Cape Clear

Crag Description

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

Routes

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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.
Type:Sport
Anchor Type:Rings
FA by:Todd Foster, Sean Therien
FA on:9/1/2014
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.
Type:Sport
Anchor Type:Rings
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.
Type:Trad
Height:50m
Rating:PG
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).
Type:Trad
Height:55m
Rating:PG
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.
Type:Mixed
Height:25m
Rating:PG
FA by:Clarence Barrett
FA on:1976
"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."
Type:Mixed
Height:80m
Rating:G
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.
Height:25m
FA by:Clarence Barrett
FA on:1976
The obvious 3-5" wide crack at the far right end of the main wall, directly across from the "Little Sentinel" [see route#6 - NSR]. After 25 ft of crack climbing, ascend 10 feet of slabs into the trees. Nice route but quite short. Top of the route is very close to the access road/parking lot and might be flagged.
Type:Trad
Height:16m
Rating:G
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:September 12, 2005
The route climbs to the top of a detached pillar dubbed by the first ascent team as "The Little Sentinel," located at the far east end of the Main Wall in a gully between the Main Wall and the Lost Wall. Start below the tallest part of the pillar on the corner and move up and right below the offwidth. Straight up to the top. Bolted rappel station at the top (placed by the second ascent team about a year later).
Type:Trad
Height:22m
Rating:PG
FA by:Daryl Burghardt
FA on:October 7, 2001
Found on the "road" side of the Wave Wall (near the end), located just right of a very large chimney beginning on a ledge 25-30ft off the ground. Climb the obvious wide crack system on the left end of the face to a ledge with trees. Access the starting belay ledge via a short wide crack system 10 ft into the chimney, or scramble up awkward ledges downhill of the route. Finish at tree belay in Sunset Alcove.
Type:Trad
Height:23m
Rating:PG-
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:August 27, 2005
"[Access: Rappel down Sunset Wall using the Belay tree for Ocean Pacific at the western tip of Trough Ledge. Pass a set of bolt anchors to reach a ramp with 2 perfect cracks. Continue down the ramp to its base and a large spruce tree which has been cleared at its bottom for a belay. An alternative approach is to scramble from the ground up some ledges to the belay tree at the ramp base.]

Pitch one (5.7 A0) From the belay tree step left to gain a perfect crack up the ramp to huge block meeting the orange face of the Sunset Wall. Pull onto a right-trending ramp and continue to a bolt anchor.

Pitch two (5.9 A0) Move right on the belay ledge to gain an obvious undercling crack. Undercling your way to a vertical crack and pull over the lip to Sunset Alcove.

Note: This overhanging route will go free, but will require some cleaning. The rock is very solid but very large grained; as such the surface is crumbly."
Type:Trad
Height:55m
Rating:A0
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:October 3, 2005
Not intended to be a route, but was climbed and found to be the easiest way off Sunset Wall from Sunset Alcove. From Sunset Alcove, step up behind a small spruce tree, continuing left and up through trees and ledges to the belay tree for Ocean Pacific. A bushwhack, but very easy and fast.
Type:Trad
Height:20m
Rating:PG
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:October 3, 2005
From Sunset Alcove step up behind a small spruce tree to a dirty crack. Continue up the crack stepping left at its top through dirty, mossy blocks until you are standing on a protruding one which feels like a diving board, finishing up through trees to the belay tree for Ocean Pacific. This climb is not nice, but it is a moderate way off of Sunset Wall.
Type:Trad
Height:18m
Rating:PG-
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:October 3, 2005
[Note: this proposed line follows a crack system up the right side of the face to reach the arete, exiting through the highest notch of rock on the Sunset Wall. Not climbed yet due to unfinished cleaning - but is expected to be a great exposed pitch off of Sunset Alcove. Not shown on the topo.]
Type:Trad
Height:18m
"Pitch 1(5.6 PG): Begin at the base of the Dihedral Area on Wave Wall at the base of a double birch tree with flagging tape. Head up a ramp for 60ft until a crack system allows access to a ledge with a large spruce on it. A belay may be established here approx 80ft or you may continue on as done during the FA, directly above the tree belay through a series of dihedrals and steps to a bolt anchor at the base of the Dihedrals Area (where the slab meets the headwall). This pitch is not great, but is the easiest and currently only way to access the excellent dihedral climbing ground up.

