Promontory Point

Sadly it appears that the Golf Club no longer permits access to these cliffs – unless approaching by boat you’ll probably need to head elsewhere

Promontory Point

General

Clear Water Bay’s Promontory Point has Multi-pitch trad climbs on a 300ft cliff rising straight out of the ocean, with the added bonus of few other parties around. A lot of potential for new routes still exists.

For some insight into the early development of these cliffs, take a look at Dennis Hodgsons excellent post here:
https://dennishodgson.blogspot.com/2015/12/nightmare-story.html

Much of the route data contained herein comes from a great little guide to the Sai Kung area from the 1970’s sent to me by Keith Hazelaar, one of the key activists in the area at that time:

IMG_0755

The area includes a number of other crags in addition to the ‘main event’ of the Great Zawn Slab of Promontory Point, including No. 1 Zawn, East Zawn and  Cannonball Buttress.

Prom Point Overview-01

Approach

Continue along the road past the club house and take a right hand fork down towards the Marina. The island on which Promontory Point is located is on the far side of the Marina and is reached by going past the Boat racks in the far corner to a causeway. Once on the island follow the ridge until you can see a rather large and impressive zawn. From here walk to a small knoll (just pace some prairie grass) just below the top of the hill and gear up. Contour the hillside above the cliff, climbing over one steep gully to a small ridge. Scramble down the ridge to a thread and abseil in (two 50m ropes required). It is advisable to recce the abseil from the other side of the zawn prior to descending to make sure you end up where you want to be.

Clearwater Bay

Promontory Point

From the thread abseil straight down the easy angled slabs to the vegetated ledge beneath. Continue directly down to the left hand side (looking out to sea) of the large slab beneath. About 3-4m beneath the vegetated ledge is a smaller ledge with 2 bolts about 3m apart. Belay here and make a second abseil diagonally across the slab to the start of routes 1 & 2 or straight down the slab to the start of route 3. These routes all start from belays above the overhang at the bottom of the slab and require gear to be left through the bolts at the abseil station.


1 – Electron – VS 4c, 4b
An interesting climb technically easier than Proteus and less exposed. Start in the gully a few feet right of the steep chimney and directly below a crack.
Pitch 1 (4c): Follow the crack directly up to a good ledge on the left.
Pitch 2 (4b): Move up and into the short groove on the right. Traverse right for 30ft and follow a wide shallow groove to a big scoop just left of the Upper Terrace.
Pitch 3: Climb up and left across the steep slab and continue direct to easy ground.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (mid-1970’s)

2 – Proteus – VS 4c, 4a*
A good route with varied climbing and some very exposed positions. Protection is reasonable but some care is needed with the rock. Start about 30ft right of Electra at the next steep section of the gully.
Pitch 1 (4c): Traverse right into a shallow groove, which leads up and slightly rightwards across the slab. Climb the groove to a bulge and move right. Continue straight up to regain the groove at the bottom of a distinct, peapod shaped section. Climb the groove with a series of difficult moves where it narrows to a crack. When the situation eases, traverse left, then follow an indefinite staircase up and right to a large ledge overhung scoop.
Pitch 2: Climb rightwards up easy slabs to a broken chimney. Climb the chimney to the Upper Terrace and cross the terrace to a spike belay on the left.
Pitch 3 (4a): Climb onto the belay and surmount the bulge above. Move left into a thin crack and follow this to the large overhang. Step right and climb a square groove to the top.
F.A. Dick Isherwood and Keith Hazelaar (1971)

3 – Swan Song – HVS 5a, 4a***
A Hong Kong classic and must do route! The climb starts from a semi-hanging belay, 10ft above an overhang and about 40ft from the sea crashing below.
Pitch 1 (5a): From the niche move up and left to a small groove. Climb this until the holds disappear and you are forced to make a short traverse to the right. Continue up and left via delicate moves for 50ft before moving right to a groove. Climb the groove before moving left across a thin face. Continue up to a sloping grassy ledge, avoiding the large detached flake.
Pitch 2 (4a): Continue up easily to the large grassy ledge.
Pitch 3: Take any route up the easy wall above.
F.A. Brian Heard and Quentin Ford (1993)

An extended start was added by Martin Lancaster and Garth Jones. This starts at the right hand end of the bottom overhang, approx 8m above the sea. Approach this route by abseiling down the approximate line of ‘Aquila’. This requires some gear to be left in place on a small pinnacle at the left (looking out to sea) side of the large slab (above a corner system) for the second abseil. The gear can be collected by an easy horizontal traverse from the bolt belay at the end of the main pitch of Swan song.

