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Cathedral Ledge - Rock Climbing Lesson
September 2, 2005

Routes: Thin Air variation (partial) - grade 5.6
Bombardment (partial) - grade 5.7
Who Went:  Paul, George Hurley (guide)
 

Maps:

I decided to take a rock climbing lesson on my birthday this year. Actually, I had been thinking about it for a few years, but between the cost and the time, I hadn't gotten around to it until now.

We drove up to the North Conway area the night before, then my wife drove me to Eastern Mountain Sports in North Conway in the morning. When I reported for my lesson, I learned that my instructor would be George Hurley, a legendary climber and guide who has pioneered a lot of routes in New Hampshire, the Shawnagunks, and out west.

Before leaving the EMS Climbing School office, I was fitted for a harness, rock climbing shoes, and a helmet. Then he drove us up to Cathedral Ledge, where he begun the lesson talking about rope and knot tying. I didn't have much trouble learning to tie a Figure 8, a Figure 8 in a Bight, or even a Rethreaded Figure 8. It did take me a while, however, to get the hang of a Clove Hitch, although looking back on it, I can't see why it gave me any trouble.

After that, I learned how to use my Air Traffic Controller (ATC) to belay him as he climbed the first pitch up the Thin Air face, just to the left of the standard Thin Air route, which was very popular that morning. When he reached the belay ledge and was tied in, he called for me to climb, and I began my first roped climb, following in his path and removing his protection along the way. He never covered footwork, handholds, or any types of moves except to mention that it was more important to look down to find your next foot placement rather than look up trying to find a handhold, which is what beginners tend to do. I had no trouble climbing up to meet him.

Next, he taught me how to rappel back down, again using the ATC to regulate my rate of descent. He stayed on the ledge to belay me as I made my way back to the ground. I had to practice a bit to get used to how far I needed to lean back.

After he rappelled down himself, we repeated the climb so I could get more practice, going a bit faster this time. Once we were back down again, we sat down on the rocks and ate our lunch.

A postcard of Cathedral Ledge from International Mountain Equipment (IME) in North Conway.

George Hurley on the Thin Air variation route. He had just finished the pitch and was ready to belay me on my climb.

Looking east from the Thin Air face. I believe the ski area in the distance is Mt Cranmore, with Hurricane Mtn to its left.

Me rappelling down the Thin Air face. I should have been leaning back a little more.

Me at the bottom of the Thin Air face. I was untying and getting ready to belay George for his descent.

Me starting up the Thin Air variation route for a second time. I had just removed a piece of protection that George had place and was ready to continue climbing.

Me continuing up the Thin Air variation route.

Map

  Cathedral Ledge page: 

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