From the first cairn angle hard right to the very NE Point of the island. A little run out if 9 is your limit and sharp at the top, but an impressive position. Anchors a bit over the edge on a slab. Beware the waves! One day a wave broke OVER my belayer, like a surfer in the tube, and left her scared but dry! GB
****Freedom Ti, T, 12c 2/17/2. About 25’ left of What’s the Point. Anchors are just below the left side of a large block. Three 5.12 cruxes: technical, mono pulling and a roof. LG & JE
****Throwin’ the Tortuga Ti, 11b 2/11/2. 5’ left of Freedom; anchors are next to a diagonaling crack that splits the cliff edge. Shares bottom belay with Freedom. Beautiful huecos filled with globular crystals lead to an airy, orange arête. Then up a steep flake system and over a bulge to a final technical crux. Rock & Ice #69 cover photo! JE
***A Porcupine Named Fluffy Ti, 11c. 2/12/2. 20′ left of Tortuga look for the anchor bolts just above a small reddish ledge with a small bush. A steep wild start leads to a devious technical crux. The first bolt will prevent a factor two fall onto the belay. Clip this with a long runner or back-clean it after clipping the next one to reduce rope drag. Shares top and bottom anchors with Renegade.
****Renegade Ti, 11d/12a. 2/14/2. Shares top and bottom anchors with Fluffy. Cast off to climber’s right while on rappel and follow the bolts down. Amazing steep start, a rest, then technical cruxes in the headwall.
**The Devil Wears Flippers Ti, T, 11a 2/16/2. 40’ left of Fluffy around a bush. Anchors are drilled straight down in a pothole at the cliff edge. Girth-hitch these with long slings to prevent cross-loading your biners. Long, sustained, steep; don’t give up…hidden buckets just when you need em’! Trends left, then right; take a long sling for the left-most clip. CL
***Spermy the Whale Ti, 11c/d 2/14/2. 5’ left of Devil. Shares The Devil Wears Flippers lower anchor. Nifty long diagonal huecos above the low crux. Technical and sustained. JE
Approach the next climb by staying on the trail and walking past the first cairn about 20m to a second cairn; or about 120m from the car park. Now head towards the edge and slightly right to a palm that’s on the edge of the bluff. This avoids scary bushwhacking on the cliff edge.
***Shiver Me Timbers Ti, 10b 2/13/2 Located in the first big dihedral with a convenient palm tree anchor. One of the best “tens” on the island and a good choice for your first Point route. Belay ledge high off the water. SH
Approach the following four routes by staying on the trail for about 75m past the second cairn until you find two more cairns. Walk between the cairns on a faint trail that angles left to a rocky area. Then angle right following the path of least resistance to a narrow break in the brush. This will put you a few feet right of Blackbeard’s Revenge. These routes are a good choice for rough seas as the belay ledges are about 8m above the water!
**Blackbeard’s Revenge Ti, T, C, 10b 2/9/2 Find the top anchor bolts just below a flat shelf in a square-cut alcove. Shares Walking the Plank bottom belay, so you can do both routes without moving the rap rope. Interesting line with fun moves on duos, edges, and side-pulls. SH
***Walking the Plank Ti, 10c. 2/12/2 Top anchor is 8’ left of Blackbeard’s. Bottom belay is to the left when rappelling. Find the hidden pocket and pull over the first bulge; now grab the handle! More amazing holds in the black & orange dihedral lead to the blind crux. SH
**No Problem, Mon Ti, C, 10a. 2/9/2 Top anchors in a big white dihedral about 20′ left of Plank. Perfect belay ledge is to your left on rappel. Go right and up an arete/bulge to photogenic moves on the white arete. Make a pretty step-across to the belay. SH
To find the Wall of the Early Morning Flight follow the trail approximately 125m past the No Problem Mon double cairns to another cairn. Angle slightly right to a lone bush near the edge. There’s also a square, red-painted, concrete “DOS” survey marker about 5m to the left of the routes.
