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Routes in 1. Whitney-Gilman Area

Ambrosia T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Meatgrinder T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Whitney Gilman Ridge T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Type: Trad, Alpine, 600 ft, 5 pitches, Grade II
FA: Bradley Gilman and Hassler Whitney, 1929
Page Views: 73,296 total, 542/month
Shared By: Robert Hall on Oct 12, 2006 with updates
Admins: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey.LeCours, Robert Hall

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Whitney Gilman climbs the prominent ridge on the left side of Cannon. Interesting climbing, great belay ledges and incredible exposure make this climb a classic one. Edging up the well defined arete is an experience unique to New Hampshire climbing. There is no 5.7 more exposed than the WG.

The approach is long. Expect about one hour of hiking. Walk down along the bike trail until you reach a well marked trail (photo) heading into the woods. Follow this trail uphill (photo) and through the interminable talus field to the base of the climb.

The climb starts after a short scramble up and left from the base of the ridge.

Pitch 1: Climb a right facing corner until it is possible to move upwards on flakes and a wide crack. This is traditionally rated 5.4, but feels a bit harder, especially at the bottom. Most agree it's 5.6ish.

Pitch 2: Continue up near the right corner. A step down and right (5.7) is required to gain the prominent crack. Belay on the most convenient belay ledge.

Pitch 3: Climb the obvious hand crack in the steep wall. This crack is rated 5.8. There is an easier variation to the left, but there may have been rockfall on this part of the pitch. [Note: There has, but the climb is still there at 5.6-5.7. See description by "SP Boston" in COMMENTS, June 2014.] Continue up the defined ridge. The exposure here is intense, as the malicious Black Dike looms to the right. Pass the famous pipe that was pounded into the crack on the second ascent, (What were they thinking?) and belay on an exposed, slanting perch. 5.7.

Pitch 4: Move up a steep wall, and then trend left on a slab to a comfortable belay ledge. 5.6.

Pitch 5: Many variations are possible on the last pitch. Staying right on the corner presents a better 5.8/9 alternative to the 5.7 groove to the left. Top out at a picturesque overlook.

Descent: Walk straight up into the woods on a well worn trail. The trail heads left and downhill. After a considerable amount of walking, you will reach the bike path. The trail does not go back to the base, so do not leave gear there.


Standard light rock rack to 3". There are many fixed pins en route, so bring a number of slings. One rope is fine. If it is necessary to rap, one rope will get you down since there are so many ledges. You will need to leave gear, as there are no fixed anchors. Also, a helmet is mandatory.

Alternate Approach Beta

NEAlpineStart has suggested that it might be better to approach the WG Ridge from the Lafayette Place Campground to the south. If you're only gunning for the WG, this makes sense, as the campground is a short walk downhill along the bike path from the descent trail. Still, 99% of the climbers attempting the WG still use the northern lot.


I did this route as a teenager in 1976 with my original climbing partner, Andrew Kaplan. It was our first alpine adventure. We reclimbed the WG on August 21 (solar eclipse day), 41 years later, and it was as good as we remembered it. We lucked out and had phenomenal weather: we climbed in t-shirts and shorts. Here are my thoughts on the route as it currently exists:

We found the tip to park and hiked from the Lafayette campground to be a good idea - definitely shorter and faster. We climbed on a Monday, leaving the campground at 8:30 AM. We had the route to ourselves until we were already halfway up. The advice to take a light rack, with lots of runners and biners, and spot on. I brought 3 Tricams, stoppers, a mixture of C-4s and X-4s from .3 to 3, with doubles in the .5 to 2 range. we clipped the fixed pins when they looked "good" (a relative term) or there was nothing else.

We started the climb by traversing in from the right along the horizontal crack. Very fun and some of the best rock on the climb. We did the climb in pitches following the 5.7 grade.

The climb is lots of fun, but definitely alpine in character. There is a boatload of questionable rock (part of the "fun")which requires care and decision-making, and, given the grade, sketchy protection. Not a good climb if 5.7 is near your limit or you are new to trad leading. But this is climb that definitely should be on everyone's tick list.

