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*Cathedral Ledge

Select Area...
Airation Buttress 
Barber Wall 
Beast Alcove and Refuse Area, The 
Cathedral Cave, The 
Central Wall, The 
Cote Boulder, The 
Diedre Area, The 
End of Days Crag 
Lower Left Wall / Ventilator Slabs 
Mordor Wall, The 
North End, The 
Nostril Block 
Prow Area, The 
Thin Air Face 
Tourist Overlook 
V Buttress, The 
Rest Day:
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From MP's sister site: MTB Project

*Cathedral Ledge Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 44.064, -71.1663 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 250,690
Administrators: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey.LeCours, Robert Hall, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Jay Knower on Jan 15, 2007
Forecast:
Tonight

57°
Wednesday

82° | 63°
Thursday

74° | 55°
Friday

70° | 48°
Saturday

74° | 49°
Sunday

76° | 53°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Panoramic of Cathedral Ledge. Consists of 3 digita...

Description 

Cathedral Ledge is the epicenter of Trad climbing in New Hampshire. Because of its easy access and routes of all grades and styles, Cathedral has been deservedly popular for decades. Its proximity to North Conway assures that Cathedral has its own scene and it is not uncommon to be sharing the cliff with old timers who put up routes back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Though new route potential exists, the classic lines receive most of the attention. Routes like Thin Air (5.6), Recompense (5.9), and The Prow (5.11) may see many ascents each weekend. Cathedral has something for everyone as the cliff offers long multi pitch routes, face climbs, splitter cracks, and even a few quality sport routes. From short practice climbs at the North End to the soaring Yosemite-style aid routes of the Central Wall, everyone can be happy at Cathedral Ledge.

Guidebooks for Cathedral abound, but Jerry Handren's 2012 guidebook is probably the most useful. Ed Webster's Rock Climbs of the White Mountains provides excellent history for the area.

A webcam trained on the cliff can be found at www.neclimbs.com, as can notes about conditions, routes, etc.

For gear and/or beta spray, head to either IME or EMS in North Conway. Both outfits offer guide services and climbing gear. The Frontside Grind has great coffee.

The seasons at Cathedral Ledge mirror those of all the areas in New England. Fall is the best. Summer can be good, as the cliff gets shade in the afternoon. Spring often brings seeping rock, so there is a 50/50 chance that your route will be dry. Winter offers amazing ice climbs.

Getting There 

Find North Conway on the map of New Hampshire. Cathedral Ledge and its sister cliff, Whitehorse Ledge, can be seen from town. Follow roads to the base of the cliff. This sounds vague, but finding the cliff is really easy...of the two tall cliffs you see, Cathedral is the right one.

Many visitors are surprised to learn that the road along the base of the cliff winds its way up to the top. The existence of this road transforms what seems like a daunting cliff to convenient crag. Both The Airation Buttress and The Barber Wall can also be accessed by a short stroll down trails from the top. Some routes are accessed from rappel off the top of the cliff. Top rope sessions at the top of the cliff are also common on routes such as Camber/Reverse Camber, The Faux Pas Arete, and Peanut Gallery Flake.

After you have topped out on a full-length route, it is possible to hitch a quick ride down from one of the many tourists who have been ogling at you from the tourist overlook. If you do catch a ride, be prepared to answer many, many questions about the strange and mysterious sport of rock climbing.

The road closes in the winter, leaving ice climbers with the unenviable task of having to walk down.

Winter Climbing 

For a description of Cathedral's ice routes, see Cathedral Ledge Ice Climbs.

Aid Climbers: 

Many popular aid routes on the cliff are completely clean (The Prow, Mines of Moria) and do not require hammering at all.

Many of the "nailing" routes (Frenchman's Fury, among others), have gone free. Before you pound a pin on a route, do some research to see if the route has gone free. If it has, then do not hammer pins or place bashies. The rock is a precious resource, and a few errant whacks with a hammer could ruin a free route for eternity.



Climbing Season



Weather station 2.0 miles from here

184 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',34],['3 Stars',93],['2 Stars',50],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',10],['5.7',8],['5.8',20],['5.9',21],['5.10',39],['5.11',46],['5.12',27],['5.13',7],['>=5.14',1],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in *Cathedral Ledge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for *Cathedral Ledge:
Upper Refuse   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   Barber Wall
Thin Air   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 4 pitches, 300'   Thin Air Face
Fun House   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Lower Left Wall / Ventilato...
Toe Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 100'   Thin Air Face
Black Lung   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Barber Wall
Bombardment   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 160'   Lower Left Wall / Ventilato...
Pine Tree Eliminate   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 90'   Airation Buttress
The Beast Flake   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   The Prow Area
Bird's Nest   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The North End
Recompense   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 400'   The Prow Area
They Died Laughing   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The North End
Nutcracker   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 75'   Barber Wall
The Book of Solemnity   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 190'   Barber Wall
Diedre   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 350'   The Diedre Area
Airation   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 2 pitches   Airation Buttress
Camber   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 2 pitches   Airation Buttress
The Prow   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 6 pitches, 350'   The Prow Area
The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 6 pitches, 400'   The Mordor Wall
Highway 61   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   The Mordor Wall
Difficulties be Damned   5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Mordor Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in *Cathedral Ledge

Featured Route For *Cathedral Ledge
Rock Climbing Photo: Paul Ross ,Mike Hienz on the First Ascent. Aug 197...

