Columbus Wall

Columbus Wall
Photo credit: Matt MacPhee

Crag Description

Columbus Wall is one of the few crags on the mainland that doesn’t rise out of a lake or ocean! In contrast to most areas, this crag is nestled in the forest and has a very comfortable, unexposed feel to it despite having at least one line approaching 30m in height. Its sheltered character means that not much wind gets here, so it’s hot in the middle of the summer and buggy during black fly season. Route development began around 1994 and was spearheaded by J.P. Brown and Danny Bernard. This is a good place for top-ropers as there are plenty of tree anchors available.

How to get there

To get to Columbus, drive out to Musquodoboit Harbour along Highway 107 (and then Highway 7); then turn left on Highway 357 heading up to Musquodoboit Valley. Pass the pull-off for Main Face (Paces Lake) at 4.8 km and the road to First Face at 6.1 km. Continue for 1.4 km to a gravel road on your left. There are actually two roads fairly close to each other that lead up steeply up the hill. Take the second one and park at the gate making sure not to block access.

From the gate, walk 15-20 minutes up the road until you see a very short rock face and a small rock cairn on the left-hand side (ten metres further the road crests a small hill). Take the trail through the raspberries and ferns behind the cairn on the left, and head into the woods. Bear right, following a short rock bluff which leads to the main cliff (5 minutes from the cairn). There is a short trail leading to the top of the cliff at this end.

Notes

  • this is private property – please respect the place and our privilege to climb here
  • logging vehicles and wide emergency response vehicles need to be able to drive through the date – do not block it
  • if the gate is open, don’t drive in, you will surely be locked in

