There are two crags on Lion's Head, one is Granite and the other is Sandstone. The sandstone climbing is on the concentric rings of rock at the top of the mountain (the Lion's Head part), while the granite climbing is on the huge Huguenot Slab, a short distance above the houses of Fresnaye/Bantry Bay and facing the sea and Robben Island.
There are some single pitch sport routes on the granite, but mostly they are multi-pitch trad routes. Climbing on the sandstone is all trad, with a mix of single pitch and multi-pitch routes, depending on the bands, ledges, vegetation and rock quality. The walk-in to the granite is about 15 minutes and to the sandstone about 25 minutes.
A Climber's Guide to Lion's Head, David Mercer, 2008.
Drive up Kloof Nek Road from Cape Town centre. At the intersection at the top where you can turn left to Table Mountain or continue down to Camp's Bay, take a right turn onto the Lion's Head/Signal Hill Road. Drive up the steep road. After about a kilometre the road flattens and you come to the first big parking area that also has a wooden guard house. This is the parking area if you want to climb on the sandstone crags. You will notice a steep dirt track with a boom heading up the mountain. This is it.
To get to the Granite continue driving along the road until you come up the small Muslim Kramat. This is a little white building with a domed roof. Park in this area. From this spot walk towards the Atlantic Ocean then turn left so you're walking towards Lion's Head but heading a little seawards (south-west). You will be on a good path, when you walk past the wood and concrete bench, look to the right for a small path which traverses across (aim for the Bluegum trees) to reach the Granite.
Food and accommodation
Nothing there mate.
Some of the sport routes on the granite require a 60 meter rope.
Lion's Head Granite
Drive up Kloof Nek Road from Cape Town centre. At the intersection at the top where you can turn left to Table Mountain or continue down to Camps Bay, take a right turn onto the Lion's Head/Signal Hill Road. Drive up the steep road. After about a kilometre the road flattens and you come to the first big parking area that also has a wooden guard house.
To get to the Granite continue driving along the road for another kilometre or so until you come up the small Muslim Kramat. This is a little white building with a domed roof. Park in this area. From this spot walk towards the Atlantic Ocean then turn left so you're walking towards Lion's Head but heading a little seawards. You will be on a good path. When you walk past the wood and concrete bench, look to the right for a small path which traverses across (aim for the Bluegum trees) to reach the Granite. The walk-in takes about 15 minutes.
Some of the sport routes require a 60 metre rope. Always put a knot in the end of the rope; a visiting Scottish climber died because he failed to do this. There are both sport and trad routes at the granite. The really good routes are trad.
- Silhouette Crack /14 Natural
- Millions /19 Natural
- Huguenot Crag /18 Natural
- Tea Trolley Crack /17 Natural
- Scratch /17 Natural
- De Bruin Damage /19 Natural
- Heart of Darkness 6c/23 7B
- Free at Last 6c+/24 7B
- Jono Fisher's Project 5+/18 8B
- Return of the Edi 6c/23 8B
- Raincheck 15 R/X (N)
Climb the face exactly between the hand crack of Huguenot Wall and the thin crack of the Huguenot Wall variation, directly to the bolted stance.
(I am sure this pitch has probably been top-roped from the anchor before but not recorded as a 'lead' route that I am aware of.)
Listed for sake of completion, there is no pro.
R.Halsey (solo) Aug 2010
- Itch Factor 19R (N)
The blunt arete between Tea-Trolley Crack and Daylight Robbery.
Start in the gulley near a small tree and scramble up over blocks. Follow a short right-tending crack that ends in a bulge. Delicately balance left and up into the next crack, which leads up to a large flake. Continue straight up arete and easy runout to stance on small platform (medium cams). Scramble to top.
FA: R.Halsey 4/10/2010
- White Knuckle Wafer 19R (N)
Start a few meters right of Knuckleduster. Scramble up and delicately climb the right side of the fragile flake to an undercling. Traverse ~1m left (psychological micro nuts possible) and then straight up face to top. A fall just before topping out would be very serious.
