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Portland, Maine Climbing
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By MattThomas
From Durham, NC
Jan 12, 2013
Me on the summit of Little Bear Peak after soloing...
My wife and I are thinking of moving to Portland. What's the climbing like there?

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jan 12, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lich...
There is plenty of good rock, especially as you head north west. Granite and schist, no sandstone, unfortunately. NH is near by. It is New England, so you have to not be uptight and be able to roll with what ever weather it gives you and have alternatives to getting on your project in perfect conditions when ever you want. Bug season can drive some people insane. Portland is a good, hip town from what I hear, but some other areas of Maine could use some new genetic material. (nothing you probably haven't already experienced in OH)

I am half kidding..plenty of good rock and people. You just need to be adventurous and flexible to enjoy it the most, kind of like when a 300 pound circus girl is hovering over you. It beats RI.

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By WillyL
Jan 12, 2013
"once upon a time" black mtn, CA.
I've lived in portland all my life and would say the climbing is not ideal. however, there is granite to be found in Maine (acadia, shagg crag, bouldering) but the far better climbing is next door in NH. Definitely a very slim window for good climbing when temps/bugs/weather all come together just right. If conditions aren't right it can be frustrating. other than climbing, portland is an exceptionally nice place to live : )

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By S. Neoh
Jan 12, 2013
1.5 hours to Conway and No. Conway, 2.5 hours to Rumney and Clifton, ME. 3.5 hours to Acadia NP. Not bad at all. Not as many good gyms for the off-season is about the only disadvantage compared to Boston, MA. Yeah, definitely better than RI. :)

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By Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Jan 14, 2013
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-f...
Matt - What kinds of climbing are you and your wife interested in?

Over the last few years of living in Portland, I've learned that you need to be a bit bold when it comes to the weather. If you don't let 30% chance of rain faze you, you'll get lots of climbing in, and maybe get wet a few times. If you hold out for perfect conditions, you'll constantly be canceling climbing weekends.

I'm mainly a sport climber, so I don't know much about trad or ice except that there's quite a bit around here. For sport climbing and bouldering, here's a rundown of the options:

Rumney - (2.5hrs) World-class climbing, complicated by New England weather. Winter is cold and snowy, spring is wet and seepy, summer is oppressively hot, crowded, and bug-ridden, but the fall is pristine. That said, Rumney is so steep in certain areas that you can climb there in a downpour. If you're climbing 5.10-5.11, there are dry climbs, but maybe not enough for a day. If you're climbing 12-13+, there are warmups and projects at Waimea that stay bone-dry in the most horrid conditions.


Shagg - (2hrs including approach) Mainly a 12 and 13- area. Superb routes in a fantastic setting. While not true RRG-style routes, the lines tend to be quite enduranc-y compared to Rumney. After-work sessions are possible in the summer, and it's climbable in the snow as well.

Pawtuckaway - (<2hrs) Diverse bouldering at all grades in an Endor-like setting.

Farley - (3 hrs) An absurd concentration of iconic blocs in the V8-10 range.

Lincoln Woods - (~3 hrs) Not known for its aesthetics, but known for contrivance, easy access, and gloriously flat landings, this area has impressive breadth and depth of problems, many of the highest quality.

Acadia - (3.5 hrs) Bouldering, Sport, Trad, and sea-cliff toproping. A smaller quantity of routes, but some really good quality, and a picture-perfect context.

North Conway Crags - (1-2hrs) Lots of stuff - adventure sport, multipitch, trad, mixed, ice...

local bouldering areas - There are several good local spots within 30 minutes of Portland.

Gym - A big weakness of living in Portland. The MRG leaves much to be desired, though there is a steep bouldering cave, and a recent influx of much-needed new climbing holds. If you are serious about your gym game, you may find yourself building a home-gym or road-tripping to the Newburyport Metrorock (1 hr) or Everett (2 hrs).

the people - This is what makes Portland so great. You can find partners willing to climb in the direst conditions, every month of the year. There are psyched climbers of all ages, including a few still-crushing hardmen of that bold generation of yore. There are strong psyched climbers who balance full-time careers and families. Sterling Rope is near Portland, and there are close ties with the North Conway climbing community. Dave, Luke, and Joey may have moved on, but they left a legacy of psyched friends and friends-of-friends, with an energy to get outdoors that's contagious.

Hope this helps!

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By Jared Garfield
Jan 14, 2013
Romancing the Stone
Hey Matt,

Im originally from NH, but I moved to Maine to go to school about 3 and half years ago. I love it here, I'm a little further north by bangor, but Acadia is a really great place for trad, the rock quality is just great. There are also a few lesser know areas in Clifton for sport. Rumney is a bit far from Bangor (4.5 hours) so I don't make it there as much as I would like, but its a pretty great place for sport climbing as well. Baxter State Park also has a handful of opportunities for more backcountry style climbing. Everything also moves a bit slower in Maine and the people are super nice (one of the reasonsI came to live here) so if thats what you're into you will have a great time.

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By hasan
From portland,me
Jan 14, 2013
Hi, There are quite a few places

Clifton (Bangor/Ellsworth area)
This area is 2 hours north of Portland and has an enormous amount of climbing of all kinds.

Katahdin has alpine style climbing an hour and half above Bangor.

North Conway is an hour and a half away which is pretty close and has mostly trad, ice etc. There are many well known areas like Cannon next to there.

In Portland central there is nothing but lots of places within 1.5hr drive. Plus, Maine has world class sailing coast right off of Portland if you guys are into that too :)

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By john strand
From southern colo
Jan 14, 2013
It's the weather.. but plenty of brewpubs takes away the winter sting.

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Jan 14, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lich...
Yeah, nice write ups guys, but what about the 3 breasted woman with the arm growing out of her head in Millinocket?

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By Mike Lambert
Jan 14, 2013
It's an hour and a half from a bunch of good climbing, shell and laughing lion not mentioned yet, and it's by the ocean. It's restaurants have been written up in the times a bunch of times now. I think it rocks.

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By Mike Lambert
Jan 14, 2013
Also, shell and shagg are nice down to 35 or so on sunny days.

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By MattThomas
From Durham, NC
Jan 14, 2013
Me on the summit of Little Bear Peak after soloing...
Hey thanks everybody, this is great. We're going to check it out in Feb, I'm stoked to see Portland. The weather can't be worse than Ohio, and driving an hour or two is nothing compared to our regular 5+ hour jaunts to Seneca and the NRG.

@Hasan, is there decent a PHRF racing scene?

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By john strand
From southern colo
Jan 14, 2013
M Sprague wrote:
Yeah, nice write ups guys, but what about the 3 breasted woman with the arm growing out of her head in Millinocket?

She left, the paper mill shut down.

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By Ben Speyer
From Maine
Jan 14, 2013
M Sprague wrote:
Yeah, nice write ups guys, but what about the 3 breasted woman with the arm growing out of her head in Millinocket?


As we used to say up there, don't Millinocket till you Millitried it!

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By hasan
From portland,me
Jan 14, 2013
Hi Matt

Yep, its really good. There are "bigger" races on Sun, Wed and Fri. There are smaller races on other days out of nearby areas. More than your average number of marinas and yards around here too. Getting a mooring at a state area is near impossible without a long wait but there are other options.

Best

FLAG


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