Pitch 2 (5.10b) From the anchor climb the obvious short dihedral past one pin to a finger crack which leads to another bolt anchor below a roof. This anchor was placed to allow access to #307 ""Bite the Pillow"". Belay here or link the next pitch in one push.

Pitch 3 (5.9) From the anchor move left and up into a beautiful hand crack at the base of the roof, follow this to the top and a tree belay on Trough Ledge.

[Important! Roof above first anchor is very sharp. The FA team cut through the sheath of two lead ropes (one after only 4 rappels). Bring garden hose to protect edges if you are going to rappel the route!]"
Type:Trad
Height:100m
Rating:PG
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:October 1, 2005
This route may be accessed from the first bolt anchor of Ocean Pacific. From the bolt anchor move left into an overhanging fist crack to gain a left facing dihedral follow it through a few small roofs to a sloping ledge at the same height as Ocean Pacific’s second bolt belay. From here a blind move is made to the left to gain another dihedral below a large roof. Under cling the roof around the corner to an alcove, called Sunset Alcove, at the top of the Sunset Wall and build a natural anchor.
Type:Trad
Height:36m
Rating:PG
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:October 3, 2005
"From the second bolt anchor on Ocean Pacific climb up to the large roof and undercling around it, being careful not to pull on the huge death block at the roof top (does not move with a crow bar, but looks scary). Ascend the perfect hand crack to the top where it joins Ocean Pacific for the last few feet. This route could not be cleaned under the roof due to its sharp lip which cut 2 ropes. It was climbed without inspection or cleaning below the roof, but is very well cleaned above the roof. A very nice route and will hopefully get traffic to clean it up, very solid rock.

[Important! A large block exists directly above the roof. John pulled on it while climbing, as it is almost unavoidable when doing this route, and later tried to free it with a crowbar, but had to give up short of dislodging it in order to prevent cutting the lead rope on a sharp edge mentioned in the previous route description.]"
Type:Trad
Height:20m
Rating:PG
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:October 1, 2005
"[This route may be accessed by rappelling from the tree anchor (2 ropes) used for the Trough Exit route. Rappel to the bolt anchor used for Annihilator (as used on FA) or the first bolt anchor on the route Ocean Pacific. (The Annihilator start begins with an unprotected 45ft 5.4 slab traverse from Annihilator bolt anchor.)

The route follows an obvious dihedral crack on upper Wave Wall between Main Wave Wall and the Wave Wall Dihedral Area. Sustained vertical 5.9 crack and face climbing eventually leads to the tree anchor used for the route ""Trough Exit"". Double set of #2-3 BDs plus standard rack recommended. An extra #4 and #5 (last piece) will help but is not required. Small cracks can be protected with smaller gear; however rock is moderate quality at the surface, meaning large cams will offer added safety in the main hand-fist sized crack. Will likely be a very nice line following some traffic. A very obvious and sustained route.

[Important: Two large, but avoidable blocks need to be hurled into the abyss below; one is 45ft up the crack on the left face (you will want to pull on it bad. Don’t!!) and the other is 70ft up, resting atop a very large diamond shaped chock stone which seems solid (this one above the diamond block is easily avoided).]"
Type:Trad
Height:46m
Rating:G
FA by:Chris Hennigar
FA on:October 2, 2005
Start at the South Facing corner of Wave Wall and Trough Ledge. Climb through a series of cracks and between the large detached rock tower and main face of Wave Wall to gain the Knife Edge trail and a distant tree belay. Works well as an alternate exit (versus ascending a fixed line from the Trough Ledge repel anchor access). It is the only established exit from Trough Ledge and Dihedral Area top out.
Type:Trad
Height:15m
Rating:PG
FA by:Chris Hennigar
FA on:October 1, 2005
"An ambitious and inspiring looking line, first spied by Fred Berube and Jeremy How. A couple of stations have been established and three bolts on the first pitch were installed on lead. Here's Fred's description:

