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Entry-Level New England Crags?


Original Post
Matthew Campisi · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 41

Hi! 

I'm a fair sport climber (lead at around 5.10d) and a beginning trad leader (likely 5.8 max). I'm taking my wife and 9-year-old daughter (who are 5.8 level climbers) to New England for Summer Vacation at the end of June. We're looking for suggestions of crags where there will be plenty of good climbs for us all to play on. I'm flying into Boston, but we already plan on seeing Maine and Vermont, so a little travel isn't out of the question. 

I have a small trad rack at the moment, so we're probably limited to single-pitch climbs unless we join up with some locals.

Thanks for your suggestions!

Matthew

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251

Rumney has a lot of nice sport climbs that will last your whole vacation if you let it.  Cathedral and White Horse have some easier trad climbs your daughter may enjoy that are with in your lead limit.  While in VT, Lower Bolton has nice TR's that may be a little hard for your daughter, but still a nice area.  A fun place to go is also Smugler's Notch where you can boulder all day, if you have a pad.

Chad Laflamme · · North Conway, NH · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 50

Rumney has the highest concentration of sport routes and include the grade ranges you mentioned.  Echo crag has fun single pitch trad climbing just up the road in Franconia Notch- mostly easy to moderate.  The North End and Barber Wall at Cathedral Ledge have a lot of single pitch trad routes.  A majority of them start around 5.9 but easy enough to set up a top rope.  

Caz Drach · · Sugarhouse, UT · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 310

^Echo is the easiest as far as trad crags go, alot of good documenting here on MP and if you choose - buy Sykes' Gbook. Agreed on the Barber wall, but make sure you remember who put up all the routes...

For VT, i would consider Bolton area, alot there - both trad and sport, can be a little contrived as far as figuring out where you are / wall locations, Tough Schist is the GBook for there. 

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

The VT and NH crags will give you a typical climbing centric experience.  Consider Acadia in ME if other things - typical NE coast/ocean/beach - are of interest. Longer drive and will be really crowded by the 4th though,

Jim Urbec · · sevierville, TN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 32

if you are going to be in Boston for any amount of time... Hammond Pound or Quincy Quarries.  both are well documented in Boston Rocks vol II

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

I agree with most of the previous recommendations (with the exception of Hammond and Quincy---both OK for locals but neither really worth it for a visitor). I want to support Eric's recommendation of Acadia---beautiful scenery, lots of varied family activities in a relatively small area, really classic coastal New England. Otter Cliff is short but right on the sea with a very good variety of grades--usually top-roped (the approach is from above) but with good trad leads possible. A bit inland Champlain Mtn (the Precipice) offers one to 3  pitch routes on excellent granite with grades from 5.6-12. Even further inland South Bubble (above Jordan Pond) offers good moderate 3 pitch routes. It will be crowded, especially on the weekends but still worth a visit. I'll also put in a pitch for my area--western Mass--about 2 hours west of Boston and en route to Vermont (only a few miles from Interstate 91). Farley Ledge is the main attraction with a good mix of mostly single pitch sport and trad on excellent gneiss close to the road. There is a selection of grades from about 5.6 up. The drawback is no guidebook, but in nice weather there will always be folks there to point things out. Nearby is Rose Ledge--shorter but quieter with either trad or top ropes. There is a guide book currently available at the Central Rock Gym in Hadley,MA. Directions to the crags can be found on the Western Mass Climbers Coalition website--www.climbgneiss.com

Now for the downside. late June/early July is prime black fly season in New England, which can make climbing in many locations--especially those in the woods (as most are), highly unpleasant. I definitely recommend bringing plenty of bug repellent and head nets for the belayer. Otter at Acadia is one area that is usually safe from the buggers.

Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0
Jim Urbec wrote:

if you are going to be in Boston for any amount of time... Hammond Pound or Quincy Quarries.  both are well documented in Boston Rocks vol II

Don't waste your time on these.  Everything Alan said is spot on.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
Adrienne DiRosario wrote:

Don't waste your time on these.  Everything Alan said is spot on.

Hammond Pound must be a new area - lots of dogs?  Hammond Pond is not that bad. You are actually in a relatively nice outdoor setting in an urban area and some historically significant bouldering took place there (in off limit areas).  The Lower Pond Wall might actually be a nice area to TR at (need long anchor material) on unique rock.

