Monthly Archives: May 2013

Memorial Day weekend evokes images of lounging around on a warm spring day.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature must have misread the calendar.  Instead of bright, sunny skies, we have rain and mist with the temperatures in the 50s.  Despite the uncertain conditions, five climbers – Steve, Jared, Allie, Elliot, and Stephanie – ventured out on Sunday to try and get some climbing in. Hiking over fallen branches, we stopped at the Venus Wall, quickly realizing that it was a little too wet to climb.


Venus Wall or is it Poseidon’s Wall?
Crossing the stream, we headed to higher ground. After passing several wet crags along the way, we decided to warm up on Clip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah and hope that other rock dried.


Allie at the top of pitch one.


Stephanie working her way up the route.


Just a flesh wound…


Elliot at the top of Mom’s Pancake


Steve and Jared working their way up the rock


Elliot finishing up the pitch.

Thanks for a great day!
Todd  MMG Guide

Over the past ten days I worked for the AMGA with Larry Goldie of North Cascade Mountain Guides teaching 6 students guide skills on the AMGA Rock Instructor Course. This RIC is the first level multi pitch instructor course. The course is spread out over ten intense days, the curriculum is varied and in depth, and the venus host a variety of multi pitch rock climbs.

Rock Instructor Course (RIC)

The Rock Instructor Course (RIC), is the 1st step in the Rock Guide education and certification process and is designed for aspiring guides who have a strong rock climbing background and for instructors who are interested in improving their skills and increasing knowledge. The Rock Instructor Course places strong emphasis on maximizing client rewards while effectively managing risks.

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Eldorado Canyon is located just west of Boulder Colorado.

 The Eldorado Canyon gorge is narrow, the sandstone rock is steep and fractured, and the fast flowing river adds to the excitement. It’s amazing how just a few miles outside the Boulder city limits one can quickly climb on variety of high quality traditional rock climbs in such a surprisingly wild environment..

First photo views looking down canyon with West Ridge, the Redgarden Wall on left and Bastille formation on lower right.

Second photo host the amazing Naked Edge rock climb up the center rib.


The AMGA team!

First row – Brett (Estes Park), Andrew (NOLS), Matt (Seneca Rocks Climbing School)

Second row – Andrew (Outward Bound) Larry Goldie (North Cascades Mountain Guides) Colin (Apex Ex Guides)  Joe (NOLS)


Approaching the Front Range Flat Iron formations we climbed the second one.


Larry adding info to students during our daily morning guide meetings.

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Rescue techniques for the Rock Instructor


Matt – ready to travel with kiwi coil,  providing a seated hip belay on a short down climb to start.


Joe leading our guide meeting on the final day.


Joe starting the Bastille Crack on a cold and windy morning.


Andrew taking the lead on the final pitch of Hand Cracker – Long John Wall.


 Andrew cruising on the climb.


Colin of Apex Ex Guides guiding the team on Long John Wall.


A close encounter for us!


Rocky Mountain meltwater – the river is raging at this time of year.

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Using the I Phone – one technique to have  route topos and a description on hand.


Adam enjoying the varied climbing on Icarus.


Brett topping out on the final pitch of Icarus.


Fantastic times with a great group of guys.

Thank you all,

Art Mooney

AMGA IFMGA Licensed Guide

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



I am writing this post from my room at the Devils Tower Lodge. This western style  lodge is owned and operated by climber, guide, raconteur,  Frank Sanders. When you come to climb at the tower Frank is the man to get in touch with. Frank has climbed here since the mid 70’s and knows this place like the back of his hand. Pay him a visit and he will get you started on your Devils Tower Adventure.

Steve and Chris drove through here last summer during a western historical trip. Once they viewed the tower Steve quickly put it on his list of must do climbs. Plans went into action and here we are for a weekend climbing trip. Luck is surely on our side as the weather is perfect, the place is quiet, and the south facing routes are not to hot – just right.

Today we rose early to get our position on the Durance Route a 50 Classics Climb. To our surprise there was only one party ahead of us. We roped up and started our journey into the steep and wide cracks that follow the columns to the top. This multi pitch route put us to the test with sustained climbing on each pitch. We maintained our focus, hydrated often and fueled up with gu gels to keep our energy high. By mid day we topped out on the summit without any close encounters.

It was a fantastic day, in a spectacular setting, with great friends – I must say I love my work as a climbing guide!!!


Devils Tower – the Durance Route follows the columns in the bright sunlight.


Welcome to the Lodge.


Morning view from my room.


Frank Sanders – telling the stories of the area.


Steve aka the Repman doing what he loves climbing.


Chris enjoying the challenging climbing on this wild tower.


