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Greens 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. (edit- the way in from the north has been figured out - much faster and no bikes are used) 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.
For the new routers, Greens 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 5.13.
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 are the Northeastern 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 Northeastern 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
There are references in Charles E. Beals' book 'Passaconaway in the White Mountains' to Greens being a popular destination for hunting or picnicking in the late 1800s, but I haven't found any mention of climbing at Greens until the 1928 AMC expedition lead by Lincoln O’Brien. They made at least one visit to the cliff, making 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 made the first full ascent, by way of 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 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 big second pitch flake system of Green Party and the 200 foot finger and hand crack Greenpeace, and the very steep jam crack, '357'. It then lay mostly quiet for a while.
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 by the beauty of the cliff and the new route potential. The year saw a flurry of activity. With the help of Dima Shirokov, Amy Colburn, David Powers, Matt Elliott, Randy Garcia and others, Greenpeace and Green Party both got freed, 8 new pitches were established and a bunch of new projects started.
2013 saw increased visits, with some notable ascents being the freeing of 357 by Conor Cliffe and Tom Draper and the bold ground up onsite first ascent of a line through the dramatic second and third pitch terrain above Black Flies... (still un-named) by Bayard Russell, Ray Rice and Cliffe. Also of note, after years of biking and hiking in the long way, a much shorter hike in from the north was found that avoided any horrible thrash, making Greens now barely an outback area, especially the Northeastern Crags, which can be reached in well under an hour by foot. As a result, climbing at the Northeastern Crags became much more feasible (Greens Light, as John Strand calls it) and seven quality new routes went in over there.
There is now a good collection of established routes available with lots of 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. Luckily 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 semi-backwoods granite 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 very picturesque location and good, hearty, adventurous friends sharing a rope or a bottle of wine around the fire afterwards and you should get the picture of Greens. (We’ll forget being eaten alive because you came out in the wrong time of Spring and forgot your bug suit, ha ha)
Green's is somewhat in the middle of the White Mountains, not close to any particular paved road, so people have approached it from just about every direction of the compass, with varying results. Since approaches from the northwest were usually stymied by a band of horrendously thick spruce, for a while most came in from the Kancamagus or Bear Notch Rd, making use of mountainbikes along the forest roads to get within striking distance on foot. In case you are not in a hurry and want to try that way the directions are saved here www.mountainproject.com/v/107007381#a_108590236 Recently a good quick way in off of Sawyer Pond Tr. has been found that avoids the spruce band and doesn't require bikes. (It is also pretty scenic) If the Sawyer Pond Rd. gate is open, it is the way to go. If closed, than you are back to a multi-hour bike/ski and hike.
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Featured Route For Greens Cliff
Greenpeace 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a NH : Greens Cliff : The Main Wall
This is a super classic, beautiful 200 foot finger and hand crack that becomes a line of pockets in the middle.It was first aid soloed by Jamal in one rope stretching push, and with the addition of two bolted anchors and 3 protection bolts for the second pitch was recently freed by the team of Dmitriy Shirokov and Mark Sprague. Any aspiring hardman trad leader should make the effort to get them selves out to try it. It is a true NH classic, one of the plums of plums that Green's has to offer.Tak...[more] Browse More Classics in NH
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