The Quarries are a very acquired taste however.

Jim Urbec · · sevierville, TN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 32
Eric Engberg wrote:

Hammond Pound must be a new area - lots of dogs?  Hammond Pond is not that bad. You are actually in a relatively nice outdoor setting in an urban area and some historically significant bouldering took place there (in off limit areas).  The Lower Pond Wall might actually be a nice area to TR at (need long anchor material) on unique rock.

The Quarries are a very acquired taste however.

Eric.... ETADIK    did I spell that right? ;) -   lower pond wall is great TR area especially given original posted mentioned a young daughter, so if their stuck in the city and wanting to get some outside climbing or bouldering in.  good option close to the T and other things to do in Brookline.  If you're not staying in Boston, then the sky is the limit.

concur on quarries - 5 out of the six times I went there in college it was too packed to even get onto any of the main routes down by the water.


Max Forbes · · Vermont & Colorado · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 108

Are you coming to Burlington? Lower west Bolton is a trad/top rope crag that’s close to town and extremely casual. No leading required but is available if you’re interested. Nice views and plensent in June if it’s not too hot. 

Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

Echo Crag is a really nice spot.  And also Artists Bluff next door.   And don't forget Square Ledge which has the best view of all time.   These are easy nice spots that are touristy and family friendly.   I have a hard time picturing a 9-year old on Cathedral or Whitehorse.   No need to bother with gnarly outcroppings around Boston, or other such climber haunts.  Think, vacation... breeze, view, picnic, photo ops, etc.   

Christopher Woodall · · Somerville, MA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 138

Everyone else is spot on!

The only thing I might add is that Longstack Precipice in Southern, NH can be pretty nice. Gets sun most of the day, many routes from 5.6-5.10 with a lot in the 5.7 and 5.8 range. I think all of the other areas suggested (Echo, Rumney, Farley/Rose Ledge, Acadia) are probably better bets in general.

Matthew Campisi · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 41

I really appreciate all the great advice, folks. Thank you!

coldatom · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 70

Whitehorse is fantastic for a 9 yo.  

I've taken an 8 yo.  You don't have to climb multipitch to the top.  You can putter around on the low angle slab at the bottom.  Beautiful piece of rock in a beautiful area with almost no approach.  You'll need two ropes to rappel, though.  And you'll need to be comfortable with long long runouts on easy slab.  Then walk to lake swimming at Echo*, or river swimming, and drive 2 minutes into town.  Drive to the top of Cathedral while you're there, just to look.  Maybe walk down to Pine Tree Eliminate 5.8, which you can even TR.  Don't go to Barber Wall, unless you're solid at stiff granite.

I mean, just look at this place and tell me you don't want to be there.


*note: There are two Echo lakes in New Hampshire.  One in North Conway, and one in Fronconia Notch, by Echo Crag.

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251

If you are thinking of Whitehorse and Cathedral Ledge, at Cathedral, Upper Refuge is a nice 5.6, if you are good at route finding and solid at the grade, since you have a 9 year old with you.

keithconn · · LI, NY · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 35

Go to Acadia and climb Otter Cliffs. You will not be sorry!  Did it with my family and to this day - best climbing memories!  - and we have a lot!

J-Moe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 20

If you end up in Conway (cathedral, rumney, ect.) Diana's Baths is a great rest day activity. i have some really great memories swimming and exploring there as a kid.

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

If in the killington  VT area Deer Leap is a great moderate crag with lots of leads and top  ropes from 5.6 to 5.10

Mike Morin · · Glen, NH · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 1,261
J-Moe wrote:

If you end up in Conway (cathedral, rumney, ect.) Diana's Baths is a great rest day activity. i have some really great memories swimming and exploring there as a kid.

Not sure when the last time you visited Diana's Bath was, but it has become an overcrowded zoo. I would suggest avoiding it.

Mark P. · · Luzern, Schweiz · Joined May 2013 · Points: 680

I'd also recommend Crow Hill in MA, about an hour west of Boston. Lots of single-pitch trad, with some easier stuff, and well documented on MP. So that would be my go-to spot near Boston.

But North Conway has the best stuff, and if you visit IME, they'll be able to give you some recommendations on the many, many crags and cliffs around North Conway.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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