FA: R.Halsey 13/10/2010
Located below the Circular walking route overlooking the Clifton beaches
- On Cord 16 (N)
A fun link-up that starts up the chimney on the Northern side of the boulder. At the rail (about half height), make a scenic traverse towards Camps Bay until you reach the edge of the enormous flake. Straight up this and friction slab to the old anchor (home made hangers).
R. Halsey 29/3/2011
Lion's Head Sandstone
The sandstone climbing is on the concentric rings of rock at the top of the mountain (the Lion's Head part).
Climbing on the sandstone is all trad, with a mix of single pitch and multi-pitch routes, depending on the bands, ledges, vegetation and rock quality. The walk-in is about 25 minutes.
Drive up Kloof Nek Road from Cape Town centre. At the intersection at the top where you can turn left to Table Mountain or continue down to Camps Bay. Take a right turn onto the Lion's Head/Signal Hill Road. Drive up the steep road. After about a kilometre the road flattens and you come to the first big parking area that also has a wooden guard house. This is the parking area. You will notice a steep dirt track with a boom heading up the mountain. This is your path.
For the following 3 routes near Stuffed Lion, decend by walking left (facing the cliff) and scramble down to the anchors above Bantry Crag.
Greyscaling (18) ***
Start ~5m left of Stuffed Lion, just left of a corner crack. Climb straight up the white face to a ledge. Continue straight over blocky terrain to the base of a steep, brown layback crack. After a few meters, when the crack peters out, continue straight up, and easily to the top. The lower sections of this route have surely been done before.
FA: R.Halsey & W. Gans 17/12/2012
Fin Fiesta (19) ****
Start ~4m right of Stuffed Lion directly below the centre of a roof ~10m up. Climb the short face to a ledge, step 1m left and up to a rail below the roof. (There is a loose block to the right, treat with respect). Pull through the roof using large, solid flakes over the lip to the next rail. Move up and right using an undercling and a jug to the base of a wide crack. Continue up and left to a ledge, and then over a bulge (large pocket on the left). Tend slightly right to the vague arete for a few moves, then step left and straight up to the top.
FA: R.Halsey & S. Jack 31/12/2012
The Jet Cygnet (20) ***
Start ~6m right of Stuffed Lion, just left of a bush in vague corner.
P1, 20m (20). Climb up, step right over the bush and up to a ledge. Step left to a recess, then up to a white, hanging pillar. Move carefully across the pillar to the right, then up to a small roof below a short, brown face. Some tricky reaches bring you to the next roof. Pull through this on good holds, then tend left to a good ledge. Stance below a corner. This will be a grade or two harder if you are short.
P2, 15m (15). Climb the crack system in the corner, near the top head left to a wide ledge.
FA: R.Halsey & W. Gans 17/12/2012
Asteroid (23) ****
Single pitch variation right of the Gendarme. Climb Astronaut P1 to the ledge but rather than heading left up the corner crack, blast straight up the steep face above with a powerful crux dead point. At the bush on the next little ledge step ~1m left and then straight up to the bolted abseil anchor.
FA: R.Halsey & J. Hajos 21/02/2011
My Naut is better than your Naut" (18) ****
Single pitch, 35m, bang in the middle between Cosmonaut & Aquanaut's pitches right of the Gendarme. Start 1,5m left of Aquanaut and hold the line to the ledge. From the ledge pull into the layback crack below the triangular roof 3-4m up; climb through the middle of the roof on good jugs; step left and go straight up the open book to the next roof; step out left from under the roof and go straight up, staying to the right of Cosmonaut. Hold your line up to the abseil anchors. The name came up after a debate on which knot to abseil off. FA: B.Smith, W.Boshoff & C. Philips 05/02/2013
Lion Sedge (21) ***
Single pitch just right of Blueberry Hill. Start up a short face directly below a steep crack, which leads to a prominent sharp arete. Pull up onto the arete and climb directly to a ledge.
FA: R. Halsey 07/10/11
Simbarama (22) *****
Single pitch just right of Simba Serendipity P2 (which follows the line to the left of the roof). Climb straight up to the middle on the long thin overhang (can stand on a ledge to the right). Pull through roof to thin rail (aliens useful) and up excellent crack. Climb the central of three columns stemming left at one stage to reach a rail.
