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North Percy Peak
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South West Face T 

South West Face 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 700', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: History: This climb was most likely climbed many years ago by North Country Adventures
Page Views: 2,608
Submitted By: Brad White North Conway on Jul 19, 2013

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Will on the first pitch

Description 

The neat thing about this climb is that you can combine a worthwhile hike with a technical rock climb and reach a real summit. Even though the overall difficulty is somewhat low the climbing is clean and entertaining. The views are some of the best in all the White Mountains and on a clear day can reach 50-100 miles in all directions. Do this climb for the pure experience of moving over wonderful rough granite in a superb location.

The cliff is at a uniform angle and difficultly the entire way with many locations for climbing protection in both vertical flakes and overlaps. The climbing varies from mostly 5.3 climbing to a few easy 5.4 sections and is always interesting and on attractive rock. The rock is very coarse, naturally clean granite that offers excellent friction. This is a perfect climb to do in your sticky rubber approach shoes. It is possible to climb anywhere on the face but the route described below links the best rock and the longest pitches on the slab.
Pitch 1: Start at the lowest point of rock. Climb straight up stepping over a few overlaps to a belay just down and right of the biggest overlap in the center of the face. 200’

Pitch 2: Diagonal up and left under the center overlap eventually stepping over at a break. Follow flakes and cracks past cool holes in the rock up and left around the prominent bush island in the center of the slab. Belay 30 feet up and left of the island at a good overlap. 200’

Pitch 3: Step right and climb straight up the beautiful clean rock past flakes and cracks till at the right side of another bush island. Belay here from a small spruce tree. 200’

Pitch 4: Scramble easily to the top and move right to the trail. 100’

Location 

From the Nash Stream road trailhead follow the Percy Peaks hiking trail for approximately 1.5 miles (steeply at the end) till just before the saddle between North and South Percy Peaks. Just before the trail starts to level out at the saddle it climbs up on the spine of a small rock wall (Admin NOTE: more like a boulder). Just before you take the 3 ft step down off the "wall's" top, the climb can be seen looking North above the trail on the left.

Walk 50’or so further to a right bend in the trail and head left and uphill into the woods.

A small wet 40’ cliff may be encountered on the approach that will need to be circumnavigated on the right to reach the slabs bottom, otherwise, the terrain tends to force you downhill and left until you run into the lower-angle slabs over there. The usual North Country bushwhacking will be encountered but it is not a prolonged thrash. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the slabs toe of rock, possibly much less if you are a fast hiker.

More Beta on the approach from Ben Townsend :
Did this route for the second time on 8-31-15. Nailed the approach this time. Comments:

1. Stay horizontal on the traverse through the woods after leaving the trail. Disregard the first little 10' vegetated "cliff." The cliff mentioned in the description is about 30' high and vertical. Head up right under it until it's easy to continue traversing left (there's at least one scary-looking spot where it looks like you might be able to scramble up; keep going). Once you've cleared the cliff, continue traversing horizontally. You should start seeing the slab. The bushwhacking is briefly thick here, but that section's very short.

2. The bottom 20' of the slab is mossy and uninviting. There's a nice starting ledge on the right, above this section. From here, Brad White's pitch descriptions make total sense. (The first time we did the route, we were confused pretty much until we reached the top.)

3. The pitch lengths are generally a bit shorter than the description suggests. We ran 3 and 4 together with a 70m rope, at around 220'.

4. Blueberries on top were AWESOME!

Protection 

Gear: Bring a full set of cams from .3 to #2 Camalot size and a few tri-cams. The majority of the gear is in good horizontal cracks under overlaps. There is no fixed gear of any kind on the climb and none is needed. A single thin 60 Meter rope will suffice as good belays can be established almost anywhere on the face and you will be walking down. Three full 60 meter pitches and a short scramble pitch will get you to the top of the slab.
Descent: Once at the top of the slab hike slightly right and up and you will soon cross the trail. You can be at the summit in 5 minutes of easy hiking with 360 degree views as a reward. The trail can then be followed back to the saddle and the road in 2.2 miles.


