Monthly Archives: June 2013
Many folks celebrate their birthday with special friends over dinner and drinks - not so with Steve aka The Repman. Steve’s preference is to leave the Peppercomm office early on Thursday with the message - Gone Climbing for the Weekend!!!
This weekend weather was a bit fickle – if you have been following the northeast you know it’s been grim. Clouds, humidity, thunder storms, and torrential rains have been the pattern for the last week.
Steve, Adel and Sean hopped in the car and made the journey to NH. It was the right time to escape the heat and humidity down in Jersey and come up to the Live Free or Die state for a refreshing weekend of outdoor activity.
In the Mist – on the summit of Mt Lafayette!!!
Steve getting his pre climb stretch.
Adel – The Barr has been raised – he cruised to the summit in 2.45.
Sean – always reddy for a good climb.
Agility, balance and focus – the crucial elements for mountain travel.
Stairway to heaven – granite blocks laid out to the top.
On a mission – great pace Steve.
Steve and I on the summit – a Happy Birthday to you!!!
Charging back up for the descent – wet and slippery trail for the next 4 miles.
Erik passing out warm gatorade to charge up the team.
Amazing to have a break in the clouds – almost a view of the summit.
Greenleaf hut – a welcome spot for lunch.
AMC crew members – bringing goods to the hut.
Thanks for a great day on the mountain!!!
Climbing is largely about progression, and one of the most significant progressions many climbers will make is taking their climbing from indoor gyms to outside cliffs. Gyms are often closer to would be new climbers. They’re more accessible and offer a safe, easy to access learning environment to experience the thrills of climbing in a digestible format. Folks who catch the bug in the gym eventually want to take their passions to outdoor playgrounds. This is a serious step. It is a less controlled environment, requiring a greater level of knowledge to climb safely, and a corresponding increase in the required personal responsibility. New techniques, ethics and systems must be learned, and trusted. The best way to do this is to ease into it with a guide/ teacher, showing you the ways, being their to reassure, and helping you wade through the ethics of climbing at outside cliffs.
In the past couple of days I had two opportunities to help groups begin this progression. This post is to demonstrate some of the ways to take your gym skills to outdoor cliffs in a safe controlled manner, as well as to highlight what these folks did.
First up were David and Caitlin Lewis. They started climbing this winter at Evolution Rock Gym and quickly progressed through the grades and into leading on the sport walls at the gym.
David On Blustery Day
Having the full day, David, Caitlin and I started by hiking up to Upper Darth Vader crag. This location is fairly shaded and cool on summer mornings, and offers a handful of fun moderates to warm up on. One of the bigger cruxes of the gym to crag progression is learning to look for holds in the rock, as opposed to fluorescent colored shapes on a wall. This can be a serious challenge as holds outside often don’t look like holds at first. The presence of climbing chalk can help out times to identify a hold, but how to use it, and whether it is a good one or not, still needs to be determined. Additionally, it is a new environment, and climbing outside for the first time can often be a little scary because of the new unknowns. This area provided us an opportunity to get use to this new environment, and start reading the rock for how to climb it.
Caitlin on Dirtigo
For the afternoon we moved to the now shaded Dirtigo area. This part of main cliff offers some very safely bolted easy climbs. When learning a new system, usb as leading, it is good to strip away all other challenges in order to focus on the one that you are trying to learn. There are three easy climbs here that are great for learning to lead, as the main challenge becomes leading, instead of the difficulty of the climbing. Caitlin had lead regularly in the gym prior to this, but never outside. We went over how to clip the draws to the rock, and then the rope to the draws, and how to manage the lead rope so that it was in a safe location. Caitlin then put this new knowledge to use rope gunning to great climbs for her Dad!
If you’re coming to the outdoor realm with no indoor leading skills, then a great way to learn is by mock leading. This is were you are on top rope, for safety, but clipping bolts and managing a lead rope for practice. A group of four friends from Windham High joined me for a half day of learning to lead at Rumney, and this is the approach we took.
These guys were coming from Vertical Dreams with varying degrees of experience and skill. We worked through out our day to get them all on a climb where they were able to practice leading skills safely, as well as a climb or two where they could challenge themselves on real rock, as this was all of their first times outside.
Going for the clip
As a guide, my best days are when my guests are able to progress. Both of these groups were genuinely excited to improve their game and learn new skills, and form my perspective they were able to do both. Thanks to all for two great days, and I hope to see you out on the cliffs soon!
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.
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.
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.
Cindy making her way up the pitch.
Ariel at the top of pitch one with Cathedral in the background.
Thanks for your enthusiasm and a great day on the rock!
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.
Steep climbing towards the upper headwall.
Jerry working through the upper flakes.
Excellent leading today!!!
The Whitney Gilman Ridge – a New Hampshire Classic rock climb for sure. This route receives many ascents over each season, at times there can be 4 to 5 parties on the route. One would think the rock is solid and sound but I find that the ridge is a heads up experience that requires precise movements and route finding up the stone. There are many areas that the climber must tip toe there way through the section to avoid creating rockfall on themselves and others below. Cannon is know for this adventure type of climbing and it is one reason many climbers have high respect for the area.
This was my second time on the route this week and each time I climb the ridge it is a truly amazing and fun experience. Over the years I may very well have logged 75+ ascents. It is through knowing the route this well that allows me to be able to guide guests with confidence up this wild and exposed terrain.
Mike and I met early this morning in Plymouth. Right of the bat he gave me a large package of the homemade cookies his wife Amy had baked for me. This day was shaping up nicely, the good treats and fun times began right away. We drove up 93 to the notch. The 1000 ft talus approach was a full warm up for our bodies, we arrived at the base at 730am and had the route to ourselves. I prefer to climb the ridge in 6 pitches, with each pitch ending on a comfortable ledge. This gives us good communication while climbing and good spots to recover and refuel. The technical part of the route usually take s 4 to 5 hours and today we arrived on the ridge top at 12:30. Mike enjoyed a great climb, full of exposure and three challenging cruxes.
