Perfect timing--It's drizzling here in Vermont this afternoon and my new copy of Jerry Handren's recently-released "North Conway Rock Climbs" just arrived. Folks familiar with Handren's Red Rocks Guide will feel quickly at home with this guide, which is very similar in layout, right down to font. As with his previous guide, this one is loaded with photos and he balances the photos well between inspirational ones that make you want to go out and find a particular cliff and practical ones that clearly show the cliff and the various lines up it. One thing that appears to be expanded is the use of GPS UTM coordinates for various climbing areas, which will be a very handy addition, particularly for the more obscure crags. Topo maps abound, making it even more straightforward.
Speaking of obscure crags, Handren does a good job of tackling both the classic, high-traffic areas and lesser known spots like Crag Y. Additionally, this guidebook handles areas that have only recently seen major development, such as Shagg, Laughing Lion, and several others. So, rather than merely deepening the climbing paths headed to the base of the Beast Flake and other Cathedral classics, hopefully this book will both spread out the impact and help to introduce people to the many other excellent climbing options in the area.
Ed Webster's "Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire" has been the go-to White Mountains book for over a decade. It is rich with history and the sturdy little brick of a book has stood well the tests of climbing time. It will continue to be a useful resource for climb info in the White Mountains, but in terms of "news you can use" as you head out to the cliffs, Handren's book sets the new standard.
I'm headed back out west next week and definitely looking forward to the North Cascades and Rainier climbing, but this book definitely has me looking forward to viewing fall foliage from the New Hampshire cliffside!
Next up: The long-awaited Vermont rock climbing guide "Tough Schist" will reportedly be out in the next few months. Can't wait!
You can order the book at www.northconwayrockclimbs.com ($38 plus shipping). It'll also soon be available at the Outdoor Gear Exchange (www.gearx.com) if you'd like to check it out in your own hands before purchase.