Cathedral Ledge Rock Climbing

With rain the night before and a small window of time before Cindy and Ariel headed down south, I wondered if we would be able to find dry rock.  We decided to hike the Bryce Path to the top of Cathedral and see if the rock would dry.

Pausing on the trail.

Pausing on the trail.

Pausing on the trail.

When we arrived at the top,  the mist began to rise.  Cindy and Ariel were excited to head over the Whitehorse and to continue their adventure.

Ariel and Cindy at the top of Cathedral.

Ariel and Cindy at the top of Cathedral.

Ariel and Cindy at the top of Cathedral.

By the time we reached Whitehorse Ledge, the sun began to show its face.  The lower section of the cliff was damp, but the upper part of Sea of Holes looked good.  Though getting off the ground was a little more challenging than usual, Cindy and Ariel moved up the rock smoothly and comfortably, enjoying the views of the valley.  We climbed the first couple of pitches in perfect weather before rappelling down.

Ariel finds a comfy rest.

Ariel finds a comfy rest.

Ariel finds a comfy rest.

Cindy making her way up the pitch.

Cindy making her way up the pitch.

 Cindy making her way up the pitch.

Ariel at the top of pitch one with Cathedral in the background.

Ariel at the top of pitch one with Cathedral in the background.

Ariel at the top of pitch one with Cathedral in the background.

Thanks for your enthusiasm and a great day on the rock!

Todd Goodman

MMG Guide

Thin Air is a classic NH rock climb. The routes follows cracks and ramps up the sheer east facing granite cliffs of Cathedral Ledge. The routes is a first lead for many who climb at the Cathedral Area.

Jerry and I had climbed Funhouse and Upper Refuse a weeks ago which made Thin Air our next objective. We arrived at the base early Saturday morning a readied for the climb. The weather report called for showers but we figured we had a short window of good weather.

Jerry racked up then led the entire route.  The pitches offered interesting climbing challenges, a variety of gear for protection, and creative anchoring building for him. The route was an excellent progression in the exciting new leading area for Jerry.


Thin Air pitch one.


The classic pitch – Thin Air Traverse.IMG_1470

Steep climbing towards the upper headwall.


Jerry working through the upper flakes.

Excellent leading today!!!

Art Mooney

Upper Refuse is the perfect rock climb to introduce climbers to the granite crack climbs at Cathedral Ledge. Given the past rain and potentially wet rock Janice and I drove to the top of Cathedral and approached the Refuse climb via the tree ledge. We began our days with two objectives, our first was to climb a variety of routes and the second was for Janice to gain confidence and take on the leading role. Following me up the routes is what most guests enjoy on a guided day but for Janice she was looking for the next step – leading.

Being the leader of a rock climb requires a focused mindset and a solid foundation of movement skills. The climber must be in control as they design the protection, the anchors, and the belays on the climb. This may sound easy but once you are out in front the climb and movements take on a much different feel.

Janice and I enjoyed two fine days on the rocks. Cracks climbs, leading, and a few of the classic crack routes entertained our minds while we exercised our bodies.


Janice opening the day on Upper Refuse.


Learning the craft of placement of cams and stoppers in granite cracks.


Exposed finale pitch – high above Cathedral Pines


Funhouse – Janice taking up the rope.


Leaving the belay on pitch three.


Excellent rock climbing, good protection opportunities = a very fun day out.


Thanks Janice for coming down to the states to climb. Hello to Sparky for me when you get back home.

Art Mooney

Leading the Way!!!

 Jerry called and was looking to reach into a new area. The request was traditional leading on crack climbs at Cathedral Ledge NH. We met up early on Thursday at Starbucks and made our overall plan. A detailed clinic on anchors and protection was our first objective at the north end area. Then we headed up to the Upper Refuse climb – the first pitch was soaking wet at the start so we opted for the Black Lung pitch. I started the leading part of our day here placing lots of protection for Jerry to move in and out of the rock while hanging on with one arm. Then it was time for Jerry to take the lead. The transition was seamless Jerry got out front and climbed steadily up the 2nd, 3rd and 4th pitches. Protection was very good, with slight refinements needed on the occasional piece. Its easy to be the back seat driver and critique pro – much harder to place good gear while leading. With years of experience Jerry had developed a good eye for the connection to the rock and was able to select the right piece of gear and place it solidly.

