Maine – Grafton Notch State Park
Grafton Notch is Maine’s most popular ice-climbing destination, providing a backcountry-climbing atmosphere with a full range of ice climbing and mountaineering. This unique climbing destination is steeped in natural history and impressive geologic features. Situated east of Bethel, ME, on route 26, this quiet climbing gem is just minutes away from Sunday River ski area. Bag some climbs and hit the slopes afterwards, or just spend the day with one of our guides climbing in quiet alpine paradise…that’s right, this region has escaped the New Hampshire crowds.
Depending on where you’ll be coming from, we can meet you at the Appalachian Trailhead parking lot, Sunday River Brew Pub, or a decided upon destination in the town of Bethel or Rumford. During the short drive into the notch, many diverse ice and alpine climbing objectives will grab your attention on both sides of the road, all of which are just a 5-25 minute walk.
Here are a few selections:
Ice Slabs- the three prominent north-facing ice slabs are an excellent low-angle ice- climbing venue. The classic right slab (Slab 1, NEI 2+) is 700’ and at times interspersed with snow. The left slab (Slab 3+) 500’, offers steeper ice up to 80 degrees. Descent options include a combination of rappels, walking down low-angle ice and trails systems. Combine all three slabs in a day for 1700’ of elevation gain.
The Streams- two prominent streams flow from Maine’s third tallest mountain, Old Speck (4180’). Situated in the far northern aspect of the Mahoosuc Mountain Range; known for the hardest section of the Appalachian Trail. The streams are ideal for learning the full gamut of crampon and single axe techniques as well as excellent steep ice routes NEI 4-5 and mixed climbs. Old Speck Stream, NEI 2+ is a fantastic alpine objective, as it continues to the summit of Old Speck and descends the Eyebrow along the Appalachian Trail for a total of 2800’ elevation gain and 6 mile round trip. The Eyebrow Stream, 2+ climbs parallel to the Appalachian Trail for approximately 1000’ before taking a tributary detour up a short snow and ice gully to the base of the Chimney, NEI 4+. This classic four-pitch climb finishes with great views of the Notch. Just around the corner lies The Smear, NEI 3+, and Hanging Gardens, NEI 5, making for an excellent day.
The Amphitheater- is Maine’s answer to New Hampshire’s Frankenstein cliff. It contains nearly a dozen classic one to two-pitch ice climbing in the NEI 2-5 range. This is quite possibly the most popular ice crag in Maine; you don’t want to miss it.
The Notch has many fantastic moderate to hard mixed climbs on the Eyebrow’s 800’ cliff face, as well as on table rock. Perhaps Grafton’s most ephemeral route is the Hackett-Tremblay, NEI 5. It’s parasol effect makes for one of the most exciting objectives anywhere. There are several other ice amphitheaters, snow and ice gullies and slabs abound. There’s no shortage of adventure!
Other Ice Climbing Courses: