Elevation: 2,484 ft
GPS: 44.03, -71.264 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: john strand on Jul 17, 2010
Admins: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey LeCours, Jonathan Steitzer, Robert Hall
Getting weather forecast...


Oct 23, 2018 - Bear Notch Road has been closed (for the winter season)  You can still ride bikes up the road once the snow clears off.

 Bear Notch & Kanc (which had also been temporarily closed) received a significant amount of snow on the 23rd.   (Coupled with the 2018 spring opening, which was the latest opening in years, 2018 probably saw the shortest period with Bear Notch road being open.)

Pleasant climbing on a 200 - 300 ft south facing slab about 45-50 min. hike; nice rock, most (if not all) old 1/4" bolts have been replaced, and hardly anyone ever goes there, even on crowded weekends. Most climbs are reasonably well protected at their cruxes and "run out" portions are usually 2 to 4 grades below the climb's crux rating.

The best approach to the base is to hike up the well-maintained hiking trail and rap in.  Anchors (dbl 3/8 or 5/16th inch bolts) are "set" on four lines. (3 on Main Slab). Your last rap sets up a top-rope on some of the best climbing. (Regardless of which of the rap options you decide to use!) this site lists several new routes that do not appear in the latest, Handren, guidebook. ENJOY!

Once at the base, you will find the immediate 3-4 ft from the cliff to the trees quite easy walking, especially from Picnic Table to near Merlin. From Merlin west to the start of "False Holy Smoke" there is a bit of a slab-scramble down, usually using pine branches for an "assist", although there are other ways to make this move. From "False Holy Smoke" to the end of the slab the walking is again easy.

Should you get caught in a sudden downpour, probably the EASIEST, MOST PROTECTED WAY UP (and out) is to climb P1 (5.4-5.5) of False Holy Smoke, and then P2 of Old Smokey's Return. This gets you to the upper Merlin Rap station, where a climber's path leads up and right, returning you back to the "Bugs" rap station and the hiking trail.

In a true emergency it is possible to ascend the "class 2+" tree-and-bush filled gully about 100-125 ft right of "Bugs Eat Frogs".

HISTORY- Probably the first climb on the slab was put in by Paul Ross and Julia Blake in the summer of 1976. They bushwhacked directly in from the Kanc with difficulty locating the slab. (Uhg !!!). Paul named the* route they did that day "Dragon Fly" for the insect, of which there were many flitting around, while he (essentially) soloed on lead (no bolts for THAT Brit!). He "graded it 5.7" (That's "old school" 5.7 !) on "the best looking bit of the slab...to the top of the slab...and might have been [in the area of] Knights (in White Satin) or Holy Grail".
** The fact that Paul did six (6) new climbs on Rainbow on one day, while only doing this one on Table, kind of gives you a clue as to the bushwhacking and logistics they encountered coming in from the Kanc!
(Italic quotes from a personal e-mail communication (July 2015) from Paul after he had consulted his "FA notes".)

The current Handren "North Conway" Guidebook covers this this cliff, but since the guide was published (2012) the "Holy Smoke" mystery has been solved, and six new routes, plus a new P2, have been added:  1)The Old Smokey's Return, 2)Merlin's Wand, 3)Percival's Quest, Sir Bors Dream now has a P2 it probably didn't have before, and 4)Sir Hector's Highway, 5) Cader Crack, and 6) King Arthur's Arete.

The climb that Handren, and Ed Webster before him, named "Holy Smoke" has been re-named here "False Holy Smoke". [See more on this in the COMMENTs, if you're interested.] The real "Holy Smoke" (FA by the "two Dougs") included what would later be climbed as P1 of Table Scraps and the last pitch of Picnic Table.

