Climbs 170
Rocktype Granite
Altitude 18m a.s.l
Faces S

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Sam Percival and Daisy Peters taking advantage of perfect weather and tides on Pegasus (HS) at The Bulging Wall, Chair Ladder. © James Mann

Crag features

Chair Ladder is one of the UK's premier destinations for multi-pitch sea-cliff climbs. The rock, style of climbing and stupendous location are all unbeatable. All the climbs are worthwhile, and the harder routes are rarely busy. Perhaps the cliff's only flaw is that is can be a frustrating place to climb during high seas or when the tides are not convenient, although the non-tidal crags of Carn Barra and Porthgwarra Buttress are not too far away.

Chair Ladder is very exposed to the elements and big seas. Great care is needed when traversing the base of the cliff. The rock dries quickly and the cliff gets plenty of sun, although the Bulging Wall section of the cliff stays in the shade longer than the other buttresses. Seagulls can pose problems during the nesting season.

Approach notes

From the car park in Porthwarra, take the road to the right, up the hill and through a gate. At the first left bend, carry on up the hill on the road to the coastguard lookout, which is directly above the highest section of Chair Ladder. On a first visit, the location of the three main descents (Zawn Rinny, Ash Can Gully and Pinnacle Gully) to the base of the cliff are not immediately obvious, and it is worth taking time to check which gully is which. When standing facing out to sea from the coastguard lookout, the top of Ash Can Gully is 20m to the left, whilst the top of Pinnacle Gully is about 70m to the left. Zawn Rinny is around 150m to the right.

For 3 hours either side of low water, the base of Chair Ladder is easily traversed (in calm seas) however, each descent has its own merits in accessing the various buttresses.

Access Advice

The crag is south facing for the most part and quick drying, especially with a bit of sea breeze. However, it's worth bearing in mind that traversing along the platform at the base of the crag (needed to get to most routes) can be exciting in anything other than calm seas. The traverse is generally accessible 3 hours either side of high tide for most of the crag and the base of Terrier's Tooth and Bishop's Buttress for slightly longer, although these times are significantly reduced during neap tides. During high tides or when big seas are running, it is also possible to abseil in to the upper pitches of several routes.

Seasonal Restrictions

Dates: 15 March to 30 June

Reason: Nesting Birds

The restriction applies to all routes on Bishop's Buttress - from Lacertion to The Mitre inclusive (route 82, page 153 to route 14, page 159 in the 2017 Climber's Club guidebook).

Routes within Zawn Rinny (Consolation Climb to Shark Alley) are also restricted during the same period, but the Zawn Rinny descent for the western end of Chair Ladder is fine to use. 

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