Saved: Rumney Rocks Climbing Access in New Hampshire
Fall colors are reaching out to Naomi Risch as she warms up on Underdog at Main Cliff, Rumney, NH, 5.10a. Photo: AAC member Anne Skidmore Photography
Today the American Alpine Club (AAC) announced the expansion of its line of lodging options by purchasing a campground in Rumney, New Hampshire. This campground serves as the primary access point to the popular sport climbing area called Rumney Rocks. This 15-acre parcel of land has been in operation as a privately owned business, and with this purchase, the AAC protects and guarantees continued affordable camping for visiting climbers.
“Rumney is one of the country's finest sport-climbing destinations,” said AAC CEO Phil Powers. “With visitation on the rise, and with more than 22 million Americans and Canadians within weekend striking distance, the American Alpine Club is proud to participate in a sustainable long-term camping solution for this popular spot.”
Rumney Rocks sits on the south facing crags of Rattlesnake Mountain in White Mountain National Forest and is mainly a sport climbing area that is home to close to 1,000 routes, ranging from beginner friendly 5.3’s to cutting edge 5.15’s. The area’s climbing history dates back to the 1960s, and it is one of the top sport climbing destinations in the Northeast, attracting visiting climbers from around the world. The area also has traditional climbs and bouldering options.
The new AAC site is the only campground in the area where the cliffs can be easily accessed by foot. It's located across the street from the Meadows and Parking Lot Wall areas on the east side of the crags and sits along the Baker River.
The campground will operate on a first-come, first-served basis but plans include a few private sites available to reserve for traveling climbers. Potable water is available, and Port-a-potties are on-site. The AAC intends to add bathrooms and showers to a barn located on the property and will open it up as a community space when the weather dictates.
The prior owners operated the campground for 10 years but needed to downsize. They listed the property for sale on Mountain Project, seeking a buyer from the climbing community. In discussions with the AAC the owner's interest was piqued by the potential continuation of the work they had started. Those close to the situation speculated that without involvement from the AAC, the price would have been too high to operate as a campground without steep price increases. The most probable outcome without AAC intervention was that the property would be sold as a family residence, eliminating the prime camping area for Rumney Rocks.
The AAC looks out for potential purchases like this one specifically to benefit climbers and access to climbing areas. In this particular case, the proximity of the property to the cliffs not only enables walk-in access, but also sidesteps other potential issues like cliffside parking and increased traffic on small rural roadways. The existing framework that the AAC has built to serve its other lodging operations allow for efficiencies both operationally and financially, an advantage the organization has compared to other recreational access oriented groups. This new campsite joins the Hueco Rock Ranch, New River Gorge Campground (the last purchase, completed in 2010), Samuel F. Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground, Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch and other domestic and worldwide lodging options that are accessible and discounted for AAC members.