Local climbing scene questions...


Original Post
Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50

My gf and I are considering moving from Denver, CO to the northeast (ME, NH, VT) in the next year or two. 

I am curious what the climbing scene is like out there, compared to here. I realize those three states encompass a large geographical area but there is not a specific sub forum for each state. 

Currently, I climb sport and ice mostly, and tend to just follow trad routes on occasion.  From most places in Denver/Boulder it's about a 30 to 45 minute drive to any number of canyons with sport climbing. Ice is about 2 hours away and anything not in avalanche danger is heavily trafficked. 

Reading through the forums it looks like ticks are a pretty big concern in some areas this year. Is this a localized issue to some crags or is this something that's a huge problem each summer the whole region over?

Also, what is the winter actually like? People tend to highly over exaggerate the nature of winter I've found. When I first moved from So Cal to Denver people made it sound as if I would be snowshoeing to work wearing something that looked like an 8000m down suit. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Have you ever visited that area? Seems like that would be helpful.

Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 585

Not as much sport climbing as in Colorado. Less sun, more humidity.

A lot more variety of ice climbing with shorter approaches.  Less avy danger but shorter season. Still crowded on weekends but if you are willing to hike in an hour you'll be all alone.  

Winter feels colder due to less sun and dampness.  Snow is usually not the dry powder we have in Colorado and it sticks around a lot longer, driving in it sucks.

Zac St. Jules · · New Hampshire · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 1,133

Ticks are an issue every year. Winters aren't that bad. Bugs suck in the spring/early summer. Awesome sport crags all over the place. Fantastic ice climbing. There is good, strong climbing community, but watch out for the elitist climber, douche flutes - there are pockets of them around. 

Lanky · · Tired · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 255

Ticks are a thing, but if you're diligent about checking you should be fine. From Mother's day to Father's day, there's a plague of evil insects known as black flies; google that shit. 

Expect to do somewhat more driving for somewhat less rock. There are excellent crags all over the place, but the tend to be less concentrated/dense. 

The community is generally very cool, but there are assholes all over the country, so the occasional encounter is probably inevitable. 

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,740

It rains, it rains!

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

While I understand that you are looking for an 'overview', I think it is worth mentioning that there isn't really one climbing 'scene' in the region, but rather several more locally based scenes---or a total lack of any 'scene' in some places, so it would be helpful if you would narrow down the areas that you are considering within the region--the scene in NW Vt. is very different from that in North Conway, NH, and both are different from that around Bangor/Acadia, ME for examples. I do surely agree with most of the comments posted above, with the possible exception of Zach's "the winters aren't that bad"--that one really depends on one's attitudes to winters in general as well as specific locations.

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

As a New Englander living in Colorado for the past decade I always recommend reading this book if you really want to get a sense of climbing in NE.  Also all his other books.  https://www.amazon.com/Yankee-Rock-Ice-Climbing-Northeastern/dp/0811731030

Zac St. Jules · · New Hampshire · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 1,133
Alan Rubin wrote:

... I do surely agree with most of the comments posted above, with the possible exception of Zach's "the winters aren't that bad"--that one really depends on one's attitudes to winters in general as well as specific locations.

You're right. Should have been more clear. I think I was speaking mostly to what the OP said in regards to the way folks can tend to overreact when it comes to winter - affirming his thoughts on that. 

DRusso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 365

I can't truly speak to the climbing community in New Hampshire or Maine, but the Burlington VT area has a great local climbing scene. It is small, and in my experience friendly. We have a local gym that also operates a guide service that you can easily bike to or walk from in town. There is a bigger more modern gym a short drive from town that is also excellent. 

You can drive 30 - 45 minutes from Burlington and sport climb, boulder, or trad climb. Spring and Fall certainly yield the best climbing and the bugs, wet weather, and humidity can make the climbing seasons feel fickle. You escape this by going to the gym, trail running, and planning climbing trips during the bad seasons. The best sport climbing in Vermont is actually located in Rumney, NH(crowded on weekends) or Western, MA(limited beta,sensitive access)

To truly enjoy winter, a gym membership and a willingness to ice climb, ski, snowshoe, winter hike, or have a craft skill to keep you busy is in my opinion a must. You can ice climb 35 minutes from town and set up a quick top rope before and after work. When you have more time if you include anything within 3 hours drive, you have a huge concentration of ice climbing from Smugglers Notch and Lake Willoughby in Vermont to countless ice in New Hampshire and the Adirondacks in New York.

The best part of living in this area is that you have access in a 5 hour and under driving window to the Gunks, Rumney, Catherdral, Whitehorse, Cannon, Pawtuckaway, Lincoln Woods,  and the Adirondacks. 

