Rock Climbing New England
The Globe Pequot Press, A Falcon Guide
A guidebook purporting to be "an indispensable resource for anyone seeking adventure in this remarkable region" sets a Herculean goal for themselves. Even Ed Webster found creating "Rock Climbing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire" to be such a daunting task that he left out the oft-used section on Cannon Mountain in his second edition, hoping to come back to it in a separate volume. Now let's get this straight from the get-go, "Rock Climbing New England" is a "select" guidebook. Author Stewart Green picks out 15 areas in the 66,608 square mile area of New England Green's calculation) and only describes certain climbs in each. That said, there are almost 750 climbs described in the book, not at all an insignificant number, and from what I can tell most are done quite well.
While I hadn't come across Stewart Green's work before, he has written almost a dozen books for Falcon Publishing. These include climbing guides to Utah, Arizona and Colorado plus a series on "Scenic Driving." He has been climbing for 30+ years and is an accomplished climbing photographer. According to Green he climbed in the area mainly during the 70's and by his own admission he used writing this book as an opportunity to return to the area and spend some time exploring "its excellent cliffs and climb its excellent routes." Considering the sheer number of routes included, it's obvious that without help the job would have been almost insurmountable. Green acknowledges the assistance of many well known New England climbers such as Ed Webster, Ward Smith, Jim Dunn, Ken Nichols, George Hurley, David Graham, Al Rubin, and numerous others - both for route suggestions as well as proofing.
So, how does it stack up to the current guides? Well, the current guides to the Whites, Webster's "Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire" and Jerry Handren's "Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges", were both published in 1996. Both are certainly adequate for most climbers, but of the two, only Webster's covers any of the outlying areas such as White's Ledge, Band M, Sundown, Woodchuck, and others. Ward Smith's guide to Rumney, also published in '96, covers that area fairly thoroughly although route development at Rumney has skyrocketed over the past 5 years. Taken together, all three address but a small portion of New England, mainly central and northern New Hampshire. Add to these Pete Warner's "Pocket Guide" to Rock Climbing in Acadia National Park, published in '98; the Dave and Marie Saball and Paul Boissonneault guide to Pawtuckaway "1995's Comprehensive Guide to Pawtuckaway's Rock Climbs" and the out of print Boston Rocks and the New England climber would be carrying around 6 books. This would still only address New Hampshire, the Boston area and Acadia. As most any resident climber will tell you, over a couple of beers that is, there is so much more!
"Rock Climbing New England" has varying degrees of information on the following:
Rhode Island: 4 areas
Connecticut: 4 areas
Massachusetts: 6 areas
New Hampshire: 35 areas
Maine: 14 areas
Vermont: 5 areas
In some cases "Rock Climbing New England" repeats information already available in Webster or other books and let's face it, not all that much has changed on Cathedral or Whitehorse ledges, the '99 rockfall on Whitehorse notwithstanding. It does have some of the new climbs on the cliffs like George Hurley's 5.10c addition to the Cathedral Ledge North End, Bailsafe. However, Green includes information on areas that to my knowledge have never been included in any guidebook: Owl's Head in the southwest corner of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Wild River on the eastern New Hampshire/Maine border and a variety of popular and obscure climbing areas in Maine. He also includes Rose Ledge in southern central Massachusetts, which has a guide but it is hard to find. In spite of it being 14 years old, I find myself using my old copy of Webster's guide for Cannon, while waiting for John Sykes' long promised guide. Still, if you only visit Cannon occasionally, this book may satisfy your demands as it covers all the popular climbs and is pretty up to date. It does There are also sections on Crow Hill and Quincey Quarries in Massachusetts, Ragged Mountain in Connecticut, Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire, Acadia in Maine and Smuggler's Notch in Vermont - just to name a few.
I really liked the pictures. They are clear and taken from very good angles. Although it doesn't specifically say, I assume that they were by Green himself as he is a professional photographer. The topos, by Martha Morris, are very well drawn and are as good as I have ever seen, as are the maps. You should have no problem figuring out where the routes go, where the bolts are located and directions to the crags. He includes a full alphabetical index of all included routes as well as one by area sorted by grade.
I am sure there are those who will find fault with this guide, there always are. But in spite of having set a very lofty goal, Rock Climbing New England succeeds. If you can only afford one book, or just want the only available info on one of those obscure places that you have only heard about through the grapevine, this guide will be well worth the investment. I liked the book and found it useful, well organized and well written. I'll give it a 5, it's one of the better guides I've seen. Well done Stewart.
b&w photos, topos, ISBN #: 1-56044-811-3