Routes

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A short route to the right of "A Quick One" down at the heavy petter wall. Large dyno at the finish
Type:Sport
Anchor Type:Rings
FA by:Shawn Smith, Jack Bennet
FA on:31/08/2015
Start as for Alpamayo, at ledge continue straight up weakness on gear to horizontal (5.9). Climb huge granite tufa past a bolt to jug rest. Clip here and make compression moves on pinches, gain sidepull and stance for final bolt, step high (crux) and toss for jug at the lip.
Type:Mixed
Anchor Type:Rings
FA by:Mick Levin, Sarah Gutowsky
FA on:17/10/2015
A nice easy romp at the far left end of the crag, following a crackline.
Type:Trad
Height:7m
Rating:G
FA by:Barb Stary
FA on:October, 1999
Start one metre right of First Steps, climb slabby face up to a bolt. Then up and right past a small roof to gain the buttress on the right. Fun laybacking up the arete to reach the anchors. A cleansing experience.
Type:Mixed
Height:7m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Therien
FA on:August 2002
Slap on the butter and climb the difficult slab past three bolts and an overlap to reach the anchor. (Starts four metres right of First Steps in front of a maple tree. A little dirty on the bottom.)
Type:Sport
Height:7m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Therien
FA on:September 2002
Climb the horizontals, face and vertical crack just right of a tree-filled mossy corner. Start by a tree stump. Gear protects the starting moves and the top-out crack. Good line.
Type:Mixed
Height:10m
Rating:G
FA by:Todd Foster
FA on:August 2002
Climbs the left side of a white face past two bolts to reach a thin crack high up on the wall.
Type:Mixed
Height:10m
Rating:PG
FA by:Becky Craig
FA on:September 17, 2000
This route catches a lot of sun, but even when cloudy, it's still hot and heavy. Climb past two bolts to reach a vertical crack leading to the large tree up top. Great climb.
Type:Mixed
Height:10m
Rating:G
FA by:Jonathan Graham
FA on:September 14, 2000
Climb the face and cracks starting three metres right of Heavy Petter. Tricky moves at the start (protected by small wires) and face climbing lead to the finishing crack. There is room for gear at the top if you want.
Type:Mixed
Height:10m
Rating:PG-
FA by:Jim Harrigan, Chris Hayes
FA on:August 2002
At the far right side of Heavy Petter Wall, climb the short right-facing dihedral and step left onto the steep face to finish. Bouldery. [ST called this 5.10d, but it feels a lot hard to me!]
Type:Sport
Height:7m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Therien
FA on:August 19, 2003
Start up an easy crack at the left end of Keyhole Wall, just right of the mossy corner. Above the crack, tackle the deceptive headwall. Gear is good but difficult to arrange on the top section.
Type:Trad
Height:8m
Rating:PG
FA by:Andy Birtwistle
FA on:May 12, 1998
To the left of the hanging truncated tree, ascend the finger crack up a right-facing wall, which leads to a small roof. At the roof, step your left foot left and finish up the vertical face to reach the exit ramp. Fun and balancey.
Type:Mixed
Height:8m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:August 27, 1999
Follow the obvious arete at the right side of the alcove, behind a birch tree. Protection is a little sparse but not too bad - sling the birch tree at the first opportunity. [Variation: layback or grovel up the narrow chimney behind Romancing the Stone (has apparently been TR'd but not led).]
Type:Trad
Height:9m
Rating:PG
FA by:Danny Bernard
FA on:Summer 1996
Climb the off-balance jam and layback crack, two metres right of Romancing the Stone.
Type:Trad
Height:9m
Rating:G
FA by:Dave Edgell
FA on:August 1996
Climb the left hand crack leading to the Keyhole. Excellent climb.
Type:Trad
Height:9m
Rating:G
FA by:Dave Edgell
FA on:Summer 1995
Climb the right hand crack leading to the Keyhole with an interesting roof move to start. More of a variation to Three Friends and a Nut than a route in its own right. Above the notch, if you just stay in the right hand crack it's quite a bit harder than 5.8, and the gear isn't very good either. Most leaders choose to use both cracks at this point.
Type:Trad
Height:9m
Rating:G
FA by:J.P. Brown
FA on:Summer 1996
An historic climb - this was the first route established at Columbus. Very cool climbing at the right end of Keyhole Wall, starting with a funky ledge mantle into a beautiful crack. A couple of blocks move a little in the crack, but are probably solid.
Type:Trad
Height:9m
Rating:G
FA by:Dave Edgell
FA on:Summer 1995
