Elevation: 950 ft
GPS: 44.064, -71.166 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 812,320 total · 4,682/month
Shared By: Jay Knower on Jan 15, 2007 · Updates
Admins: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey LeCours, Jonathan Steitzer, Robert Hall

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.

207 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Cathedral Ledge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 535
Thin Air
Trad 4 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 264
Toe Crack
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 122
Turner's Flake
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 264
Bombardment
Trad 2 pitches
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 315
Pine Tree Eliminate
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 301
Recompense
Trad 3 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 386
They Died Laughing
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 188
The Beast Flake
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 264
Bird's Nest
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 188
The Book of Solemnity
Trad 2 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 176
Nutcracker
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 196
Diedre
Trad 5 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 155
The Slot
Trad
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 153
Airation
Trad 2 pitches
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
 83
The Prow
Trad 6 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Thin Air Thin Air Face
 535
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 4 pitches
Toe Crack Thin Air Face
 264
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Turner's Flake Thin Air Face
 122
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Bombardment Lower Left Wall / Ven…
 264
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
Pine Tree Eliminate Airation Buttress
 315
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Recompense Prow Area
 301
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 3 pitches
They Died Laughing N End
 386
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
The Beast Flake Prow Area
 188
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Bird's Nest N End
 264
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
The Book of Solemnity Barber Wall
 188
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 2 pitches
Nutcracker Barber Wall
 176
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Diedre Diedre Area
 196
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 5 pitches
The Slot N End
 155
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Airation Airation Buttress
 153
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad 2 pitches
The Prow Prow Area
 83
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad 6 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Cathedral Ledge »

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