**Holy Huecos Batwo-mon Ti, 5.10c 2/14/2 Look for the anchors down low, on the left side of large, ugly “V” cleft. Remember Charybdis, the terrifying whirlpool in the Odyssey? This route will make you feel like a Greek hero if the seas are rough. A hook-shaped rock protrusion creates a whirlpool effect and rouge waves can inundate the belay! More than one person has gone through the wash cycle and it’s never on “Delicate”. After rapping to the first set of double bolts, look for wet rock below you and examine the surf for a few minutes before committing. You can belay from the higher set of anchors, so you miss the lower crux, but it’s still 10c. LG
***Spine-less Ti, T, 11d 2/15/2 Top anchor bolts are just right of the large bush, on the right side of a triangular ledge, just below a 4-inch overlap. Shares both the Holy Huecos bottom anchor and the Chicken anchor at the top. Travel up incredibly smooth, steep hueco-ed rock. Enter a rest cavern with optional thread. Straight up and out to an incredible tricky thin crispy finish. LG
****Chicken of the Sea Ti, T, 12a 2/10/2 Shares Spine-less top anchors. Exposed and sustained! Follow the big holds past the last bolt for a true “photo finish” or head straight for the anchor. Terrific drama on the high seas! Don’t forget to look around at the stunning view, most airy! JE
***Hot Tuna Ti, 12a 2/8/2 Top anchors easily seen 6 feet left from Chicken anchors. Bottom anchors in a cave. Follow smooth, steep, white rock. LG
*Beach Fire Ti, C, 10c 0/7/2/6/2 (2 pitches) 165’ past Tuna, rap a chimney system past a nasty ledge to a unique and very isolated rock “beach” (great position, calm seas only!). Climb back out in two pitches, starting with a left arching crack-like system. The first pitch (crux) is excellent; unfortunately the second is mostly just pointy. EH, SRB
Mud Falcon Ti, 5.11b Top-rope variation to Beach Fire. Thread the intermediate anchors on your way down (they’re in a shallow groove off to the left as you face the wall), and top-rope the steep straight-in crack system. VW
Park at the east end of the North Side road in the Spot Bay turnaround. Follow the trail east and then walk the Long Beach toward the big pointed rock in the sea and the micro-island “Little Cayman Brac”. If the water’s calm, stay close to the water when entering the boulder area. Otherwise, you can scramble at mid-height, aiming for the steep white face.
The routes face due north (early morning shade) and in winter can take a long time to dry after being hit with sea spray, so it can be very smarmy. By March, April and May the wall is baked dry by the late-day sun and you may find it crisp the next morning. About 20-25 minutes from the car; gloves & boots.
***Calypso Ti, 11c 7 bolts + anchor. Several cruxes and a throw will sweep you off your feet. LG
**Booby Eggs for Breakfast Ti, 11a 10 bolts + anchor. Follow the crack to the cave, and then switch gears (shift down for more power!) for the rest of the way. Tape your right index finger between the first and second knuckle (middle flanges)! LG
****The Poseidon Adventure Ti, 12a 10 bolts + anchor. Several people have called this the best 12a they’ve ever done! Steep and wild. LG
***The Tempest Ti, 13-ish, 11 bolts + anchor. Bolted a dozen years ago, this route has never seen a free ascent to my knowledge. Shares Poseidon top anchors. Two hard, powerful cruxes getting past big bulges. Open project, don’t leave biners on the bolts! Rebolted 2012. LG
Conch-U-Brine; 12?. 8 bolts, 2 ring bolt anchor. LG
SPOT BAY SECTOR
Take the North Road to Spot Bay. The Creek and Spot Bay Junior School is a few hundred yards past the “25″ speed limit sign. Park in the school lot.
Free hanging stalactites break! Over the years many of the amazing stalactites have been broken off by climbers unfamiliar with this type of hold. This significantly changes the character and grade, as well as diminishing the enjoyment of the climb. If you undercling-pinch a stalactite at its base (top) or pull straight down, it’ll stay there. However, if you grab it at the bottom end and pull out, or knee-bar behind it, it’ll probably hurt you and then hit your belayer!
Flowstone features which look like a stalactite that’s glued on the wall for its entire length, are quite solid and have taken a lot of use from a lot of climbers; don’t worry about these.
From the school parking lot walk east on the road 30 seconds to Neptune’s Way and the Variety Store. Follow Neptune’s Way, staying on the right near the chicken coops, to reach the wall. Alternatively, walk east from Iguana, 2 minutes. (Note: the last house on the left is owned by Mr. Ernie, who asks that you knock and let him know (if he’s there) that you will be climbing behind his house. Please respect his request.)
Go right behind the boulder to find:
*Hand Me The Can of Tuna, Boy Ti, v6 4 bolts + anchor. A very tall boulder problem. Open project. Mandatory stick clip. Crank like a disease to the lip then dance to the anchor. JA 2013
****Full Metal Jackfish Ti, 12b 12 bolts + anchor + belay bolt. Mandatory stick clip. A hard boulder problem (V4) leads to excellent pocket climbing on the beautiful orange wall above. Don’t feel bad about just pulling up to bolt #1 and continuing from there for a three-star 11c. The belay bolt holds the rope out of the way for the boulder problem. Unclip it when the climber gets to #2 and you can walk out and see him for the rest of the route. JA 2013
From Dixon’s Wall (see below) stay relatively close to the wall on a rough trail. Cross a trashy ugly area, climb “up & over” twice past some easy scrambling and a crux cactus to reach the Iguana wall. About 5 minutes. An easier 2 minute walk from Pinky’s Buttress. Only one route at this time, but it’s excellent.
