Elephant's Head Rock Climbing
|GPS:||44.214, -71.407 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Fred Keith on May 23, 2007|
|Admins:||Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey.LeCours, Robert Hall|
DescriptionOne of New Hampshire's pint-sized gems, Elephant's Head is a west facing, 1 pitch dome-like crag situated up and to the right above Rte. 302 just as you go north through Crawford Notch.
Looking back from little Saco Lake after you pass through the notch, it resembles an Elephant's visage with one of NH's classic 1 pitch routes, The Trunk (5.4 - 5.5), heading straight up the broad arete of the trunk following flakes and cracks.
This fun little crag has all the basics: great rock, good pro, a picturesque setting and a quaint quality of exposure and position...right above the road. This of course encourages the requisite tourist rubbernecking and Kodak moments and beginners (and vets) feel heroic as cars pass directly underneath their feet.
An afternoon's suggested outing is leading up one of the "Trunk" routes (5.5 or so) and then throwing a top-rope on some harder moderates down the "cheek / eye" (5.7 - 5.8).
High frequency of climbing school use. The "Trunk" routes use gear anchors in bombproof cracks; the "harder moderates" on the North/West face use a 1/2" bolt, and an older Aluminum-hangered 3/8" that is driven into what is now "hollow rock", so BACK IT UP!
Getting ThereFrom North Conway, follow Rte. 302 North - past Attitash Ski Area and the town of Bartlett - continuing into Crawford Notch State Park. About 21 miles past Bartlett, you drive right up through the "notch".
Parking can be found immediately on both the right and the left or near the train station / Saco Lake.
This has one of the shortest approaches on the planet.
The short-steep path to the base starts at a gray-and-white banded boulder on the side of the road just underneath the crag. Step up on the boulder's right side and follow it steeply up and to the base.
From the top, descend the well worn trail - part of the AMC Hiking Trail Overlook - back and then down to the left to Saco Lake.
Or...to avoid the scramble back up to your packs, a single rope rap can be down the "cheek" side past a tree and some ledges to the base. (see "North" / "West" top-rope climbs)
A standard rack is good with some modern small gear for lower section. Routes on the "cheek" ("North"/"West") side are sparse and usually TR'ed, although the left-most crack accepts finger-sized-and-smaller nuts and cams; it was led with 2 or 3 pitons in the late 1960's.
Classic Climbing Routes at Elephant's Head
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season