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Routes in The Prow Area

Another Pretty Face T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Beast Flake, The T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Edge of the World S 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a
Faux Pas Arete, The T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Gypsy T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R
Liquid Sky T,S 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
Peanut Gallery Crack T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Prow, The T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Recompense T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Women in Love T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Unsorted Routes:
Type: Trad, 350 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: FA: Paul Ross and Hugh Thompson (1972), FFA: Jimmy Dunn and Jay Wilson (1977)
Page Views: 29,441 total, 236/month
Shared By: Tristan Perry on Aug 20, 2007
Admins: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey.LeCours, Robert Hall

You & This Route


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Description

This is an historical, direct, and elegant line that ascends the Prow Buttress, to the right of Recompense. If you look at the perfectly sculpted arete, the Prow never veers farther than about 10 or 15 feet away from the edge. It is utterly classic, both as an aid climb and as a free climb. The pitches are mostly short and fierce. North Conway hardmen supposedly put in many days of hard work to free this in the 1970s. It's still considered a quite a challenge to climb it without falling.

The first pitch has several variations, I think the standard way goes up a corner in a slab at about 5.9 or 5.10a. It is a great little pitch by itself, with a little smearing and a lot of laybacking.

The second pitch goes at about 5.11c and makes use of a few bolts. Crank through a tough section that goes a bit past vertical, gain the crack, clip the pitons, and get after that slab. The latter part of the pitch is supposedly only about 5.10a, but it has frustratingly tiny hand and footholds.

The third pitch goes to the right, around the arete, and up a very unique thin crack, again at about 5.10a. The crux comes when you awkwardly pull around the arete about midway up the pitch.

The fourth pitch is exposed and wild! It gets hard right off the bat. The crux is really a boulder problem (5.11c/d). Climb straight up above to a seam, which turns into an awesome and strenuous finger crack that ends at the Space Station belay (a hanging belay from bomber bolts with feet on sloping ramp). A couple of pins exist within the crack still. A variation that's supposedly a bit easier technically climbs to the left off the belay and then rejoins the crack.

The very steep fifth pitch is the crux. Make hard moves to the left from the belay, climb up thin cracks, and gain the dihedral. Stem carefully and economically up the airy, hanging corner until you get to the Triangle Roof. Now you can expend that energy you've been saving by boldly busting out that roof on the right. It's a real grunt - and a redpoint heartbreaker!

If you've made it this far without falling, it's in the bag. The last pitch is gravy...dreamy 5.9 fingerlocks on a nicely featured slab seem downright easy after what you just went through. The angle finally steepens and you crank through the last few dramatic moves with perfect protection. For those of us who are cheaters, the tree roots make perfect jugs en route.

There now, that wasn't that bad...if you pulled on gear!

Location

Immediately to the left of that prominent arete.

Protection

Standard rack to 2", emphasis on small wires and cams
Tyler Rohr 2
Cambridge, MA
 
Tyler Rohr 2   Cambridge, MA
 
FYI, in the dihedral on pitch 5 there was a fixed stopper in the middle of the dihedral which now has a blown wire. So what was once may have been a thank god piece after standing up into it is now a useless piece of metal preventing you from placing your own gear. I got a bad 0 master cam in below and gunned for the top. It was scary but probably fine.

Such a good route! Sep 18, 2017
chris_vultaggio
The Gunks
 
chris_vultaggio   The Gunks
 
Make that two pitons lighter; similar situation to Tino's. Nov 3, 2016
Tino F  
The line is one piton lighter now...the last pin in the corner below the triangle roof is sitting in my trunk. My second mistakenly applied some off-axis force to it and it popped right out. A green alien might be helpful. It's basically a sport climb anyway ;) Oct 8, 2016
Max Shaffer  
 
All of the bolts on The Prow have been replaced this season. Many thanks to the party responsible! Sep 21, 2015
apross  
E4/5 6a
If your good at cracks its E4.
If all you do is faceclimb its E5.
Get to Millstone and put some laps in on "The Streets". Jul 17, 2014
Nick Russell
Bristol, UK
Nick Russell   Bristol, UK  
Thanks for the recommendations John. I may have difficulty finding a second on anything harder than low 5.10, but I'll be trying! Jul 14, 2014
john strand
southern colo
 
john strand   southern colo
 
Nick- i know its a sacrelege, but Women in love(fullroute) is the best hard, multi pitch on Cathedral...dicey face, great tips cracks and nice E4-ish bolder problem at the end..a great climb.