****Iguana without a G Ti, 12a 9 bolts + anchor. Starts just right of an obvious rock shelf at the bottom of the wall. Mandatory stick clip. Powerful dynamic moves between great holds. JB 2013
This wall is world-class. You’ll notice lots of quality stars and it’s no exaggeration. North facing with large trees at the base, it’s shady almost all day. Access to the cliff is through the Dixon’s back yards. Please ask permission (always granted) and chat a bit; the Dixons are all incredibly friendly. Try not to swear loudly if it’s not your day, your voice will carry to the school across the road.
The green and white house with white picket fence opposite the school belongs to Mr. Hindenberg “Berg” Dixon. The house just left belongs to his son, Mr. Peter. Walk up to either front door and knock to get permission. Don’t be shy, they really like climbers!
Berg’s dog, sarcastically named Hitler, looks scary but is the biggest cream puff you’ll ever encounter. Given a chance he might lick you to death. It’s traditional to call out “Hi, Hitler!” when you see him.
Pass between the two houses, duck under the clothes lines and head straight back along a faint trail behind Berg’s house. Don’t wander too far right; there’s an old barbed-wire fence hiding in the weeds. Routes described from left to right when facing the cliff.
*Wait! Wait! Stop the bus! Ti, 11a 8 bolts + anchor. (Overheard as the school bus pulled away.) The left-most route about 3′ left of Bussy’s. Start on difficult small pockets. Techy balance moves will get you past the dihedral and into the overhanging pockets. SK 2013
****Lizzard the Gizzard Ti, 11d 10 bolts + anchor. Stick-clip the first bolt and climb straight up, or climb in from the left. Fun pocket pulling leads to several powerful sequences through the overhang. This route has spit off many a good climber. JE & LG ( Jeff Elison bolted this on lead!)
****Dixon’s Delight Ti, 11b 10 bolts + anchor. The warmup route starts at a small arching roof with an orange flat hold below it. Several rest positions allow you to warm up slowly. Climb straight over the 4th bolt on hidden pockets. At the top of the vertical section, decipher the moves into overhanging territory; beware sucker holds. JE & LG
****Hindenberg’s Harmonica Ti, 12b 12 bolts + anchor. The great pockets suddenly give out making bolt #5 hard to clip. Find your way through the thin sequential crux and finish on steep tufas and flowstone. MS 2011
****Out of Africa Ti, 11d 10 bolts + anchor. One of my favorites, this route has everything. Climb up the grey elephant trunks, decipher the blank-looking mid-section (use the mono) then finish on steep flowstone features. JE
****Buffalo Soldier Ti, 12a 11 bolts + anchor. Starts just right of Africa on a buffalo nose. Crimp, pinch and pocket your way to a good rest then launch into the powerful, pinchy, pumpy crux moves. Be gentle with the large stalactite on this route! You can undercling at its base, but don’t crank on the end of it. JE
**Captain Kirk’s First Voyage Ti, 10c 8 bolts + anchor. About 15′ right of Buffalo. Mandatory Stick Clip. Reach the first hold off of stacked blocks then link discontinuous tufas to the anchor. JA & JB 2013
****Boom Ti, 12a 9 bolts + anchor. About 15′ right of Kirk’s. Mandatory Stick Clip. Start off the boulder or as many stacked blocks as you need to reach the starting holds. Jump onto the wall and follow a spectacular line of tufas through the bulge. Brilliant! Please don’t break the small stalactite at the bulge. There’s a perfect pistol-grip pinch at its base (top) so there’s no need to grab the end of it. JB 2013
Routes Established by:
- George Bracksiek GB 1995
- Jeff “Mort” Elison JE 1995,1996,1997
- Lizz Grenard LG 1995,1996,1997
- Skip Harper SH 1994,1995,1996,1997
- Craig Luebben CL 1995
- Dave Newton DN 1996
- Jonny Woodward JW 1996
- John Young JY 1997
- Susan Bolton SB 1998
- Al Pacifico AP 1998
- Eric Hirst EH 1998, 2000, 2001
- Vance White VW 2000, 2011
- Simone Brisson SRB 2001
- Mike Snyder MS 2011
- John Byrnes JB 2011, 2012, 2013
- Sam Kabota SK 2013
- Jeff Achey JA 2013