New England Rock Climbing: The Destinations

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Photo Credit: Sam Davies

It’s prime-time for New England climbing, a magical time of year when the weather cools, the bugs are gone, and the rock is dry. It may in fact be the one time of year that we can brag about our climbing–the foliage, that sweet, Goldilocks-esque spot in temperature–it’s an amazing time, if however short.

So! Read on, and plan a road trip around New England while the climbing is sublime!

Photo Credit: Dylan Harry

Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, NH

The top trad climbing destination in New England, North Conway’s iconic Cathedral Ledge boasts innumerable routes of varying difficulty, with something to be had for everyone.

The superb granite of Cathedral yields a high number of superlative traditional routes that rank among the most-climbed in the Northeast, and though it is often crowded on the weekends, the cliff will provide for those who seek out what it has to offer.

Classic Climbs

  • Thin Air, Trad, 5.6, 300′, 4 pitches
  • Funhouse, Trad, 5.7, 150′ 2 pitches
  • Pine Tree Eliminate, Trad, 5.8+, 90′, 1 Pitch
  • Missing Link, Trad, 5.10a, 170′, 2 Pitches
White Horse

Photo Credit: Dylan Harry

White Horse Ledge, North Conway, NH

A stone’s throw away–and the perfect complement to–Cathedral Ledge, White Horse Ledge is an immense granite slab that is best known for its–well–slab climbing. The clean and clear faces of Whitehorse provide many opportunities for friction climbs as well as  some of the most celebrated face climbing in the Northeast.

Classic Climbs:

  • Science Friction Wall, Trad, 5.11a, 160′, 2 Pitches
  • Hotter than Hell, Trad, 5.9, 160′, 2 Pitches; Link up with the upper part of Inferno, Trad, 5.8, 160′, 2 Pitches for an excellent full length route.
  • Sliding Board, Trad, 5.7 R, 1090′, 9 Pitches
  • Children’s Crusade, Trad, 5.11a, 330′, 4 Pitches

Photo Credit: Broudy/Donohue Photography

Upper West, Bolton, VT

Nestled in the Green Mountains, Bolton isn’t the first location that most climbers think of when planning a sojourn to New England, but there are quality climbs just the same, particularly for those with an explorer’s mentality.

The layered schist that comprises the rock at Upper West is banded with veins of quartz that provide features and crimps that characterize the climbing there.

Classic Climbs

  • Fresh Meat, Sport, 5.10b, 70′, 1 Pitch
  • Private Property, Sport, 5.8+, 80′, 1 Pitch
  • The Rose, Trad, 5.10a, 80′, 1 Pitch
  • Chockstone, Trad, 5.8, 110′, 1 Pitch

Photo Credit: Sam Davies

Acadia National Park, ME

Rock climbing in Acadia National Park is an experience that you can get nowhere else in New England, as the beautifully stark cliffs all along the shoreline of the park offer a level of breathtaking novelty that is hard to beat.

Otter Cliffs, Great Head, and the South Wall of Champlain Mountain all boast climbs that, while committing and lacking in good gear (particularly the seaside climbing) are worth it just for the sheer beauty and excitement.

Classic Climbs

  • A Dare By The Sea, Trad, 5.10c, 60′, 1 Pitch
  • Full Sail, Trad, 5.6, 60′, 1 Pitch
  • Story of O, Trad, 5.6, 250′, 3 Pitches
  • Connecticut Cracks, Trad, 5.11a, 70′, 1 Pitch

Photo Credit: Broudy/Donohue Photography

Shagg Crag, ME

About an hour north of North Conway, you will find Shagg Crag, a granite, jug-crazy crag that is a delight for sport climbers. Isolated, wild, and burly, Shagg has enough overhanging, featured granite to satisfy experienced climbers looking for a challenge.

Classic Climbs

  • Ginseng Route, Sport, 5.12c, 80′, 1 Pitch
  • Looney Tunes, Sport, 5.12c, 60′, 1 Pitch
  • Shagg It, Sport, 5.12d, 90′, 1 Pitch
  • Meltdown, Sport, 5.12d, 50′, 1 Pitch 
Rumney

Photo Credit: Sam Davies

Rumney, NH

If Cathedral is New England’s trad-climbing destination, then Rumney can lay claim to the sport climbing crown. Full of challenging, varied, and fun climbs, Rumney is often crammed full of bodies on the weekends, but for good reason. After you’re done, hit up Moose Scoops for some post-send ice cream.

Classic Climbs

  • Metamorphosis, Sport, 5.8+, approx. 90′, 1 Pitch
  • Sweet Polly Purebred, Sport, 5.10c, 1 Pitch
  • Lions and Tigers and Bears, Sport, 5.11b, 1 Pitch
  • Technosurfing, Sport, 5.12b, 60′, 1 Pitch
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Published:October 11, 2016

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