The premiere crag of Pinkham Notch sadly goes under the radar for many ambitious trad climbers. An excellently varied plethora of trad and toprope routes from 5.4 to 5.12 are just waiting to be climbed, but sadly they are not noticed nearly as much as their big brother, Cathedral Ledge. Square ledge is never completely deserted, though traffic is thin compared to other flagship crags in northern New Hampshire. At times is the summer, however it can get quite crowded, as it is a popular crag for group functions. Though hikers wont hinder your climbing in any way other than asking lots of questions, they often hike to the top of the ledge for its excellent views of the Presidential Range and Tuckermans Ravine.
Because Square Ledge is largely surrounded by trees, one can almost be certain of finding a nice shady spot while still being able to watch the day's proceedings.
Square Ledge is quite unique in terms of rock type. It features a horizontally running schist, mixed in intermittently with strips of quartz. The schist provides excellent friction for the feet, yet the crimps are not too sharp as one would imagine- still pleasantly positive though.
With an excellent variance of routes ranging all the way up to 5.12b, square ledge is an excellent crag to bring new climbers for toproping, or intermediates looking for their first traditional lead. Square ledge also provides a great opportunity to challenge oneself on hard routes that don't fit the traditional mold. At two pitches and 130 feet, Square Ledge also makes for a memorable first multi-pitch. The views and atmosphere are wonderful, and the approach isn't that long.
West of route 16, Square Ledge is easily seen from the parking area at the AMC center in Pinkham. After finding a spot in the huge parking lot, cross route 16 to find a well defined trail. Follow it across a wooden bridge until you reach an intersection. Turn left, following the sign to Square Ledge. After about 20 minutes of moderate hiking, the trail will deposit you at the base of the main face: the 130 foot section on the far left side of the Ledge.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Square Ledge (Pinkham Notch):
This prominent arete is certainly the most photogenic climb in the area, with terrific views of Mount Washington in the distance. About 60 Feet to the right of Standard Route, Thriller climbs the intimidating overhanging arete, following it up and right. Start on the right side of the arete, eventually making your way around the corner to holds the left. Eventually a jug can be reached near the top where you can shake out and consider the top out. Breaking left from this jug is a variation of th...[more]Browse More Classics in NH
For those looking to boulder as well as climb some of these great routes, there is a very nice schist boulder near the base of the main face, just right of the approach trail. Reminiscent of Rumney, this boulder has several moderate lines (V0-V5) that follow aretes and rails using crimps. The right hand side of the tallest face has an excellent problem (anyone know names?) and the slab on the back has some crimpy face problems. There is a smaller boulder nearby that could be cleaned.
Another climb of note is a 5.10ish finger crack that breaks off left onto the steep face half way up "The Chimney" route. It protects well, and is on par with the other classic hard route "Thriller Arete."
By lee hansche Administrator From: goffstown, nh Apr 27, 2012
i just deleted the "closed for peregrines" note attached to this... the official closures list from the audubon notes Square Ledge-Albany NH... this crag is in jackson i think...
I'm confused. The link at the top of this page still mentions a closure. fs.usda.gov says closure for "Square ledge in the Sandwich Wilderness." and accessfund.org has a link to this Square Ledge page.
Thank you for the clarification! The link on AccessFund.org leading to this page was misleading. :)
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Feb 24, 2013
Glenn, for the Passoconway Square Ledge, did you mean closed in general or when the peregrines are nesting? I know it is in a Wilderness area, so no fixed gear, but Handren's brand new guide has a section on it and it looks like a lot of recent activity has gone on there. It is an impressive cliff, with some stunning looking lines up to 3 pitches tall