|Square Ledge, Pinkam Notch. NH|
Indoor climbing is great training but outdoor climbing is the ultimate goal for me. North Conway and the White Mountains have some of the finest multipitch climbs in the world but they also support some great climbs for lowly folks like me. This is a list of the areas we have explored over the summer which are not just for top-roping but certainly have many options for climbers of every skill level.
|The Chimney (5.5), Square Ledge|
|The Brain (5.8), on the right side of the pinnacle|
Square Ledge is a magnificently scenic climbing area with incredible views of Mt Washington, Huntington Ravine and Tuckerman's. There's some top rope options as well as some easier trad climbing options. The Chimney is a 5.5 which can be easily top roped and there's lots of options for protection in the crack which follows the route. We did a couple of mock leads on this route. Just to the right of the Chimney in the pictures is The Brain, a 5.8 which can only be top roped. Again, plenty of options for anchoring at the top. Standard Route is a 5.4, 2 pitch climb up the face of Square Ledge which can be tricky to protect in some areas. This area can get busy on the weekends and holidays.
|Top of Family Crag, Shell Pond, Maine|
|5.9+, single pitch on Family Crag|
I've only visited Shell Pond once and it is perhaps my favorite climbing destination in the North Conway Area because it supports a number of longer intermediate and difficult climbs. Shell Pond is also somewhat difficult to get to- its located off of Route 113 on the NH-ME line and down a dirt road. Here are the directions. The parking lot isn't much of one- large enough for 4 cars, maybe. After that, follow the goat path into the woods and... well... look for the cairns which bring you to the left and around to Family Crag, the easier of the two crags. The larger crags supports some extremely difficult climbs and is slightly west of Family Crag. It will also take some searching to find the class 3 "trail" up and around the top of the crag to set up a top rope. Watch out for bees nests in the ground and trees?
Finding the crag might be arduous, but the climbing is absolutely superb. There are many 100ft, single pitch routes generally ranging from 5.8-5.10d's. Most of the climbing is lengthy, slab climbing and nearly everything is bolted if you'd prefer to sport climb. If you can find the wall, this is one of the best kept secrets of North Conway!
|South Side of Jockey Cap, Maine|
|Top of Jockey Cap|
Jockey Cap is a wonderful little nubble just outside of Fryeburg Maine which is probably the easiest place to set up a top rope. It's an especially great place if you're up in the North Conway area on a crowded weekend. I've previously written about Jockey Cap here. Overall, the west side of the wall has a couple of 5.6-5.8 routes. The south side of the rock supports some very tough sport climbs.
This is, of course, only a partial guide. The best thing you can do is purchase Ed Webster's "Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire", which is the original Bible of climbing in North Conway. Another wonderful resource is Jerry Handren's "North Conway Rock Climbs" which has plenty of color photographs to help with route finding. The latter book is only available through stores in the North Conway area and a few other locations in New England. Both books are absolutely indispensable for climbing in North Conway as internet guides will only get you so far!
However, if you're an up and coming climber just looking for some good places to set up a top rope and get on the rock, than I hope this helps!
Read. Plan. Get Out There!