FA: R. Halsey 05/11/10
Feel Ion (23) ***
Start 5m left of Juggernaut P2. Straight up to small ledge. Move right into short, bottomless corner (tricky) and then straight up face and steep prow to ledge. Small cam useful for the crux.
FA: R. Halsey 18/05/11
Night Puff (21) ***
Start 3m left of Juggernaut P2. Use a short, undercut face to gain the rail. Tend left and up through a steep blocky section to below a roof. Pull straight through the roof just right of the crack (sneaky undercling) to a left leaning ramp and short open book above. Easy ground up to ledge.
FA: R.Halsey & M. Griffiths 17/3/2011
Mane Course (25) ****
Excellent single pitch located on the Gendarme level vegetated band, near the start of Cat's Pyjamas. Almost 5 star.
Start up a short crack and then a short face to first roof - pull through (tricky) to a rest below the second roof. Hard moves at the lip lead leftward to a rail and then up to a small ledge with a bush. Up easily to big ledge.
FA: R. Halsey 05/11/10
Pride Breaker (24) ***
Takes the steep crack to the right of Mane Course.
Starting on some large boulders, follow the crack through a tricky, thin corner to the roof. Gain the next good hand rail and tackle the humbling crack to the big roof. Traverse a metre right and up into a recess. Step back left and follow a vague arete easily to the big ledge.
FA: R. Halsey 21/11/11
Godsend (23) ***
The project listed in the guide book on pg 51.
Start about 3m right of Pride Breaker and climb straight up to a good break in the slanted roof. Stretch or dyno to a flake (which flexes but seems solid enough) on the lip, tend slightly right then straight up easily to big ledge.
Concensus grading needed - probably easier if you are tall.
FFA: R. Halsey 04/12/10
Power Struggle Area
An area on the lowest and largest band on upper Lion's Head facing Table Mountain. At the Camps Bay end is the large Wally's Cave. Most easily approached by taking the standard route up the mountain to the first chains at the large pines. Then take the signposted Recommended Route towards Camps Bay. Ten metres before reaching the crest overlooking Camps Bay head downslope to the top of the face and abseil down 20 metres. (Used to be called Wally’s Cave Sector).
Routes are described from left to right.
1 - Heatwave 25m (12) **
FA: Dave Mercer, A. Wienand 2007
BBD - Boris The Bullet Dodger (15) **
20m Natural - The route follows the obvious crack line a few meters left of Cold War. Pull straight through the bulge (a little strenuous) below the vertical crack higher up. Continue straight up the crack to the top. FA: Arno van der Heever & Willem Boshoff 17 February 2012
2 - Cold War (16)
20m Natural - This unremarkable route lies a few metres to the left of Power Struggle. Ascend the broken recess to the left of the prominent overhanging prow. Towards the top a slightly harder variation to the right ascends a clean and steep corner. Finish at the Power Struggle platform. FA: Alan Ross & Hilton Davies, 5 February 2008. Variation by David Mercer, 8 February 2008.