Full steam ahead on the Durance Pitch.


Chris bear hugging a column, but its time to move on?


Steve arriving on one of the many large ledges for the belay areas.


Summit area – over an acre of flat ground up here in the sky.




Hundreds on steep crack climbs.


The team Chris, Art, Steve.


What an amazing place to be – thanks to Steve and Chris for making the quick trip out here.

Great memories to take home for sure!!!

Art Mooney

Mooney Mountain Guides

The Mountains are a common bond with climbers and guides. This is the place we all love to spend our days, climbing high on the rocks, ascending ice routes or traveling amongst the high peaks. For this years Mooney Mountain Guides training day I decided to hold the rock climbing training session on Cannon Mountain. Cannon is an amazing place. The cliff face soars high above the valley floor of Franconia Notch. The views of the Pemigewasset Valley to the south and Mt Lafayette to the east are spectacular.

The MMG Guides and myself have rock and ice climbed on this granite face hundreds of times. For me the Cannon experience is always exciting and full of amazement. This mountain is alive and each time I climb here I sharpen my senses, bring respect and focus to the area, and make decisions based on the time, place, and the current events around me. Maintaining this type of awareness is needed for Cannon, this higher end NH alpine rock climbing area.


View of the Whitney Gilman Ridge and Cannons big wall section.


Exposed climber on the Whitney Gilman Ridge.


Classic Rock Climb – Whitney Gilman Ridge – first climbed in 1929.

IMG_2183 Mooney Mountain Guide team.

The Mentorship is a crucial part of the development and training of all climbing guides. Alain Comeau of New England Mountain Guides was my first instructor with the AMGA certification program. I feel Alain has mentored me over the past 20 years. To this day we are in touch, working together and bouncing new ideas and guiding issues off  each other. Much thanks goes to Alain for all the mentoring and sharing of his mountain expertise.

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“Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less”.

Mentorship comes is many ways. I led the MMG training with assistance from MMG Guides Derek Doucet and Matt Ritter (AMGA Certified Rock Instructors). Our focus was on general discussions pertinent to guiding on the rocks this summer. In addition the above photos picture the MMG guides solving specific technical problems and brushing up and practicing rope techniques.

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Guidance is what we do. To do this well a guide must have strong climbing movement skills. Part of our training day was to have  fun on the rocks. Derek and Erik led and set up two of Cannons base area routes Slow and Easy and Sticky Fingers. The MMG team followed with multiple laps of rock climbing fun.

Thanks to the Mooney Mountain Guide sponsors Mammut, Julbo, Petzl and Five Ten for the continued support of MMG, the guides and AMGA certification and training.

Mammut styled us with new Pokiok soft shell guide jackets. Being a very warm sunny day we did not need to use them today but this soft shell will be in our packs for the fickle weather on Cannon this summer. Thanks to Gribbin and Mammut for the ongoing support of MMG Guides and myself.

Julbo hooked us up with cool new shades for this event. Keeping the guides eyes sharp on Cannon is a must. Thanks to Julbo and Nick Yardley for the continued support of the MMG Guides.


Dave Karl of Sky Ambition – the northeast area Petzl representative. 

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Dave traveled over to Cannon to meet the MMG staff and present new Petzl products and valuable technical info on many products in use today. In Daves kit was the new Sirocco helmet, the Ange carabiner, Spirit Express Draws, and new this season Petzl ice screws.

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The wall – Cannon Cliff!!!


Great day on the mountain – Cannon that is!!! Thanks to all the MMG guides for taking time on a sunny Saturday to  join in on this training day.

Art Mooney


Todays climbing experience on Cannon was fantastic. Jerry and I arrived early and made plans to climb a few classic cracks  along the base of the cliff.  We could not have asked for better weather we climbed all day with blue skies, no wind,  just wearing a t shirt. The rock was completely dry on all the routes we climbed and we viewed parties on Direct direct, Vertigo.

Enjoy it this week if you can!!!


View of the WG Ridge -The Big Wall section – Moby Grape area.

DSCN1496Fast efficient anchor and belay setup.


The crack climbing session started here with the roll 1.5 inch tape


Reppy’s Crack

DSCN1519  Wild pitch the expanding flake on pitch 2 of Union Jack.


Jerry cruising the steep 5.9 corner on Union Jack


Over the weekend there was plenty of active rock fall coming out of the Black Dike area. This was a new area of rubble between the Benedictus and Moby Grape rock climbs.


Large fractured blocks littered the base area here.


Slow and easy getting done!!!


 Duet a Cannon Classic for sure – Yosemite style rock climbing in NH.


Awesome day – thanks Jerry.

Art Mooney