I also would say Lights in the Forest E3..6A..awesome Jul 12, 2014
Nick Russell
Bristol, UK
Nick Russell   Bristol, UK  
Thanks John, useful to get some feedback. I'm going to be in NH this fall, thinking about having a go.

Yeah, I'd be surprised to find Brit 6b moves on anything easier than 12b, but as you say, recent comments... And yes, London Wall is E5 6a. Haven't tried it, but it's on the (ever growing) list! Jul 10, 2014
john strand
southern colo
 
john strand   southern colo
 
I guess some of the recent comments would indicate E5 6B, but i don't think so. E4 for sure as the pitches are short and well protected. if i recall from my last visit, 6B is more like a solid 5.12 B or even C ? Just not that hard.

i know it's not quite as hard as London Wall and that's E5 6A now ? Jul 9, 2014
Nick Russell
Bristol, UK
Nick Russell   Bristol, UK  
Paul, any idea what the adjectival grade would be? (Assuming you've been there and climbed it free since the FA...) Just trying to get an idea of whether it's more like E4 6a or E5 6b... Jul 9, 2014
M Sprague
New England
M Sprague   New England  
Got it all wired, Sam? ;)The folks who said 12b to me are pretty comfortable with Conway granite and have put up or repeated quite a lot of the hardest lines there.
Maybe on a nice cool day and if you have a big wing span you could honestly say stiff 11d. Jun 25, 2014
12b? your kidding me! maybe 12a if you start linking pitches. Jun 25, 2014
john strand
southern colo
 
john strand   southern colo
 
Paul, i still find it CRAZY that this route had not been done before '72..just brilliant free or aid..or as most free attempts go..5.11 AO !

CHEERS Jan 1, 2014
USBRIT Ross
Keswick Cumbria.UK
USBRIT Ross   Keswick Cumbria.UK
First Ascent of The Prow...It was early in the year of 1972 ,still bits of snow below the crag when Hugh and I sent off on what became The Prow.This was my first new route on Cathedral. Ground up on sight as was the fashion in those days.. We encounted some streaks of water and quite a bit of lichen etc that had to be cleaned as one progressed.A very fun day out.We used mainly soft iron pitons as they rusted much less than the modern pitons these we left in place making it a fun climb for future parties. This fixed gear also made life much easier for the future free climbing attempts. Jan 1, 2014
M Sprague
New England
M Sprague   New England  
Warning: The harder pitches are complete sandbags. Expect to encounter pretty solid 5.12 if free climbing. Experienced climbers who I have spoken to who have done it generally candidly describe it as 12b when not giving it the traditional sandbag rating. It is a great line though and a proud send. I can't quite give it full 4 stars as a few spots felt mildly contrived to me (for free climbing), but it is otherwise a superb route. Paul Ross and Hugh Thompson must have been so jazzed doing the FA of this. Oct 7, 2013
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
still had to build a belay after the roof pitch when i was on on it last year... Apr 17, 2013
Jcomeau
North Conway
Jcomeau   North Conway
Are the belays bolted/fixed on this? Apr 17, 2013
I fell seconding the boulder problem on pitch 2 in 2011 and glanced my ankle on the ledge below; in many spots on the Prow, for free climbers, you should be aware that the climbing is significantly riskier for the second (at the bottom of pitches two, four, and five).

