Nova Scotia Trip Report

Nova Scotia is not nearly what we thought it would be. First of all, the weather was not horrible. Second, there were almost no black flies, and finally, there was hardly any fog at all. We had wonderful weather and only a few chunks of skin were ripped away by black flies. In reality, I would say the weather was perfect for climbing on granite. We had perfect weather every other day allowing us to climb full days till all that was left of our tips was extremely thin layers of skin.

We arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia Saturday afternoon after a red-eyed whirl wind cross country trip to find that they didn’t have our car ready for us. As excited as I was to drive around a Hyundai Accent the whole week, we were pleasantly surprised that they gave us a van for the same price. Now, only a few people would be excited about driving a van around all week, and it’s mostly climbers and soccer moms. We immediately started the drive to Peggy’s Cove. We really had no idea what to expect when we got to Peggy’s Cove. I remember trying to look up maps of the “city” ahead of time to find the road that our rental house was on with very little luck. Before we left, I had a pretty good idea that this was a small place. Our first view of the ocean and coastline was very refreshing. We had spent some time driving through the suburbs which looked very similar to Ohio where I grew up. It wasn’t the best feeling to spend lots of money and travel for 12 hours to end up in Ohio. The coast line was beautiful, traveling within a stones throw of the ocean and driving through small fishing towns that look like they haven’t changed in the last 40 years. After driving through a rocky barren landscape with boulders scattered off to the distance, we came to Peggy’s Cove. I learned then why there was only one road when I would look on Mapquest and Google: Peggy’s Cove only has one real road.

There are a few small private roads as well, like where our house was, but otherwise, this town was small. Population of 40! Either way, we had rented a nice house that was all ours. We were a 5 minute walk from the lighthouse and the crashing waves on the granite shore. We were also only a 2 minute walk from the fishing cove that has been so famously photographed over the years. I did my part as a photographer and took a few photos as well. The fog definitely added an interesting feel to the day as well. I shot some B&W film on the trip, so we’ll see how those came out soon.

So we did actually climb on this trip, I swear. I didn’t spend the whole time shooting photos of light houses, although…. here’s one more just because I thought it was pretty. Anyway, before we left, I put a message on the Climb Eastern Canada web forum to see if anyone would have time the week we were up in Nova Scotia to show us around. Nate Smith was generous enough to show us around almost any day we wanted. He was in school, so he only had weekends and afternoons free, but it worked out really well for us.We spent most of the day Sunday with him in the Polly’s Cove area checking out some recommended problems. All were really fun, with great moves, and great views of the ocean, definitely an amazing experience. The climbing in Nova Scotia is really fun, but I think that the views alone make this area a top destination for me. Another thing that was really attractive was no crowds. There aren’t that many locals, and there are so many climbing areas that it’s easy to have the boulders to yourself. Being on vacation and trying to get away from crowds and mobs, it was refreshing to have the areas to ourselves.
With a rest day in between because of rain and fog, Sarah and I headed back out to the Polly’s Cove area to explore a few more of the collections of boulder problems on our own. We were meeting Nate again in the afternoon to see what sport climbing in Nova Scotia meant. We spent the morning warming up, and then relaxing in the Polly’s Cove Main area. I think we did a bit more relaxing than climbing, but it was still a lot of fun. It’s hard to not have fun when the problems are good, the waves are crashing behind you and cool ocean breezes are balancing the warm sun; but maybe that’s just me. The only disappointing thing about the small crowds is that you don’t get a chance to get on the taller proud lines. With one pad, and a small spotter, I decided to not get on the tall scary V5 that looked very appealing. But everything else we got on was great. I think I spent more time climbing and almost completely forgot about photos. I know the first day we were there I completely forgot about taking photos because I was so excited to climb. My fingers were bright pink after only being in the province for 24 hours!

After climbing the morning away in Polly’s Cove we rested up for our sport climbing adventure in the afternoon. We picked up Nate around 4pm and headed out to one of Nova Scotia’s few (if only) sport crag. The crag we went to was called Sorrows End, a mixture of sport and trad. I haven’t really spent any time doing sport climbs on granite so I was excited to see what it had to offer. The skies had unfortunately clouded over, and there was definitely a threat of rain. We started the long approach in anyways, and got the tour of a few other boulder problems on the way. If I had to point out a downside of the climbing here, it’s that the boulder areas are sort of spread out, but at the same time, it seemed everywhere I turned there was a few boulders with some classic lines on it. After finally arriving at the crag, we did find a few black flies. I think what saved us from a potential feeding frenzy was a constant breeze from the passing storms. We warmed up quickly and then got on Nate’s old project, a 5.11c with a cool dyno at the end. I haven’t been sport climbing much, so I was not prepared to throw a dyno above my last bolt on the last move of a climb I had never been on, but I wasn’t about to throw away the flash. So I let out a (probably womanly) scream and hucked for the jug. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not fall back towards the Earth, but instead started breathing again and clipped the chains. After a good confidence boost, you can really do anything right? WRONG. We moved onto Nate’s new project, a fun and wild arete climb supposedly rated 5.11b. Although it was a great climb with amazing moves, it was HARD. I think we were both troubled by the lack of protection for the finish. It required a tough move (mantle maybe?) to get up on a slab, but it was after a bit of a run out. Both of us got shot down. Either way, the moves were really fun!

