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Ice Fest 2016 – CANCELLED



CNS Ice Fest 2015 will be held Sunday February 28th from 10:30am-4:30pm at Colby-Irving Falls and Black Hole Falls, in Canning, NS! Come on down and try out ice climbing for the first time or sharpen your tools and show the newbies how it’s done – everyone is welcome.

Thank you for your interest in Ice Fest 2016. Unfortunately CNS must cancel this year’s event due to warm weather and lack of ice.

The event is now at capacity and registration is closed. For safety reasons we cannot accept any more participants. However, if you are an experienced ice climber interested in volunteering at the event, please contact CNS to find out how you can help.

You must register by emailing climbnovascotia@gmail.com by Sunday February 14th. Space is limited so please RSVP early! In your email please let us know the following:

  • Your name and the names of anyone coming with you.
  • Your climbing experience level (never, indoors only, rock only, some ice, experienced alpinist, etc).
  • Equipment you are NOT bringing and will need from the below “Things you should bring” list.
  • If you need boots, tell us what size.

Here is a map to the parking area from Halifax:

After you email us you will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours indicating that you are on the list. If you don’t hear from us, check this page to see if the event is full. If so, we apologize for the disappointment and wish you better luck next year.

Let us know if you need a helmet/harness/ice tools/crampons/boots, or if you can share your own equipment. We will try to have spare stuff available, but you should try to bring your own crampon compatible boots if possible (ski boots will work, snowboarding boots won’t unless they have toe-bales).

If you need a drive or can offer one, a popular place to post is on the Nova Scotia Climbing Facebook group.

Registration is free for CNS members, but you must be a member to attend. Memberships are just $20 for a two year Climb Nova Scotia membership. Click here to buy yours! Everyone must sign a waiver, and if you print one in advance and bring it with you that’s even better.

Please email climbnovascotia@gmail.com today if you are a grizzled veteran interesting in helping out – we can always use more volunteers.

Ice Fest frequently asked questions:

Q: What do I have to bring with me?

A: Things you must bring with you are:

  • A signed, completed CNS waiver. Click here to download the waiver.
  • $20 cash if you are not already a CNS member. This buys you a two-year membership to Climb Nova Scotia.
  • Warm clothing in layers (wool or synthetic is best; avoid cotton)
  • Waterproof breathable outer layer (jacket and pants, gaiters suggested)
  • Hat (must fit under a helmet i.e. no pompoms)
  • Gloves (at least two pairs)
  • Sturdy footwear
  • Water
  • Food

Q: What else should I bring?

A: Things you should bring with you are:

  • Helmet with a chin strap (Climbing specific, ski helmet, or bicycle helmet with minimal ventilation holes)
  • Climbing boots with toe and heel bale for step-in crampons
  • Rock climbing harness
  • Camera
  • Extra gloves
  • Extra socks
  • Belay device
  • Ice tools
  • Crampons
  • Thermos of something warm to drink (Soup, hot chocolate, coffee, tea)
  • Personal first aid kit

Q: Are minors under the age of 19 allowed at Ice Fest?

A: Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian to attend Ice Fest. Both the youth and adult must be Climb Nova Scotia members. Family memberships are $50 for two years and cover up to five immediate family members. There is no set age cut-off for participation in Ice Fest, but it is not appropriate for all ages as it involves swinging ice axes around above one’s head. A certain amount of physical strength and decision-making ability is required that may not be possessed by younger children. Ice climbing may or may not be appropriate for your particular child, although s/he is certainly welcome to come out and watch. Minors in attendance are the responsibility of their guardians and we would ask that you be attentive to keep them safe during the event. Ice and loose rock will be dislodged by climbers and can pose a real hazard to anyone who wanders underneath.

Q: What are the risks of attending Ice Fest?

A: CLIMBING IS DANGEROUS. Some things that pose a risk to you at Ice Fest are:

  • Falling ice
  • Falling rocks
  • Dropped equipment
  • Equipment failure
  • Belayer error
  • Cold weather
  • Cold water
  • Other things not listed

Climb Nova Scotia is NOT a guiding service, this is NOT a guided event, and you are responsible for your own safety and any minors under your care. CNS and its volunteers are not holding themselves out as experts and will not be held liable for any loss or injury howsoever caused at Ice Fest 2016. We will do all we can to ensure the safety of everyone at the event, but CLIMBING IS DANGEROUS and you could be injured or killed at Ice Fest 2016. Read the CNS waiver before you sign it. If you do not understand any portion of the waiver, consult a lawyer before signing it because CLIMBING IS DANGEROUS. NO WAIVER NO ICE CLIMBING.

