This weekend was marked by yet another blizzard, this time with brutally cold temperatures and high winds. Here’s what the Mooney Mountain Guides were up to!
On Thursday, Erik and two lucky guests were able to sneak in a summit push on Mt Washington before the brutal weather rolled in. That being said, it was no walk in the park weather wise. Ted and John pushed there way up to the summit at a blistering pace, covered in rime ice and hiding from the wind, followed by world class glissading (butt sliding) on the way back down for a flashback to child like enjoyment of simple pleasures.
Saturday, Guides Alex and Erik ran an intro to mountaineering course on Welch and Dicky. This exposed guests to the weather conditions of a big mountain, and layering challenges of staying warm while hiking at various levels of exertion. At the pinnacle of the days hike we dropped packs and took out mountaineering axes to practice crampon and ice axe technique.
Technical Clinic on Welch & Dicky
On Sunday, a handful of these same guests who felt up for the challenge went to Mt Washington to test themselves against some of the worst weather we’ve seen on the rock pile this year. Through snow, bitterly cold wind chills and steep terrain, this group pushed the high point to 5,000 feet, just about tree line, before turning around and enjoying the slide back down.
The mountain conditioned folks at the MT Washington Avalanche Center had this to say about this weekend: “Mt. Washington will truly be putting on a show today and tomorrow. Its well-earned reputation for harsh winter weather will be on display, and I’d recommend taking a seat away from the action for this show.“ Big props to this group. The summit was all but unreachable with the given forecast, and yet they were game to go out and punish themselves in these conditions for the mere satisfaction of experiencing the wrath of a big mountain.
I-phone screen shot of Mt Washington summit forecast for Sunday
This brought a good lesson back to the front of my mind. A lot of hype for mountain trips is to “summit, or bust!” This despite the fact that summits are often allusive, and when gained, are only done so at the will of the mountain. A saying that frequently comes to mind is “expectations lead to disappointment.” Of course this comes with a caveat about reasonable expectations. If you take off on the trail for Mt Washington expecting to get a great work out and enjoy the natural beauty of nature, then you will never be disappointed and you will often be rewarded with accomplishments that exceed your expectations. If you take off with the expectation of summiting with no other intermediary goals, then you are setting your self up for a very likely disappointment.
Over the course of Friday and Saturday, guides Alex, Tim, and Phil got over 30 graduate students from Dartmouth Universities Tuck Business School on ice climbs at Rumney. This was surely a good time for all!
Thanks to all the guests who climbed with us this weekend despite the oppressive weather! Suffering through these days together builds character and relationships.
This past week and weekend was heavy on the climbing education front for Mooney Mountain Guides. Guides Derek Doucet and Alex Teixeira continued their Red Rocks expedition with the Middlebury College Outdoor Programs, which Doucet runs. This college offers a slew of expeditions every year and this seems to be one of the favorites. Why not, when you get to escape New England winter for a week of sun and fun in the desert?
Back on the home front, Guide Erik Thatcher was teaching a weekend long 1 credit course in Ice Climbing for New England College. This course was mostly Outdoor Ed majors and minors, and Environmental science students, with a smattering of students from other majors. Students were introduced to the sport on campus where a brief history of the sport was given and everyone got prepared for the weekend ahead. This was followed by time in the field learning the intricate techniques and movement of ice climbing! Particular attention was given to sharing leadership tips and ideas with the Outdoor Education Students.
Also on the home front, guide mentor extraordinaire Art Mooney, was instructing in a week long Ice Instructor course for the American Mountain Guides Association. This group, which Art has been heavily involved in, creates curriculum and administers training and exams that are internationally recognized. A few years ago Art was part of a team of top American guides who created a curriculum for training guides to work on Ice climbing terrain. As the East is the premiere destination for this terrain in the country, this team designed the curriculum around the area of Crawford Notch in NH, where the course was held.
Many of the Mooney Mountain Guides are involved with leading trips and coaching climbing at various educational institutes outside of our work with MMG (Middlebury College, Lyndon State College, Holderness School, Olivarian School, Waterville Academy, White Mountain School, Kismet Rock Foundation…) as well as working through Mooney Mountain Guides with various colleges and outing clubs to offer educational experiences. We love to work out curriculum and be able to offer specialized educational experiences for an array of institutions. If you’re looking to do something with your college or high school give us a call!