First views of the wall.
Our delicious homemade power cookies – Thank you Amy
Whitney Gilman – Cannon Mountain NH
On the talus approach – a good pre climb full body warm up.
Videos, cameras, phones – lets log this event.
Wide cracks right on the deck – ready, set, go.
The Twin, a favorite rope system – The Mammut Twilight’s in action.
Guide Tennies doing the work, keeping me lighter and comfortable with excellent performance.
Mike managing the ropes.
Climbing on the spine of the ridge.
The exposed north wall – looking into the chasm.
Pitch number six – on top of the world.
Bring hoodies and bug spray – there were a few around.
Mike – Great to see you thanks so much.
Its been a great week to be out in the NH mountains. Finally we are having sunny days with cool breezes and the climbs are mostly dry. Jason and I got lucky with our Cannon plans as our scheduled day was bluebird and crowdless. Getting back on the Whitney Gilman Ridge was excellent with fun climbing in the amazing and exposed location high above Franconia Notch.
This was Jason’s first multi pitch climb and he climbed the entire route in good style. No slips or falls just good solid movements with the occasion crux to ponder. Great prep for Jason who may be heading to the Tetons to climb the Petzolt Ridge on the Grand Teton.
Whitney Gilman Ridge – Jason.
Pemi Valley looking south.
Mid way up the route.
Splitter granite cracks in places.
Exposure high o the fourth pitch.
The final pitch – 600 ft of climbing done.
Thanks Jason, great to climb with you. Hope to see you this summer.
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.
Jonathan and Jackie joined Mooney Mountain Guides for a half day afternoon rock climbing adventure at Rumney Rocks. Sunday was the perfect day to be outside hiking and climbing in the White Mountains. Our rock climbing tour began with a leisure warm up hike up to the Jimmy Cliff area. The route called Clip a Dee Doo Dah was our objective. Clip a Dee Doo Dah is an inviting beginner climb that takes a direct line up the lower angle slabs to a high point on Rattlesnake Mountain. This was Jonathans and Jackies first outdoor climb at Rumney and they were excited – they both climbed easily and quickly following my leads to the top. Once back at the base we roped up once again for a second climb on Pine Tree Crack. Two climbs to the top with amazing views of the Baker River Valley below brought smiles to us all.
Great times on the rocks with Jackie and Jonathan!!!
Climbing high on Clip a Dee Doo Dah.
Knots to tie, ropes to manage, belaying the leader. Jonathan took on these tasks with ease.
Climbing up Pitch Two and the Summit attained. Nice work.
Jackie on our last climb at the Meadows Area – steeper rock and lots of climbers.
Thanks to Jackie and Jonathan for joining me at Rumney Rocks. It is always a good time meeting new guests and taking them on a first time climbing experience outdoors on the rocks.
Join in on Saturday evening at Evolution Rock and Fitness!!!
Over the past three days Jerry and I gathered information and photos at Rumney Rocks for Evolutions presentation this Saturday. The prime topic is safety awareness for the climbing community. Rumney Rocks is the perfect place to take newly learned indoor climbing skills to the outdoor climbing world. Its also the place where many first time and experienced climbers make common mistakes. One goal of the clinic is to help new and experienced climbers raise their awareness to reduce the chances of future climbing accidents.
As outdoor enthusiasts – climbers and guides we can be stewards of the land. It is our responsibility to keep our climbing areas in the best shape they can be. This comes with understanding of the LNT principles. Lets all get together and minimize the impact on other climbers and the land – cliffs we are using.
The Rumney Climbers Association, local climbers, guides have set up Rumney Rocks Climbing routes with these fixed anchors. These permanent anchors are not for top roping they are for the last descent down the route. Please use these only for descending the route as you can see they do wear out.
Closing the system!
Take and active role in getting all climbers to close the system – many climbers have been injured while be lowering off the end of and unclose rope system
Rope stacked and system closed – ready for climbing.
Figure eight – Classic, Elegant, Simple.
Mammut Smart belay – assisted dynamic breaking for the leader and top roper.
Petzl Gri Gri Belay device – another assisted breaking belay device.
Note closed hands over rope – proper bracing position for leading or lowering
Anchors set ups for Rumney Sport routes. The above is a top choice top rope anchor system for MMG Guides.
Clipping gear the right way!
Looking down at the quick draws and bolts.
Terry enjoying the fun climbing at Rumney Rocks.
See you at Evolution Rock and Fitness.
Last summer I had the pleasure of climbing Moby Grape with father-daughter team Steve and Bridget Curley. You can check out the post here: http://www.mooneymountainguides.com/blog/cannon/riding-the-granite-time-machine-at-cannon/. On Saturday Bridget returned to Cannon with her sister Sharon for a fine sampling of granite cracks. Climbing is a family affair with the Curleys! The day was hazy, very hot and humid: more reminescent of mid August than early June. Never the less the motivation was high. We cranked out some true classics: The first few pitches of Duet, the first two of Union Jack, Reppy’s Crack, and Slow and Easy.
Sharon and Bridget at the base of Duet after cruising its
first few superb pitches.
Sharon launches up the wide first pitch of Union Jack
Bridget sizes up the steep and polished layback crux of Union Jack’s awesome second pitch
Hot, tired and happy! Descending Cannon’s massive talus field after a great day.
Thanks for a great day out, Sharon and Bridget. I look forward to climbing again with you soon!Cheers,
Derek Doucet, MMG