First Face

First Face
Photo credit: Anne Giles

Crag Description

First Face offers some of the finest climbing in the province, in both sport and traditional styles. Although the climbs are all single pitches, most are a decent length (~25m). And with the added height of the scree slope rising out of Paces Lake, the exposure is delicious. The rock is of unusually fine quality – much friendlier than most of the granite in Nova Scotia – with flat positive holds and decent friction. In the off-seasons, the rock catches a fair bit of sun and so tends to be warmer than most other places at these times of year. If there’s no wind the bugs can be bad but if it’s blowing, you can steal a few climbing days here during the peak of bug season. It’s also one of the first cliffs to dry after a rain. And a curious bit of trivia: the site is known to the local cottagers as “the potato patch” because of the large scree slope which I Guess resembles a patch of potatoes (?!).

How to get there

From Musquodoboit Harbour, drive 6.1 km along Highway 357 and park along the road opposite Paces Lake Rd. Be careful not to block the road as it is a collection of private driveways. Do not drive up the road. Walk along the road for about 15 minutes. Before reaching a gated ‘Y’ in the road (the gate is on the left of the y), look for a cairn marking a climbers trail to your left. The trail is flagged with tape at the time of this writing. Follow the trail until you reach the obvious lookout. You can rap off of the bolted anchors on top (e.g. Black Diamond) or continue walking around the cliff to the bottom.

Note: This cliff is on private land. The landowners are o.k. with people rock climbing here, so long as they agree to the following conditions:

  • climb at your own risk
  • pick up any trash that you see lying around (even if it’s not yours)
  • do not camp above the cliff or make fires

(these conditions are stated here because they were explicitly requested by the landowner, however this code of conduct should be followed by all climbers at all locations as a matter of course)

Routes

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Type:Sport
Anchor Type:Rings
FA by:Gavin King/Todd Foster

Type:Sport
Anchor Type:Rings
FA by:Todd Foster/Gavin King
Scramble up to high belay of Anniversary Waltzes/Four Minute Smiler, then scurry left for 4m along/behind broken rock to comfortable ledge belay. Follow bolts up weakness in pristine smooth rock on great incuts to steeper terrain. Make tenuous moves along incipient cracks before a powerful steeper finish. Well protected and exciting climbing!
Type:Sport
Anchor Type:Rings
FA by:Todd Foster/ Mick Levin
"The Weight of History" (5.10c 32m M5/2) the tallest line at First Face! 10m left of Pyramid, follow five bolts for 25m straight up the face past two distinct and well protected cruxes before gaining a ledge and angling right up an exposed dihedral for the last 7m (T5.7G) to rings above Indian Summer. [SC edit: Climb directly from the ground to gain a ledge where Scrape and Pillage starts. Climb the starting moves of SaP to slight overhang and then follow bolts up and left (SaP angles up right here).]
Type:Mixed
Anchor Type:Rings
FA by:Mick Levin/Todd Foster
The line starts up fractured blocks (but solid for the most part) and goes through the corner system to the left of Four Minute Smiler - rock quality improves with height as does steepness, and it ends through the slightly overhanging dihedral with great exposure. Extra bolt added after first ascent.
Type:Mixed
Anchor Type:Natural
Rating:G
Developer:Rich LaPaix / Sean Cassidy
FA on:Sept 2011
open project, bolted by ricardo in spring 2010
Type:Sport
Climbs the pale overhanging wall at the far left end of the crag. Start by scrambling up a gully to a ledge and belay on Anniversary Waltzes. Climb up and left past blocky ledges to a prominent roof and a fixed pin. Step to the right onto an overhanging face with good incut holds. Follow the crack up the headwall to top out. Very strenuous with some great moves.
Type:Trad
Height:18m
Rating:PG
FA by:Steve Punshon
FA on:October 8, 2001
Near the far left end of the cliff, scramble up a right-angling gully that starts behind a clump of gnarled trees. You can belay at the base of the gully by these trees or rig a gear belay on a ledge a little higher up. Follow the gully up to a right-leaning dihedral and arete which takes you to the top. A fun outing.
Type:Trad
Height:24m
Rating:PG
FA by:Chris Dale
FA on:September 1978