Wax on and wax off the left side of the arete at the far right end of Keyhole wall. Starting from the lowest ground level, climb up to a large block on the ledge and clip the first bolt. Tall people can climb directly up from here. Shorter folks will need to jump or move in from the mossy crack on the right. Bring a cam for the top or run it out (not that bad). Nice route with interesting cruxes.
Type:Sport
Height:9m
Rating:PG
FA by:Chris Hayes
FA on:August 2002
A short but worthwhile climb on the right hand side of the short arete at the far right end of the Keyhole Wall.
Type:Trad
Height:6m
Rating:G
FA by:Steve Punshon
FA on:May 9, 1999
Climb the wall left of Origins of Life. A small friend is useful in the crack above last bolt. [Listed as "#17 Project" in NSR]
Type:Mixed
Height:15m
Rating:PG
FA by:Alan Wilson
FA on:September 27, 2003
An unclimbed open project that is all ready to go. Climb the face to the left of the Origins of Life corner to a ledge and then continue up the second face.
Type:Mixed
Height:15m
Rating:PG
Also known as the Oranges of Life - and why not! Fun climbing up the large corner, but wet and slimy in the spring (not unlike primordial ooze). Great stuff when it's dry.
Type:Trad
Height:18m
Rating:G
FA by:Sandie Baldauf
FA on:July 28, 1996
Climb the face just right of Origins of Life. The first half (up to the ledge) is mixed and the last half is all bolt-protected.
Type:Mixed
Height:18m
Rating:G
FA by:Jonathan Graham
FA on:September 14, 2000
From the outside corner, climb the left-trending steps to the base of an obvious hand crack. Thought-provoking jams get you to the top. The first ascent was done in two short pitches with an unusual hanging belay, which inspired the route name.
Type:Trad
Height:17m
Rating:G
FA by:J.P. Brown
FA on:August 17, 1996
Start as for 3D but then follow the left hand arete all the way up. Near the top move left onto the face and finish in the trees. The route was put up by two of Halifax's undisputed fashion leaders - one of them likely wore his ever-stylin' Riddell approach sneakers; a favourite on the cat-walk.
Type:Trad
Height:17m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:September 14, 2000
One of the best routes at the crag - certainly the most exposed! Start at the base of the arete, using a layback flake just left of the arete, or ascend directly to a bolt. Step right and ascend with difficulty into the awesome crack (5.9) leading to the top.
Type:Mixed
Height:18m
Rating:G
FA by:Danny Bernard
FA on:July 12, 1996
One of the best routes in the province. Start as for Alpomayo and just as you reach the ledge layback left off of good holds to reach a monster jug and clipping stance. Continue straight up the overhanging wall all the way to the top. It looks worse than it is from the bottom.
Type:Mixed
Height:18m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:September 12, 1999
Start in the corner and climb past a bolt into a crack that leads to a large ledge. Continue up the wide corner to reach a steep headwall. Climb up and right past two bolts to gain a left-leaning crack. The climb was originally done in two pitches but is typically climbed in one (watch your rope drag though). [Alternate finish: (5.10b PG/R, FFA: Oliver Drake, Colin Matthews, April 1998) At the horizontal break near the top, go up and left with sparse protection to reach the top.]
Type:Mixed
Height:25m
Rating:G
FA by:J.P. Brown
FA on:September 1996
A climber's climb. Steep technical climbing leads up the sweeping face right of Alpomayo to the large ledge. Two bolts. Small friends or tricams protect the horizontal break. [Note: this route hasn't seen many repeats but two of them have been impressive on-sights.]
Type:Mixed
Height:6m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:September 1997
A short climb starting two metres right of Sweaty Cheese. Tenuous balance moves gain an awkward crack leading up to a large loose block (careful!). Finish on Alpomayo or rappel from the large ledge.
Type:Trad
Height:6m
Rating:PG
FA by:J.P. Brown
FA on:August 18, 1996
An excellent layback crack - gear is good but a little awkward to place. Finish on Penis Envy. [Note: this route was cleaned and top-roped by J.P. Brown in 1996.]
Type:Trad
Height:15m
Rating:PG
FA by:Steve Brewis
FA on:May 21, 1998
Climb the jam-crack which starts at the right end of the ledge beneath the Arch Wall. From the top ledge finish up on Penis Envy.
Type:Trad
Height:17m
Rating:G
FA by:J.P. Brown
FA on:August 27, 1996
A pretty good route with an unenviable name (just who was envying who anyway?), starting just left of JP's Arete. From the ledge, walk to its left end and climb straight up to the top (avoiding some loose blocks).
Type:Trad
Height:18m
Rating:G
FA by:Danny Bernard
FA on:Summer 1995