That being said, the climbing is excellent, the exposure fantastic, and it's a proud lead. I'm hoping to get the tick myself in 2013. Mar 10, 2013
nick manning
superior,az
nick manning   superior,az
thnaks for sharing i love to hear first hand history! Feb 3, 2013
In 1972 Paul Ross completed the 1st assent of the Prow Route on Cathedral Ledge. Shortly thereafter, Rick Mulhern and I (Ron Welch) completed the second ascent. The prof I have is a copy of the Sept. - Oct. 1972 issue of "Climbing"magazine ($.75)

There in is an article about climbing at Cathedral Ledge written by Paul Ross.There is a great picture of Charlie Porter and Joe Cote on INTIMIDATION on p.6 and another of Steve Arsenault trying to nail the CATHEDRAL on p.P.

On p.9, lower left corner there is a picture of Rick and I on the PROW route. The picture was taken by Paul Ross at the top of Cathedral somewhere near the top of THIN AIR. I have two color photos of this black & white photo in the magazine. I will try to get my scanner to work and send a copy of the color print.

I'm 66 yrs. old now, and have only kept my RURP of all my climbing equipment! In the day, we started out with goldline rope, and Royal Robbins bright blue climbing shoes. After moving into gliding, Rick climbed less here, and did substantial climbing out west. He now serves as a Maine District Court Judge. Feb 3, 2013
Doug McGraw  
 
Managed a ground up free ascent this weekend -one of the best routes I've done in the east for sure! The only detractor that I found was the amount of fixed gear. I found myself plugging gear next to pins just to get my trad fix. If I were aiding, I certainly would rather plug gear than clip pins. Not a huge deal, but just thought I would share my thoughts in case there was an unstated community sentiment that this proud route could be even prouder still with a minor facelift. 4 stars for sure! Jul 24, 2012
Chris Duca
Havertown, PA
  5.11d
Chris Duca   Havertown, PA
  5.11d
Climbed this today, and to my surprise, after i reached over and clipped the first pin on the fifth pitch, I was able to manually pull it entirely out of the crack. The pin was bent at a 30 degree angle, and essentially rusted through to the core. A #5 BD nut fits perfect in a constriction about an inch or two above where the pin once was. Jul 2, 2012
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
thanks stow!
lots of pins but i brought a single rack from thin fingers to hands and used just about everything... The last pitch has zero fixed pro... for the most part the pitches are half fixed and half gear... Jun 13, 2012
stow  
Nice job Lee!
I have not been on this in a long long time. How much is fixed these days? I.e., how light was yr rack? Thanks. Jun 13, 2012
john strand
southern colo
 
john strand   southern colo
 
I think the left start is better. Bragg did it this way when first trying the route. Jimmie eventually did it from the right which is more balancey than power. May 9, 2012
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
I looked it up and yes we did the left start. Seemed like the obvious line I'll have to look for the other way next time I'm up there. May 9, 2012
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
Thanks, yeah wild women is on the list for sure...
I guess we did the left start i just followed the bolt line basically, im not familiar with the variations... so i take it you can start on the right then? May 9, 2012
john strand
southern colo
 
john strand   southern colo
 
Nice one Lee ! Such a great route, did you do the left hand start on P2
Wild Women next !! May 8, 2012
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
i was able to get it free today despite a little wetness on pitches 3 and 4 and a lot on pitch 5... this was a major goal for me and it feels great having done it!

I absolutely loved the 11a pitch and the roof pitch, those 2 were perfect IMO... other highlights were the boulder problem on pitch 2 and the finger crack on pitch 4...

many thanks to jon baldy for partnering up on it! May 7, 2012
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
psyched you checked it out... ill let you know if im looking for a partner... Mar 27, 2012
Ryan Barber
Rumney, NH
 
Ryan Barber   Rumney, NH
 
Lee, maybe you're interested in a trip up to N Conway in the next few months?? Mar 27, 2012
Ryan Barber
Rumney, NH
 
