Type: Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: Phil Nelson, Sam Streibert, Alan Wedgewood, Mike Westmacott, Sally Westmacott/ August 1964
Page Views: 3,689 total · 50/month
Shared By: bradley white on Nov 8, 2012
Admins: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey LeCours, Jonathan Steitzer, Robert Hall

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When I climbed Sam's, the third pitch was intact. Sam's Swan Song, although easier than Moby Grape, has had climbers get killed and has had hospitalizing injuries. All accidents were due to human error.
We found our way up the first try. On the sixth pitch, Ted Hammond leading did an extreme variation missing the crux. Going left side up is the easiest. The crux high above the cow pasture goes through a pocket between blocks crossing upwards, to the entrance above the void an unseen corner. After corner belay. Straight forward easier route finding from this belay to finish. It used to be among the full length classic routes. It may have had to much rock fall to rate this high. It could be rated as low as a bomb. Thank you, very much Sam and company.

1. Climb corner or the Lightning Crack variation to belay on top of Buttress.

2. Move up and left to step across into shallow dike. Go up dike until able to ledges right of erosion rock.

3. Rock slides have changed this area. It was and is still potentially active. Its an ongoing process. No new info on area besides it is seriously doable and good for adventure. Climb what makes the most sense up the broken corner dike until able to move right.

4.Continue up corner until foot ledge right to shallow stance.

5. Up the easy ledges to the cow pasture, a large recessed ledge.

6. Many ways to get lost and not do this crux pitch. Some lost ways can be difficult. Right slanting crack heading towards where you think would be wrong to go is the route. Keep on heading for the most exposed way up and you'll stay on route. The more directions here I think the worst off you'll understand. Most exposed and steep becomes no exposure and excellent crack corner to belay

7. Straight up to belay under small cracked overhang.

8. Take overhang crack to vegetation and finish where you're comfortable.


Left side of Sam's Buttress


Trad rack


john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
Bradley- just because it's long and moderate, doesn't make it a classic. Nov 10, 2012
bradley white
bradley white   Bend
I didn't create the rating. Rating is from guide books. The climbing community is redefining rock climbing from rock mountaineering. This is a meandering rock mountaineer's route up a very steep area. It had great importance during its ascent. Almost none now besides lightning crack. Dec 10, 2012
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.7 PG13
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  5.7 PG13
This was supposed to be Sam Streibert's "Swan Song": HA! 50+ years later and he's still climbing strong!

Most accidents occur because of being off-route; but, as Brad states, this is one of the more complex routes in NH.

I don't know if rockfall has affected this part of the route, but at one point about P4 one climbs up into a sort of "pea-pod-looking" crack, then continues up to where a fixed pin resided, and then traversed RIGHT on ledges and flakes to a move UP.

UPDATE: 2018 - Since my original comment (above) Peter Cole has posted some excellent photos. I think the "pea-pod" crack I mention is just above the photo Peter calls "Peter Timchalk on the crux"...although the remnant of the "pea-pod" MIGHT be the rockfall mentioned at Peter's feet ! Jul 5, 2015
Jason Gates
  5.7 PG13
Jason Gates  
  5.7 PG13
CLASSIC. Every pitch had either spice or meat or potatoes. Very fulfilling route. It feels like your the FA team the whole way, besides little goodies that keep you mindful of the history developed here. Back up the pins if you can. Dan Braun pulled some out. But great belays with good to great gear options. Even the third pitch PG13 rating, although accurate, was very doable. Some loose rock, be so graceful. The Jon Sykes topographic is misleading for the fourth pitch, so instead of heading right into the classic traverse below the right trending overlap, climb above some big ass corner blocks then you'll see the traverse. I wouldn't want anyone making the mistake I almost made unless you can run out 5.11 moves for 60ft. Pitch Seven has either a hard looking move directly above the belay or a tension traverse/lower off to a left facing feature (ok gear but spicey PG13). The ninth pitch was wet even after dry days, good climbing.
Note for the timid: Bailing is hard but it is evident that is has been done here. Bring double ropes and research Midlife Crisis A4 5.9 to the left of SSS, since they merge at the Cow Pasture. Midlife has better rappel options and is more direct than SSS. Get that alpine start. This route took us 12hrs car to car. Aug 30, 2015
Bill Atkinson
Cambridge, MA
Bill Atkinson   Cambridge, MA
Sam's Redux wp.me/p6Isot-7W Apr 14, 2018
Without getting too philosophical about it, the "all accidents are due to human error" remark doesn't tell the whole story. As Bradley mentioned, this route has a reputation for serious risk, and a history of accidents, some fatal.

The AAC analysis of one fatal accident on the route, in 1968, reads: "The two climbers were well equipped to handle the climb. They had had considerable previous experience. Their being slightly off the usual route is important only in that they found a loose block which could have occurred on the regular route. Frost action on this cliff is severe and rocks are continuously being loosened as demonstrated by the extensive talus slope. The belayer deserves credit for holding the fall and getting himself off the cliff. In view of the injury, it does not seem that additional protective pitons would have altered the result." Jun 25, 2018