Sep 19, 2017
Fun climb, great exposure at the grade. Biggest fear is yanking off a hold and falling a ways because you hadn't placed a piece in a while due to rock quality or easy climbing. Place often and enjoy. Aug 10, 2017
Jonathan Steitzer
West Lebanon, NH
Jonathan Steitzer   West Lebanon, NH  
Trust the pitons, they're good. A few aren't great but most are solid and we'll placed with only cosmetic rust.

I've taken falls on worse looking pins in Mexico, and they're as solid as the one on the Saigons at Cathedral.

As of July 30th, 2017, most of the pitons on the main route are solid and should give you confidence. Jul 6, 2017
Silas Miller
Conway, NH
Silas Miller   Conway, NH
While the route is undeniably cool, I don't think I will ever climb the pipe pitch again. I've climbed some loose stuff, but this tops the list. Some poor soul is going to fall on one of those ancient pitons, or worse a cam placed behind any of the blocks, and 150ft of this route is going to come down. I know tons of people climb it every day, and will continue to, but that just means someone is going to be in the wrong spot when the Jenga pile releases. It's just the fact that it's not a couple loose blocks, but and entire pitch of small, vetically oriented blocks stacked on more blocks. When one goes, they are all going! I just wanted to put that out there, I'm going around next time. Nov 22, 2016
Alex Jacques
Burlington, CT
Alex Jacques   Burlington, CT
After the pipe pitch if you stay on the arĂȘte you'll see a manky pin on the north side (shade), this leads the way to an exciting and super exposed variation that protects well and gives you full value. Do it and trust, it goes. Sep 18, 2016
Did this for the first time since I was 11 today and had a fantastic time. A few notes that I would pass on are that...
-Once on the ridge route finding is fairy straight forward so don't let fears of ending up stranded in no mans land keep you away.
-The belay above the splitter 5.8 variation is mainly around a very large block that vibrates noticeably when kicked. I doubt it is going anywhere and don't regret using it, but something to keep in mind (you can get a small piece like a black tricam into a different section of rock as well).
-The steep wall that takes you to the pipe on the 5.8 variation has loose blocks that look like great holds in a few places, take care to check your holds and be solid at the grade of 5.7 (very fun climbing)
-There is no real need for a #3 if you are solid at the grade.
-You really can't beat the exposure the G provides anywhere else in NE.

Have fun out there!

Jun 30, 2016
Our perspective at the top of Pitch #3 when we did this last October. It was a COLD day!… Jun 4, 2016
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
Good luck witht that one Sam ! personally I think ALL the fixed gear should be removed . Jan 30, 2016
Sam Fox
Burlington, VT
  5.7+ PG13
Sam Fox   Burlington, VT
  5.7+ PG13
Hey all,
Since my first trip to Cannon in 2013 I've done the WGR ~10 times. I've done every variation, including the absurdly hard "5.9" variation that goes right around the ridge into the black dike for the final pitch. I've climbed all over the US and this is my favorite climb anywhere..

For confident climbers I would suggest a single rack from .2-#2 (camalot sizes), and maybe 6 nuts from #4BD to #9BD. If you'd like some extra security doubles of .4-.75 will ensure you have plenty of pro beneath you and plenty of pro for a belay. I never carry a #3 unless I'm linking with Moby Grape, then two hang on the back of my harness uselessly for the entire climb..

My favorite way to climb the WGR is to link the first two pitches (easy with a 70m) then link the 5.8 variation to the pipe pitch, and finally link the last two pitches. Lots of good climbing that goes quickly.