Extended Start – Pitch 3a (E1 5b): Foot traverse left along the lip of the overhang to a vertical crack. Climb this to the second overhang and cross this, past 3 bolts, Place a high runner in crack above and step down and left to belay in a small niche.

andrewlcoxal_swansong-1

Andrew Coxall on the Extended Start to Swan Song (E1). Photo: Stuart Millis

A better variant on Pitch 1 of Swan song itself also exists.

Pitch 1b (HVS 5a***): Move back right to the crack of the extended start and follow this up the slab, good but spaced protection. Climb almost directly up the slab towards some hollow flakes. Tiptoe to the left of these and climb diagonally leftwards to join the original route just left of a large hollow flake. Follow the original route from this point to a bolt belay 10ft below the grassy ledge.

The following routes start from the ledges at the right hand side of the crag. Descend from the top of the island down to the end of the zawn. At the left hand end of the ledges there is an obvious chimney with a good flat ledge at the top. The climbs are best started from this ledge.

4 – Route 3 – HVS 5b
Pitch 1: Move down and left from the belay to an obvious ledge. Make a series of short leftwards traverses, interspersed with some upwards sections, skirting through the first band of overhangs to a poor belay.
Pitch 2 (5b): Move up and right from the belay to the right hand side of the overhang above. Make difficult moves through this before climbing directly up the slab above, to a belay in a corner
Pitch 3 (4c): Continue directly up the crackline above to grassy ledges
Pitch 4: Continue up easily up the rocks above.
F.A. David Lam (and others?) (1974)

5 – Aquila – HVS 5a**
After a long traverse left, the climb follows a fairly direct line through the slabby corner just right of main slab. Difficulty is well maintained and the route on the whole is quite serious.
Pitch 1 (4a): Climb the arete on the left for 20ft until it is possible to move around and on to the edge of the big slab. Traverse horizontally left to a shallow, square chimney. Step across this (awkward) and continue the traverse, descending slightly to a niche which is immediately opposite the spine of rock. A short ascent leads to a scoop and nut belay.
Pitch 2 (5a): Step left and climb a shallow groove to a big ledge. Traverse left to another big ledge and continue to a small stance underneath the arete on the left.
Pitch 3 (4c): Climb the narrow slab slanting up right on frightening rock to a big perched block. Move diagonally left to a good ledge and spike belay in the corner.
Pitch 4: Climb the corner to a narrow ledge on the right. Continue up a steep, awkward slab to a block belay on the Upper Terrace.
Pitch 5: Climb the ‘V’ chimney above until it is possible to exit left. Continue up the slab to easy ground.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & David Lam (1974)

5 – Route 4 – VS 4c
Pitch 1 (4a): From the belay, step down a few feet and traverse left to the slab proper. Climb a series of short horizontal cracks to a large horizontal crack line. Follow this left for about 20ft until an obvious easy line leads over broken ground to the right of the overhang. Take a poor belay below a short corner.
Pitch 2 (4c): Move leftwards into the short corner and climb this, and the crack line above, to the grassy ledges.
Pitch 3: Continue up a series of short walls to the top of the cliff.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson (and others?) (1974)

6 – The Orc – HS 4a
Technically no more than severe but on appallingly loose rock. Start as for Aquila.
Pitch 1 (4a): Follow Aquila until around the arete and then climb diagonally across to a good ledge in the middle of the slab.
Pitch 2: Climb straight up above the belay and follow the slab rightwards to an overhang. Hand traverse left (poor rock) to a break. Climb up through the bulges (crux) and finish on the Lower Terrace.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (1975)