A project bolted by the top-rope developers but subsequently aborted. The route ascends the blunt arete at the right end of the Arch Wall. Climb past three bolts to a ledge (5.10b) and then climb the shallow finger layback crack to the top (5.11a), staying on the left hand side of the arete. [Note: small nuts can provide additional marginal protection on the top section but may not be essential.]
Type:Sport
Height:10m
Rating:PG
FA by:(TR) J.P. Brown, Robin Creelman
FA on:September 1996
A fun crack climb just right of JP's Arete, with a deceptively awkward exit move. Collect your McPrize upon reaching the ledge and finish on Penis Envy.
Type:Trad
Height:18m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:August 1996
Climb the easy crack start to Ronald McDonald then bust right and follow bolts to a "gooch- puckering" finish.
Type:Mixed
Height:10m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Therien
FA on:November 17, 2003
Start about eight metres left of Four J's, below and right of a left-trending handrail. Not much gear on this one.
Type:Trad
Height:5m
Rating:R
FA by:Oliver Drake (solo)
FA on:April 1998
Type:Sport
Height:6m
Rating:G
FA by:Ghislain Losier
FA on:Fall 2009
Type:Sport
Height:6m
Rating:G
FA by:Ghislain Losier
FA on:Fall 2009
Type:Sport
Height:6m
Rating:G
FA by:Ghislain Losier
FA on:Fall 2009
Height:6m
Rating:G
FA by:Ghislain Losier
FA on:Fall 2009
The crack line directly above the top-out for In Your Face.
Type:Trad
Height:5m
Rating:PG
FA by:Danny Bernard (solo)
FA on:Spring 1996
Get right high - climb to the top of the whole crag! Use the crack directly behind the top of 3D, three metres left of the edge of the ledge.
Type:Trad
Height:5m
Rating:G
FA by:Hugh Pierce
FA on:September 22, 1996
Super thin climbing for 2 bolts to link into Peckerhead. Great line for crimp fiends! Home of the one-finger tooth deadpoint. Do it! [Listed as "#35 Project" in NSR]
Type:Sport
Height:10m
Rating:G
FA by:Ghislain Losier
FA on:October 5, 2008
A stunning and varied crack climb that heads up the middle of University Wall. First ascended by Dr. Edgell, the acronym stands for "Phinally Done." Success on this route requires a steady diet of the Granite's Best Bitter, lots of strong coffee, and Mrs. Dunster's donuts.
Type:Trad
Height:10m
Rating:G
FA by:Dr.Edgell, Sean Cassidy
FA on:August 1997
A really funky climb immediately right of Ph.D. Start with a small undercling flake in the left hand and crimp up to and past a bolt (crux) to a good horizontal. Follow the obvious crack to the tree.
Type:Mixed
Height:10m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:November 6, 1999
Rising above Penis Envy, climb the short blocky corner at the back of the ledge. Yeah, girl power!!
Type:Trad
Height:5m
Rating:G
FA by:Peggy Pickering (solo)
FA on:1995 or 1996
The allure of this climb was a lot greater than its worth - hence the name. The obvious finger crack on the left side of the arete (left of Freakee Stylee).
Type:Trad
Height:6m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:October 30, 1999
Open project immediately right of Sirens (#39). Bolted by Sean Therien in Spring of 2003. The crack is off-limits.
Type:Sport
Height:6m
Rating:G
Harder than it looks. Start up the left crack and lean into the second one at the first opportunity. The exit moves are freakee!
Type:Trad
Height:7m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:August 31, 1997
Excellent face climbing to the right of Freakee Stylee [64/65].
Type:Sport
Height:7m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Therien
FA on:Spring 2003
The wet and ugly looking corner on the Upper Tier. Despite appearances this is a really nice climb (no joke) - the mud and moss are all part of the character. The gear is also better than it looks from the ground.
Type:Trad
Height:7m
Rating:PG
FA on:1995
Start on the Upper Tier below a large boulder. Delicate climbing around the hint of a crack leads to the top, passing one bolt. Half of the battle is placing gear. Lose sleep over it, it's worth it.
Type:Mixed
Height:9m
Rating:PG
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:August 1997
The short easy crack ten metres right of Insomnia.
Type:Trad
Height:4m
Rating:G
FA by:Sean Kelly
FA on:Summer 2001
The left-arching crack right of Just Say No To Crack.
Type:Trad
Height:4m
Rating:G
FA by:Jeff Lockyer
FA on:Summer 2001
The first rock face you come to along the trail. Short and steep, this climb starts on a four-inch tree stump and climbs a bouldery (~V4) left-angling seam to a horizontal break. Step left and up for a short distance then right a bit to exit. The gear is there but it's a little hard to find.
Type:Trad
Height:7m
Rating:R
FA by:Sean Cassidy
FA on:September 17, 2000