Monthly Archives: October 2013
The Red Rock AMGA Rock Guide Exam has passed by. Upon reflection I will share my views of subtle but extremely important strategies that I apply as the examiner. Any examination process will amp up the heartbeat, unnatural stress is automatically created, the apprentice rock guides and myself are both put on the hot seat. Exam candidates must put on the guide hat for an entire week and display their finer guide performance and I am in the role to view the performance with an open mind removing myself from any vaccuum or routine I may currently reside in. At times candidates can be on sighting climbs up to 5.10+ that I may or may not have climbed and or guided myself.
There is a place in each of these exams where we all Reach a Higher Ground.
The exam start has been adjusted and changed over the years and now begins with a climbing movement day on the stone. I have the view that so much arises on this day of climbing sport and traditional routes. The scene I create is a professional but relaxed setting and candidates and examineers can perform movements in a setting that promotes us to reach the top. Risk management is achieved, movements are gauged, the exam pressure can be decreased and lastly its a fun day on the rocks.
The next four days are for the candidates to showcase their multi pitch guide skills on the walls of Red Rock Canyon. Compassion and understanding is a key component for me as the examiner. Each morning I take a step back and revisit when I put my exam shoes on in my first exam 1999. This certainly helps set the stage for the day. Many of the routes we climb are moderate multi pitch lines in the 5.7 to 5.10 range but there are times we venture into remote areas onto the lesser traveled routes. This is the place to encourage solid guiding within ones limits. Any guide should know what it will take to red line their abilities and be able to shut it down before reaching this zone. A true self assessment and solid decision making must take place as it represents excellent risk management as a guide.
Our final day is a review of the entire exam week. First on each course or exam I conduct an overall exam discussion with each of us highlighting important moments (our crux) and then a time on which we sent (achieved excellent results) during the day or climb. The completion must followthrough with personal talk to each student. This final debrief is the place for encouragement – passing or not passing – all must continue to gain from this experience and move forward to a higher level.
Core skills assessment – Climbing movement at the Sunny and Steep and Winter Heat Wall areas.
No projects here – all routes were climbed solid and clean. Great to see all of us fired up to send.
Triassic Sands – a Red Rock Classic crack climb!!!
Max and Ryan did a great job guiding me on this awesome route
Angela and Karen discussing the proposed climbing route and time plan for the next day.
Karen leading us into Black Orpheous on a beautiful morning. Karen cruising the lower pitches of the route.
Each day routes are split in half with the two participants – a morning session and then the afternoon. He is Lee guiding the upper pitch on Black Orpheous. Lees leads us on excellent rock with high exposure upwards into the upper Painted Bowl.
To guide these longer routes effectively one must have tools of the trade. This Mammut Revelation rope is one of the tools that assists the guide in the job of rope work. This rope is durable yet slides easily over the rock and it runs smoothly and easily through the belay plates.
Windy peak is a remote location for Red Rocks. One hour plus to arrive a the base and Jubilant Song is one of the lesser climbed routes in the area. Seba and Peter were guides in the led on this spectacular crack and corner climb in the desert.
Parting shot of Max reaching for the gear on the upper pitches of Olive Oil.
It truly was an excellent week of guidance. These apprentice guides should be commended for their commitment for displaying their craft of guiding guests up the long multi pitch rock climbing routes. This is what we guides love to do – take guest onto the rocks and teach each of them new skills in an amazing location.
Yesterday, the climbing team from Milton Academy came to North Conway to get a multi-pitch experience. When they arrived is was sunny with seasonable (comfortable) temperatures. As we started up the cliff clouds began to role in and by the time we reached the top a full-on snow squall was upon us. It felt like climbing in an alpine environment and it couldn’t have been any more perfect.
Another shot of the Conway Scarecrow and sun on the cliff.
Squall rolling in.
Topping out as the snow began to fall.
Climbing fast to avoid the weather.