Photos of South West Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo of climb
BETA PHOTO: Topo of climb
Rock Climbing Photo: Brad White starting up the third pitch
Brad White starting up the third pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at Matt Peer on pitch one
Looking down at Matt Peer on pitch one
Rock Climbing Photo: The wet wall on the bushwack. The slab is above. F...
BETA PHOTO: The wet wall on the bushwack. The slab is above. F...
Rock Climbing Photo: Trail takes a right turn here and the bushwack sta...
BETA PHOTO: Trail takes a right turn here and the bushwack sta...
Rock Climbing Photo: Percy Peaks Trail head. Do not take Percy Loop Tr,...
BETA PHOTO: Percy Peaks Trail head. Do not take Percy Loop Tr,...
Rock Climbing Photo: not a bad place to catch a sunset
not a bad place to catch a sunset
Rock Climbing Photo: Sheila on our 1st pitch.  Arrow points to where we...
BETA PHOTO: Sheila on our 1st pitch. Arrow points to where we...
Rock Climbing Photo: Raps and Alternate "Route" in Blue (one ...
BETA PHOTO: Raps and Alternate "Route" in Blue (one ...
Rock Climbing Photo: North Percy, P2
BETA PHOTO: North Percy, P2
Rock Climbing Photo: North Percy, P1
BETA PHOTO: North Percy, P1
Rock Climbing Photo: Toe of the slab. The bottom part is dirty. You can...
BETA PHOTO: Toe of the slab. The bottom part is dirty. You can...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cris at the start, from the top of P1.  This is a ...
Cris at the start, from the top of P1. This is a ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The bushwhack was a bit... thick and we popped out...
BETA PHOTO: The bushwhack was a bit... thick and we popped out...
Rock Climbing Photo: Branden on p1 of the Southwest Face, North Percy P...
Branden on p1 of the Southwest Face, North Percy P...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down and across the slab
Looking down and across the slab
Rock Climbing Photo: North Percy, P3
BETA PHOTO: North Percy, P3
Rock Climbing Photo: View from pitch 2.
View from pitch 2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the slab from the bottom
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the slab from the bottom

Comments on South West Face Add Comment
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By Robert Hall
Administrator
From: North Conway, NH
Jun 15, 2015
rating: 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a

mmm-We also got "lost" on the approach (see COMMENT on one of the photos). First, we encountered TWO, not one, "wet, mossy" cliffs on the approach; second it was not clear what one should do after "circumvating [this cliff] uphill to the right"...should one then 'go with the flow' and be "pushed downhill to the lower angle slabs", or continue "up and right" to the start of the climb. I will try to get these answers from Brad.

We found no evidence of any 'herd path', although there was some evidence of "lost souls", whether the tracks were made by Moose or Vibram I know not.

After "wandering in the wilderness" for "40 minutes and 40 seconds", we just went back to the trail and climbed to the open slabs on the way to the summit, but went left when a cairn was spotted on the left which was out-of-position-for-the-TRAIL, and found the top of the climb. 3 raps with a single 70m rope got us to within what looked like 40-50 ft of the bottom [but may have been about 140ft, see photo] where we started up. A single 60 would have left us short of the trees for all raps. BEWARE rocks, see below.

We crossed over and then climbed a bit to the right of "Brad's line"; found it about 5.3.

VIEWS are FANTASTIC !

THE SLAB IS NOT THE PLACE TO BE IN THE RAIN. THERE ARE MANY, MANY LARGE ROCKS JUST 'SITTING' ON SLAB READY TO 'GO' WITH JUST A ROPE FLICK, A LIGHT TOUCH, OR A CLOUDBURST OF RAIN. These are obvious and easy to avoid, but still they are there in sizable numbers. About 1/2 of the protection I used was to insure the rope did not run near such rocks. (I think there are fewer on the route Brad diagrammed, but they are directly above you for the first 2/3rds of even that route.)
By Ben Townsend
Aug 31, 2015

Did this route for the second time on 8-31-15. Nailed the approach this time. Comments:

1. Stay horizontal on the traverse through the woods after leaving the trail. Disregard the first little 10' vegetated "cliff." The cliff mentioned in the description is about 30' high and vertical. Head up right under it until it's easy to continue traversing left (there's at least one scary-looking spot where it looks like you might be able to scramble up; keep going). Once you've cleared the cliff, continue traversing horizontally. You should start seeing the slab. The bushwhacking is briefly thick here, but that section's very short.

2. The bottom 20' of the slab is mossy and uninviting. There's a nice starting ledge on the right, above this section. From here, Brad White's pitch descriptions make total sense. (The first time we did the route, we were confused pretty much until we reached the top.)

3. The pitch lengths are generally a bit shorter than the description suggests. We ran 3 and 4 together with a 70m rope, at around 220'.

4. Blueberries on top were AWESOME!
By Ron Birk
From: Boston, MA
Aug 4, 2016

I added pictures of the trail head, where the bushwack starts, the wet wall you bypass during the bushwack and the bottom of the slab (where it's still dirty). The GPS coordinates we used to find the start: N44.660690 W71.435500
By Bob A
Aug 28, 2016

I added a small cairn where I went into the woods.It is approximately 200 or so ft before you hit the CT trail that branches off to the right so if you come to that junction you have gone too far.
It is a bit thick at first but opens up as you get closer.

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