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Climbing on Mt. Monadnock?

Original Post
Jon Curtiss · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

I hiked Mt. Monadnock this weekend, and met a guy scrambling around up there who told me that there might be climbing in an area called the 'black precipice' along the 'amphitheater trail' between the white arrow trail and smith summit trail.

I followed it along for a bit, and did discover some old fixed anchor rings, as well as a couple newer looking threaded anchor points that didn't have hangers on them.

Below the anchors it looked like there was some short, slaby, low grade climbing, and a bit of vertical stuff further to the right that I couldn't make much out of.

I can't find anything online about climbing there, but read something about Ken Peterson, who reportedly climbed at Crow Hill in the late 70s/early 80s and supposedly wrote a guide to Monadnock.

Anyone know anything about climbing on Monadnock?

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

There is definitely climbing on Monadnock and indeed there is--was--a guide--a 2-sided, single sheet of paper if I remember correctly. I recall that we picked up a copy at the ranger station at the trailhead. None of the climbing is destination worthy, but if you live in the area or are heading up to hike the mountain--a very enjoyable endeavor, then it is worth bringing a rope and some gear. I only climbed there once, and that was decades ago, so don't remember much. I recall there were a number of slabs and small outcrops of granite in the summit area that have a selection of routes though nothing particularly memorable. The Black Precipice is lower down the mountain (I forget which trail it is on) and was definitely the most interesting piece of rock that we found on the mountain. It is short but quite steep and impressive, particularly in the central section, and has a number of reasonably difficult (up to 5.11, possibly harder) routes and a few more moderate ones--definitely worthwhile. From your description the area you found was not the Precipice!!! I believe that there are a number of other bits of rock scattered around the mountain as well. I know that folks from the Keene area climb there with some frequency, so hopefully one of them will post with more detailed information.

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767

Looks like there's some stuff visible from bing maps in birds eye view. . .

john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640

Alan,, you are pretty quick. I kinda remember something about the Black Precipice as it the Spellman Trail ??

There is quite a bit of 3/4th class scrambling as well.

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767

Directions to the Black Precipice are here apparently on the Amphitheater Trail.…

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Hi John, Yeah, I am pretty quick but I do have a 2 hour time advantage over you!!!! Different thread, but I don't fully agree with you about Moby Grape. Sure the best climbing is limited to a few sections (though can be extended by finishing directly)but the overall experience is still some of the best in the Northeast for long, moderate climbing. Alan

Jon Curtiss · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

Thanks everyone!

After googling more images specifically of the black precipice, I'm certain that I did find it, but I think I got turned around when I tried to hike around to the base of the cliff. I'm going to bring a rope with me next time and rappel down just for kicks.

I've never used Bing birdseye before. Good tip!

I'd love to find a copy of that photo copied guide...

Jeffrey.LeCours · · New Hampshire · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 1,185

I think it's off of the smith summit trail. There's 2 glue-in eyebolts on top of the black precipice. It's also easy to scramble down the side to the base. Photos are more impressive than the actual climbing is. Here's the line I went up in my sneakers:

Black Precipice

There is a big overhanging wall with hard (5.11-12?) potential there too. Probably close to the hard, steep, less featured walls at Mt Dickey.

There are a few other areas that offer some climbing: between the white arrow and white cross trail a few hundred feet below the summit is a decent slab. Off the cascade link is a large talus slope with some neat stuff.

There's some bouldering potential on the 'nad. An easy to find point of interest is called The Tooth.
Jon Curtiss · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5
Jeffrey.LeCours wrote:There's some bouldering potential on the 'nad.
hahah, the 'nad. Excellent.

Thanks so much for the pic. I'll be sure to check out the route, next time I'm there. I checked out…

Which had a great picture of the precipice, the tooth, and a few other nice looking areas.
Sean T.Bowen · · New Boston,NH · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 830
Sean T.Bowen · · New Boston,NH · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 830

There are as AL said, multiple opportunities to climb throughout the Summit cone, I was just up finding "PUMPELLY CAVE" after 2 yrs searching and found a cool area on the NE side of Town Line Peak (Great Views, generally isolated from Hikers) possibly multi-pitch 5.6-7/5.8. The Red Spot Trail has a crag (The Doric Temple)about 1/2 mile down from the Summit which we were at and is promising, nice crack climbs! There is also a very concentrated talus field off the upper portion of the Cascade Brook Trail as it nears Pumpelly Trail, Bouldering for sure! If your going up anyway, a small rack and rope and camera is warranted. I wonder about ice my self !

"Billings Fold"
JK- Branin · · Southern New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58

I spent a year in New Hampshire trying to get any info on climbing near Rindge/Jafferey. Couldn't find squat...

Wish I'd known about this. Looks fun.

Nolan Huther · · Clarkson University · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 567
Sean T.Bowen wrote:
This looks awesome! How high is that? 150ft?
Ron Birk · · Boston, MA · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 3,467

This thread lists some old guide books including a big section of New England ones:…

There they have it listed:

"Grand Monadnock, Rock Climbing on Catlin, Alex 1985 1st NH Grand Monadnock F"

Ming · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 490

Maybe people can start organizing and post some routes in MP? I would love to take my daughter up some 5.3-5.5 slab - and the hike is cool to boot. She's not quite 3 years old so I'll be doing a lot of carrying her and so forth. Can someone digitize the old guide book?

john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640

There's a TON of climbing in southern NH, all grades and styles.

Try looking for Marie & Dave Saball's guides, The legend "BASE"
Toddd Swain , mark Hudon's Rock Rimmon booklet and Of course Joe English Hill and others

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

wow climbed that mountain countless times, but never knew there was climbing there. Too bad!

Ron Birk · · Boston, MA · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 3,467

I think Toddd Swain is working on a new southern NH guidebook. Haven't heard any updates lately. So any decade now!

Ron Birk · · Boston, MA · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 3,467

On his web site (look at the bottom) it says it's coming out spring 2014 :)…

Dash rip rock · · Keene NH · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 10

We have been climbing and Bouldering on Monadnock for many years. There are hundreds of moderate boulder problems which can be stitched together to reach the summit and several areas that require a rope. Of note is Black Precipice with several routes that may appear in the eagerly anticipated Swain guide, up to 5.10+ (or 12a depending on the year that you rate it). Cascade link crag has up to 10 estabished routes, doric Temple is good, wit a killer 25 ft 5.9 through a roof and numorous boulders. Cliff walk has several routes, notably "Cliff Clavin" a 5.8 on a clean slab with horizontals for pro. Pumpelly ridge has several small cliffs that offer high ball bouldering or roped climbing, Summit slabs, which are great entry level climbing.

We started to document names and locations, but feel it is more fun to think you could be the first to climb them, as well as the controversy which ensues with rating inconsistency.

Fun climbing on clean rock. However, I agree with Al, this is not a destination climbing area, rather a fun adventure if you are already hiking the mountain.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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