7 – Budgie’s Crack – HS 4b*
Something of a classic climb starting 200ft left of where the descent route reaches sea level, at a steep crooked chimney.
Pitch 1 (4b): Climb the chimney to a big ledge above the main overhang.
Pitch 2: Follow the easy angled corner on the left to the Lower Terrace.
Pitch 3: Ascend the slabby ridge above to a small stance and nut belay.
Pitch 4 (4a): Step left from the belay to the foot of a thin slanting crack, which is followed to a bush covered ledge.
Pitch 5: Follow an open groove to the top of a large square pinnacle, on the right. Step left and bushwhack your way through jungle to the cliff top.
F.A. Dick Isherwood, Keith Hazelaar, Chris Burgess (1971)

8 – Thorin – VS 4b, 4a
A good route starting some 120ft to the right of Budgies Crack at the base of a narrow left slanting slab.
Pitch 1 (4b): Step left from the ledge to a small scoop in the base of the slab. Move across and into the corner on the left and climb this to a narrow niche. Move up and swing right to a small ledge in the middle of the slab and follow the corner above to an overhang. Move right beneath the overhang and layback round to the upper groove. Follow this to a large ledge and belay.
Pitch 2 (4a): Follow the defined layback crack directly above the belay.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (1975)

9 – Tom Bombadil – VS 4b
A pleasant climb which tackle the crackline right of Thorin.
Pitch 1: Step down and right to start then follow the crack to where it overhangs. Move right and climb the wall on good holds to a ledge before continuing up a wide crack to a rectangular platform.
Pitch 2 (4b): Climb the crack in the big square-cut corner above.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (1975)

10 – Golum – VS 4a, 4a, 4a
An interesting and exposed climb on doubtful rock. Protection is poor throughout. Start at the left hand end of the Lower Terrace, from a nut belay beneath a white overhang.
Pitch 1 (4a): Traverse left below two V shaped grooves. Climb straight up on the left of the second groove, following an obvious line of weakness until an awkward move leads to a sloping ledge on the right of a prominent nose.
Pitch 2 (4a): Climb the broken chimney on the left. Awkward bridging leads to a good stance on the right, although it is also possible to continue on to the Upper Terrace.
Pitch 3 (4a): Climb the open chimney above, as for Aquila, but continue up to an awkward exit on the right. Continue easily above this.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (1975)

11 – The Balrog – VS 4c, 4b
Start by following the easy ledge from the top of Budgies Crack to a large, flat topped block beneath a clean, square groove.
Pitch 1 (4c): Layback up the groove to the first black-streaked yellow bulge. Hand traverse right then climb the blunt arete above with difficulty to a resting place level with the big overhang. Foot traverse left and climb straight up to an earth covered rake slanting to the right.
Pitch 2 (4a): Traverse leftwards along a V shaped ledge, then climb the slanting groove above to continue more easily to the top.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (1975)

12 – Valhalla – VS 4c, 4a, 4c***
A fine route with good positions and plenty of exposure. Start from the top of Pitch 2 of Aquila.
Pitch 1 (4c): Step left from the belay on to the arete and make a bold swing left to gain an easier groove. Follow this for a few feet before traversing left for 20ft to small ledges. Continue left for a further 20ft to some more small ledges before moving diagonally leftwards to a large overhung bay.
Pitch 2 (4a): Descend for 15ft until a line of flakes is seen on the left. Traverse across these and continue downwards until stopped by a more difficult section. Move upwards and across to gain a an indefinite groove on the left. Descend this to a good vegetated left and poor piton belay on the prominent arete.
Pitch 3 (4c): Traverse left around the arete to a groove. Move down and to the left t gain a second shallow groove. Ascend this to a scoop in the middle of the slab. Traverse left to gain an easy gully, which is followed to a spike belay.
Pitch 4: Climb the easy wall above.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (1975)

13 – Fangorn – VS 4a, 4b
Steep and interesting climbing on a somewhat contrived line. Start at the point where the leftwards traverse into the zawn becomes more like climbing than scrambling.
Pitch 1 (4a): Climb diagonally leftwards up a slight ramp to the arete, overlooking an obvious chimney. Climb the slab and bulge on good holds to a ledge before continuing up the overhanging arete to a big platform.
Pitch 2 (4b): Climb the thin crack just right of Tom Bombadil to a horizontal break. Follow this to the arete and make an awkward move around it to a groove. Continue up the groove to a ledge and the belay.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Keith Hazelaar (1975)

