An Ice Climber's Guide to Northern New England

Publication Year: 1983.

An Ice Climber’s Guide to Northern New England. Rick Wilcox. International Mountain Equipment, Inc., North Conway, New Hampshire, 1982. 225 pages, 35 black and white photographs, 33 diagrams and photodiagrams, 4 maps. $15.00.

New ice routes have been created so rapidly in Northern New England during the past decade that even if more ice-climbing guides had been published, they would have been out of date by the time they traveled from the printer to your favorite climbing shop. Rick Wilcox has accomplished a formidable task by getting most of the routes, both new and old, between two very photogenic covers.

Descriptions start in the Smuggler’s Notch and Lake Willoughby areas of Vermont, continue through the major (and minor) areas of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and proceed to the Camden area on the Maine coast, culminating in the far reaches of Mount Katahdin.

In the acknowledgements, Wilcox’s sources of information read like a “Who’s Who of Eastern Hardmen”—impeccable references. The approach information will enable the climber to find his way to the bottom of a climb with little difficulty (or as little difficulty as one may have in New England in the woods in the winter). The route descriptions, along with the photographs and their accompanying route lines, should leave little doubt as to where one is to go. Also, almost all of the photographs and their route lines contain the respective route names, their overall grade, the NEI (Northeast Ice) technical grade and the page of the text on which the route description can be found. Two indices are included: one lists the climbs by area and difficulty and the other alphabetically.

However, as with most guidebooks, there are bound to be a few problems. Unfortunately, there are no photographs or diagrams of the Baker River Valley near Plymouth, New Hampshire. This and smaller omissions—such as Grafton Notch in the vicinity of Bethel, Maine or the Blue Room ice flow in Smuggler’s Notch—are minimal. The reader should also be aware that in order for some of the descriptions of mixed rock-and-ice routes to be complete, one must occasionally turn to the earlier works of Cote, Ross or Webster to fill in gaps.

The book’s convenient pocket size (6¼" × 4¾? × ½?) and durable construction are certainly assets. The printing and binding by the Nimrod Press is also commendable.

Philip J. Ostroski