Overview: Rumney, New Hampshire
Rumney is the largest climbing area in the North East and one of the premier places to climb in the country. There is so much sport climbing available that one literally cannot climb all of it in 10 seasons! Spread out across Rattlesnake Mountain above the small town of Rumney are numerous, diverse crags for sport climbers to explore. One of the most popular and aesthetic crags at Rumney includes Waimea, which boasts jaw-droppingly beautiful and hard steep lines. The rock type is schist, which gives the rock a unique grainy quality—making Rumney a truly special place for climbing. Here you’ll find a variety of features to test your might on, including cracks, bulges, aretes, and stem corners that suit a multitude of challenging climbing styles. You can find climbers from all over the country and the world here; many of whom are our neighbors from the north: Canadians. The approach to getting to the numerous crags requires entirely uphill hiking, but it’s well worth the effort!
Specific description of climbing style
There are a few quality boulders in the area, but most climbers come to Rumney for the high volume of single-pitch sport routes. While the area is mostly known for its steep vertical walls, there are a wide variety of features ranging from techy slabs to overhung roofs and aretes that make finding a climb that you will love easy.
Spring is good, but autumn is the best. From August to November, you can bask in the quintessential New England foliage, without bugs and moderate temperatures. Throughout the winter you can still climb on sunny days. The Parking Lot Wall and Main Cliff crag areas receive full sun during the morning, while Waimea remains a nice area in the afternoon. People climb during the summer, however the humidity, mosquitoes and black flies can be brutal. A dip into the Baker River after a long day of climbing makes it all seem worth it though!
Climbing grade range
You can find climbs that range from 5.3 all the way to 5.15 here. Most routes are generously bolted, which makes Rumney a great destination for beginner climbers to become comfortable and acquainted with lead climbing. When it comes to those who seek to explore the over 200 boulder problems at Rumney, difficulty up to V12 can be found with many V2 and V3 problems as well, and are littered all throughout Rattlesnake Mountain.
Best local spot
While the town of Rumney itself is a sleepy one, you can find a variety of eateries in the nearby town of Plymouth. If you’re traveling to Rumney during the fall season—be sure to stop at one of the roadside farm booths, where you can grab yourself a basket of fresh apples and pumpkins to take with you on your way home. Despite lacking much in the town itself, you won’t be disappointed if you spend your time alongside a campfire at one of the campgrounds along the Baker River.
Top climbs in area
With over 30 different crags in the Rumney vicinity, it’s hard not to find a route that you’ll love and to get at least some seclusion for a part of the day! Some recommended routes include:
- Lonesome Dove 5.10a (Jimmy Cliff) – A fairly sustained slab route with sustained small edges and holds; a pleasure that’s worth the wait
- Armed and Dangerous, and off My Medication 5.10b (Main Cliff, Left) – An absolute Rumney classic and must-do climb that offers techy, slab, and face climbing that lead to a fun jug hauling sequence providing a great dose of exposure
- Waimea 5.10d (Waimea) – The namepiece of this crag, Waimea is a a short, but satisfying classic that climbs up a striking black streak in the rock; sustained, pumpy, and creative movements make this a favorite among Rumney regulars
- Peer Pressure 5.10d (Bonsai) – Intimidating, yet well protected, this pumpy climb requires your foremost attention and focus on your footwork
- Centerpiece 5.10d (Bonsai) – A steep, pumpy route that involves incut holds, a few sloper movements, and precise footwork to avoid a fall
- Flying Hawaiian 5.11b (Waimea) – An absolute adventure the entire way, this route tests every technical element of your climbing, including footwork, crimp strength, overhung abilities, stem technique, and manteling power
- Apocalypse Later 5.11d (Apocalypse Walls) – A fun, steep overhang that begins with huecos, leads to vertical crimps, and finishes with a thought-inducing, techy sequence
- Captain Hook 5.12a (Orange Crush) – A variety of crimping, pinches, and solid laybacks make the movement of this one a worthy experience
- Social Outcast 5.12a (Bonsai) – With clean falls, this 5.12 on the unmistakable arete at the Bonsai crag delivers great holds and powerful bouldery movement
- Flesh for Lulu 5.12a (The Meadows) – It’s hard not to want to climb this aesthetic line, which features two tricky crimptastic crux sequences; a must-do 5.12!
- Predator 5.13b (Orange Crush) – A long, steep, and sustained climb, Predator takes you up a series of hard moves through the infamous prow, only to face crimps and precision moves, as well as a signature dyno move to a jug
- Firestarter V3 (Blackjack Boulders) – Move up a steep, well-featured face
- Up into the Green Silence V4 (Blackjack Boulders) – Great movement up to an exciting, high finish
- Pyramid Power V7/8 (Blackjack Boulders) – A problem with many different variations; suits shorter people too
Best kept secret
Make sure that you get to the parking lots early, as in before 9am. Otherwise you’ll be walking a little (or a lot) further to get to unoccupied crags.
Also, Clip a Dee Doo Dah (5.3) is a lovely two-pitch romp up to the top of the mountain with an incredible view at the top. Many climbers choose to solo this route as it is fairly low angle, but there are bolts for those who want to rope up. This one is best enjoyed amongst good friends at the end of the day.
How stiff is the grading?
Compared to other destinations in the Northeast, most climbers find that the grades range from accurate to soft, but generally the climbs at Rumney feel spot on. The plethora of well bolted routes can make this place feel like an outdoor gym at times.
Where to stay?
There a few options for lodging, including the Baker River Campgrounds, Mountain Pines, or D’Acres. Mountain Pines is preferred for a cheaper option and truly warm and inviting owners!
Practice good crag etiquette while at Rumney. Rumney is one of the most heavily trafficked climbing area in the Northeast, so make sure to clean up after yourself and be mindful of others in the area. And for the love of God, please wear a helmet!
The Rumney Climbers Association Standards of Care
- Top Rope Through Your Own Gear – Use your own quickdraws at anchors.
- Stay On Established Trails – Stay off the road and don’t walk off trail.
- Leave No Trace – Pack out any garbage you create or find. Watch out for rare plant species and don’t overcrowd cliffs.
- Keep Control of Your Dog – Dogs should be leashed and not barking.
- Show Respect While Climbing Outside – Maintain a small group size. Please be considerate of others by keeping your voice down.
- Please Keep Children Out of Harms Way – Children should be supervised.
- Remember, Rumney is not a Gym. It’s a finite resource and needs to be treated as such.
Now to you
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Additional contributions have been made to this article by: Matt Richter
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