The two students I was climbing with not only topped out on Cathedral, they also had a lesson on predicting weather in the field. Even though the “smart” phone said all was clear, all the signs were there that an unstable airmass was moving down the valley. I communicated this to the students and our game plan changed a little, opting for an easier route to the top in order to move more quickly. In the end, when my predictions were correct the students got a real time lesson in forecasting weather from the field, and we were all glad to be on top under the trees watching the squall go by.
Thanks Milton for an Awesome Day on the Rock
The Conway Scarecrow standing guard.
For those of you who frequent the Mooney Mountain Guides blog, you know that our friend Jerry loves to climb. As made evident by his frequent appearance on the blog. Jerry’s goal for this past season has been to perfect the “dark art” of crack climbing. I say dark art because crack climbing is not always intuitive or straight forward. Your not climbing on holds; in-fact, your climbing whats not there filling the dark void with what ever body part you can to stay on the rock. Sending a crack climb requires creativity and tenacity, and if you have what it takes its the best kind of rock climbing there is. For someone who loves crack climbing, it was an honor to share all my favorite cracks with someone eager to learn.
Jerry on top of Bombardment.
Jerry and I set out to take advantage of these beautifully crisp fall days and work on the dark art. Monday dawned a beautiful day in Mt. Washington valley and we were pumped to move up the stone. So excited, that we climbed 11 pitches of cracks starting at one end of the cliff and moving our way to the other and climbing every crack in between. About half way through the day, Jerry made himself a pair of tape gloves to ensure that he could keep sending all the way through to sunset. Which we did, and it was awesome!
Time for tape-gloves.
Black-lung. A superb 5.8 crack pitch.
Jerry jamming his fingers into a thin 5.9 finger crack.
Jerry nearing the top on the final pitch of ” The Prow”
Tuesday it was off to Echo Crag in Franconia notch to work the single pitch cracks of the area. Echo is an awesome place to spend the day with a wide selection of crack and face climbs for all levels. Towards the end of our session we experienced a little rain, but that didn’t stop us from getting in one more pitch.
“Skeletal-Ribs” an Echo Crag classic.
Finally, Wednesday brought us back to Cathedral. We began our day on “Toe Crack” a beautiful splitter hand crack , doing our best to keep the motivation high as we waited for the temperature to get into the 50’s. However, the sun was out and it made the cliff feel much warmer than it was. Next up was “Turner’s Flake”, and enormous and beautiful left arching flake that beacons to be climbed. Due to its arching nature, its amazing to climb for 50-meeters on the same feature. “Windfall” was up next, followed by an ascent of “Thin Air”, where Jerry and I swung leads up the ultra classic. This was the best three days of climbing in think either of us had this fall.
“Turners Flake” left & “Toe-Crack” right.
Jerry’s expert lead on pitch 3 of “Thin Air” to round out our week.
Thank you Jerry for a great week on the rock.
On Tuesday, our guest Mike completed a goal of climbing Mt. Washington. In addition to being the tallest peak in the Northeast presenting a challenge to any climber, Mt. Washington is home to the worlds oldest Cog Railway (a train that goes to the summit). This combination offers a unique experience to the climber, difficult to find almost anywhere else, a chance to hike up and ride down.
We had a beautiful walk up the mountain, experiencing in small doses what the mountain has to offer. Sun, wind-gusts, and fog were each taking their turn in an ever revolving pattern that is so familiar in this alpine environment. Mike and I caught glimpses of the train on its way up and down the mountain carting tourists from the world over to the summit and back. We relaxed and took our time walking up, resting with the knowledge that we too, would be passengers of the cog for our decent. Upon his arrival, passengers of the train, and drivers in their own cars gave Mike a deserving hero’s welcome to the summit. The questions and congratulations were only fitting for reaching his goal.
Mike is into technology, as a small plane pilot, he and his wife flew themselves to New Hampshire from Pennsylvania (very impressive). It was only fitting that we would climb aboard the mechanical masterpiece that is Mt. Washington’s Cog Railway for our trip down. On the trip down, we passed through the changing environments of the mountain, making me take note of exactly how far we had come from the valley floor. It was a real treat to see the mountain from the train that I had seen role by so many times before.
