BETA PHOTO: Greens Cliff viewed from the NE (from the top of O...
Green's Cliff is a beautiful wide granite cliff with outlying walls, located just south west of Sawyer Pond, in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, east of the Kancamagus Pass. This impressive cliff can be seen easily from the Kancamagus Highway, but received few visits in the past due to stories of a fairly long approach and few known routes. This is changing though, as high quality routes have been recently put up and old classics rediscovered. The use of mountain bikes and a defined way in have shaved the approach times down so it is feasible to have a pleasant day trip. Staying for the weekend will add the experience of sleeping under the huge protective overhang and waking to an incredible morning view away from the crowds, and give you time to scope the vast new route potential.
Matt Elliott on the flake Submitted By: David Powers on Aug 23, 2010
For the new routers, Green's offers the potential for many truly outstanding routes up to 300 feet long. The rock appears to be mostly very high quality with sweeping aesthetic features including long cracks, corners, roofs, moderate and fierce slabs, flake systems, steep overhanging jamb cracks, granite pockets and maybe even a potential for a few overhanging sport climbs. For those looking to do established lines, there is now a collection of high quality routes from 5.7 to hard 5.12.
Section of the Main Wall at Green's Cliff Submitted By: M Sprague on Sep 21, 2010
The Walls The Main Wall faces south east, so gets morning sun and has great views of Mt. Tremont and Owl's Cliff www.mountainproject.com/v/new_hampshire/owls_cliff/106752126 to the north east and to the south and south east, Mts. Tripyramid and Chocorua. To the left, past two slabs with no known routes but potential, is the area known as The West Wing, a large, tall shoulder of rock. The Wing's right side is The Alcove, a section of overhanging yellow rock tucked into the steep hillside, surrounded by tall hemlocks, with some dramatic aid lines that await freeing, like the wildly overhanging 357 crack. Around right of the Main Wall, to the north east, are the Eastern Crags, a collection of mostly undeveloped walls overlooking the scenic Sawyer Pond basin, with great views of Owl's Cliff and north to Mount Washington. There are tons of potential crack climbs to do at the Eastern Crags, including lots of offwidths and chimneys. It is a little far to go hauling crashpads, but there are quality boulders up to 25 ft tall scattered in the forest below the crags, especially below the Main Wall and the West Wing. Around to the left, more facing south south west is the large, good quality Meadow Brook Slab. It is on the same formation but fairly distant and has a different approach. Chuck Woodman and others have put up routes here up to 3 pitches. (we need more info)
A Little History In 1928 an AMC group lead by Lincoln O’Brien made an expedition to Green’s. The group made it up 100 feet, “but were unable to find a route to the top of this magnificent cliff. No other route could be found; the smooth, massive slabs seemed impregnable” I’m not sure where they tried, but Justin Preisendorfer found old pins while climbing Fireside Crack. It seems the trail cut in by the Passaconaway Mountain Club that the AMC folks used was not long maintained, which probably put a damper on further attempts.
It wasn’t until almost 50 years later that Jimmie Dunn and Michael Macklin most likely put up the first complete route, the classic Stewart's Crack, in 1975. In 1993 John Strand and Gerry Lortie climbed the very difficult slab, Black Flies Consume Jim Dunn as a first pitch to a possible 3 pitch wild looking line, ground up and hand drilling free on the lead. Michael Hartrich and Matt Peer climbed the thin Ginsu Flake, without the bolts and got down by soloing off right to a brushy corner. In 1994 Ward Smith and his bride to be Paula King explored in from the Sawyer pond. They didn’t quite make it in to the Main Cliff, stopping instead after much thrashing about at one of the walls of the Eastern Crags, to put up perhaps the first route at Green's using the top down approach, Premarital Blisters, a great looking 5.11c thin face and crack line.
Later, Steve Dupuis, Aaron Rashaw, Jamal Lee-Elkin, Tim Martel and Justin Preisendorfer and others traveled out, making more regular visits, battled bears and, usually ground up, aided or freed a number of dramatic routes that just beg to be climbed when you see them, like the first aid ascents of Green Party and Greenpeace.