I'd also like to say, the whole climb is PG / PG13. The 5.8 variation is 5.7R. All the crux moves are fairly well protected, but there are numerous times when you're making 5.5-5.6 moves over rusty pins that are literally worthless. The tip of the "Pitch 2" flake is one of these times. I personally would be willing to replace all of these pins if anyone can tell me how to get the old ones out without snapping them off. Jan 29, 2016
Northeast Alpine Start
Conway, New Hampshire
Northeast Alpine Start   Conway, New Hampshire
Detailed trip report with photos here

Trip Report

Of note is approaching from the parking at Lafayette Place (from the south) is better than approaching from the traditional climbers parking lot. Details in Trip Report Nov 5, 2015
Holland, VT
TSluiter   Holland, VT
Awesome climb, really really fun. A few 5.7 areas, the rest is pretty casual and easily protected. A few areas will feel harder from the exposure, but theres a lot of 'save-your-life' jugs along the way. Even the 5.8 pipe pitch is heady but not all too hard.

The last pitch has a funky shelf to step up on near the start and the rock, which should provide a nice undercling, is very very loose. The group behind us broke a piece off, I'm sure much of it will come off soon, it will probably make the last pitch a little more stout, depending on what remains. Sep 28, 2015
Derek Jf
Derek Jf   Northeast
Climbed great, loved the exposure over the Black Dike!
Grave yard of gear up there though especially C4 cams. Saw 1 purple .5, 2 green .75s and a yellow 2 buried carelessly in cracks on different pitches and left for dead. A couple old nuts wedged fixed into place too.
Word to the wise; when you place gear on this route, be sure its in a crack that has room to accept it - all the stuck cams were in cracks barely wide enough for them to fit in while fully drawn open. Plan to take your shiny expensive gadgets home when placing! No wiggle room left for these pro when trying to free any of them to clean off Sep 8, 2014
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.7 PG13
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  5.7 PG13
Since the correct trail UP to the W-G seems to be an issue, I have posted photographs of the correct UP and DOWN trails...hope this helps. [also the previous 2 comments abut this were deleted as part of a 'general cleanup' of older comments.] Aug 14, 2014
Steven James
Portland, Maine
Steven James   Portland, Maine
Some helpful, wish I had known information on the whitney-gilman approach.

If you find yourself heading up the walk-off it will be tempting to step out onto the talus field and want to traverse towards where you climb. This is a bad idea. Turn around, go back to the bike path, go north, (left)to the actual trail (marked by a cairn as of 6/11/14) and just go up that way.

Trust me. This one questionable decision made our day significantly longer and more treacherous than it needed to be. Still had a great day. Jun 12, 2014
SP Boston
Watertown, MA
  5.7 PG13
SP Boston   Watertown, MA
  5.7 PG13
For those interested in an updated route overview, we enclose it below. Climbed WG on June 1 in perfect weather with nobody else on the route, which is unusual for a Sunday in June. Details:

Approach: 50 minutes of huffing and puffing, much more if you get off trail or didn't get your mountain goat badge in Boy Scouts. The trail from the bike path is clearly marked with fallen logs and large branches suggesting you NOT proceed up the path, however this IS the path you want!

Overview: I packed a lighter rack than normal, but still had too much gear for this fourth or fifth trip up WG. I took four small aliens, four small metolius cams, and two each camelots from 3/4 to 2 inch. Used a 3 inch in one place, but not critical. There are over a dozen pins on the route, maybe more. Some look very solid, some are very sketchy. It appears that some inventive slings and biners have been installed that would allow a (safe?) rap retreat now, something that I had not seen before.

Pitch One: we used the horizontal about 8 feet above to traverse into the wider crack/corner. Looks hard, but the horizontal is great for the hands and eats pro. Continue up the crack system, moving slightly rightwards as the corner veers off left. Belay from the base of a clear vertical crack, right facing corner with tons of locked up cams from yesteryear. 5.5, 70'

Pitch Two: climb the steep slightly awkward crack (don't trust those old rusted camelots), moving right briefly for easier climbing, standing on the point at the top, and traversing left and up to much easier terrain. Belay at the newly set up escape rap on cozy ledge. 5.5, 70'

Pitch Three: move up and left on easier rock and set up a belay station at an obvious ledge. Easier climbing here. 5.4, 70'