The topo below is very much a guesstimate of where the above routes go so use with [extreme] caution should you manage to gain access to the cliffs…

CWB Topo-01

No. 1 Zawn (a.k.a. The Devil’s Cauldron)

This is the obvious zawn located to the right of the main zawn of Promontory Point.  Three climbs were established here by Dennis Hodgson and Pete Hamer in 1983:

(1) Demon’s Groove – VS
The obvious groove in the slab
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Pete Hamer (1983)

(2) The Alchemist – HVS 5a
The parallel corner to the right of the obvious groove.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Pete Hamer (1983)

(3) Sultans of Swing – E1 5c
The smooth slab to the right of The Alchemist
F.A. Dennis Hodgson & Pete Hamer (1983)

The East Zawn & Cannonball Buttress

General
The climbing here is located on the short but steep buttress on the right of the East Zawn (about 250m right of Promontory Point). Despite its size, the cliff offers excellent climbing on rock which is completely sound.

Approach
Descend as for the routes on the right side of Promontory Point. Continue right along ledges to the point where Cannonball Buttress (the narrow projecting ridge on the left of the crag) comes into view. Move along a group of ledges above and right of a small corner, which lead down to a sloping platform just above sea level. The most obvious feature of the crag is a left facing corner (Cutlass) and all climbs are described with reference to this.

(1) Cutlass – VDiff
A pleasant climbs starting from a jammed nut belay at the left end of the platform
Pitch 1 – Move up and left to the foot of the steep corner. Climb the corner until the angle eases then continue up and left to a stance and flake belay on the left.
Pitch 2 – Climb easily to the top.
F.A. Dennis Hodgson, Keith Hazelaar (1976)

(2) Main Brace – Severe
An interesting climb. Start as for Cutlass.
Pitch 1 – Climb up above the belay and continue up a short corner to a good ledge. Climb the thin crack above and then easier rock to the top.
F.A. Keith Hazelaar, Dennis Hodgson (1976)

(3) Black Spot – HS 4a
A steep and interesting climb with good holds. Start as for Cutlass
Pitch 1 (4a) – Traverse right along a narrow sloping ramp before continuing straight up the wall to small flake. Step right, and continue direct to a good ledge.
Pitch 2 (4a) – Step up to a higher ledge on the right and climb the thin crack above to another good ledge.
F.A. Keith Hazelaar, Dennis Hodgson (1976)

(4) Yardarm – S
A pleasant climb up the wall right of Black Spot. Start up a broken groove at the right end of the platform and 4 to 5 m right of Cutlass.
Pitch 1 – Climb the groove then continue more easily up and left to good ledge.
Pitch 2 – Traverse diagonally right to a groove and climb this to the top.
F.A.

(5) East Face Route – Diff
Starting just right of Yardarm, climb up and right following a steep broken slab to the top.
F.A.

(6) Nightmare – E1 5c
A good, technical and demanding pitch.
Climb steeply above the belay until it is possible to traverse left to the arete. Go around the arete to the foot of a steep, thin crack. Climb up the crack with difficulty to a ledge. Surmount a small overhang above this and climb a short slab to a ledge on the right. Step across to a corner on the left and climb this to gain good ledges and a poor spike belay at the top.
F.A. Keith Hazelaar, Dennis Hodgson (1976)

3 responses to “Promontory Point

  1. I recently came across this page and felt that I needed to point out some errors/omissions in your route descriptions. I spent a lot of time exploring Promontory Rocks in the 1970s and 1980s, and I did the first ascents of all the routes with names derived from The Lord of the Rings with Keith Hazelaar. I also did the first ascents of Aquila (with David Lam in 1974), Valhalla and Electron (not Electra). I did the first ascent of what you have called Cutlass in 1975/6 with Keith Hazelaar (I named it Nightmare). This blog post provides some additional details:

    https://dennishodgson.blogspot.com/2015/12/nightmare-story.html

    • That’s awesome – thanks for the details. Will get things updated so we can capture things accurately (all we had to go off previously was the Brian Heard guide and some poor quality faxed topo’s)

    • Some of the info also came from a guide for the Sai Kung area that Keith sent me a few years back – have been meaning to get this stuff digitised and uploaded for a while so this post has given me a bit of a shove to get back to that 🙂

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