Getting There

Although visible easily from the "Kanc" Highway (esp. traveling Eastbound east of Bear Notch Rd), unequivocally the best approach is to hike in via the Attitash trail off the east side of Bear Notch Road (BNR), about a 45-60min. hike. From North Conway, drive north on Rt16 to Glen, then straight ahead on Rt 302 to Bartlett. (Or take West Side Road from No. Conway to 302) In Bartlett, turn left (south) up the Bear Notch Road, drive about 2 1/4 miles to a pull out on the left, just before a sharp turn. In the incredibly unlikely event the small lot is full, one can park at a pull out about 1/4 mile towards Bartlett, or across the street if your car is 100% off the pavement, and then some.

With a rope, gear and some water-and-lunch I find the hike up about 50 minutes from Bear Notch. That's for me, younger climbers have reported as fast as 20-25 min! ( about 2 miles and 1300 vertical feet) A very pleasant hike, with a lovely stream & pool, hardwood forest and nice views on the final 1/3 of the hike. The trail goes over a few slabs with open views to the West and South, but you know you have come to the correct slab when the view opens up to the East and can see Albany Covered Bridge [see photo]; I usually "gear up here" [it's nice and flat and sunny] and then go back down the hiking trail about 25 ft to the climber's path (cairn, now on your left). Down this steeply 50 yds or so to the "Bugs Eat Frogs" rap tree (15" diameter pine with fixed rap station), or from this rap tree walk about 75 yds West and down to a bolt-and-thread fixed anchor that drops down to Merlin's belay/rap station. (more on this below)

The new "North Conway" guide, which basically copies Webster for this cliff, is pretty good but suffers from one serious flaw and that is the LOCATION of the intermediate rap anchor on Bugs Eat Frogs on the PHOTO in the book. While stating (as does Webster) in the text that this station is 140 feet below the "rap" tree [It's actually about 160ft] the photo places the anchor WAY TOO HIGH, at a place where one could not even see the correct anchor.

Rap Descents: [corrected/edited June 2016] See the photo "Rap Lines and Paths", below.

#1 The "upper Merlin" rap, single 60m rope, 2 raps: NOTE: While a 70m is recommended, it is possible to make these raps with a 60m rope. [Originally this rap was listed as requiring a 70m rope. It turns out my "70m rope" had shrunk 8-9 meters and I didn't know it. That being said, let's hope your 60m hasn't shrunk. ]
The top station for this rap line can be reached by a 'path' that starts a few feet above the "Bugs" Rap-tree. This path leads West 75-100ft, down 40 ft, then over another 50 ft and down 50 ft to the station, a slung flake and a 3/8" SS bolt.
Make a single-rope (100 ft/30m) rap to the Merlin belay/rap station [toss the ropes straight down and to viewer's left of the shrubby tree on the ledge 30 ft below.] Then another 30 meter (100 ft) rap to the ground (swinging to rappeller's right).
The Merlin belay now consists of two 3/8" SS bolts and chains, plus one of the original 1/4" bolts. THE FLAKE ABOVE AND TO THE LEFT IS HOLLOW.

Another belay about 30 ft West (rapeller's left) of the Merlin belay is a dbl bolt 3/8" ss on the route "False Holy Smoke", but the rap to the ground is more than 30-35m.

#2 "Bugs Eat Frogs" Two Rope Rap, 2 raps: From the tree at the end of the climber's approach path, rap with 2 ropes 150 ft to the "Bugs" bolted belay. Then rap 80 ft to the ground.

#3 "Dick to the Rescue/Table Talk" single 60m rope rap, 3 raps": Starting from the same top "Bugs" rap-tree, it is also possible to rap about 60ft to a small pine tree on rapeller's right (viewer's left) to a 3/8" bolt backed up by the tree. From here make a 90ft rap to the dbl bolt anchor on Dick to the Rescue/Table Talk, then a 3rd rap 100 ft to the base.

#4 "King Arthur's Arete" - Three (3) single rope raps.