Pitch Four: move up and left through pins, then onto a clean surface where major rockfall has changed the route dramatically from ten years ago. Some slightly awkward moves bring you up and back to the right where you get onto the gorgeous belay ledge at the base of the double cracks. Some reports suggest avoiding this area because of loose rock, but we did not encounter anything worrisome, and the climbing is good. 5.5, about 80'

Pitch Five: (Pipe pitch). Move up the double cracks (awkward unless you love foot jambs) to a nice stance. Use large horizontals and features to work another ten feet up and right. You should see the pipe in front of you, about chest level. Mantle up with a little balance from hands, and stand in the slightly claustrophobic pocket area above the pipe. Three pins ahead mark the way. Footing fades, and the trick is to traverse left onto the face for good feet and hands at the last minute. Lots of exposure. 5.7, 70'

Pitch Six: this is an easy set of moves upward and left until you find yourself on a large shelf with an obvious narrow crack (left facing corner system) directly overhead. Small aliens for a nice belay station. Twenty foot traverse for follower is protected by a reasonable quality pin. Feet are good. 5.5, 65'

Pitch Seven: my favorite pitch actually. Move up the obvious thin crack, then left and up through a pin onto a small ledge with slightly intimidating climbing ahead. Three pins mark the way. Stemming works well, and hand holds magically appear right where you need them. Once through the hard stretch, some easy climbing to the obvious top out. 5.7, 140'

We moved slowly and did the climb in seven separate pitches, all in 3 and one half hours.

One part of the trail down can be easily missed due to the way bushes have grown. If you hit a dead end just backtrack a tiny bit and try going upward to reconnect to the trail. Hike out is HARD and takes at least an hour. Again, the mountain goat badge will come in handy.

An amazing New England climb and a must-do for a full day's wilderness experience. Jun 2, 2014
bradley white
bradley white   Bend
the pins are relics or untrustworthy Apr 26, 2014
M Sprague
New England
M Sprague   New England  
But are those pitons any good? Between rusting out, freeze thaw and loose rock, it pays to be skeptical. Feb 20, 2014
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, Maine
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, Maine
Just to clear up a little history: the pipe that is now in situ on the famous "Pipe Pitch" is not the pipe pounded in by the FA party. Pipes have come and gone over the years, and the original pipe is probably in the corner of a garage somewhere. So, don't think you're girth-hitching a historical artifact when you wrap the pipe (and you will wrap the pipe, if the current incarnation is sticking out far enough), but it is in the same place and the whole situation is just plain amazing. Oh, and there is a knee-sized crack in a block just before the pipe pitch; and yes, your knee may well fit in it, and you may feel a certain temptation to do that. But please, for the sake of the poor slobs who will have to come up later that evening lugging a grease gun and a crow bar, DON'T DO IT! Feb 6, 2014
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.7 PG13
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  5.7 PG13
I climbed this route for the first time in about 35 years this past Monday. A Monday and we left the car at 9am and were 3rd on the route. Took the "front crack" start- and I thought I was getting old and weak until I read Marc Chauvin's description, he felt it was 5.7 ( as I did, 'crux' low, before easy protection). Much has changed in 35+ yrs. The "V" groove on P3 is more way more awkward; the 5"-6" off-width on P4 used to be only 2" wide and an easy jam, especially with boots. On the last pitch, after the traverse left, the inside corner started "on a pile of rubble"; the rubble is now gone and as a result to initial moves up the corner are now much harder, 5.7 vs. 5.4 or so. Plus, the 5.7 move(s) are on less-than-the-most-secure flakes.
BTW-I didn't notice too many "terrifying" lose blocks on the ledge above the "V" groove and we actually belayed here. In general, I felt the route was pretty much fairly clean for a "mountain" route. Sep 24, 2013
This route needs to be trundled again (everywhere). The ledge above the v-groove is full of terrifying loose blocks. To avoid this step right immediately at the top of the v-groove (careful of loose holds) and up to the off width belay, or take the 5.8 variation. Aug 21, 2012
Berkeley, CA
lperitz22   Berkeley, CA
Detailed route description here:… Aug 25, 2011
My partner and I were the first party up WG on Saturday (7/30/11), we were in the clouds for much of the climb.

