Monthly Archives: January 2014
This past weekend Rodger and Steve, college roommates, came to New Hampshire to try their hand at ice climbing. Although one now lives in Colorado and the other in Virginia, the two make an effort to go on trips together a couple times a year.
Steve working a slab at Kinsman
Their adventure began at Kinsman Notch, a primer climbing area that typically has beautiful blue ice, even when other areas don’t. The guys climbed slabs, steep ice, thin ice and fat ice. Running the gambit of conditions, learning to read the ice like a book helping them climb more efficiently.
Many climbs to be had at Rumney
Day two it was time for Rumney, and its south facing cliffs perfect for a cold day. At this time of year, Rumney offers a variety of excellent climbs from the moderate, to the difficult. Rodger and Steve took multiple laps each on the steep ice employing the skills they learned the day before. After a full day of climbing, everyone went home happy to have had such a great weekend on the ice.
Rodger putting an ! on the weekend.
Thank you Steve & Rodger for a great weekend.
Last week I was lucky enough to get out with a large portion of the Egger family, Rod and 3 of his sons, Sean Keith and Evan. The boys came with no ice climbing experience, varying levels of experience rock climbing, but a generally adventurous background. They were well prepared for the challenges both of weather, and of pushing ones self physically and mentally. It was great to see all four of them attack this new expereince with lots of determination and a fair amount of natural ability. Within a couple of laps they were on the steeps and running up lower angle ice without tools, building confidence in their footwork. By the end of the day many of them were running laps on the steepest ice Kinsman had to offer. Lucky for me, impending darkness called an end to our day. I don’t think I would’ve been able to tire them out to the point of quitting otherwise!
A family affair, and a not so rare, Art Mooney sighting at Kinsman Notch
Never enough steeps for the Egger Family
Some of them even decided to run laps on this steep pillar to finish the day!
Thanks for the visit guys! I hope to see you again soon, hear of your adventures and share another!
Selsun Blue was the objective for this day. The brutal cold weather steered me to finding an ice line on the warmer sunny ice flows at Rumney Rocks. Ken and I tried Selsun Blue a few years back and now it was time for a rematch. Kens ice kit has been refined with new lighter boots, modern tools and mono points. To prepare Ken has been working on movements skills on the steeper ice flows and today our goal was to put it all together.
We arrived at Selsun Blue and were quite surprised to find much of the ice route laying on the ground in huge ice blocks. The deluge we had over a week ago washed the main portion of the flow completely out. Our plan quickly adjusted to the Cave Route.
MMG Guide Alex joined us for the day an he racked up with gear and led the Cave Route. He climbed brittle hard ice for the first portion then found a wet sticky vein in the cave and took this to the top. It is amazing how and where the water flows on the ice – even on the coldest days of the year. Cave route was climbed and then a top rope was set for a nice series of stacked pillars on Selsun Right. Ken delicately climbed upward enjoying this technical piece of ice.
The Selsun Blue – out of the game.
Ken styling the moves on the thin pillar.
Alex finding a sweet spot on the Cave Route.
Our afternoon led us down to the Meadows area where we chatted about our next routes. Ken wanted to try the Newfound Lake area. We hopped into the cars cranked up the heat and headed that way. Newfound is mostly shaded and the routes have been in great shape this year,
Ken on the long route called Bloodline. We found fantastic conditions on this route.
Newfound Lake – ice above and below.
Thanks to Ken and Alex for a fun day on the ice. We found good ice lines at two areas Rumney and Newfound.
The group on the way up.
For many reasons, Mt. Washington is a sought after summit for many climbers and hikers. Its no surprise why; the tallest summit in the North East, the largest Alpine area in the east, and during winter it is home to “the worlds worst weather.” Our guides are no strangers to the mountain and its moods; it is this knowledge that helped a group of eight experience the mountain at full value.
Let the training begin.
We approached the mountain in the morning is relatively warm temperatures, and began hiking in our base layers. It seemed warm, with no wind to speak of, and a fresh coating of snow on the trees, it seemed like a winter wonderland. As our group moved higher, eventually breaking treelike, the mountain remained quiet. With temperatures around fifteen degrees F, we could comfortably adjust layers and eat our snacks.
The group now prepared to make a bid for the summit, we departed out resting spot and launched towards the top. The experience of the guides telling them the weather was not going to get any better, and in fact it would only get worse. The pace quickened. Once on the summit cone, the snow was waist deep and the westerly wind was a steady 45mph.
Proof of the top.
Elation was felt as we stepped on the summit. The hard work and training the day before had payed off. A few quick photos for proof, and we were headed down. The forecasts were correct. Within fifteen minutes the mountain showed us what its famous for. The 45mph winds, were now 55+mph blowing snow into without conditions. Needless to say we were no longer in our base layers. Our forms now looked more like medieval knights ready for battle. These layers kept us comfortable and warm as the group worked its way down. The experience of the MMG guides keeping everyone together, covered, and on track.
Once back a treelike, the summit group was buzzing with excitement over reaching the top and experiencing the mountains extreme weather. They learned that with the proper gear and guidance, together they achieved a lofty goal.
Congratulations to the summiteers on your achievement.
We hope to see you again.
Alex, Bob, and Phil
Carolina and David are on a brisk climbing adventure to NH. They left the West Palm Beach area, the 84 degree temps and had to shut down the air conditioning for this trip. The goal to seek out a different type of air conditioning – the type Mt Washington has to offer. Yesterdays weather on the mountain was actually quite pleasant, the Polar Vortex is long gone and we enjoyed above seasonable temperatures with light winds.
Trail conditions were another story – we were greeted with icy trails all the way to the parking lot, wash outs were common from the recent deluge and then above tree line the snow was deep – drifted into all the low spots on the route. Knee deep trail breaking was lots of fun (work) and a good challenge to keep us focused on the goal -Sea to Summit.
