Twenty four years ago I was a 14 year old teenager at a week long overnight summer camp on Pine Mt. in Gorham, NH. On a small 40 foot crag somewhere else on this mountain I was introduced to rock climbing and it became one of the defining moments of my life. I’ll save that self reflection for later and share my initial impressions of this cool cliff which I am currently scouting for inclusion in an article I am writing for a northeast adventure magazine launching this summer.
This outback cliff is actually quite accessible. From Route 16 take Pinkham B Road almost exactly 2 miles to a trailhead parking lot on the left directly across from Pine Mountain Road (restricted to camp vehicles, foot traffic welcome). The Pine Link Trail heads south from here up to Howker Ridge and Mt. Madison but we head Northeast on this camp road soon passing the gate and in exactly .9 miles come to the “Ledge Trail” on the right.
Follow this for a few hundred yards until you get to this boulder:
Here the bush whack begins. Head east off trail and contour around to the southeast side of Pine Mt. You’ll cross two rather distinct drainage’s before reaching the far left side of the cliff proper, about 20+ minutes or so. As far as bushwhacks go this one is quite nice. If you really keep you eyes open you’ll pick up signs of a few others passing through. Total time to the base of the cliff from parking lot took us about 40 minutes.
The far left side of the cliff has a shorter bit of slab capped by a very impressive overhanging head wall.
This is the vicinity of:
“Pope on a Rope“- 5.7 climbs the slabs past a few bolts and gear right to the base of the headwall, to a 2 bolt ring anchor. A 60 meter will get you to the tree ledge and from there either hike down or rap back to the base. FA Matt and Kathy Barker– from description posted on NEClimbs.com
Moving right along the cliff we reached the attractive clean toe of the slab.
At the left hand margin of the above photo is:
It’s a Pinkham Thing– 5.8 A great 3 pitch route!! Pull an overlap at the base and climb up to a stance on the slab. At this point a pink tri cam is slotted in a perfect pocket. Now commit to the slab past 4 more more bolts to a big overlap. Pull throughout this (bolt) to a ring anchor. The next pitch goes up and right to the large pine tree, all on natural gear pulling many overlaps along the way. The 3rd pitch is a scramble over some really cool rock. 1 60 will get you back to the ground. FA Matt Barker and Ben Smith- from NEClimbs.com
Center of photo:
Old Route Direct– 5.7 The 1st pitch starts on lowest point of slab. You climb straight up to an overlap (protect here) then climb up and clip a bolt. From here commit to some great slab climbing passing a couple bolts. Build an anchor 30 feet to the left of the anchor of Contact under and overlap. ( Small cams) 2 more fantastic overlap climbing. You will need to build an anchor along the way and you will pass 1 pin on the last pitch. To get off go to a tree anchor above the contact headwall. 2 ropes will get you to the contact ring anchor and then to the ground. FA Ben Smith Matt Barker 1st pitch– from NEClimbs.com
About 10 feet to the right you find the start of Contact:
Contact- 5.6 30 feet right of the previous route and slightly up hill you will see a left facing corner. Climb up the slab corner 30 feet to a giant detached flake trending up and left. From a stance on the top of the flake look right into the crazy looking rock. You will see a bolt. Climb up to the bolt threw the headwall just to the right of the fine grained granite. Pull a steep move on a great door knob hold clipping another bolt and the up to the ring anchors. Next climb straight up on the pegmatite on gear to a comfortable point and build an anchor. Now up threw the final head wall to a tree anchor. FA Matt and Kathy Barker– from NEclimbs.com
We liked the look of the furthest right line, which follows a band of “pegmatite” up almost the entire length of the cliff.
Hank Chinos– 5.6 this route starts to the right of contact by 15 feet. It climbs entirely in the pegmatite for 3 pitches. Threw a steep headwall on the first pitch on great gear. The second pitch gear anchor is near a big loose block so please use caution. The third pitch is threw the same headwall as Contact to the tree anchor. FA Jon Garlough and Hank Tracy.– from NEClimbs.com
It wasn’t clear from the description exactly where the first pitch ended so I think we wandered a bit left and stopped at the bolted anchor on Contact. Either way the climbing was really enjoyable and the pegmatite was amazing. I regret not getting a close up picture of it.
On the 2nd pitch I wandered us back right and reached the “second pitch gear anchor near the big loose block”. The block is easily avoided but the gear anchor may take some ingenuity.
From here Bob climbed through a couple fun overlaps to a tree anchor at the top. It was 1pm so we grabbed some lunch and got ready for an on-sight bushwhack off (we only brought 1 60m rope). Studying the topo & satellite imagery on my ViewRanger App I felt the fastest way back to the cold beers in the car would be to scramble up another 100 feet or so bypassing a short wall on the left, then turning southwest and following a slowly descending bearing back towards the Ledge Trail. Interestingly after scrambling up above this bluff and turning southwest we came across a couple bearing markers. I didn’t take a picture of them but they had some data on them and were on a perfect line of where we wanted to descend. This route worked perfectly and dumped us out on the trail 50 feet away from the boulder where we left the trail originally. The GPS track really shows the full loop.
Car to car for us was exactly 4 hours. I plan on returning soon to climb the rest of the established routes and poke around a bit more. I need to visit some other “out there” places first though while researching this article. On my “soon” list are a return trip to North Bald Cap, a first time trip out to North Percy Peak, and a handful of other deserving locales. Be sure to follow if you want to hear about it!
About 3 weeks left to a give away of the VSSL Supplies Kit. You can enter just by commenting about footwear on my review of the LaSportiva Batura’s. Nothing to loose and a very cool little kit to gain!
Thanks for reading! See you in the mountains,