And the Sec­ond As­cent of a Nova Sco­tia 5.13

Gripped - - NORTHERN FACES - Story by Matt Macphee Matt Macphee is a climber and pho­tog­ra­pher based on the East Coast.

Party Mom, #An­nemal and “the Anne-tourage” are nick­names that have been f loat­ing around the Nova Sco­tian climb­ing scene lately. They’ve all been used to de­scribe Hal­i­fax climber Anne Giles, who de­spite her small stature has made a big im­pact on the Hal­i­fax rope climb­ing com­mu­nity.

Giles, 38, has only been climb­ing se­ri­ously for the last four years, which makes her late- 2017 as­cent of Split­ting Coins even more im­pres­sive. Split­ting Coins, a ra­zor-thin 5.13a sport line put up in 2008 by pro­lific route and boul­der de­vel­oper Ghis­lain Losier, as­cends a beau­ti­fully blank 21- me­tre high slab over­look­ing Paces Lake in Musquodoboit Har­bour, about a 40- minute drive from Hal­i­fax. Split­ting Coins sat for al­most a decade without a sec­ond as­cent; its sus­tained, crimpy fea­tures turned away any­one who tied in un­til Giles de­cided to give it a try.

“When you hike down to E-Gully [the sub-area of Main Face where Split­ting Coins is lo­cated], it’s the first thing you see, and for me at least, I was hit with, ‘Can I climb that?’” said Giles. “It has small holds, where one wrong move will send you for a whip down the slab. I still don’t know what my style is. I’m still fig­ur­ing that out. As for the grade, I love that I was able to do it, but it’s just a beau­ti­ful climb.” Not only was this Gile’s first 5.13, this may be the first time the grade has been climbed by a woman any­where in the Mar­itime prov­inces.

Nova Sco­tia has seen a re­nais­sance in route de­vel­op­ment over the last two years, with hard sport lines be­ing putting up by Sean The­rian, Sean Smith, Todd Foster, Ben Smith and oth­ers, but Split­ting Coins still sits as one of just a hand­ful of 5.13s in the prov­ince. Giles would project the route af­ter work in the evenings to try to avoid the high hu­mid­ity of Nova Sco­tia’s sum­mers. Giles said that her num­ber-one prob­lem wasn’t the difficulty, but find­ing a be­layer, as she needed about 10 ses­sions be­fore f in­ally clip­ping the chains. Giles said, “I ap­proached a friend from the lo­cal boul­der­ing gym with a ‘if you give me a be­lay on my project I’ll teach you how to climb on a rope,’ deal.”

Com­pro­mise is a com­mon theme in Giles’s climb­ing to date, whether it’s find­ing a pa­tient be­layer to brave Nova Sco­tia’s black f lies, or strik­ing a bal­ance with her ca­reer, fam­ily and time on the rock. Giles man­aged to shoot through the grades while “adult­ing” with her full-time job, two teenage chil­dren and sup­port­ive hus­band, Dave. He’s known by some in the climb­ing com­mu­nity as “the car whis­perer,” due to his skill at sourc­ing qual­ity climb­ing ve­hi­cles for lo­cals be­fore they head out on road trips. That bal­ance, how­ever, has been known to swing to­ward climb­ing when send temps are in, caus­ing Giles to opt out of a par­ent/teacher meet­ing or two.

One fac­tor in high-level sport climb­ing in Nova Sco­tia is the lack of routes in the 5.11 to 5.12 range, rel­a­tive to larger climb­ing re­gions in North Amer­ica. Climbers here look­ing to im­prove don’t have the lux­ury of build­ing a pyra­mid of dozens of 5.11s or 5.12s be­fore pro­ject­ing the 5.13s. In fact, be­fore send­ing Split­ting Coins, Giles says she had only climbed “a few 5.11s and a few 5.12s,” mostly in des­ti­na­tion climb­ing re­gions such as Cuba, Spain and Red Rocks, which are not a proxy for Nova Sco­tia’s mi­cro­scopic gran­ite crimps.

Giles at­tributes her suc­cess to co­pi­ous amounts of Bul­wark Cider and Van­dal Donuts (a lo­cal hot spot for gourmet dough­nuts), but any­one who has spent time climb­ing with her knows it’s be­cause of her work ethic and ded­i­ca­tion to the sport. When asked what’s next, as she often was fol­low­ing her send, Giles said, “I have big plans to drink cider, laugh with friends and fall off hard rock climbs – prob­a­bly in re­verse or­der though.”

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