Cathedral Ledge – Welcome to the Granite State

New Hampshire’s nickname is The Granite State, and so while Rumney may well be its most popular climbing area, the traditional home of NH climbing is The White Mountainswith Cathedral Ledge as its epicentre.North Conway provides a “resort” base within 10 minutes of Cathedral and its slabbier twin, Whitehorse, and the nearby campgrounds in The White Mountains National Forest are a great basecamp about 25 minutes drive away. After driving over from Rumney, a bit of shopping, and establishing ourselves in the cutely named Blackberry Crossing campground, we didn’t get to the crag until early afternoon – just time for a quick taster. Mountain Project came up with Bombardment as the classic must-do 5.8, and once we’d found the right trailit was only 10mins from the van. The first pitch gets 5.6/7 and more ominously the dreaded R/X rating for protection (a tongue-in-cheek reference to film classifications where PG means somewhat runout, R means danger of injury and X means likelihood of worse!) The runout is on slabby holds to a dike of square-cut more positive features and at least it isn’t a sandbag (though it did have me wondering how much harder I wanted to climb on unprotected slab)…. and relax 🙂Here’s Helen following the slab:It’s easy to link P1&2 together and so I pressed on into the outstanding next 100ft or so – sculpted chunky holds lead up to a perfect jamming crack which snakes over leftwards before petering out to a final face move crux to reach the finishing ledge. Such fun! Easy double rope rap down to the sacks, and back to the campground for our first campfire of the trip.Next day another Cathedral classic: Thin Air – the namesake route of Thin Air Face and a must-do according to local wisdom. Who are we to argue? The first couple of pitches can be run together, with an easy but run out sectionfollowed by a L-OOO-NG traverse…P3 has some airy moves off the belay followed by a chimney that you don’t have to chimney, and we ran this into P4 which takes in a cracked corner and a flakey wall. Here’s Helen topping out with the van just about visible far below… and here’s a shot of another team at the start of P3 taken from the overlook at the top of the crag (which you can drive to)And you can even rap off in a couple of double rope lengths. A bit of drizzle provided enough disincentive to do another route (though it proved to be no more than a sprinkle) so we had a relaxed afternoon followed by a trip to the Tuckerman Brewery Tap room which featured not only excellent beer but also good pizza and an open mic night.Beer, pizza, music AND climbing – we’re starting to like North Conway 🙂

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