For any 5.8/9 or higher leaders out there, heed the recommendations of a light rack. I decided to take doubles of nearly everything and regret it. While I didn't link pitches together, I often only used 4-5 pieces per pitch. Most of the climbing is much easier stuff between the harder sections. I felt very comfortable running out 30 feet or more in some spots since the terrain was easy in many places. For the crux pitches, especially the pipe pitch variation I placed more, but there are so many pro options that a double rack probably isn't necessary. Belays are pretty spacious for the most part.

Bottom line, a single rack of cams, set of nuts, and pink thru blue tricams is what I'd bring on my next ascent. Leaders where 5.7/8 is your limit, you might feel more comfortable with more gear. Aug 1, 2011
Englewood, CO
tscupp   Englewood, CO
I just wanted to add a little bit of info that comes from the Sykes guidebook. For the first pitch, which as Jay mentions feels harder than 5.4, it is 5.6 directly up the corner with the 5.6 move being in the first few feet before you reach the horizontal cracks - it can be a little unnerving as this part is sometimes damp and needs wider gear. To keep it at 5.4 or 5.5, hand traverse in from the right.

On pitch 2, the guidebook indicates that the right exposed crack is 5.6 and the left is 5.7 though the left looks FAR more doable and obvious with chalk and a pin - to me it is the most strenuous part of the entire route (even having done the 5.8 3rd pitch) - but I've never done the right crack so it is hard to compare.

These aren't major variations or changes, but I found knowing these spots were a bit harder than I initially figured they would be very helpful. Aug 2, 2010
bradley white
bradley white   Bend
Big rock slide from above the Cannonade Buttress. There are lots of new boulders on the trail. Jun 6, 2010
Nick Weinberg
Lyme, NH
Nick Weinberg   Lyme, NH
If you have double 60m ropes, you can do this climb in 3 long, high quality pitches in a relatively short amount of time. For a more sustained line (if you are solid on 5.8) you can start at the left-hand corner-crack start and climb all the way to the second large ledge at the base of the 5.8 handcrack pitch. From there, pitch 2 climbs the hand crack on the right, then goes up super steep, exposed blocks around to the right, then straight up through the pipe pitch to belay on a nice ledge on the left side of the arete. Then, traverse left to the nice ledge below the beautiful fin, up the fin, than straight up the arete to the top in one long third pitch, taking the 5.8/5.9 variation. These last two pitches are exposed and have some potentially loose rock, but have very exciting climbing, and are direct; with caution they can be safely negotiated. The last pitch right hand variation, in my opinion is not a lot harder than the 5.7 standard finish, with comparable protection. Doubles up to #2 Camalot is all that I placed. May 14, 2010
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
my first lead in NH, 11/77. I'm not a big fan of Moby Grape (except Reppy's) and think this is a better route. Feb 17, 2010
Newmarket, NH
nhclimber   Newmarket, NH
It may not be the sickest clean route in the world, but it is a fantastic piece of history. And when compared to other ridge climbs it's classic. I don't climb it every year, but I look forward every time. It's also very similar to the rest of cannon moderates, as in shorter pitches broken up by gravely ledges. It reminds of climbing in the winds or other things out west, semi-technical climbing interspersed with technical climbing to get to the top of a feature. Sep 11, 2009
E thatcher
Plymouth/ North Conway (NH)
E thatcher   Plymouth/ North Conway (NH)
I think the route is worth doing, but must say I was disappointed. I was expecting a classic climb and long multi pitch experience akin to my experiences on Moby. We did the climb in 2 and a short pitch, took us about 2 hours and 40 minutes from car to top, and I thought there was maybe 60 ft total of fun exposed climbing. True there were good ledges, and yes it was on Cannon which was cool. But it just didn't live up to the hype for me. Sep 10, 2009
bradley white
bradley white   Bend
Did the ridge May 24, 09. I placed some of the pins especially third pitch about 15+yrs. ago. The pins are beginning to look like body weight only protection. Also these pins are likely to brake off during attempted replacement. Houston, we have a problem. Aren't much options left up there. Climbers should climb for climbing sake and experienced parties are a must now in my opinion. The rock shouldn't handle be nailed at the top. I wouldn't expand any rock up there. Besides that we were a party of three that had a wonderful day. May 25, 2009
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
Found some pretty good footage of the route on you tube:… May 2, 2009
Sandwich, NH
matthewWallace   Sandwich, NH
I did this route two summers back (2006) with Jim Shimberg. This was my first multi-pitch experience. I found this route to be very enjoyable and although I wasn't leading when removing the placements they seemed very safe, he rock wasn't overly lose but I suspect that over the summer it cleans up with more traffic. The 5.8 crack was awesome and at the top Jim Shimberg decided that instead of going around to the left that he would go straight over the top, this translated into 5.9 moves, and me taking a fall at 590 feet, that was a shocker, but this variant was fun and protected but a small nut, so if you are feeling zealous I would suggest this variant. when you reach the top do not forget to enjoy the view. Dec 28, 2008
Jay Knower
Campton, NH
Jay Knower   Campton, NH  
It's easy to get off route on the WG. When people get off route, they are almost always too far left. So, if you are comfortable on 5.8ish terrain, I'd say that you should always choose the right option if confronted with a routefinding choice.