In early spring 2010, after observing and wondering about Green's for many years while climbing at Owls, I finally skied and snowshoed over to check it out and was hooked. With the help of friends Dima Shirokov, Amy Colburn and others, a new wave of activity ensued and some of the old routes have been recleaned and new ones found. The team of David Powers, Matt Elliott and Randy Garcia soon caught the bug and freed Green Party and two other routes, sticking to their avowed ethic of ground up only. Exploring the cliff on rappel I was able to find some great lines that otherwise might not have been seen. We were able to establish some fun routes like Blurry Eyes and I'm Still There over on the left side of the Main Wall and freed the superb 2 pitch crack Greenpeace. With the year's activity, there is now a good collection of high quality established routes available with huge potential for more. If it was a bit closer to the road this area would likely be one of the main climbing destinations of New Hampshire. Luckely it isn't, so you can get away from the crowds and find top quality new lines to do. Imagine strapping your pack on and trekking out just long enough to feel like you were away from it all and arriving at a great collection of crags, with an amount of rock approaching that of slightly smaller Cathedral, but before it was all developed. Top that with a great bivy spot, a picturesque location and good, hearty friends sharing a rope or a bottle of wine around the fire afterwards. We’ll forget being eaten alive or sinking into wet gravel and mud up to your calves on the trail because you came out in the wrong time of Spring and forgot your bug suite or feel like you can’t take one more step with your overloaded pack full of new routing gear. That is the feeling you get from Green’s. So grab your partners, gear and brushes, and come have some fun!
There are two main ways in to Green's. The way in directly from the Kancamagus Highway (rt 112) is slightly shorter, but entails a shallow river crossing at the start. The way in from Bear Notch rd. avoids the river, but is slightly longer and has a steep section that is often wet so you may end up pushing your bike more.
The way in from the Kanc - marked in red, starts just west of Passaconaway Campground at a currently bouldered off dirt road into a small logging area (N43.99838 W71.37937). Where you park is not much of a pull off. Just look for the boulders. Head straight back from the highway (north) a few hundred yards to the river. A shallow fording here gets you onto the start of a forest road. (Sandals recommended) Ride this pleasant dirt road and bear right as it joins into a larger one, continuing past Church Ponds straight to Swan's Junction (N44.01745 W71.40188), an open area with a kiosk structure in the middle with a small "Swan's Jnct" sign. Turn left here for Meadowbrook (further directions in that area), or continue straight to the next left for the Main Wall and it's satellites.
The turn for the Main Wall is onto a slightly rougher and more vegetated forest road on the left (N44.01877 W71.39685), just before the main rd begins a long descent and a no snowmobile sign on the right. Once you turn, you will pass 4 bridges and the road gets rougher and steeper. A few minutes after the 4th bridge start looking for a partially overgrown skidder trail on the left (cairn on boulder N44.03062 W71.37988) that crosses a stream in about 50 feet. This turn off is just before the road makes a right bend and tops out. If the leaves are down you can see Greens from here on your left. Due to beaver activity, the stream seems to keep changing and forming new branches, so you will have to pick you way through. (once over, it is worth detouring upstream 100 feet to see the dam and beaver house) Head back a few hundred feet over the stream/s, keeping an eye out for cairns and blue tape and the skidder trail should get more clear. Carefully follow this partially overgrown skidder and climbers trail, marked in green on the map, keeping an eye out for some more cairns and blue flagging, taking you by some cool boulders and depositing you about at the middle of the Main Wall (N44.03579 W71.39961), right near the route Greenpeace . It shouldn't be hard to follow for anybody with any woods sense. The ride in is a mostly easy 3.8 miles and the hike is about 1.3 miles to the main cliff, assuming you don't get lost. It is about 2 hours in, once you know the way, if not overloaded, and about 1 hr 15 min out.
