What is a “punter?”
How do you get the rope to the top of the cliff?
How do climbing routes get their funny names?
Why do climbers call each other “dirt bags?”
It occurred to me a few weeks ago while searching for climbing routes near Cape Clear with friends that there’s a lot of really fun stuff about the climbing culture that people on the east coast may not necessarily be exposed to. Yes, there is some truly majestic scenery, challenging hiking trails, pristine shorelines and beaches, beautiful parks such as Highland National Park, in addition to more than a fair share of succulent lobster all within a short jaunt. But, with the exception of Cape Clear, which is by far the most solid and tallest vertical face I’ve seen so far on Cape Breton Island, there’s not too many peaks to bag.
Fear not, grashopper.
That presents a unique opportunity to introduce climbing to my fellow east-coast loving outdoor enthusiasts who are curious about climbing but have less exposure to the sport. Thanks to my friends Sherry & Paul Finney, proprietors of Escape Outdoors in North Sydney and EO employee and climbing enthusiast Lory Mackenzie, I’ll have the chance to share a few funny stories that highlight unique aspects of climbing culture in an attempt to answer some of the questions that newbies (punters) may have. My hope is that my presentation “Above the Treeline the Alpinist’s Way” will inspire others to learn more and to explore what rock we do have on Cape Breton Island. In many ways, Cape Clear is the perfect (and possibly the only) major
cliff face that new climbers should aspire to locally. Lucky for us, a few routes have already been established by other climbers on the island.
All photos courtesy of Mike Mackinnis shot at Cape Clear, Cape Breton Island, 2013.