After a full day of climbing, we were ready to treat ourselves to a day off and decided to see some more of Nova Scotia. We first headed out to a park that has the most difficult name to pronounce in the entire world: Kejimkujik National Park. Although it’s known for it’s canoeing, we didn’t have time for a full day, so we hiked the Hemlocks and Hardwoods trail. This trail lead to a grove of 300+ year old hemlocks. It was really amazing. The photo on the right is of the roots of one hemlock that had started growing on top of a boulder. The roots had to stretch down about 5-10 feet to get to the ground. Definitely amazing.
The next stop on the tour was Annapolis Royal. We were hoping to see a lot of apple blossoms. The following weekend was their Annual Apple Blossom Festival. At first we were a bit disappointed, but as soon as we headed north, we found what all the excitement was about. The apple blossoms themselves are pretty, but when you add the fields of yellow dandelions, it turns out to be an amazing site. So you have to ask what would be a good way to end a relaxing day touring around the province? We decided that the answer to that was going to a winery, drinking a lot of wine, and eating a delicious meal. After a tour of the winery, a short lesson in the vineyard history, and some wine tasting at the Grand Pre Winery, we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Le Caveau on the grounds of the winery. I highly recommend this to anyone visiting Nova Scotia. We tried to bring some wine home with us, but we found that we drank most of it before we left Canada. Definitely a shame, but it did taste good. Anyone from Canada that is willing to ship me some wine, I would be very grateful.

Anyway, back to the climbing, right? One area of Nova Scotia that we were told we had to go to was Dover Island. This is their main area with the largest collection of problems, and probably their best climbing. Unfortunately, you have to take a boat there. And it’s not any regular boat, it’s Norms boat. Norm is a local blacksmith who will ferry you out and back to Dover Island. Because there were only two of us, we had to pay a bit more, but it was worth it. We spent 12 hours on the island climbing everything we could. I can’t say much more, except it was awesome and totally worth the money for the boat ride. The favorite problem for both Sarah and I was Orangutan. Orangutan was the perfect V4 boulder problem. Just hard enough to give you a really good challenge, but easy enough that you can either try it or do it over and over. So yeah, amazing problems, amazing views, just amazing! So I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. There are a few problems that I would love to go back to and try again, and a few I want to get on with more pads and spotter. Lots to come back too!

After another day of rest and spending money on touristy things, we were ready for our last day of climbing before flying out. We met up with Nate again and he took us out to the Prospect area. The morning started off pretty foggy, which I was excited about for B&W photos. Although the fog would probably get annoying in the long run, every once in a while it was really cool for us to see. Prospect didn’t have too many hard problems, but had a lot of fun short climbs. We even got on something new for Nate. We could tell this probably hadn’t see much action because it was really sharp. But with a few dyno’s to the lip, we probably smoothed it up a bit. Here are a few more foggy images from the Prospect area.

So we had 1 hour left before we had to head back to Halifax, and we asked Nate “We have one hour left before we have to head back to Halifax, what problem should we go do?”


I am so happy that we went there. Tombstone is an amazing V7 overhanging knife blade arete hidden in the pine forest covered in moss. I felt like I was in Squamish for a minute when I first walked in. I wish I had more time to shoot photos of this awesome problem, but I just wanted to climb it so bad! It was the perfect way to end the trip to Nova Scotia. Ending the trip on my favorite route I did the whole time. So we said bye to Nate, packed up our house, and headed back into Halifax. Our flight was 6:20 the next morning, so we called it quits early and got some sleep. It was depressing going back to the real world, but the photos and memories from Nova Scotia will always be a pleasant reminder of the fun we had while on vacation. I highly recommend Nova Scotia to anyone, and stay in Peggy’s Cove. I’ll even give you the contact for the house we rented; it was so cheap!

Enjoy, and thanks for reading (or just looking at the pics).


~ by cruxphoto on June 8, 2007.

11 Responses to “Nova Scotia Trip Report”

  1. My coworkers were really impressed with the pictures! – They said they looked like postcards.

  2. Amazing! I have this thing for lighthouses…and climbing…I’d definitely love to do this trip someday! Thanks for the pics and story, it’s great to hear about your adventures!

  3. Incredible Photos! I was so excited to see and read what you had to say about it all. I am going next month and you have totally inspired me! I absolutely love the photo composition with the small red building on the deck over the water. The colors are brilliant. I hope I can do as much justice to it as you have. Thanks!

  4. Hey Nate, Glade you two had a good time, sorry I couldn’t get out with you cats more. The “Sport” climbing spot is call Sorrows End. It has very few sport lines, ( Like most of Nova Scotia ). We have pretty strong Traditional Ethic’s up here. But The sport climbs we do have, are all classics. I see Sara got her hands on Orange Crush. Did you get the through to the finish?

    P.S. I wont ship you any wine, but I will sip a few for you!


  5. Thanks for the comments guys.
    Conan, Orange Crush was awsome. I did suck it up and finished it, scary as it was. It took a few times of just looking at it though.

  6. Absolutely beautiful. I really like the foggy fishing cove one–such a classic coast scene and feel. Sarah on the overhung problem is great too, the photo is so crisp. You should to a trip slideshow some evening!

  7. Hey Guys,
    Great to hear you had a good time out here. Thanks for driving me about that, I had a brilliant week of climbing.

  8. Great photos from Peggy’s Cove. The fog really makes that one shot stand out. It difinitely makes me want to head north and find some quiet country.

  9. Wow i just got back myself from Nova Scotia and Peggy’s Cove area is just breath taking 🙂

  10. […] are links that may be of interest:  – Dover bouldering […]

  11. other links for bouldering in Halifax:

    visit for Boulderfest details!

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