Climbing Access Restored at New Hampshire’s Band M Ledge!

Access Fund and Friends of the Ledges are pleased to announce that Band M Ledge in Madison, New Hampshire has been reopened to recreational climbing.

Band M Ledge is a granite cliff offering 50 routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.13, with most routes falling on the upper end of the grade range. Due to its southerly aspect, the cliff offers climbers in the Mount Washington Valley with an option for late and early season climbing in a beautiful and quiet setting.

Photo courtesy of ©Loran Smith

“Band M Ledge has a long history,” says Friends of the Ledges President, Sarah Garlick. “First ascents at the ledge date back to the early 1970s, and the area provided a significant resource for climbers in the region.”

However, the privately owned area was closed in 2011 due to concerns around managing public access alongside an active quarry operation. Earlier this year, Friends of the Ledges and Access Fund began working with the family-owned New Hampshire company, Alvin J. Coleman & Son, Inc., that owns the access point and the main portion of the ledge, to allow limited public access.

Access Fund and Friends of the Ledges worked with the Coleman family to formalize a climbing management agreement that re-opens the access point and their portion of the ledge—from The Steps Area to Bandit Area—for recreational climbing. Access Fund currently holds a three-year climbing management agreement with the landowner, providing them with necessary risk management and insurance provisions that address the liability concerns that led to the closure in 2011. There is an option to renew the agreement when it expires in three years and assign it to Friends of the Ledges.

“This agreement is a great win for local climbers and demonstrates what can be accomplished when partnerships are forged between local climbing organizations, Access Fund, and private landowners,” says Access Fund Northeast Regional Director Mike Morin. “We are excited to play a role in re-opening Band M Ledge and could not have done it without local leaders and the willingness of the Coleman family to work with us.”

“We don’t have a ton of rock in the Northeast, compared with other areas, so what we have is really important,” said Friends of the Ledges board member Sam Bendroth, who worked directly with the Coleman family on the new agreement. “It’s great that we can work with a private landowner to regain access to a cliff that was lost to us. I can’t wait to get out there in the spring.”

Access Details:

In order to maintain public access, the climbing community must be respectful of the property and commit to stewarding the site. Friends of the Ledges and Access Fund have worked to clearly delineate the new access route to the ledge. From NH-16, take the old Class VI Whitten Ledge/Gumb Quarry Road (next to the Tanglewood Cabins) and park where the Class VI road meets Swift Brook, prior to the road crossing the creek. Follow the new trail through the woods to the south, which wraps around the eastern side of Band M Ledge to the base of the cliff. The historic access point to the cliff through the private quarry remains closed.

Visiting climbers are encouraged to educate themselves on the terms of the climbing management agreement, which are posted near the trailhead. Key points include:

  • Climbers must not enter any part of the quarry
  • Climbers must park and access the cliff from the new access point off of the old Class VI Whitten Ledge/Gumb Quarry Road (Link To Map)
  • Access is day-use only
  • No commercial activity is allowed at the site
  • Do not venture off the established access trail
  • Limit all recreation to the area around Band M Ledge
Credit Photo Courtesy of:
Dan Brayack

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