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Cathedral Ledge

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Airation Buttress 
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Beast Alcove and Refuse Area, The 
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Mordor Wall, The 
North End, The 
Nostril Block 
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Cathedral Ledge  


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Location: 44.064, -71.1663 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 1,077,820
Administrators: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Jay Knower on Jan 15, 2007
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The upper part of the route. Taken from the cottag...

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

182 Total Routes

['4 Stars',35],['3 Stars',93],['2 Stars',45],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',10],['5.7',9],['5.8',17],['5.9',24],['5.10',36],['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]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated 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
Bombardment   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 160'   Lower Left Wall / Ventilato...
Black Lung   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Barber Wall
Pine Tree Eliminate   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 90'   Airation Buttress
Recompense   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 400'   The Prow Area
Bird's Nest   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The North End
They Died Laughing   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The North End
The Beast Flake   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   The Prow Area
Nutcracker   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 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
Lights in the Forest   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, Sport, 6 pitches, 400'   The Mordor Wall
The Bridge of Khazad-Dm   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 6 pitches, 400'   The Mordor Wall
The Prow   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 6 pitches, 350'   The Prow Area
Difficulties be Damned   5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Mordor Wall
Browse More Classics in Cathedral Ledge

Featured Route For Cathedral Ledge
Leslie Hamilton on Turners Flake.

Turner's Flake 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c  NH : Cathedral Ledge : Thin Air Face
This is the obvious left arching flake just to the left of standard route on the Thin Air Face. Start on a ramp that leads right until it meets the flake. continue up the flake to a two bolt belay at a ledge, just below the belay for the traverse pitch on Thin Air. Either top out via Thin Air, or rappel with double ropes or a 70 meter....[more]   Browse More Classics in NH

Photos of Cathedral Ledge Slideshow Add Photo
There were only two other parties when we climbed Cathedral tuesday. A group from Manch-vegas. And the bears. Luckily we didn't run into any other members of this party. I named him Diedre.
There were only two other parties when we climbed ...
Matt Ritter nearing the end of the Bridge. <br /> <br />Photo by Teresa Nagle.
Matt Ritter nearing the end of the Bridge. Photo ...
A look down from one of the many sweet belays on Cathedral.
A look down from one of the many sweet belays on C...
Nighttime skies over Cathedral Ledge.
Nighttime skies over Cathedral Ledge.
Historic Pic...Paul Ross Jimmy Dunn. EMS Intructors about 1973.
Historic Pic...Paul Ross Jimmy Dunn. EMS Intructor...
Panoramic of Cathedral Ledge. Consists of 3 digital images stitched together.
Panoramic of Cathedral Ledge. Consists of 3 digita...
Cathedral pops out of the valley... pretty profile...
Cathedral pops out of the valley... pretty profile...
P.Ross on the FA of the Girdle Traverse .The Big Plum. The Pendulum area.Oct 1972
P.Ross on the FA of the Girdle Traverse .The Big P...
Cathedral's red halo.
Cathedral's red halo.
Cool view of Thin Air Face
Cool view of Thin Air Face
The Prow and Airation Buttress
The Prow and Airation Buttress
an angle i dont normally see of Cathedral due to the fact that i come in from the other direction... but this is a great way to get an un obstructed (though distant) view of cathedral's right side from Recompense to about Diedre...
an angle i dont normally see of Cathedral due to t...
The view on a nice day from atop the first pitch of Fun House.  Photo by Arthur Kehas
The view on a nice day from atop the first pitch o...
a great view of cathedral's right side and a little bit of whitehorse in the background...
a great view of cathedral's right side and a littl...
first time to cathedral and i found 3 pieces of booty!! a sling, a biener, and i chineese death star!!! look out ninja hear i come!!! :) :)
first time to cathedral and i found 3 pieces of bo...
Brian and I on lunch break between climbs, at the base of Cathedral...
Brian and I on lunch break between climbs, at the ...
The essentials :)
The essentials :)
Mike lowering into the void.  Photo by Arthur Kehas
Mike lowering into the void. Photo by Arthur Keha...
NH and UT pioneer finishing Refuse.
NH and UT pioneer finishing Refuse.
IME climbing school  1980's. L to R Jerry Handren, Mark Chauvin, Doug Madara,Alison Osius, Paul Ross
IME climbing school 1980's. L to R Jerry Handren,...
"how long does it take to get to the top?"
"how long does it take to get to the top?&quo...

Comments on Cathedral Ledge Add Comment
Show which comments
By Ladd Raine
Administrator
From: Plymouth, NH
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: Your Mama
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!