Thank you Mike for an awesome day in the mountains.
Rock Tober its called – the time when we have clear and cool at night but during the day the sun is bright warming the rocks up to a perfect temperature. The Main Cliff is perfect on most days from now on – avoided in the heat of summer but a refreshing place this time of year. Aubrey and I spent our training session working on the steep and technical routes. Progress is being made as the sequences are refined and sent and the body gets stronger. Soon enough will be the day to send.
Baker River Valley.
Heading to Gold Bug.
Joyce on the main attraction – Underdog.
Know Ethics – slippery and sequential.
Aubrey – another good time – you are climbing well!!!
The fall foliage was in peak display and the Cathedral and Rumney rocks were dry and crisp. I instantly knew this would be a good one, Jerry was in town for a fine weekend of climbing.
I feel exceptionally fortunate to work as a mountain guide. The climbing days can be challenging physically and mentally but they are always fun. I have the opportunity to share my passion (climbing) with others and this is rewarding in so many ways. This weekend was a reminder of how good my job is and how lucky I am to work as a guide with Jerry and a variety of interesting guest from all walks of life.
The Sunday 2 pm rains shut Jerry and I down at Rumney Rocks. This in one way was a good event for us after all we had completed two amazing days on the rocks. Our first day at Cathedral was jamb packed with a variety of cracks and face routes, and today we rallied early at Rumney keeping a brisk pace while logging in ten routes by mid afternoon. The time was right to wrap our weekend up, with many high points, a new route or two, a couple of Rumney test piece climbs, all totaled into 18 pitches of fine climbing, we were certainly very satisfied.
Mt Washington Valley – a vibrant display of fall colors.
Jerry topping out on P1 of Recompense.
This is the scrappy top out from Three Birches. Due to all the leaves and dirt its quite hard to tell but there is some fine climbing on this route.
Whitehorse Ledge in the distance.
Barber Wall – multiple testpiece cracks lined up.
Jerry working on Chicken Delight 5.9.
Bombardment an area classic.
Jerry just after the slab pitch of Bombardment
Rumney Rocks – The route is False Modesty 5.8 – slick and complex. The crux moves are just above Jerry. Note the narrow strip of clean rock between the moss and lichen.
Hippos on Parade – nice corner climbing leads to the pumpy roof.
Thank you Jerry for this exceptional weekend climbing together and great way to kick off Rock Tober!!!
See you again soon,
This man, Steve, over the course of three days walked twenty + miles through rain, fog, near freezing temperatures, all above tree line, hopping from boulder to boulder and wind with gusts up to 50 mph… here’s the kicker, he did it for someone else, and he raised money to do it.
Traversing the Presidential Range in New Hampshire (a.k.a. Presi-traverse) is a coveted achievement among climbers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts all over the north east. It can be breathtakingly beautiful, and is always immensely rewarding. However, it is no secret that Mt. Washington and the surrounding alpine environment is known for its severe weather. Yet, maybe its this knowledge that draws us to the the mountain. The knowledge that even with preparation, skill, wisdom, and endurance, it may take a little bit of luck to be successful in climbing it.
There in lies the scale of Steve’s achievement. The fact that despite the adversity he faced up on the exposed ridge-line he kept moving forward and was successful in his journey across the “home of the worlds worst weather”.
Steve was climbing for an organization known as “Summit for Someone”. This organization raises money for inner city at risk youth, and uses that money to fund programing and opportunities for these children. Fundraisers set a goal of climbing one of many mountains around the country, and then fundraise and train to prepare for their expedition. It takes individuals like Steve to participate in these organizations in order for them to be successful. We all owe Steve a couple of nods; one, for being successful on his first presidential traverse, and two, raising all that money to benefit children.
Thank you Steve for an awesome adventure!