Perfect climbing destination in Western Maine! An alternative to the crowded routes on Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledge
|Western Wall of Jockey Cap, Maine|
When I first moved to Maine I thought that there were two or three outdoor rock climbing destinations and that was it. The big names in Northeastern climbing- Whitehorse Ledge, Cathedral Ledge, Cannon Cliff, Lake Willoughby and a handful of other destinations are known well outside of New England and can become very crowded in the summer.
As it turns out, there are hundreds of walls all across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. There's volumes of literature out there about routes of all lengths and difficulties. One of these lesser known destinations is Jockey Cap in Fryeburg Maine just West of the New Hampshire Border. A few friends and I decided to climb here in leu of Cathedral Ledge.
|Options for top-roping and lead climbing on Jockey Cap, Maine|
Without even realizing it, I've passed by Jockey Cap perhaps a hundred times on the way to other climbs in the White Mountains. Its located right off of Route 302 near the Jockey Cap Country Store and Motel. There's a 0.2 mile long trail to its base and there's an easy hiking trail to the top. (Map
When we first arrived, I was expecting a tiny rock not even worth bouldering. I was surprised! Its a very large wall supporting many routes of varying difficulties. The South Face supports several bolted climbing routes ranging from 5.11 to 5.12b. The overhand on the eastern side of the South Face looks quite difficult. The West Wall, on the other hand, was much more conducive to our abilities with some 5.6s and 5.8s.
|The South Face, Jockey Cap, Maine. Couple of routes here rated 5.11-5.12b|
|Some less ferocious routes up the South Face of Jockey Cap|
|About halfway up on the Western Wall. Mostly 5.6-5.8 climbing|
has some basic information about the various routes up Jockey Cap.
This was the first climb of the summer season for us so we wanted to brush up on our anchor-building skills and just get back into the swing of things. The trail skirts around to the top of Jockey Cap and there are bolts everywhere. We were able to do set up two top ropes. The first was towards the North end of the West Wall with a very doable 5.6.
The Standard Route up Jockey Cap involves that crack and can be top roped or led. The bottom 20 feet is more difficult and you might be struggling to find good protection. None of us were very strong lead climbers so we stuck to top roping. There are 3 perfect bolts at the top and even some areas for extra protection if you're neurotic about it.
| Top Roping the Standard Route up Jockey Cap|
Overall impression... this was a great location to get in a couple of new climbs and it is not very far from Portland, Maine. There's plenty of options for both top roping and lead climbing. Its a good, solid chunk of rock which supports a fair amount of climbs and bouldering. This was my first time on this rock so I don't really know if it sees many people in the summer, but we were out on a perfect 70-degree day and saw only one other group. I'd imagine it could get boring after a while but for us it was a close and easy destination. So if you get to Cathedral and Whitehorse and its overrun, head back across the border and enjoy some solitude on Jockey Cap.
|You even get a nice view at the top. What else could you ask for?|
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