Q: Why has IceFest been moved from Hall’s Harbour like previous years?

A: Halls Harbour is a beautiful and exciting location on the Bay of Fundy, with tall and impressive ice climbs. However, it is also exposed to the highest tides in the world and unpredictable weather. In 2015 CNS arrived at Halls Harbour for ice fest, but conditions were too windy for climbing so we relocated everyone to Colby Irving in an attempt to save the event.

It turned out to be a great venue, and its shorter ice meant that more people were able to climb. New climbers enjoyed Colby Irving Falls for its easy approach and sheltered setting. As well, Black Hole Falls is just a 10 minute walk away and serves as a great overflow area. Note that Black Hole requires a rappel approach and then vertical ice climbing to get back out, making it substantially more committing for the first-timer (but plenty of fun for those with a little experience).

Q: You have announced that the event is full but I really want to come so is it okay if I just show up anyway?

A: We are happy that you are excited about trying ice climbing. However, there is only so much shared equipment to go around, only so many ice climbs, and only so much daylight at Ice Fest 2016. Please understand that we would have everyone to the event if we could, but in the interest of safety we have a cap on participant numbers.

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REEL ROCK 10 – Tues Nov 3 @ Halifax Central Library!

Climb Nova Scotia is proud to bring the Reel Rock film festival to Halifax for its tenth anniversary!

Tuesday, November 3rd at 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm)

Halifax Central Library, Paul O’Regan Hall

Tickets: $10 in advance at the Trail Shop, $15 at the door


Climbing movies!

Charity in support of a great cause!


All profits from this event are going to Movember in support of men’s health issues

Beer (if you are old enough)!

The good folks at Good Robot will be on site pulling tasty local draft for you

The good folks at Good Robot will be on site pulling tasty local draft for you


There will be popcorn!

There will be popcorn!

Okay seriously if you don’t wanna come after all that I don’t know what to tell you.


*Reel Rock 10 contains some saucy language. Parental discretion is advised.
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Earth Bones Climbing Kickstarter

Nova Scotia climber and entrepreneur David MacMillan has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter to generate revenue and hype for his business, Earth Bones Climbing. Earth Bones makes custom bouldering pads right here in Nova Scotia.

Climb Nova Scotia is very appreciative of Earth Bones’ support at Boulderfest 2015 where they made demo pads available all weekend and donated products including the grand prize: a one-of-a-kind CNS bouldering pad!

Earth Bones CEO David MacMillan hands off the Boulderfest 2015 grand prize to lucky winner Jack Bennet

Earth Bones CEO David MacMillan hands off the Boulderfest 2015 grand prize to lucky winner Jack Bennet

If you are in the market for a new bouldering pad, chalk bag, interested in getting your existing pad restuffed, or just want to support an enthusiastic and innovative local business, please head over to the Earth Bones Climbing Kickstarter page and make a pledge. The campaign wraps up on September 3rd so you would get your new pad right in time for fall sending temps!

Come on out to the CNS Thursday Night Bouldering Series any time this season if you want a hands-on demo of Earth Bones top quality products!

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West Kings Gets a Re-vamp

One of the oldest bouldering walls in the Nova Scotia school system, the facility at West Kings District High School was in need of some long overdue TLC. Resurrected from neglect in 2012 by combined efforts of teacher Adam Conner and our very own Diversity Liaison Phill Craik, the wall gets enough use these days that it’s starting to need more regular maintenance.


The wall was originally constructed as an in-house work protect for the Options and Opportunities Programme. This excellent education stream allows youth who have an interest in a more trade-based future learn some hands on skills in that field during high-school.

Phill has been working in timber framing and rough carpentry for the last little while, and used this opportunity to give something back to the wall that kick-started climbing again in the Annapolis Valley. After beginning with a presentation to the kids about his climbing history and timber framing experience, they then set about making some sawdust!


Phase one involved making a top-out bar to make finishing problems a little safer and more enjoyable. Under guidance from Phill, the kids made all the measurements, cut the 2×4, routered and sanded it smooth and drilled it into position. It was really inspiring to see these kids work as a team, challenge themselves and take some ownership of their own climbing facility for the betterment of the school.

The second step was finding, replacing or repairing damaged t-nuts and pinning them with small screws. As any good route-setter knows, hearing the ping of a popped t-nut is the stuff of nightmares. This was dusty, dirty and cramped work in behind the wall, but the kids seemed to relish the challenge of not only putting things right, but getting it done well.


Lastly the wall was rough sanded, scraped and will be painted in a few weeks by some volunteers. A full re-set, complete with a huge new hold order will take place in mid-July. By the next school year the wall will look as good as the day it was built, and more than ready for another year of climbing.