3 - Power Struggle (23)
20m Natural - This interesting and quite hard route ascends the face directly below the only prominent overhanging prow, clipping two pitons en route. Move directly up and through two sets of overhangs on strenuous and gymnastic moves using large cams for protection. End at a nice platform. FA: Hilton Davies, 8 February 2008
4 - Kalashnikov (18)
20m Natural - This good route lies five metres to the right of Power Struggle and forms a straight line on the side of the prominent overhanging nose. With a tricky start through a small overhang ascend the face directly below the right side of the prominent overhanging prow. Halfway up step left onto the prow and ascend the shallow recess clipping two pitons on the steep top section to finish at the Power Struggle platform. FA: Alan Ross & Hilton Davies, 5 February 2008
5 - Heavy Breather 25m (16) ***
FA: Dave Mercer, C. Turvey July 2007
6 - Windy Block 20m (14)
FA: Johann Papendorf, 2010/07/03
7 - Name to Come 20m (15) ***
FA: Phlip Olivier, 2010/07/03
8 - The Inspirer 20m (16) ***
Start at a grey easy looking face. Climb the face to a ledge. Continue up to a brown bulgy section, then move slightly left to the base of a corner. Layback and stem up the corner to the top. FA: Jan Fischer, Riaan Vorster, Tony Lourens, 24/11/2011
9 - Feathered Delight 20m (16) ***
FA: Johann Papendorf, 2010/07/03
10 - Uncle Albert 20m (15) ***
Start beneath an undercut, clean white face with two cracks running up it. A strenuous, but well protected start leads to some crack climbing. Continue up and slight left up clean rock to the top. FA: Willie Koen, Tony Lourens, 2010
11 - Rodney 20m (16) ***
Start just around the corner to the right of Uncle Albert and to the left of a flakey crack. A bouldery (and slightly runout) start up the smooth brown face leads to a roof. Layback through the roof and continue up, keeping more or less on the crest of the blunt arête, to the top. Great climbing. Variation: Instead of the bouldery face in the beginning, the flakey crack on the right can be climbed, then move left at the roof to carry on through the layback. This is easier, with plenty of gear, but the flakes sound a little hollow. FA: Tony Lourens, Riaan Vorster, Jan Fischer, 24/11/2011
11A - Skink Inc. (18) **
Climb a direct line up the face (steep start) to the right of Rodney.
FA: R. Halsey 02/02/2012
12 - Silke 25m (12) **
Start to the right of a block roughly midway between Rodney and Ayoba. Climb on top of the block then climb diagonally right across the ledgey wall, past some loose blocks, to gain a deep crack on the right. Climb this to the top. FA: Riaan Vorster, Warren Mayers, Tony Lourens, August 2011
13 - Ayoba 20m (22)
Starts as per Political Solution. After 5m break diagonally left over the blank face to the far left rails. Follow the thin crack to the top. A committing lead as the first gear is about 10 metres up. FA: Phlip Olivier, 2010/07/03
14 - Political Solution 20m (16)
This route lies about midway between Power Struggle and the large pines at the first hiking path chains. It is easily observed from the car park as it is the crack between the appealing orange face to its left and a black face to its right. This nondescript route has one redeeming feature - it gives a great close up view of the orange face of Ayoba. Ascend the open book formed by the orange and black faces into an incomplete crack. Move directly up to a tricky finish onto the ledge above. Belay from the large boulders. FA: Karl Hayden, Lawrence 'Batch' Batchelor, David Mercer & Hilton Davies, 8 February 2008
15 - Luvely Jubbly 20m (17) ****
Start on a block beneath a prominent roof to the right of the black rock to the right of Political Solution. Step off the block and up to the roof. Pull through on the right on good holds past two perfect rails. Move up the blunt seam, then continue up clean rock to the top. Awesome route! FA: Tony Lourens, Riaan Vorster, August 2011
15a - Creekers (15) **
From the block left of the start of The Craving, pull onto and straight up the clean, white face to the left of the crack on The Craving.
FA: R. Halsey 02/02/2012
15b Yellow Canary 20m (13) ****
Start as for the craving, but move left out onto the face. Move up, crossing Creekers and finish up the layback crack to the top. FA: Tony Lourens, Willie Koen, 25/03/2012
16 - The Craving 20m (18) ****
Start behind a large dead tree to the right of the low roof to the right of Luvely Jubbly. Climb the corner, then layback to the base of the top crack. Climb this (tricky) to the top. Great route! FA: Jan Fischer, Tony Lourens, 6/11/2011
17 - Plonker’s Paradise 20m (14) ***
Start up the next break to the right of The Craving. Climb the corner, then tend right to the base of a crack. Layback up this to the top. FA: Tony Lourens, Jan Fischer, 6/11/2011
Power Struggle-Political Solution Area Photo: 1. Windy Block (14), 2. Name to Follow (15), 3. Feathered Delight (16), 4. Ayoba (22), 5. Political Solution (16).
