For the experienced climber out for high adventure, Cape Clear is the spot. Located in the middle of Cape Breton Highlands, it includes an amphitheatre of granite rock that reaches a continuous height of over 100 metres in places. The rock is generally very solid, but unfortunately the number of completely naturally protected lines is limited. Perhaps the most tantalizing feature of the place is the presence of a logging road (driveable even by most derelict climber vehicles) to within 25m of the top of the cliff.
Gaining interest with climbers from all over Nova Scotia, it has long been a popular party spot for the locals who contribute one of the biggest objective hazards to climbers: flying beer bottles (not to mention rocks, tvs, golf balls, portapotties, etc.) – so beware! In 2001 the first route was put up on the main headwall. Some earlier exploration of the flanks were conducted by Clarence Barrett in the late 1970s, with a couple of leads and a couple of top-roped climbs.
How to get there
Take exit 7 off of highway 105 (~10 km south of Baddeck) and head towards Margaree Forks along the Cabot Trail Highway. After ~30km turn right and head towards the small village of Margaree Valley. At Margaree Valley turn right again onto “Fielding Road” which turns into a very extensive network of logging roads. Follow signs to Cape Clear (~35-40km). Drive as close to the cliff as your car can drive and stop before going over the edge. Apparently the road is in good condition for most vehicles up to the last 300m or so. [An alternative approach: 2.5km after taking exit 7, turn right onto “The Highland Highway” (a wide dirt road that you can travel on at 100km/hour) at Hunters Mountain. After about 35km it will join the approach from Fielding Road.]
Note: camping is possible at the top of the cliff although it is probably illegal
at the parking spot there will be a little wall covered in spray paint. follow the trail on the left side of the graffiti wall and veer left. follow the trail left and look for a large spruce that has had a bunch of limbs trimmed off. from there look down towards the void and carefully scramble down. once on the ledge you will find a two bolt anchor (no rings). rap off these down the right side of the arete below. about 30 feet below there will be a small ledge. at the ledge the wall will pull you around the corner, go with it and follow the bolts down to a 2x8 foot "ledge" you will find a set of bolts here with rings, this is where the route begins with a hanging belay.
FA by:Todd Foster, Sean Therien
This route was rapped and explored during a wintery fall visit and then bolted 12 months later. It took almost 2 years to get back there to do the free ascent. There is a obvious 2 bolt ring anchor at the top of the wall...rap in to a belay station then rap again to a small pinicle of rock at the base of the wall. The route is 70m long so you will need 2 ropes to do the rappels or one long 70M static line. The first pitch is long approx 20bolts...Great climbing super pumpy. second pitch is shorter and has one of the wildest features in NS climbing....the 20 foot long see thru TUFA!!! Rock quality on route is good..but as with all Cape Clear routes there is a chance of some crumbly stuff. Get up there and GET SOME! On a foot note...This route lay semi dormant and only 98% bolted for over a year and saw some action from some climbers from away...Always be prepared at Cape Clear you may be getting on a partialy bolted route or something not yet fully cleaned ..I,m talking TV sized blocks comming off in your lap and smoking your belayer.
FA by:Sean Therien/Todd Foster
FA on:Fall 2012
Start in a dirty corner just up and left from the toe of the spine. After eight metres the route joins Flakies and Harvest Moons for ten metres and then veers left into a layback "v" slot. Continue up the ramp to a large tree on the sloping, gravelly belay ledge. From the ledge, climb the 20 metre chimney to the top of pillar (easy scramble off of pillar). Keeps Santas slim and trim after all the cookies at Xmas.
FA by:Chris Hayes
FA on:October 26, 2002
Start at the very toe of the second tier spine on the left hand side of Cape Clear. Follow the prow all the way up. About two-thirds up is a belay ledge (avoid loose flakes here). Continue up the prow to finish on a detached pillar (easy scramble off of pillar).
FA by:Chris Eager
FA on:October 26, 2002
Near the left-most end of the Main Wall, start up an obvious chimney and then move onto the face, passing one piton (if it's there still) to the top.
FA by:Clarence Barrett
"The route begins below the large system of left-facing dihedrals on the right side of the main wall.
Pitch 1- (30m, 5.9) Climb up the corner to a blocky ledge. Continue up the steep face past 3 bolts and move onto a sloping ledge. Continue up a short crack section, past a bolt to good belay in a corner.
Pitch 2 - (20m, 5.11) Climb the parallel cracks to a flat ledge. Climb past the bolts (crux) to make a tricky move to access the belay ledge (either ledge is good, the top one is cleaner).
Pitch 3 - (15m, 5.9) Climb the corner for 4m and reach around the corner to the right to clip a bolt on the face. Swing onto the face and continue past bolts to the ledge. (You could probably continue to the top from here.)
Pitch 4 - (15m, 5.10) Climb the slightly overhanging hand crack and continue to the top via bulges and wide cracks."
FA by:Jonathan Graham, Becky Craig
FA on:September 15, 2001
About 20 metres in from the right edge of the Main Wall is a wide square-cut bay in the face. (A clump of trees sits atop a buttress on the left side of this bay about two-thirds up the face.) This line followed obvious weaknesses to the top, however at this point, it is not clear which side of the bay the route was climbed.
FA by:Clarence Barrett