Big thanks O2 teacher, Pete Morse, Frasers Home Pro Centre, Adam Conner, and all the kids who grafted hard for two days whilst Phill drank cups of tea, took very regular breaks and looked on with a proud eye to what could potentially be the next batch of home-climbing wall builders in the making!



New workshop, new format, new kids!

NKEC Climbing Clinic

Almost three months in the planning, six routesetters, seven workshop leaders, one very strict timekeeper and a dedicated videographer who made it in the nick of time. That’s what it takes to pull off the biggest youth climbing workshop in the province.

Sunday 19th April saw 24 youth convene at Northeast Kings Education Centre to learn new skills, make new friends and get stoked for climbing! This year, however, it was not just the number of kids that was remarkable, but over half of them were completely new to climbing. Most notable was the small group from Landmark East School in Wolfville; a boarding school dedicated to students with language and learning difficulties. It was proof that climbing as a sport really has no barrier when it comes to participation, fun and accessibility.

For this years workshop we decided to take a more structured approach, with breakout sessions focussing on specific skill sets. From cross-training, balance, movement, spotting & route setting we tried to cover all aspects of climbing in order to show the kids there is more to just pulling hard in becoming an accomplished climber. It also helped them to engage with one another, ask questions, and work together to overcome barriers. The session on spotting was particularly popular, and saw the kids really have to learn to trust one another and work as a team.

Big shout out as always to the Annapolis Valley Climbing Club, and our volunteers. Some old, some new, and some on the way….!


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Mount Traber Workshop

Better late than never right?

IMG_1669Last June (2014) Heather and Chris spent an afternoon with the Mount Traber Bible Camp Summer Staff.  Staff members were excited to receive a great selection of new and colorful holds, belay bags, gri gris, locking biners and wrenches.

IMG_6378MTBC staff were given a lesson on wall maintenance including how to move and put up new holds, what to do if a bolt gets stripped, how to inspect and safely put harnesses on children and how to belay using a Gri Gri and belay bag.

IMG_6380Staff also had an opportunity to practice each of these skills.  It was a fun afternoon for all, please enjoy the pictures of some campers enjoying the new holds and safe climbing!


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CNS Annual General Meeting and Call for Nominations – May 19 2015

The Climb Nova Scotia Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 19 2015 from 6:30pm-8:30pm in Room 201 at the new Halifax Central Public Library on Spring Garden Road in Program Room 201. Come on out and hear what we accomplished over the past year, enjoy a special guest presentation from Nova Scotia Rock guidebook author Sean P. Cassidy, and socialize with fellow climbers. Refreshments will be served.

CNS is currently accepting nominations for all executive positions for elections at the annual general meeting on Tuesday May 19 2015. If you are considering a place on the ballot, you must be nominated (or nominate yourself) by emailing climbnovascotia@gmail.com. Nominations will be accepted until April 30 2015 at 11:59pm.

A typical CNS executive meeting

A typical CNS executive meeting

Please include your name, the position you are interested in, and a short summary (300 word maximum) of your qualifications and why you want to sit on the board. Nominations will not be accepted after April 30 2015 at 11:59pm.

Positions and descriptions are as follows:

  • President – Ensure alignment of CNS activities with organizational goals and funding qualification criterion, draft meeting agendas, chair monthly meetings, delegate tasks, oversee financials, attend events, deal with government stakeholders, website posts, answer emails, other duties as assigned.
  • Treasurer – Manage financials, prepare budget, retain records, steer spending toward targets, attend monthly executive meetings, website posts, answer emails, other duties as assigned.
  • Membership Coordinator – Retain up-to-date membership list, mail correspondence and membership cards, attend monthly executive meetings, website posts, answer emails, other duties as assigned.
  • Communications Representative – Handle external matters, book event venues, postering, advertisement campaigns, approach sponsors, primary email responder, attend monthly executive meetings, website posts, other duties as assigned.
  • Access Chair – Monitor all climbing area access issues, uphold excellent relationships with landowners, organize clean and climbs, organize and execute trail maintenance, attend monthly executive meetings, website posts, answer emails, other duties as assigned.
  • Diversity Liaison – Social outreach, engagement of new climbers and underrepresented groups, organize and attend events, attend monthly executive meetings, website posts, answer emails, other duties as assigned.
  • Youth Representative – Interface with public school system, support youth climbing competitions and workshops, organize and attend events, attend monthly executive meetings, website posts, answer emails, other duties as assigned.
  • Secretary – Attend monthly executive meetings, record and distribute meeting minutes, website posts, answer emails, other duties as assigned.