If you were to evaluate the northeast climbing scenes in this area based purely on stereotypes it would look like this: 

Vermont: Hippy culture, okay climbing, awesome ice. 

North Conway, NH: Crusty trad climbers and mountain guides, good ice, small job market. 

Adirondacks, NY: So Trad focused people don't have smart phones, don't tell anyone there is awesome climbing here, wilderness opportunities with less crowds

Maine: Climbing by the ocean is cool but is crowded in summer, don't tell people about our secret steep granite sport(shagg) crag. 

Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50
FrankPS wrote:

Have you ever visited that area? Seems like that would be helpful.

We are planning a trip here in the spring. I am just trying to gather as much information as I can - so I have some sense of where to visit - and maybe to even do some climbing out there. 

Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50
DRusso wrote:

To truly enjoy winter, a gym membership and a willingness to ice climb, ski, snowshoe, winter hike, or have a craft skill to keep you busy is in my opinion a must. 

Great. I also carve stone and we both do furniture making. Thanks for all the replies, I will try and adjust my visit to scope out some of these areas.  

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,411

Fwiw, the NE is a lot of cragging.  There's some multipitch but much (much) less than you can find in your back yard or other places out West.  The biggest (tallest) technical wall is Wallface in the Adirondacks, and it's a handful of climbs of similar legnth as perhaps something you might climb on Lumpy Ridge.  The approach is pretty bad much of the year.  Wet. Mud.  Bugs.  Humidity.  Takes a special kind of sadist to enjoy climbing in the NE.  ;)  

The climbing quality is generally good, and if you're adventurous you can still walk a ways into a remote place and be alone for the day.  Climbing is getting more and more popular so even those opportunities are dwindling.

When you've narrowed where you might end up living, do a search in this section.  There's topics on moving to the Wet Coast that covers the pros/cons for every area.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

As someone who grew up in the NYC metro area and lived in central CT for 22 years before moving to SLC 17 yrs ago, I'll reiterate what I've said in these kind of threads in the past:

I can never, ever imagine living anywhere east of Denver ever again.

Yes, the Northeast can be spectacular, and my home crag for almost 30 years was the Gunks, with many trips to North Conway NH. In between the spectacular times there's humidity, bugs, smaller and more dispersed crags, traffic (although Denver certainly sucks in that regard as well), etc. More difficult to hit a powder day, depending on exactly where you live, and I don't miss the several times per year events of 2" of rain @ 38F followed by -15F the next day. I don't miss the ice storms or freezing rain, either.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

those rain events followed by the deep freeze are crazy good for ice climbing ! :)

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

 Road  Warriors. no pick marks.


Last Gentelman.No pick marks.

Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50

Not gonna lie, the ice there might just have sold me.

Kate Johnson · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 35

IMO - as a native Mainer so with a grain of salt - I've lived in a lot of the US and I'm always trying to go back to New Hampshire. the climbing in the NE is super varied, with some opportunity for real adventure multipitching (Cannon in NH, Kineo and Katahdin in ME). Not as big or as much of a "buffet" as the West, but you'll also get to know a strong climbing community (again IMO, the community is a little more "hidden" than the everyone-climbs attitude of Colorado). You've got every type of climbing and an incredible area to do it in. No place like it.

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,411
Shepido wrote:

Not gonna lie, the ice there might just have sold me.

Just bear in mind the temps have definitely warmed during the winters, so ice is less common or much more sporadic than it once was.  It also again depends on where you live.  NYC and Catskills can have lots of ice, or literally NONE.  Boston area you're 2-3 hours from ice, usually when there's little elsewhere.  Adirondacks and upper Vermont/Greens, reliably a couple months of ice climbing even on a down year.  I'd hate for you to get your hopes up.  The reality around here has changed in just the last 15 years I've been doing outdoors stuff.  Expect disappointment mixed in with fleeting months of cooperative weather.

Winter in the NE now means "10% chance of snow, 90% chance you won't like the other 90%".

I will say this - when the ice is in, it's good.

Chris Duca · · Havertown, PA · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 2,095

You just need to be an optimistic opportunist here in the NE--No such thing as bad weather, only bad attitudes.  

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Shepido wrote:

Currently, I climb sport and ice mostly, and tend to just follow trad routes on occasion.

You've seen the comments and photos about/of the ice, but the amount of sport climbing in the NE is *significantly* less than what you are used to.

Regarding the comment about the proximity of Boston to ice etc. The huge problem with living in Boston is that you're surrounded by Bostonites. On top of that, you're surrounded by Massachusets. It may be sterotyipical, but there's a reason for the term "Massholes".

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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