Main Cliff Rock Climbing
|GPS:||44.005, -71.239 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Jay Knower on Apr 17, 2007|
|Admins:||Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey.LeCours, Robert Hall|
DescriptionWhat if I were to tell you that a stellar sport cliff exists just outside the traditional stronghold of North Conway, New Hampshire? What if I said that this cliff offers high-quality bolted routes and that this cliff is decidedly different from Rumney? What if I said that this cliff saw the first emergence of "sport" ethics in New England and that one route actually sported a bolted-on gym hold. Would you believe me?
Probably not, and that is why Sundown Ledge is almost always deserted. Maybe it's because most climbers around North Conway set their sights on bigger and more grandiose objectives on Cathedral or Whitehorse. Maybe it's because the sport routes start at 5.11+ at Sundown where at Rumney, you can clip bolts on everything from 5.3 and up. At any rate, people seem to have forgotten about Sundown. Maybe it's a good thing that Sundown has faded from popularity because when the crowds get bad at Rumney, yet you still want that bolt-clipping fix, then Sundown is pretty much the perfect crag.
Plus, the sport climbs at Sundown are pretty slabby by modern standards and consist mostly of strenuous pulling on small edges up vertical or slightly overhanging walls. This place is no Orange Crush, that's for sure. While a few quality trad climbs exist, most notably the Henry Barber fingercrack testpiece Vultures (10d), it's the sport climbs that bring people to this quiet crag. Romper Room (12a) is the perfect little sport climb, and Eyeless in Gaza may very well be the best 12b in all of New England. Yellow Matter Custard (13a), The Argonaut (13a), and Pastryworks (13b) offer harder challenges for those who have maintained their dime-edge crimping technique that they cultivated in the eighties.
For a comprehensive look at Sundowns many crags, including the even lesser traveled outlying areas, Ed Webster's guidebook works well. The Rock Climbing New England guide lists the more popular routes at Sundown's main walls. Conway and North Conway, about ten miles away, hold every amenity imaginable.
Getting ThereAll roads lead to the Kancamagus Highway, the scenic artery that cuts east/west across the state. On the eastern end, about ten miles west of Conway, you will see the Covered Bridge Campground on the north side of the road. Park on either side of the bridge in a lot (the bridge is closed in winter). Cross the river if you haven't already done so, and find the Boulder Loop, a heavily traveled hiking trail.
Set off on this trail and bear right (east) when you get to a fork. After about ten minutes, you should see the big cliff on your left. That's it. If you see a cairn, head up the talus to the base. If you miss the cairn, head up the talus to the base.
Classic Climbing Routes at Main Cliff
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season