To the north of Snowdonia is the island of Anglesey, and situated on the western tip are the sea cliffs of Gogarth close to Holyhead. These huge sea cliffs provide an unparalleled range of adventurous traditional multi-pitch climbing, in a beautiful and atmospheric location.
The climbing at Gogarth is a series of complex quartzite sea cliffs situated around the North and South Stack lighthouses, Rhoscolyn, plus some outcrop climbing on Holyhead Mountain. Gogarth is famed for its consistently wild and occasionally serious routes, and it is definitely suited the more experienced climber. Many of the routes are tidal, the approaches are often serious, and loose rock can be encountered. However there are plenty of classic routes to do across the grades from VS right up to E8/9.
The Map opposite shows the main rock climbing areas of Gogarth that are briefly described below:
The Upper Tier does not have any tidal issue associated with many of the crags at Gogarth but the approach adds to the spice of the place. A sketchy approach down the descent gully and across the steep hillside requires care and can be intimidating. There are plenty of classic routes from VS to E2, such as Bezel (VS 5a), Avenue (E1 5c), and Fail Safe (E2 5b).
The Main Cliff is a huge expanse of white and brown quartzite rock criss-crossed by numerous multi-pitch routes that again are accessed via an intimidating descent path. The vast majority of the routes are in the mid-grades from HVS to the mid E-grades, and include classics such as Gogarth (E1 5b), Fifth Avenue (E1 5c), and The Assassin (E3 5c) to name but a few.
Wen Zawn is a dramatic and grand location and is home to one of Gogarth’s most famous routes, A Dream of White Horses (HVS 5a). This route sweeps up and across the vast white slab, before the final pitch traverses above the huge archway. Here there are a full range of grades from HVS to many routes in the E7 to E8 category.
Castel Helen on the South Stack area is the least intimidating Gogarth cliff that is accessed by a quick abseil. This coupled with a good selection of mid-grade routes make Castel Helen a popular crag with Blanco (HVS 5a) high on people’s tick list.
Mousetrap and Red Wall areas offer more adventurous places to climb with many fantastic routes. Here there are bands of soft sandy rock mingled between greater expanses of harder rock that create a unique atmosphere. To climb here you need to be a confident and competent E-grade climber with the classic route being Mousetrap (E2 5b).
Away from the sea cliffs the only place to climb is Holyhead Mountain, which is more like an outcrop with its single pitch routes. The classic route here is King Bee Crack (HVS 5a) that splits the centre of the highest part of the cliff.
Best time to visit Gogarth? Most of the Gogarth cliffs face either west or face and are therefore good suntraps. This means it is possible to climb here throughout the year and is often dry when the mountains of Snowdonia are wet. Dampness can occur during the mornings or when the tide is high.
Which rock climbing guidebooks for Gogarth? Gogarth North is the definitive guidebook for Holyhead Mountain and the North Stack down to the Upper Tier crag area. Gogarth South is the definitive guidebook covering Mousetrap Zawn, Red Wall, Castell Helen and Yellow Wall. North Wales Rock covers a selection of routes across all of Gogarth. Buy these guidebooks from our shop.
Buy rock climbing guidebooks for Gogarth from our shop.
Gogarth North is the definitive guidebook for Holyhead Mountain and the North Stack down to the Upper Tier crag area.
Gogarth South is the definitive guidebook for the Mousetrap area down the coast to Rhoscolyn.
Buy these guidebooks from our shop.