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Where to take beginners rock climbing near Conway, NH

Original Post
DrV · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

My gf and I will be going up to Conway in a couple weeks with 2 non-climber friends.  They want to try some top roping while we are there.  Where can I take them to do some 5.5 - 5.10 TR that will not be obtrusive to other climbers?  Thanks for the advice!

Jeffrey LeCours · · New Hampshire · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 1,200

First thing that comes to mind is Square Ledge (Pinkham Notch) - a trail leads to the top of the cliff but you should know how to build an anchor. If you have some trad climbing experience and a basic rack then you might enjoy the single pitch moderates at Lost Horizon . Have fun and be safe!

Jay Morse · · Hooksett, New Hampshire · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 30

What is your experience?  Do you lead sport?  Lead trad?  Have trad gear?

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

The most obvious place  is Child's Play on the North End Slab at Cathedral itself, though it likely will be occupied by guided groups most of the time. As stated above Square Ledge in Pinkham is excellent with a fantastic view across to Mt. Washington. Another option is Elephant's Head at the top of Crawford Notch. Right next to the road, easy to get to the top to set up top ropes, a couple of short but pleasant easy routes and also very scenic. There are other possible options, but those are the ones that come most easily to mind.

Peter Lewis · · Bridgton, ME · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 160

Square Ledge in Pinkham, Lost Horizon at Sundown, the Echo Roof area of Whitehorse (you'll have to lead first to set up TRs), the Beelzabub corner (Whitehorse, lead first, other easy options nearby), the Geriatric area at Humphrey's has some nice easy sport routes, Jockey Cap (ten miles east of Conway in Fryeburg, Maine, some good easy (if steep) toproping. This is a tough area for beginners, but you can find stuff. Talk to folks at International Mountain Equipment, the great gear shop in North Conway.

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 15,846

DrV just got really good advice from climbers really familiar with the area.  Since you didn't give your experience level/gear availability here's a couple of things you might want to know about the recommendations:
Square ledge- great place, probably will have others there, perhaps most importantly the "front face 5.4's -5.5's" are about 130 ft high so you need 2 ropes to TR them, also need long tie ins or gear to set up the anchors as the trees are a ways back (gear is best, "save the trees", but you have to be experienced at trad anchors). You may have to rap if the ropes get hung up on a ledge when you toss 'em.   The 5.5 corner on the right side can be TR'd with a single rope.

There's a 3-bolt, 40-50 ft, 5.3 climb  at the Geriatric Wall with a double bolt anchor. Otherwise, on other climbs I think you need to lead up to set ropes. "Cakewalk" is a 5.6 and the last climb on the left of the "main" cliff before the trail drops down to Geriatric Wall, but probably isn't the best "first time" climb.

Cathedral North End - I think you have to lead up also, so not really a TR. Probably the most crowded of the places mentioned.

Elephant Head -  You can walk ( 10 min on trail) to the top.  Two sides (see Photos & diaggrams in MtnPrjct) The "front" (i.e. I'm pretty sure the route "The Trunk" needs two ropes to TR, a 70 might make it.  The experienced climber can hike up the trail, set up the anchor (medium to large nuts & cams, about 5-6 ft back from the edge) while the "beginners" can hike in the climber's path to the base [ NOTE: Road construction ongoing, this might (?) be an issue weekdays] The experienced climber would then rap down "setting" the ropes.  The Left (northwest) side has a bolted station and can be TR's with a single rope, but the climbs are a bit harder (5.6 - 5.7)

Lost Horizon sub-area (of Sundown) is a good bet. Most likely you'll encounter no one there.  Recollection is it's a 20 min approach (but I'm old) and can walk to the top.

Jockey Cap - has one route on the left side that a TR can be set by scrambling from the path to the top.  Otherwise, there are some 5.6's and 5.7's on the south face but you have to either rap down or have the climber lowered down and below them is an overhang.

The best advice of those above was to drop by IME and "ask".  You might also consider hiring a guide for a day. (call ahead) This adds a new dimension in what can be done, [e.g. there are a number of places suitable for setting TR's but which have "issues" [e.g. some scrambling, or TR's that need 'directionals']  that sort of preclude them from being recommended for beginner's going with someone whose experience level is unknown].  A guide also somewhat relieves you of the responsibilities associated with teaching two "never-befores".  


DrV · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

Thank you for the recommendations!  To provide the missing details: I have been climbing for 8 years. I lead trad (up to about 5.10) and have a suitable rack and static webbing/cord for TR anchors.  I have 2, 60m ropes (but I would certainly prefer not lugging around both).  

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 15,846

Got it...then you might add into your possibilities to look at: Mt Oscar's West Mtn at Bretton Woods ski area (if lift is offerring rides for a few $'s) ;  Lost Ledge (Kancamangus East) , Echo Crag (best covered in the new guidebook "The Notches" by Jon Sykes, although MtnProjct has several of the "standard" routes) and maybe even  Sugarloaf (Zealand Road).  

Dhane Knakkergaard · · Intervale, NH · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 100

Attitash Crag is another one that comes to mind, especially if its warm and sunny. Easy to setup TR's on the slab side, just walk around. fun sport/mixed climbing on the right.

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 15,846

Yup...but be advised you have to wade across the Saco river.  It's gotta be low to do it. Also, most climbs are in the 5.7-5.8+ range; maybe a bit stiff for "very first timers".

CMC Crag is similar to Attitash, but no river wading necessary.  Again, though, while there's one 5.5 or so, most are stiffer-rated 5.7's and up. ["Chino's" developed it and they are a bit, shall we say, "Old School". ]

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175

The Prow.

june m · · elmore, vt · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 41

Rivers are really low right  now

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northeastern States
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