This is a tall, open, and highly exposed mountain that is remote and very beautiful. The faces around the famous buttress are chossy, and instead of being one large piece of rock, are actually a collection of blocks, offering many places for handholds and gear placement. This area is within the Pemigewasset Wilderness, so remember Wilderness rules apply.
Bondcliff can be reached from the Kanc via the Lincoln Woods and Wilderness trails (9.1 miles, ~3,100 feet of elevation gain), or via the Zealand, Twinway, and Bondcliff trails. The nearby Guyot tentsite offers the closest established location to spend the night, using an outhouse, and get clean water.
At the base of the route, you will see a face with an off width crack rising left to right. Follow the crack to the ledge, walk all the way to the back of the ledge and continue up to a blocky overhang. Shift over the aręte to climber’s right and continue to a large ledge. At this point you will rotate almost ninety degrees to climber’s left. You will see a vertical crack to your left on the face, this is the crux move. Proceed up into the chimney. ...[more]Browse More Classics in NH
I climbed these cliffs this weekend!! Utterly stunning place to rock climb. Just absolutely fantastic. Totally worth the effort to bring gear up there and set up. The magnitude of this amphitheater of nature is hard to describe. Let's just say, this peak is number one for many people on their list of NH 4000-footers. It's truly a magnificent place to be: Check out photos all over the internet. Now imagine dropping down on rappel and climbing that jazz. WOW! Not since the Indian Peaks Wilderness in Colorado have I felt that type of power around me on a rock climb. Exposure to some extent, yes. As in: You are pulling around the corner of an arete and out in your peripheral vision is a hundred miles of pristine White Mountain scenery.... dozens of mountain peaks.... then you go left and you are looking up at West Bond and its slides...... then you are lost in the blocky mysterious overhangs of the Bondcliffs as you follow a beautiful corner up to a semi-chimney, and pull up at your anchor, only to mantle up and see the entire North to Southeast 180 degree view of a lifetime, including Mount Washington, Crawford Notch, and who knows how far beyond into Maine. I was dangling in my harness just laughing at the view halfway up this climb!
The photo of the one side of the cliff does not do justice to the many different possible rotes, some even harder than 5.6. I set up two separate rappels, nice clean drops on a 53-meter rope to the bottom. Everything is rather alpiney-ledgey if that's something that appeals to you. Kind of exploratory, not so elegant, and a little slippery to the feet, from never being climbed and having natural growth/film. Unfortunate because I found a few 5.7-5.9 techinical spots that threw me off due to friction on the feet problems. One was a killer diagonal hand crack in the 007 area and to the left of it was this facey-crimpey section that I also couldn't get! Maybe I was burned from the crack and from the loooooong hike up. But I found my way up enjoyable rock back to my anchor, with plenty of fun 5.5-5.6 moves. Really really good time. I went with the grigri self-belay technique, which totally worked and was not unlike leading, in the sense that you had to deal with stuff as you went up (pulling in slack), so it was not so easy, but having two strands of rope in your face was a bit annoying (I hate top-roping) -- albeit very safe and better than free-soloing out in the middle of nowhere, lol.
Climb one for me was essentially the "007" put up here by Bryan and Zach. Like I said you can find your way up on easy terrain, or try some harder stuff. There was plenty of everything in that 75 feet of alpine climbing: face/corner/crack/jug/arete/traverse. It was a lot better than I expected. Special thanks to them, for taking the time to post this climb and guide me to the right spot. Good going guys, I applaud your pioneering ways! I never ever would have known about this. Thanks.
Climb two (a separate rappel anchor) was more on the side that you see in the classic photo. You drop down to this bushy ledge, again perfect on my 53 meter rope. To start you can try three separate types of cracks up to a ledge (the one I did was off-width and pretty damn fun, the other two looked a little trickier!), then from there you can try this overhanging corner system that goes straight up the left side of the prominent butress, heading right up into the teeth of the cliff and would ultimately end in a gnarly roof that everyone stands on to take the photos. No idea if any of that is climable; looked ridiculous. It was tricky, and kind of dirty and slippery like I said. I tried like heck to go straight up and pull the prettier line. But alas.. I went right and swung around the arete thing, and found a line up that was not bad at all in the end! Good clean varied 5.6 fun over there.... In full view of the hundred miles of scenery, climbing in the sun, pulling up, laybacking a little, heading left for kicks to go under this little mini-roof and then traversing back over.... then pulling up stylishly to the anchor with tourists wondering why they aren't rock climbing, too, dammit!
Wow. All I can say is wow. Pretty fun project. So glad I did this.
As for leading. Let me just say I consider leading the true form of climbing. I hate top-roping. But in this instance... I don't know that I would want to bring all my gear out and mess around with this weird, dirty, ledgy, alpiney rock system. I was glad to be on top-rope. I was not seeing a ton of easy pro options. The rappel down was a BLAST. You only need webbing and a couple of cams, to reinforce your anchor. You will be glad you did it this way. It lightens your load on the way up, and the climbing is just not conducive to leading, in my opinion.
Drop me an email if you have any questions about this magnificent nugget of New England gold. russkeane AT yahoo
I gather the route is about 75-80 feet (..."rapped with single 50m....had two strands of rope in my face...") [BTW- weight down the end(s) of the rope, e.g. with a water btl, and this is less of an issue.]
I "gotta" wonder if the late Guy Waterman climbed this cliff (maybe even in winter!)...he went into Bondcliff many, many times over the years.
For those who love a multi-mile hike to cliffs there's the South shoulder of Mt Garfield ( you're sure to have seen it from Bondcliff !). Info in Dec'66 or Jun'67 Appalachia. The crack on the upper face that we aided would probably go free today...plus there still would be some fixed gear ( Ha! soft steel pins) since it was too hot to spend the time to clean the pitch (Boston set the then-record for the hottest July day; I think 103F)