Cannon Cliff is one of New Hampshires best and highest cliffs–it’s also one of the highest climbing areas in the east. The rock is amongst the most exposed and enduring in the US to boot. This area is a playground for alpine climbers and a true gem for New England. Views of the White Mountains, steep rock, challenging moderates make this area one of the best trad climbing cliffs anywhere. You can view Franconia Notch and autumn leaves for tens of miles in all directions. This area is also a paradise for ice climbers in winter with many of New England’s best ice lines. With hundreds of classic pitches to choose from this area has some stand-out classics that must be climbed: Reppys Crack, Whitney Gilman, Moby Grape, and VMC Direct are amongst a few great lines although Whitney Gillman has undergone several facelifts in the past two decades with significant rockfall that has challenged the climbs existence.
The routes here are average of 5 pitches with everything ranging from good belay ledges to partial-hanging belays or even hanging belay stances. The area is prone to rockfall but most of the popular routes are clean and safe. The stone face that was an icon for the state of New Hampshire broke off and was destroyed so always use caution here, it is an alpine environment.
Climbing here during black fly season is challenging and downright miserable. Keep an eye on the forecast and plan around this time. Spring Summer and Fall are great times to climb here and winter ice is abundant but expect extremely cold temps at times of the winter ranging from November to March or later.
A good mix of all size cams, nuts and mixed gear is very helpful as well as long slings and a hearty alpine rack. A helmet is an absolute must! Fritz Weisner said of all the places he had climbed he was almost nearly killed at the base of a classic crack by a rockfall on Cannon.
This is in the “Whites” and some of the worst weather in New England hovers here. Summer can have raging thunderstorms, winter can be brutal. Nearby Mount Washington clocked the highest windspeed on earth at 230+ miles an hour a few decades ago. Weather is not to be underestimated here. The routes are long and exposed. August days can be chilly when you are on the final pitches of a climb and the sun is going down.