Upper Cliffs

  • Grade context: UK
  • Ascents: 33




To the right of Agama Wall is a distinct gully and Upper Cliffs is the main cliff immediately to the right of this. If the intention is to reach the top of this crag, then all the climbs should be regarded as two pitch routes (or one long pitch). For those who wish to dispense with the easy ground on the upper part of the crag, an abseil cable has been fixed in the narrow gully xx up 'The Lizard'. The routes Frogman to The Joy of Frogs can utilise this cable.

Recommended routes: Original Route—V.D. The Lizard—V.S.


Access issues inherited from Lukenya

Lukenya is owned by the Mountain Club of Kenya and entrance is free for members. Non-members have to pay for daily membership (KES400 for Kenyan citizens, KES800 for others, payable by Mpesa Paybill No. 880926, account: guest fee). No commercial groups are allowed without prior agreement from MCK. Some climbs are occasionally off-limits when eagles are nesting (in particular Eagle's Nest Face). If this is the case it is normally communicated on a notice in the sign-on book at the gate, through a climber Whatsapp group and on the relevant page on theCrag. There are many other wild animals that call Lukenya home, including a resident leopard, snakes, hyenas. In general, these will all stay well out of your way, but be aware at night and avoid confrontations with bigger grazers like giraffes or eland. This is a wild place, so treat it with respect, pack out any rubbish, and bury human waste at least 30 cm underground (bring a spade or trowel!).



Park at picnic tree, then a ten minute hike. A sleep path rises left of Lower Cliffs for about 60 feet then traverses rightwards along the top of Lower Cliffs for approximately 150 yards before rising directly to the left-hand end of Upper Cliffs below the obvious crackline of The Lizard. An alternative option is to climb something on Main Wall, then walk left along good paths to the cliff.


Descent notes

Abseil off the anchor at the top of the Lizard, or walk off.


Ethic inherited from Lukenya

Lukenya is mostly trad, with some specific sport crags. No bolting is allowed without special permission from the Mountain Club of Kenya - get in touch with them if you think you have spotted a sport route, think there should be an extra bolt on a climb, see some degraded equipment, etc. Avoid cutting down any vegetation beyond a few bush branches - if you think a particular tree poses a real danger to climbers please bring this to the attention of MCK. Don't harass any of the local, sometimes rare wildlife.


Some content has been provided under license from: © Mountain Club of Kenya (Copyright Mountain Club of Kenya)


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Grade Route

Halfway up Easy Gully on extreme left-hand end of face at the prominent flake. Layback up the flake, traverse 3m to the right and layback up second flake. Take wall direct.

FA: G. B. Cliff & A. M. Waber, 1961

Start some 6m up Easy Gully where a break-out can easily be made onto the nose on the right. Out to nose and follow line of nose to recess between large flakes at foot of wall (18m). Climb right-hand detached flake, step onto wall which is climbed direct, then move left over final boulder (15m). An alternate start (Severe) may be made. At foot of Gully on right is a sheer corner. Delicate move onto shelf on face leads right-handed to sharp corner which is ascended on edge, leading to easier rock and joining route for first pitch of normal route.

Start as for Ovid. (1) 18m. As for Ovid. (2) 20m. Descend 3m right-handed onto face and traverse to recess for belay. (3) 30m. Rising traverse on good holds leads across difficult corner to very small grassy ledge and belay. (4) 22m. Descend 4.5m into corner below overhang. Traverse below overhang and then rising traverse to finish at foot of clump of bushes.

Probably worth doing if for no other reason than the rare pleasure of climbing a crack at Lukenya. At the left end of Upper Cliffs is a dark bay. The Lizard takes the line up the corner, and immediately left of the bay is a steep wall with an overhang at 4.5m. Left of this is a thin crack. Ascend crack on finger-locks for 10m, then easily up arete to abseil cable.

FA: Iain Allan and'@ianhowell, 1989

The ultimate package! About 3m right of Frogman there is a break through the overhang. Layback overhang and cruxy move onto wall. Up to bolt on right. Step left then up to horizontal crack. Step left and continue strenuously leftwards.

2020 edit: This was originally given the grade of E3 5c, but at some point many bolts were added, essentially making this a sport climb with a few metres of easy traditional climbing at the top. The grade has been changed to a sport grade to reflect this. Do still take a few cams and nuts to protect the top after the last bolt.

FA: Iain Allan & Clive Ward, 1989

Start 2.5m right of The Hair Of The Frog where there is an obvious jam crack up through the overhang. Climb crack to tree stump of The Lizard. Move directly above past horizontal crack and crux move up overhang (bolt). Exit left onto wall 1.5m above bolt, step up, then traverse right 2m and easier ground above to abseil cable.

FA: Iain Allan & Clive Ward, 1989

What a joy this old classic is for the way it sorts out Lukenia climbers who can't get up cracks. There used to be a tree 9m up, which has now disappeared, adding to the quality of the climbs. Begin by thin crack in main bay where three or four technical moves leads to the overhang. Traverse left 1m and up flake to tricky move left to ledge (where the tree used to be). Move up a few feet and crux move into crack on right which is climbed to easier laybacking. Move left to gully and abseil cable.

FA: Barry Cliff & Anne-Marie Weber, 1961

Start on face of cliff 2m to left of fig tree root.

  1. 22m. Climb to line of traverse at 3m, traverse left 10m. Ascend to steep sand-coloured wall and move right- handed into scoop. Out on left and right-handed to recess with bolt belay.

  2. 24m. Ascending traverse right-handed passing below grey slabs to notch on skyline; climb left-hand corner to finish. Alternate finish by climbing from recess right-handed aiming for wide grey streak above. Finish on steep thin wall.

Start at tree of Original Route. Climb left of tree to its topmost branches. Step right a few feet and onto small flakes. Follow to a quartz band well above under the overhang. Move left four steps and up. Straight up easier slab to final steep wall. A very direct line.

FA: R. Lazano & P. Snyder, 1970

Start on big block some 7.5m right of The Lizard. The route is just right of the arete. Climb to bulge at 4.5m (bolt), then hard moves up right to jug. Pull up to scoop. Up slightly leftwards, then up to ledge and belay. You are now some 4.5 right of the point where difficulties end on The Lizard. Traverse left to abseil cable.

FA: Iain Allan, Neil Hodgson & Magnus Karlsen, 1989

Start some 7.5m right of The Joy Of Frogs just left of prominent tree. Strenuous pull up over bulge (it is a crime to touch tree), then up slightly left to steep wall. Mantle shelf up this then up to belay ledge at 25m. Either traverse left to abseil cable or make long rising traverse up rightwards to top of cliff.

FA: Iain Allan & Ian Howell, 1989

Start about 4.5m right of Pilot Of The Storm. Easily up to flake at 4.5m then surmount overhanging wall above on good jugs. Up slightly rightwards on easier rock to belay. Finish as for Pilot Of The Storm.

FA: Iain Allan & Ian Howell, 1989

Start just right of the Cornflakes tree stump where a diagonal edge leads up rightwards. Climb wall on right of edge to base of steep wall. Power up this 1m left of bolt to horizontal break, below overhang. Move up overhang until a series of good jugs leads out horizontally rightwards 3m, and pull through overhang when possible. Climb wall above 3m to bolt belay. Up easy wall above to top.

FA: Iain Allan & Chris Ballard, 1989

All that is great about Lukenia climbing. Start about 6m right of Gone With The Wind where there is a bolt some 4m up cliff. The title says it all. A gently overhanging wall which does not let up for 20m. Never desperate but tricky low down near the bolt. Four lunges follow to an easier but thrilling overhang and bolt belay on the wall above same as for Gone With the Wind. Either lower off here or climb unexciting wall above to top. It has become a classic and deservedly so.

FA: Iain Allan & Magnus Karlsen, 1989

For stout-hearted bachelors only! Start 6m right of Ride Like The Wind where an obvious root rises from the ground, just left of where the main overhang begins. Move up left to overhang. Bolt up on right. Climb overhang in pain just left of bolt and proceed carefully to horizontal break below main overhang. Move up this just left of bolt, then move right along lip of overhang 2.5m until good jugs lead up to bolt belay above. A rewarding excursion.

FA: Iain Allan & Clive Ward, 1989

The second should have a back rope for the first 9m. At the right-hand end of Upper Cliffs is a prominent chimney. This superb technical route starts just left of this feature, below a slab, Gain slab easily and traverse left to corner (bolt). Swing around left edge and ascend face above (crux). On up steep rock (bolt), to a final belay bolt. Up easily to top or abseil off bolt.

FA: Herve Sergeraert & Piere Yves Gibello, 1990

Chimney behind thick bush at right-hand end of Upper Cliffs.

Start at base of chimney on right wall. 10m - Climb 1.5m and traverse right-handed to point of corner. Ascend direct to belay. 25m - Bands of rock and grassy ledges to finish. There now follows a dark wall with a variety of un- recorded climbs of about V.D. to S. standard before reaching Wide Chimney Boulder.


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