The Book of Solemnity is a classic climb on Cathedral Ledge. It is 2 pitches of clean climbing that offer some spicy moves, interesting situations, and possibly the most scenic belay ledge in the Mount Washington Valley. It is definitely a must-climb route of the crag and the Valley, and should definitely be on your tick list for climbs in the area.
To access Cathedral Ledge from North Conway, you will want to head to the northern end of town (towards the historic section of the town). When you reach the Eastern Slope Inn on your left, turn left at the following intersection (River Rd.), and you will soon enter Echo Lake State Park. Follow the signs to Cathedral and park at the trailhead.
To access the route itself, you will first have to climb a route on the lower section of Cathedral. Follow the trailhead sign indicating the way to the base of Recompense, which will be accessed by steep stone stairs. Pass the stairs by continuing left down the trail until you spot a clean dihedral at the top of a slab/dirty gully. That is the start of Funhouse (5.7) and Pooh (5.8), two moderate starts to link up with The Book of Solemnity. We elected to climb Funhouse to the Refuse Ledge, and the route will be described below. In reality, you can take any route that takes you to the Refuse Ledge.
Route DescriptionLink-up to the Book of Solemnity via Funhouse
Pitch 0: Scramble up the slabs or the dirty gulley up to the base of Funhouse and Pooh (~35 ft, 4th class)
Pitch 1 (on Funhouse): Climb the right-facing corner to the right of the the start of Pooh. Make a few funky dihedral moves until you can reach up and left to a ledge. Climb the awkward, short crack above to a belay ledge until you are beneath a series of 3 ledges. Belay form here. (~55 ft., 5.7)
Pitch 2 (on Funhouse): Climb a series of crack systems that each time ends with an easing back of the terrain. Reach the Refuse Ledge. Avoid climbing the awkward body-jam crack to finish the pitch. (~70 ft., 5.7)
MOVE RIGHT: From above Funhouse and Pooh, you will need to break down the belay and wander right underneath a series small, tree-covered ledges. Cross a short rock rib and make one boulder move to surmount a small step (a little spooky with the rib dropping off about 25 ft. behind you!). From there you should see the rounded overhang of The Book of Solemnity. Belay atop a small ledge at the base of the thin dihedral. (60 ft., walking with one 4th-ish-class move)
OFFICIAL ROUTE: The Book of Solemnity
Pitch 1: Make increasingly hard move up the thin dihedral until you are underneath the rounded roof. Gear in the dihedral gets tricky as you go higher, but the pins seem fairly safe to clip (I actually fell on one...). From the roof, protect with some small gear and move right on a sequence of thin moves around and up the roof. Reach high and find some bucket holds overhead and climb up another 15 or so feet until you can step over onto a big, comfy ledge. This ledge is advertised by some guidebooks as the best in the Whites. Belay off bolts (bizarrely placed...) at the near end of the ledge. (~55 ft., 5.10a)
Pitch 2: Move back from the luxurious belay ledge into the dihedral above pitch 1. Chug through the fairly straightforward crack until you hit its end. There will be a fixed nut to protect what comes next: a spicy little traverse underneath a mini-overhang. NOTE: Protecting the traverse with the fixed nut will quite literally put a 90º kink in your rope, here. Make the crux moves across the traverse to reach a small ledge with a short crack formed by a boulder and the wall itself. Climb up over it and link up with the end of Upper Refuse. There are a few possible variations on the final slab, so finish as you see fit. Belay from just below the tourist overlook to the left of the Overlook Crack. (~75 ft., 5.9+)
Finish: There are a variety of options, the easiest being just walking off from the belay station up to the tourist overlook. The Overlook Crack (5.8) will be to your right from the belay station (if you are facing the wall). Follow the road or the climber's path back down to the base of Cathedral
- 60 meter rope
- Cams to 2" (You can go as high as 4" to protect the final bit before the link-up); doubles are not necessary, but make some climbers happier
- Small C3s or TCUs
- Some nuts
- WIRES (Will provide you a peace-of-mind if you don't like clipping large amount of fixed gear consecutively!)
- Water as the season dictates (surprisingly tough climb in 90º heat!)