If you go way left, you'll end up in a vertical scree field; however, too far right will take you around the corner onto the Across the Great Divide face (A4). It's unlikely that, while free climbing, you would find yourself on A4 territory.

So, on the WG, be like John McCain, and keep heading right. Jul 16, 2008
Mike Caruso
Mike Caruso  
In 1998, the 5.8+/5.9 finish through the v-groove off the featureless slab had a loaf of bread size loose block that had to be maneuvered around at the crux. It probably upped the grade a bit, but it was an exciting finish to this great line. Of course my party advised me to lead that alternate finish because it was easy! Mar 13, 2008
Dominic Albanese
Baltimore, MD
Dominic Albanese   Baltimore, MD
Highly recommend doing the 5.8 crack/corner on the 3rd? pitch. Eats two #1 camalots and puts you a great ledge on the overhanging right face a little earlier. A nice face pitch links into the pipe pitch from here.
Staying right higher up 5.8+ also yields some nicer rock. Took 3 tries to finally get a good day to do this one and will always remember it. A truly great route with a feeling hard to get east of the rockies. Nov 7, 2007
I avoided this climb for years, primarily because of its reputation as a crowded moderate with high rockfall potential. Big mistake. With an early start on a Monday, we were all alone on this fun route. The exposure makes the moderate grade very satisfying and the scenery is fabulous. The recommended light rack to 3" is right on -- I read somewhere that a #4 Camelot was useful, but it ended up just being dead weight for me. Aug 29, 2007
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
Quick walk off... are we thinking of the same route... i guess these things are relative, but the walk off is the reason i only climb at cannon once in a while... im a wimp when it comes to hiking... Jul 12, 2007
Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
I think you want to be first in line on this one. The climb is loose for the most part but punctuated by awesome climbing in exposed sections. The flake below the metal pole is spectacular. The cruxes are all solid and fun. The views of Canon Mt are exceptional. Perfect climb for the weekend warrior (like me) A quick walk off makes this a fun affair. May 14, 2007
If you have fantasies of serious alpinism, then a winter ascent of the Whitney Gilman Ridge is the ticket. As an aspiring alpinist, I did the route in January, 1979, in very dry but cold conditions. Then, just a few weeks ago, when I foolishly scheduled an ice climbing trip to New England for early January, I did it again, this time with fairly warm conditions (mid-thirties), but with verglas here and there to keep things interesting. The terrain on the route reminded me of crux sections of some of the great alpine routes in the Alps and Canadian Rockies -- great position and when the cracks have snow and ice in them, you'll need to draw on a whole range of tricks to get through the steep sections. Feb 10, 2007