Goback Mountain cliffs (Stratford, N.H.)


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Jan 8, 2015
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Essex Co., Mass.
I drove down Meriden Hill Road in Columbia and parked at the gate for the former logging road that runs along Lyman Brook. I rode my mountain bike for about 4 miles down this road, past several intersections and around a long eastward bend, and left the bike at a large clearing that is at the closest point to the cliffs on Goback Mountain. The road was in very good shape all the way, like an old woods road, not like a chewed-up, rocky, sandy modern logging or skidder road.


My aim was to reach several large vertical crevices in the cliffs. The first challenge was getting down from the clearing, since it is made on a tall "plateau" apparently made by heavy machinery. This entailed a small diversion to the south. The woods were not too bad at first. I crossed a brook, then moderate climbing began. I ran into a zone of very large and tall talus "ramparts" that I had to pick through. I got to the cliffs a little north of the giant crevice and corner that ice-climbers have named "Valhalla Amphitheatre" There is a massive vertical crevice into the cliff, and a tall wall to the left of it. Here I saw the first of several Nature Conservancy signs laying out the strict climbing rules. (Sorry, the rest of the image are sideways...I don't know how to rotate them inside this messaging application!)

IMG_1720 (Valhalla Amphitheatre).jpg

From there I went south for about 200 yards to the next large fissure, this one containing an ice-climb called "Foxhole Prayer."

IMG_1732 Foxhole Prayer Crevice.jpg

Next to that at the cliff base was a small cave:

Cave vertical pan.jpg

I was at my self-imposed turnaround time, so I made my way from the cliffs at this point and back to my bike. I had hidden the bike in tall grass and had to use my GPS (pre-waypointed) to find it again.

I saw no one else all day. These roads are heavily used by snowmobilers, and some stretches by ATVs; and probably by some hunters. I wore a blaze orange hat just in case.