21 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Table Mountain

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
"False" Holy Smoke
Trad 2 pitches
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
Bugs Eat Frogs
Trad 2 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
"False" Holy Smoke
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a Trad 2 pitches
Bugs Eat Frogs
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c Trad 2 pitches
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strandman, any info on the lines out here? Aug 28, 2011
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
I'd rather not copy Websters but, the usual assortment of deathy 5.7- 5.8 and a couple of decent bolted (I think it's called Bug Eat frogs) 5.9 One 5.10
It's a nice area that no one ever goes to, Cool views

[Note- John's assessment is a bit out-of-date. Check descriptions. RH NH-Admin. ] Aug 29, 2011
hiked out here recently from the kanc for the fun of it. looks to be a very prosperous cliff, plenty of room for lines left. the far left side has some cool features a little different from the slab. and really john, 20 minutes off bear notch? Sep 19, 2011
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
20 minutes , jogging Sep 19, 2011
M Sprague
New England
M Sprague   New England  
Handren's guide has about a dozen routes listed, from 5.7 to 10c, and mentions that there are a number of older ones who's descriptions have been lost. Apparently Paul Ross and Julia Blake put up a route called Dragon Fly here in 1975. It sounds like a fire and subsequent regrowth has made the approach from the Kanc nasty. This looks like a good crag. It would be nice to get some route descriptions up from first hand experience. Looks like a job for the Chinos! Feb 24, 2013
State of Decline.
Edge   State of Decline.
Somebody turn on the Chinos light and sweep it across the NH skies...

Feb 24, 2013
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
I think Dragon fly was done after a route on rainbow, then thrash up to Table-GOOD GOD !! Feb 25, 2013
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
The new "North Conway" guide, which basically copies Webster for this cliff, is pretty good but suffers from one serious flaw and that is the LOCATION of the intermediate rap anchor on Bugs Eat Frogs on the PHOTO. While stating (as does Webster) in the text that this station is 140 feet below the "rap" tree [It's actually about 160ft] the photo places the anchor WAY TOO HIGH, at a place where one could not even see the correct anchor. Aug 27, 2013
thanks for updating the site. This place is pretty cool...
not too bad to get to after popping over rainbow either.... Sep 19, 2013
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
Does anybody know who bolted the line described in both the Webster and Handren guides as Holy Smoke?
Since Webster lists Holy Smoke as having "...no-bolt protection BETTER THAN EXPECTED", and the climb Holy Smoke in Webster certainly DOES NOT fit that description, I sought out the first ascentionists. On 25OCT13 [this posting was revised 28OCT13] the 1993 first ascentionists of Holy Smoke (Doug Burnell & Doug Teschner) and I climbed at the crag. They said that, using the early information available in 1993 they mistook the now-standard rap tree as being on the top of the Merlin, not the top of the then-yet-to-be climbed Bugs Eat Frogs. Accordingly, they then reported to Webster their route, Holy Smoke, as being "40 feet left of Merlin", and this (incorrect) info. was then incorporated into Webster's guide, and repeated in the recent Handren guide.
Their REAL Holy Smoke actually climbs what would become( 2 yrs later) the first pitch of Table Scraps. Their route then traversed right to the upper dike line of 1983's Picnic Table. Both Dougs confirmed this, and later we climbed the route which actually is 25-30 ft left of Merlin, and which has been attributed to them since the Webster guide, and they confirmed they "NEVER would have led this without the bolts."
Thus the climb listed in both guide books as Holy Smoke should be re-named by whoever bolted it, as THAT ascent was probably a FA. I have chosen to call this climb the "False" Holy Smoke. Oct 16, 2013
Keswick Cumbria.UK
USBRIT Ross   Keswick Cumbria.UK
Yes myself and Julia Blake thrashed to this then unclimbed slab sometime in 1975. Put up a route what I though the most prominent looking section .The slab had many dragon fly's zipping about ..thus the name .That's about all I remember.I never returned as in those days I considered such a crag was not worth the hike....[bushwhacking from the Kanc. Ed.] May 6, 2015