Elevation: 950 ft
GPS: 44.064, -71.166 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 1,013,448 total · 5,296/month
Shared By: Jay Knower on Jan 15, 2007 · Updates
Admins: Jay Knower, M Sprague, Lee Hansche, Jeffrey LeCours, Jonathan S, 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.

257 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
 610
Thin Air
Trad 4 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 307
Toe Crack
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 142
Turner's Flake
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 298
Bombardment
Trad 2 pitches
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 355
Pine Tree Eliminate
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 356
Recompense
Trad 3 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 447
They Died Laughing
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 211
The Beast Flake
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 307
Bird's Nest
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 205
The Book of Solemnity
Trad 2 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 202
Nutcracker
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 219
Diedre
Trad 5 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 175
The Slot
Trad
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 175
Airation
Trad 2 pitches
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
 94
The Prow
Trad 6 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Thin Air Thin Air Face
 610
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 4 pitches
Toe Crack Thin Air Face
 307
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Turner's Flake Thin Air Face
 142
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Bombardment Lower Left Wall / Ven…
 298
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
Pine Tree Eliminate Airation Buttress
 355
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Recompense Prow Area
 356
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 3 pitches
They Died Laughing N End
 447
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
The Beast Flake Prow Area
 211
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Bird's Nest N End
 307
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
The Book of Solemnity Barber Wall
 205
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 2 pitches
Nutcracker Barber Wall
 202
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Diedre Diedre Area
 219
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 5 pitches
The Slot N End
 175
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Airation Airation Buttress
 175
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad 2 pitches
The Prow Prow Area
 94
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad 6 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Cathedral Ledge »

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