Throughout the two days we logged in many pitches. The finale was Funhouse to the top an excellent lead for Jerry.


Jerry leading P2 of Funhouse 5.7.


Cams, Stoppers,and  Tri Cams to choose from.


Surface area contact, solid rock, direction of pull.


Maybe this one will fit.


Nice time to be out in the hills.


New shoes – The FIve Ten – Hueco.

Great fit, good comfort, excellent edging and smearing.


Jerry getting into the zone – The Mental Game of leading.

Thanks Jerry.

Great new dimension for us.

Art Mooney

Spring is guide training and education time at Mooney Mountain Guides. While Art was off in Eldorado teaching a Rock Instructor Course, I got the Single Pitch Instructor season underway in Franconia Notch with Steve, Nadya, Paul and Matt. The SPI course is designed to serve as both a stand alone educational experience for those working in single pitch settings, and as a building block for higher level AMGA rock guiding courses.

Nadya maintaining good line of sight

Nadya maintaining good line of sight

Working from the top of the cliff or from a stance in middle of a cliff reached by leading is an essential part of the SPI curriculum. Effective stance management is crucial to provide the best possible guest experience in top managed settings. Above, Nadya has constructed a clean and organized lowering system using a munter hitch (out of the frame) backed up with an autoblock on her harness, positioned her rope stack neatly and out of the way on her side of the stance, and has great line of sight. Nice! 

A simple, bombproof anchor using the static rope.

A simple, bombproof anchor using the static rope.

 All climbing anchors need to be solid enough to withstand the highest foreseeable loads in a given situation. For professional guides and instructors, there is more to the equation. Professional anchors need to be clean and efficient in terms of the time and equipment used to build them. Above is a close up of a sound working anchor, constructed out of just 3 pieces of solid protection, the static rope, and a few carabiners. Note the crafty use of clove hitches to distribute the load between the 2 pieces on the left. As rigged above, about half of any load will be applied to the small cam on the right, which is perhaps less than ideal, but all of the placements, including the small yellow cam, are so good that it’s a non-issue here.

A nice belayed rappel system in action

A nice belayed rappel system in action

What goes up must come down, and so rappel instruction is a fundamental part of the SPI bag of tricks. Working from the same anchor shown above, Steve has assembled an ideal instructional work space. The line of descent he’s selected begins low angle and steepens only gradually to ease his guest’s nerves. He’s positioned himself with excellent line of sight all the way down the cliff and is securely clipped in to the anchor masterpoint. A separate belay is in the system as a backup. Finally, the rappel line itself is fixed in a releasable fashion to facilitate assistance techniques should anything become stuck in the rappel device. 

Paul and Matt working on stance management and rappel instruction

Paul and Matt working on stance management and rappel instruction

Paul and Matt got in on the rappel instruction practice as well. Here Paul, in instructor mode, is providing clear and concise coaching to Matt, playing the role of student. Technical proficiency is of course essential for a climbing instructor, but a calm, professional demeanor and outstanding teaching skills are just as vital.

Thanks for a great course Paul, Nadya, Matt and Steve! I look forward to seeing you all at the crags this summer.

Derek Doucet, MMG



Aubrey and I worked out on the cracks at Cathedrals North End Area yesterday. It was a comfortable place to be as we climbed mostly in the shade allowing us to escape the sun and heat of the day. The north end is a perfect area to hone the crack climbing skills with multiple steep crack routes in the 5.9 to 5.10 range.

By mid day we looked up and decided to take a line to the top. We scrambled up through some rough terrain to reach a route called the Liger 5.10. Its a steep corner crack that ends with finger locks through a steep bulge. Scrappy and dirty it was but a fine outing none the less.

Another great climbing day for Aubrey and I at Cathedral Ledge.

Aubrey warming up on the tough Kiddy Crack.

Steep finger locks on Birds Nest.

Aubrey gaining on the route They Died Laughing.

The slab start to The Liger.

Steep finger jams around the turf and weeds – A Cathedral gem.

Aubrey reaching the final hand jam to gain the sloping ledge.

Trying out Mammuts new El Cap Helmet. Light with a great fit.

Thanks Aubrey for a fine day.

Art Mooney