To access this route follow the knife edge trail at the top of Wave Wall. About 20 yards before the dead end (bolt anchor) there is a tree with two stripes of pink flagging tape. This is the top of the third pitch. Two rope rappel and stopping at both anchors is essential. The rappels are just shy of 30m. You could probably do it with one 70m rope. There is a bolted rap station at the top of the open book pitch and one below the open book pitch on top of the slabs. This route is still a project and requires more fixed protection.
Pitch 1 (35m):
At the left end of Wave Wall just left of the large roofs there is a 100ft open book way up high above the slabs. Start directly below this feature near a tree (flagged with pink tape). Climb up the slab past bolts. This pitch may eventually be broken up into two pitches with an anchor at the top of the slabs just below the vertical wall guarding the rap station. To gain the ledge above the short vertical wall, climb through the right part of the roof then move up left to a short dihedral. The rap station is just above this dihedral.
Pitch 2 (35m):
From the bolt anchor move out right about 8ft then climb straight up to the open book past sustained 5.12 climbing for 40ft. Half way up the open book feature you'll gain a small ledge where you can cop a good rest before heading up another 40ft of pumpy 5.10 gear climbing in a sweet open book. Top out the steep corner and continue up for 20ft to find a bolt anchor on your left.
Pitch 3 (30m):
From the anchor, start up the vertical crack but don't go too far. Although this crack looks nice you'll run out of crack to climb. So when you leave the belay move right about 6ft until you reach another vertical crack that runs parallel to the other one. Follow it until you reach a grassy ledge. At the grassy ledge, perform a delicate balancy maneuver back out right onto the face. Don't go for the dihedral at the back of the grassy ledge. Continue up easy climbing to top. Stay right and the top out will be easier."
Type:Mixed
Height:100m
"Rap down the Wave Wall (2 raps) to start at a hanging belay (3 bolts) at the lip of the big roof. Mucho spectacularo.
Pitch 1 (5.9+, 30m) - Follow 7 bolts to a 2 bolt station.
Pitch 2 (5.8+, 27m) - Follow 5 bolts to the top."
Type:Sport
Height:57m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Therien (TR solo)
FA on:August 2003
"Sean Therien spent three years obsessing about this route: dreaming, scheming, scrubbing, bolting, and psyching. His objective: a complete line up the main face of The Wave Wall. The first half of the first pitch was bolted on lead with the help of Joe Rossiter. The rest was rap bolted or protected with gear.

Pitch 1 (5.10d; ~14/2): Starting directly below the headwall, take a circuitous path left, then up through a steep notch, up a ramp to the oft-dripping roof. Traverse right (cams) to a hanging belay (2 bolt anchor) below the headwall. [Note: this pitch was ""french-freed"" through the notch by Cassidy, but is quite free-climbable.]

Pitch 2 (5.12 A0; ~14/3): This looks like a ""heavy duty"" pitch, but actually, it's ""supah heavy duty"". Start with A0 moves on bolts from the belay, and then free climb the steep patina face up to a short roof (crux). This move is protected with a bolt located above the roof, although clipping it on lead would be a bit tricky (on the FA, this bolt was pre-clipped with a long draw and a nut slung over the bolt [no hanger]. [SC note: I didn't lead this pitch but it may be possible to get some supplemental gear in around here.]

Pitch 3 (5.9): Climb through the notch in the roof just up and right of the belay. Continue up wide discontinuous sandy cracks to the top. Dubbed the ""vertical beach"" pitch, it's dirty but pretty fun."
Type:Mixed
Height:180m
Rating:PG-
FA by:Sean Therien
FA on:May 13, 2006
This route was quietly put up by Cory and Tom in 2002 (so quiet that it eluded publication in Nova Scotia Rock!). From the photo it appears that the route ascends relatively low angle slabs and eventually ends at the top of "A-Sent from Heaven".
Type:Trad
Height:30m
Rating:PG-
FA by:Cory Richardson
FA on:June 19, 2002
Located on River wall just downhill of a 7 ft chimney which splits the cliff. Start below an obvious crack in the dihedral on a ledge 25ft up the corner. Ascend the corner to its top and a ledge with fixed slings. Majority of the route is 5.7.
Type:Trad
Height:30m
Rating:G
FA by:John Bowles
FA on:August 27, 2005