A couple more notes for the walking part: After the stream crossing and navigating around the wet spots, you will be following the skidder trail until you get to a nice climber’s size boulder on you right. Turn off onto the path to the right just before it. This path (cairns and tape) will take you to a skidder trail again. Go right on it, up the hill. After ascending for a while, the skidder trail will turn to the left and basically traverse the hillside. Once you cross a small muddy stream start to keep an eye out for the climber’s trail leading right off the skidder trail and up the hill. (That stream is you last water source. If people haven't mucked it up, the little pools just downstream usually have very good clear water even in summer. Obviously don't drink from the bug pool on the right before you get to the stream) You have a few steep sections ahead of you, but take heart, you are getting closer. Once you come to a huge split boulder with great bouldering potential, you are close indeed, with one short steep hump to make you think otherwise. Don’t die yet.
The second main way - in avoids the river crossing but adds a little distance by starting off Bear Notch Rd. and riding in along the gated Rob Brook Rd. This way starts out on a better graded forest road than coming in directly off the Kanc, so the added distance can mostly be made up by easier riding. At a little over 2.5 miles, just past where The Brunel trail crosses the road and then the right turn that takes you to Owls, the main road makes a sharp bend to the right. Take the first right after this bend, onto a smaller forest road (N44.02270 W71.35855) and stay straight on this as it takes you up along the north slope of Birch Hill and onto a plateau. At the end of this flat section you may see Green's in front of you and the road will start to curve left and down the hill. You will very shortly see the boulder and cairn on the right (3.9 miles from the start) marking the point where you ditch your bike and head up the skidder trail described above. The way by Birch hill runs with water during wet season and is kind of steep in parts, but is a great way in when dry, especially late fall when the river is getting cold.
Others have approached The Alcove and Main Wall from Meadowbrook, but that way has gotten very overgrown and needs to be re-explored.
Don't drink out of the stream where you start hiking unless you filter/treat it. There is beaver activity just upstream. Personally, I have gotten water from a small stream crossing closer to the cliff and drunk it untreated with no problems. A filter would probably be good though.
BEWARE OF BEARS AND MOOSE IN THIS AREA, DON'T TRASH THE PLACE AND BE SUPER CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE A CAMPFIRE
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Green's Cliff :
Fun varied climbing on 2 pitches, with a great view. The first pitch starts about 25 feet right of a large yellowish brown , right facing corner with a roof. Step off the bent birch tree on to an easy slab and mantle up onto an angling rail to clip the first bolt (spot or stick clip) Continue up and left past 2 more bolts to a thin crux on a headwall (foot sequence) that gets you to the bottom right side of the "mattress" flake. Plug a cam under it and layback up the right side until you can plu...[more]Browse More Classics in NH
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Oct 7, 2010
Thanks, Soon. Now it is ready for the hordes to check before heading to Green's
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England May 1, 2012
I hiked in the last two weekends from Bear Notch Rd with medium sized packs at a fairly leisurely pace and it only took about 2 1/2 hours in and I was actually more refreshed then biking. It is really nice to have the bike for the ride out though.
Has anyone ever tried the approach from the sawyer pond trail? It looks like it would be a bit shorter, but perhaps from sawyer pond to the cliffs would be a bushwhack? Seems like this could be a good way to access the northeast crags.
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Aug 13, 2012
The bushwhacking is very thick. Amy C did it coming over the top of the ridge and said it was pretty horrendous and couldn't figure out where she could drop down. I found the rough gully I use from exploring below. If you had a bit of a trail that would connect you in to where I drop down, it might work well. It is fairly complicated over there, so you would probably need to spend a couple days exploring to figure out where you were and the best way to the various walls. Coming up from the pond, you have a large swampy area in the way.
When not buggy, it is a cool area to explore, if you don't mind rough bushwhacking.
I don't know about the NE crags.. but approaching the main area from sawyer/zealand is a horroshow. you have NO idea where you are.
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Mar 12, 2013
I found mention that there was a trail to Green's put in by the Passaconway Mountain Club in the late 1920s in the 1931 AMC guide. See Lost Hiking Trails That is how the 1928 Lincoln O'Brien AMC party got in.