Grand Finale 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b C2 R  NH : *Cathedral Ledge : The Mordor Wall
A companion to the Mordor Wall.Pitch 1: Bolts and hooks up to a thin crack. C2 (Has been attempted free. May be the cliff's first 5.14)Pitch 2: WILD- move right along a thin seam(rp's)to some fixed stuff. Down climb to the lip and traverse right to the safety of a small ledge. 10+RRPitch 3: Two aid moves on dowels the start a sustained thin slab up to a small roof and Freak Out Ledge. 5.12c A0 Pitch 4: Aid up a crack or face climb out right to bolts and cool steep slab climbing to a ledge under ...[more]   Browse More Classics in NH

Photos of *Cathedral Ledge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: There were only two other parties when we climbed ...
There were only two other parties when we climbed ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The upper part of the route. Taken from the cottag...
The upper part of the route. Taken from the cottag...
Rock Climbing Photo: Matt Ritter nearing the end of the Bridge.  Photo ...
Matt Ritter nearing the end of the Bridge. Photo ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral At Sunset
Cathedral At Sunset
Rock Climbing Photo: Historic Pic...Paul Ross Jimmy Dunn. EMS Intructor...
Historic Pic...Paul Ross Jimmy Dunn. EMS Intructor...
Rock Climbing Photo: A look down from one of the many sweet belays on C...
A look down from one of the many sweet belays on C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Nighttime skies over Cathedral Ledge.
Nighttime skies over Cathedral Ledge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral pops out of the valley... pretty profile...
Cathedral pops out of the valley... pretty profile...
Rock Climbing Photo: P.Ross on the FA of the Girdle Traverse .The Big P...
P.Ross on the FA of the Girdle Traverse .The Big P...
Rock Climbing Photo: Two pioneers of Cathedral Ledge.. in the UK about ...
Two pioneers of Cathedral Ledge.. in the UK about ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral's red halo.
Cathedral's red halo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cool view of Thin Air Face
Cool view of Thin Air Face
Rock Climbing Photo: P.Ross on FA The Warlock.P3. Cathedral Ledge 1972....
P.Ross on FA The Warlock.P3. Cathedral Ledge 1972....
Rock Climbing Photo: Fall Color in the Conway area as seen from Mid-rou...
Fall Color in the Conway area as seen from Mid-rou...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Prow and Airation Buttress
The Prow and Airation Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: IME 1975   The Start
IME 1975 The Start
Rock Climbing Photo: NH and UT pioneer finishing Refuse.
NH and UT pioneer finishing Refuse.
Rock Climbing Photo: an angle i dont normally see of Cathedral due to t...
an angle i dont normally see of Cathedral due to t...
Rock Climbing Photo: "how long does it take to get to the top?&quo...
"how long does it take to get to the top?&quo...
Rock Climbing Photo: George Myers on FA The Warlock 1972 P2
George Myers on FA The Warlock 1972 P2
Rock Climbing Photo: A North Conway party in the 1970's recognize anybo...
A North Conway party in the 1970's recognize anybo...
Rock Climbing Photo: a great view of cathedral's right side and a littl...
a great view of cathedral's right side and a littl...
Rock Climbing Photo: IME climbing school  1980's. L to R Jerry Handren,...
IME climbing school 1980's. L to R Jerry Handren,...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bill Aughton on the FA of The Warlock. 1972
Bill Aughton on the FA of The Warlock. 1972

Show All 30 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on *Cathedral Ledge Add Comment
Show which comments
By Ladd
Administrator
Oct 3, 2007
Check out a live webcam of Cathedral from NEclimbs.com

Check out the current weather for Cathedral Ledge from NEclimbs.com
By Bryan Gilmore
From: Ridgway, CO
May 31, 2008
One of the single best cliffs in the entire USA, IMHO.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jun 17, 2008
this is simply the best trad crag in the country. I know I'm out on a limb here , but name a better cliff with perfect rock an easy approach and several hundred routes ???
I know it's a bit out of fashion now but---- these are simply some of the best trad routes around.
So steep slabs and painfull finger cracks are not in vogue- this is what Cathedral excells at and good luck with the ratings !!!

john
By - - -
Apr 12, 2009
Perfect rock, easy approach and hundreds of routes? Sounds like the Gunks!
By Russ Keane
Oct 21, 2015
I don't know about perfect rock ..... Kind of polished, slimy, and awkwardly inconsistent ...... What about Lumpy Ridge? I think Cathedral is really really nice, but the best trad crag in the country? No way.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Oct 21, 2015
IMO Lumpy isn't even close to Cathedral. Cathedral has tons more varied routes both in difficulty and style

Not to much slime or polish on 95% of the climbs

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