General Information

Cathedral Ledge is divided into "left", "center" and "right" in Swain's guidebook. Climbs on the right include some aid routes and some higher level climbs, one of the easiest being Remission (5.8). There are some practice slabs on the far right that offer 5.5 and it can be top roped.

The Middle of the cliff offers more aid climbing on the right side and some easier climbing like Thin Air (5.6) and Standard Route (5.6). I find that climbing Standard Route causes it to rain. Both of these routes offer access to the top cliff for more climbing. Pine Tree Eliminate (stiff 5.8) on the top cliff is a nice workout.

On the left side of the cliff, there are several popular routes to get to the base of the top cliff. Pooh (5.7), Funhouse (5.7), Three Birches (5.8), and Bombardment (5.8) are popular routes. Other nice climbs on the top cliff include Black Lung (5.7), Book of Solemnity (5.9+) which sports a traverse that could seriously injure the second on a fall (use double ropes). Refuse (5.6) is a very nice climb as well.

There are several climbs that start at the base of the cliff and go to the parking lot on the top. Recompense (5.9) is a beautiful climb that does just that. Near Recompense is The Prow. The book I have rates it at 5.11, but the 5.11 part is very difficult. You can aid this climb (5.7 A2) if you wish. We found that this climb takes a good part of the day.

Thin Air / Pine Tree Eliminate (5.6 / 5.8+)

Cori completes the second pitch

Thin Air (5.6) is one of the most popular climbs on the cliff and there is usually a line. Many guides take beginner students up this climb, so consider your time before you line up in back of a class.

Though we argue about the actual rating of the first pitch, I will stick with my 5.2. You climb up steps until you can put a piece in (way up) and the you climb a few more steps to the bolted belay.

The second pitch, which can be combined with the first, is a well protected traverse with many bolts along the way. The first few moves include the crux (5.5) and the rest of the traverse is easy (unless you do it wrong).

The next pitch is my favorite. Up and right there is a piton followed by two more that are hidden from view unless you are far enough right. finally you an get some gear in as you approach a chimney. Often times I will climb out on to the face to avoid getting my pack stuck, but the chimney is really nice.

The crux pitch is slightly wandering but you can follow chalk to the tree belay. From there we go up grunge or a nice climb that ends with a 5.8 face. if you feel up to it, Pine Tree Eliminate (5.9) makes a nice ending, or you can just walk off right and walk down the road to the bottom.

Bombardment (5.8)

Bombardment is a popular climb that brings you to the upper cliff for more climbing. The first pitch is a poorly protected 5.6. The first pitch is very short, but a fall would ruin the rest of the weekend. Most people angle up and right to sling the tree and then walk the ramp up and left to the belay for the 5.8 pitch.

The 5.8 pitch is a very nice crack climb, though many people start on the face to the left and then work their way right to the crack. This pitch is highly recommended.

Recompense (5.9)

Bill on the final pitch of Recompense A delightful belay for a party of three on the Beast Flake

Recompense is one of those climbs that gets more difficult as you get higher. This climb starts at the bottom of the cliff and ends at the top near the parking lot.

It is hard to find a squeeze chimney in New Hampshire, but this climb offers a short section (5.8) to practice your chimney techniques; some would classify this section as something between an off width and a true chimney. The variety of face to chimney to crack is what makes this climb great.

The final pitch is a lay back finger crack (5.9) which takes decent pro, but the first few moves above the first piece take concentration. ( It is possible to rappel off rather than doing this final pitch.) It is important that pro is placed often on this pitch. A fall from the upper section, if unprotected, would result in the leader hitting the belay ledge and maybe even breaking something. Rescues have been necessary because of this.

When you get to the top of the climb, you must hike up a short path to the parking lot. From there, you can either bum a ride or walk down the road to where you originally parked. Often times, someone will pick you up on the way down, especially when it is raining out.

The Beast Flake

The 5.8 chimney can be avoided by climbing an alternate pitch onto the Beast Flake (5.9). The climbing is more comfortable, but the belay is not (see picture on left). The climb then continues up to join the actual route and on to the 5.9 finger crack.

The Henry Barber Wall (5.9 and up)

Layton's Ascent

The Henry Barber Wall offers a bunch of challenging 5.9's and 5.10's. It is possible to walk / scramble around to the top of the cliff and set a top rope over one if there is no one leading the climb. It is also possible to lead the climbs.

To get to the wall, you can climb Bombardment (5.8), Pooh (5.7), or Funhouse (5.7), among other various climbs, or you can hike down from the top.

Many of these climbs on this wall are sandbags, albeit well protected sandbags in the case of the cracks. This seems to be the consensus of the people that we've spoken to about it. Barber was an excellent climber, and I think he climbed that wall when 5.10 was at or near the limit so some of his climbs have a tendency to be hard at their grade. These climbs may be perceived as more difficult because they are sustained.

Nutcracker is one of the most popular climbs on this wall, though Chicken Delight and Layton's Ascent, two cracks that meet in a V at the base, are nice climbs, too.

Please note this is for reference only based off our visit to the cliff. Do not email requesting instruction.