Ryan Barber   Rumney, NH
 
Just aid solod up to the top of the third pitch yesterday, took a look at the sweet roof, and rapped off. I didn't start until afternoon, and it was below freezing and snowing!! (We just got a strange cold front after what we thought was an early spring). The first anchor, I accessed via the first pitch of Recompense which I think was 5.7, but a little scary (free solo) with a ground fall potential off the crux and wearing gloves, so I put pro in for those moves and removed them after passing through. Second pitch was a practical bolt latter (though the first bolt is old and rusty!!) Third pitch was real fun going around the corner, though it was very tricky getting back to rap back and to the lower anchor for cleaning. Definitely plan on another trip out there for a free climb with a confident partner. Mar 27, 2012
jason seaver
Estes Park, CO
jason seaver   Estes Park, CO
Every pitch was bone dry at least one of the times I did it. Mid-autumn is certainly the driest time. Jun 13, 2010
Rich Brereton
Pownal, ME
  5.11+
Rich Brereton   Pownal, ME
  5.11+
Does the crack on the fourth pitch "bulge" crux ever dry out entirely? Jun 8, 2010
Entropy  
This route is really fixed right now with Lost Arrows. Great, great free climbing. See rack above in comments. In yosemite this would be C1 maybe +, really straight forward. Super fun! "Pitch 5" is very similar to the aid you would see on the west face of the leaning tower in Yose. Apr 17, 2010
Adam Wilcox
Candia, NH
 
Adam Wilcox   Candia, NH
 
This is a fairly straight forward, moderate aid route at 5.7 C2.

I was glad to have a double set of nuts and a double set of cams to #1 C4, and one #2. Nothing bigger needed. I've heard micronuts and micro-offsets recommended, but I only felt the need to place one brass offset on the way up to the roof. A pink tricam was useful, as were a few spare slings for slinging flakes about halfway up. Save some finger size pieces for the gear anchor above the roof.

Even with all this I still had to do some aggressive back-cleaning on the last pitch Nov 29, 2009
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
I climbed this beautiful route again yesterday with my friend Adam... It had been a while since my last day on it... We did a fun mix of free and aid climbing with the focus on just having a fun day on the side of the cliff... I still need to get in a totaly free climbing day on it but it's fun in what ever style you choose... Jul 7, 2009
john strand
southern colo
 
john strand   southern colo
 
Great route with excellent rock and situations. The first pitch was originally one bolted up slab 5.9 (actually dowels) which now only has a couple of bolts. On pitch 2, the left hand bulge/layback is a good way to do the route 11+. More demanding than the right hand way but good. I think John Bragg did it this way when he trying to free the Prow before Jim's ffa. Jul 1, 2008
stevecurtis
Petaluma California
stevecurtis   Petaluma California
Well, I fell on the 4th pitch, I found the fifth much easier. I'm an old california crack climber. (the fourth was wet.)

I drove all night to climb the route the next morning with my buddy e-man. Steve Jun 6, 2008
Ladd

 
Ladd    
 
I got on this route for the first time the other day with Jay and it is such an amazing route, the pitches are short, burly, techincal and rewarding. The postion of the route is very aestetic, as is the view from the climb looking around from any of the belays. The Prow is a must do, free or aid. May 24, 2008
Ken Cangi
Eldorado Springs, CO
  5.11d
Ken Cangi   Eldorado Springs, CO
  5.11d
My favorite route in the East. Why is this route getting a C rating? It is a free climb. Aug 22, 2007
lee hansche
goffstown, nh
  5.11d
lee hansche   goffstown, nh  
  5.11d
thank you for putting in a good description for the prow... ive only aided it so i didnt want to post a description til i had done some freeclimbing on it... i hope that is soon... Aug 21, 2007
Jay Knower
Campton, NH
 
Jay Knower   Campton, NH  
 
This is a great description of a great route. I wonder how many people who say they have done The Prow, have REALLY done the Prow, ie, without hangs or pulling on gear. I think it's a pretty rare ascent to free the whole thing w/o hangs or a quick little pull on a piton. I know I never have truly freed the route, but when someone asks if I've done the Prow, I always reflexively blurt out: "Oh yeah, I've done the Prow." Aug 20, 2007