Stop here or else!!!
Dave and Carolina fresh, excited and ready for the climb.
Lower mountain trails – like November conditions.
Above treeline travel in the fog and deep snow.
Shot blocks give the needed boost – time to recharge for the summit push.
On the summit – congrats to all!!!
Its was a long day for us – Carolina seeing the light at the end of the path.
Beautiful evening glow as we reached Marshfield Station.
Thank you – Carolina and David for this awesome day on the mountain.
Jerry took the ice on lead today. Mount Willard was the perfect place for this. Hitchcock Gully and the Upper East Face Slabs were in fantastic shape. Jerry was in solid form as he steadily led all the routes. Protection was placed were needed and directionals were adding to keep the rope from freezing up in the running water. It is on days like these that all the hard work comes together and a new zone is entered. The zone is the lead area which requires focus, balance, power and a calm cool head.
Lower Hitchcock Gully.
The guides Jerry and Alex at the first belay .
Jerry on Upper Hitchcock Gully.
Rappelling Upper Hitchcock – to access one more climb.
Going for the summit – Jerry on lead on the East Slabs route.
Jerry – Great job leading today.
Moderate Temps on Sunday Morning- Game on!
Last Sunday Matthew and I caught a break from the recent frigid temps and spent the day climbing some Smuggler’s Notch classics. On holiday from Australia, Matthew had plans to sample some Vermont ice, and the weather couldn’t have been better. We decided to head to the South Wall, which tends to serve up a great selection of consistently well-formed single and multi-pitch ice routes. Today was no exception, and we found plenty of ice.
The agenda for the day was to expand on some technical skills, explore some interesting terrain and get in as many ice pitches possible. Matthew has a solid climbing background, and was hungry both to climb and to learn. During the day we were able to cover a bunch of topics including ice evaluation and basic screw placements, belaying techniques and efficient movement skills.
We began on the steep and wet Blue Room, a great challenge with varying ice conditions. Great place to hone movement skills.
Matthew midway on Blue Room
After descending a dripping Blue Room, we continued along the South Wall to climb a two pitch moderate flow. The view from the top was brilliant, and we were able to practice some V-threads on the way down.
One thing I’ve learned living in New England is that a splitter day during the winter months is a gift!
! Thank you Matthew for a great and enjoyable outing. It’s always awesome spending a day climbing in the Notch, especially with good company and good weather.
The ice climb at Rumney called the Geographic Factor is certainly a prize of an ice line. The climb is guarded by a long steep approach and is hidden from view as it is tucked away in the Giant Man alcove at the Hinterlands Area. You must make the hike to see if the route is in shape or suitable for your climbing day.
Jerry and I cruised the cliffs today with Franky Lee as our warm up then onward to find out if Geo was in condition. Upon our arrival at the base we noticed a substantial overhang of ice at the crux area. Not sure if this would go – we decided to take a further look and climb to the half way point. It would either go or we would descend from there.
A bit of cleaning was needed to remove the fragile daggers of ice that barred the upward moves – once completed it was a go. We were very engaged by the technical and strenuous moves for twenty feet or so. Then is was fat and sticky ice to the top.
You must get out and try, seeing the route is not enough, feeling it is much better. Some days are just right for the climb and today was the right day for Jerry and I on the Geo.
First view of the route.
Wet and sticky ice on the sunny upper half of the route.
Crux overhang – three to four feet to clear.
Great send of the Geographic Factor.
It has been a few years since I have spent time in conditions like last weeks NH deep freeze. Friday was the coldest day with a daytime high temperature of 1 accompanied by high winds which made the air feel much colder. Saturday started with colder morning temps but the air was still making it quite comfortable once moving in the mountains.
Kathryn, Zach and Scott arrived Wednesday evening just in time for the winter storm to hit the New England coast. Weather models were quite varied on the snowfall amounts so we were not sure what was coming. Thursday we climbed Lafayette with light snow falling through the day then in the afternoon the snow really began to amount. By the end over a foot of light and dry powder blanketed the area. Our before the storm timing for Lafayette was good as I had broken trail once this year on the Bridle Path and it was a tough day for sure.
Friday we ice climbed at Kinsman Notch – Kathryn was in her element – as she prefers steep and technical over type mountain climbs. Zach was new to the ice – and he adapted his sport techniques to the ice arena quickly, Scott like it all – mountains are full of endurance and the ice requires burst of power which he has both on board.
Our final day was spent on Willys Slide. Base area clinics on multi topics for snow travel, snow anchors and belays, self arrest and structured practice of all. By mid day we were ready for our last climb together so we assaulted the Willys in a party of 4.
Puffy jackets received lots of use the past weekend.
Scott, Kathryn, and Zach descending Willys in deep snow.
This was a varied three day mountain and ice trip – much thanks to the visiting climbers from the Ohio area.
Brothers Nick and Zack joined me last week for an intro to winter travel. We had three days over the weekend to get them into the mountains and experience and array of their offerings. On day 1 we sampled some low angle ice climbing in Kinsman Notch. Nick and Zack got to learn the power of front pointing in crampons and pulling on ice axes, as well as experience the beauty of the White Mountains in winter. On day 2 we did an intro to mountaineering on Welch and Dickey Mountains, learning various techniques for ascending snow slopes of differing angles. The brothers got to dial in their layers and get practice in keeping their hydration and calorie stores where we wanted them. Day 3 was the main event, an ascent of Mt Washington. The boys where apprehensive of this plan at first, but gained excitement throughout the weekend. We were greeted with rather favorable conditions on our summit day. Wind chills in the teens and winds in the 40’s allowed us to get to the summit with minimal suffering!
Thanks for joining us Nick and Zack. Best to both of you in the New year!