A meter right of the route After Taxes is a juggy crack. Climb this, pull through a small overhang and head straight through the middle of the somewhat blank-looking face above.
NOTE: This is a bold route to lead. Small cams recommended.
FA: Guy Paterson-Jones, 6 April 2011
Fly Bye (19) ***
Climb a direct line up the face directly between Come take a Trip in My Air-Ship and Drive on.
FA: R. Halsey & T. Dunnett 25/11/2011
Johnny Cache (22/23)
Directly inbetween Folsom Prison Blues and Pounce. Start up the undercut face on thin rails and head up directly to the large roof. Proceed through the roof for about 2m using the thin vertical finger crack in it. Cut loose and head up the splitter crack directly above. Continue up faces to the top. FA: Hilton Davies, 11 February 2009
Johnny Cache Wimp-out (18)
As for Johnny Cache but bypass the roof to the right, rejoining directly above. FA: Steve Pinfield & Hilton Davies, 11 February 2009
A few metres right of Kitty-Cat is a fairly big coffin roof a few metres off the ground. The route heads up and through this roof then up slabs and faces to the top. FA: Steve Pinfield & Hilton Davies, 11 February 2009
Scratch Pole (15)
Immediately to the right of Felix is an obvious recess. The route proceeds directly up this fault to the top. FA: Steve Pinfield & Hilton Davies, 11 February 2009
Swindled Swoon (22) ***
Start halfway between Drive on and Egg-Sucking Dog. Climb straight up to a long horizontal undercling and then straight though the slight roof to a pocket on the face. Pull up, and tend slightly left, staying just left of the crack at the top.
FA: R. Halsey 21/11/11
Bender Blender (22) ****
The arête right of Junkie and Juicehead. Climb the face directly below the arete, at the roof traverse 1m left and then follow the arched, undercling crack to the arete. Straight to the top.
FA: R.Halsey 19/08/2011
The Man Comes Around (20)
The route starts on a face 2m right of "Luther Played The Boogy", and heads slightly right to a fault in an over lap. Ascend left facing crack before dancing right under the roof to big holds then up to the friendliest natural anchor one could ask for.
FA W. Gans & A. Hills 11/11/11
Cash's King (27)
Starts 3-4m right of Mean Eyed Cat (about 1.5m right of the tip of the Geo-Cache Cave). The route diligently follows a fault from a left facing prow on the lip, all the way to the fault's termination at the top of the crag. Climb through the first roof, then head straight up beneath a larger roof above. Reach through this to some good holds in a rail above, about 1m left of the end of that roof. Stand up on the lip and continue following the fault to the top. This route is very height dependant, and is most likely impossible for anyone shorter than 185cm.
Note: A 0.5 Camalot or equivalent is useful for the rail over the second roof.
FA: W. Gans 09/06/2012
Cash Connection (19) ****
Start a metre left of Orphan of the Road and climb up to a deep, horizontal slot. Tend slightly left toward the steep, reddish rock higher up, and then straight up.
FA: R.Halsey 26/08/2011
Grit-Slide (24R) ***
Climbs the fairly blank, orange wall right of Orphan of the Road. Start near the centre of the face, pull up to a rail and traverse 1m left. Follow a narrow crack to a pocket, traverse right on crimps and then up to the vague crack above.
Note: A slider-nut can be placed just above the pocket, but it is marginal and so does not eliminate the possibility of a ground fall from the end of the crux sequence.
FA: R.Halsey 27/08/2011
White Face Sector
Start on the rock band where the upper pitches of White Face are found.
Duly Noted, (17)
Pitch 1: 15m, 17: 3m right of Wailing Wall P2 and 2m left of the main fault up White Face is a break running straight to a roof. Take the break before stepping left 1.5m further under the roof and ascending over a triangular crack in the roof. After 4m of easy ground stance on a comfortable ledge. Pitch 2: 25m, 15: start on a right facing flake and proceed up, climbing an open book above a large cubby which is part of Wailing Wall. Continue straight up until being greeted at the top is a small tree.
The route was opened as a single, long pitch. FA: W Gans, 14/10/2012