Executive members (with the exception of President) all have a vote in major Climb Nova Scotia undertakings and are expected to exercise their right to vote when called upon. All executive positions are a 1 year term, except for President, which is 2 years in duration.

Executive members are not paid and typically spend up to 5 hours a week on CNS activities when there’s nothing happening, and more when we are busy. President tends to be busier.

If you want to help with CNS but aren’t interested in sitting on the board please let us know. There’s plenty to do and we can always use volunteers for specific projects!

Please note, you must be a member in good standing of Climb Nova Scotia to run for a position on the board, and to attend the annual general meeting. You can purchase a membership by clicking here or with cash at the meeting.

Youth Climbing Workshop

It’s time for the next Youth Climbing Event.  There is a new format with breakout sessions on movement, technique, setting, spotting and more!  These sessions are being offered by your usual setting crew as well as some guest appearances from some seasoned Nova Scotian Climbers!

REGISTER NOW! (click here)


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Ground Zero Valentine’s Day Massacre Comp

Ground Zero is holding the 3rd annual Atlantic Canadian Climbing Championship on February 14th & 15th!

Come get some

Come get some

The gym has a whole whack of brand new beautiful grips that they’ve been itching to put up and the wait is finally over. This event is always a blast so come on out and show everyone what you’re made of. Whether you are into pebble wrestling or bolt clipping there’s something for everyone. It’s gonna be awesome!

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Nova Scotia Valley Youth Climbing Competition Recap

It was almost two years to the day since the first youth bouldering competition was hosted at West Kings District High School in Auburn, NS. In those two short years we have seen a new wall built (at NKEC in Canning), two extensions built to the existing wall at West Kings, new holds and volumes purchased, the creation of sustainable and successful after school climbing clubs, and immersion of climbing curriculum into the school physical education classes.

Megan contorts her way into a delecate face climb (Photo by Miles)

Megan contorts her way into a delicate face climb (Photo by Miles)

The scene at the wall on Sunday 11th January 2015 marked one of stark contrast from 2013. A veteran group of organizers, seasoned by many hours of running these competitions, now sat back in relative calm and with immense pride as the kids crushed their problems left right and center. Seeing this small community climbing club grow is proof that the youth really are the future, both literally and figuratively. Funded by Canning & Kings County Recreation, the after school climbing clubs are co-led by the young climbers who have come through the programs themselves. They are now coaching and inspiring their peers and, in one case, even getting a job at the local climbing gym.

Nick finds his height perfect for this compression problem (Photo by Miles)

Nick finds his height perfect for this compression problem (Photo by Miles)

Setting for the competitions always starts early the day before, and usually runs very (very, very, very….) late into the evening. This is not because the setters are slow; it is because, unlike setting for a commercial gym environment, they focus on creating problems that are going to be climbed for whole semesters and by a wide range of ability levels. Most importantly, they need to focus on problems that can inspire, challenge and maintain interest. Competition day is now fairly routine. By now the kids know the drill, they’re excited rather than nervous, and we now have to break the socializing in order to get started! Unlike most competitive sports, the youth all help one another to do the best they can, and anyone new to the sport is automatically spotted and given beta on problems by the more experienced kids. It really is a phenomenal atmosphere that never ceases to inspire us.

Head-Setter and part time Jedi, Chris Richardson using the force to will competitors to the top (Photo by Miles)

Head-Setter and part time Jedi, Chris Richardson using the force to will competitors to the top (Photo by Miles)

From the nine youth that competed in the first competition, the valley circuits now draw up to twenty-five youngsters from Halifax to Annapolis Royal. It has become an event that is almost as highly anticipated by the parents as it is the kids. Let’s not forget that without them it would be a heck of a walk from HRM! Its fair to say that climbing has gripped an ever-growing generation of truly inspiring, grounded and humble young athletes.

And that is whats known as a “try hard face”. Young guns cranking hard! (Photo by Miles)

And that is whats known as a “try hard face”. Young guns cranking hard! (Photo by Miles)

The next event is tentatively planned for April of this year, so keep an ear to the ground! Its still important to mention that these events would not be possible without the hard work and continued commitment from volunteers, sponsors, parents, and of course the kids!

Phill & Bekah from the CNS Exec handing out prizes from sponsors (Photo by Miles)

Phill & Bekah from the CNS Exec handing out prizes from sponsors (Photo by Miles)

Thanks to Climb Nova Scotia, The Trail Shop, Canning & Kings County Recreation, Annapolis Valley Climbing Club, Jedi Richardson, Heather B, Bekah Reagan, Adam Conner, Derrick Smith and guest setters Kyle & Mike.