New White Mountains books are always cause for celebration. Whether a book on covered bridges, another aspect of the area’s history or a new guide book, they are all welcome with open arms. But perhaps the publication of THE NOTCHES: A Rock Climber’s Guide to the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire by Jon Sykes should get some extra notice.
Sykes has been exploring the outdoors since his childhood and might be the one person who knows the most about climbing in this region.
“Climbing is considered very dangerous, and I have certainly pushed the limits, but it’s still saved my life many times,” Sykes notes. ‘Life has been a struggle at times and climbing has always kept me grounded and given me a community I never had.”
His passion and devotion to the sport is evident and it all comes through in the new book – a book that he has been working on, on and off, since 2003. Once the end was in sight, it was a full court press for the last year or so as Sykes lined up funding and help to bring the book to press. Dyslexic his whole life, Sykes writes long hand and relies on his ‘computer people’ to get his words into the right form.
THE NOTCHES is the most in-depth rock climbing guide published for the western White Mountains. Inside, readers will find more than 750 route descriptions, 300 color photographs along with 22 line drawings of popular routes, detailed maps and historical notes on the first ascents and people of the region.
“This book represents an Alpine style of guide book – it’s not a book explaining all the gear needed or exactly what you’ll need for which climb,” explains Sykes. “I am expecting climbers to think for themselves. It’s critical that climbers have this on demand thinking ability because any climb can be life or death.”
THE NOTCHES is dense with information, delivered fast and furiously, but also takes time to share some history and stories of the different areas. The section on Cannon Cliff, perhaps the most demanding Alpine wall in the eastern United States, includes information about the various climbs, of course, but also a sobering report on the deaths and accidents there, and, on a cheerier note, the various first ascents gained by women over the years. Sykes also reinforces the warnings about rock slides on the cliff, which have increased over the last 15 years.
Sykes lives in Littleton where he is committed to being outdoors in many ways, shapes and forms – rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, fishing or back country skiing. THE NOTCHES: A Rock Climber’s Guide to the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire can be found at all the shops that cater to climbing, as well as in White Birch Books in North Conway Village.