Monthly Archives: October 2014
The guides at Mooney Mountain Guides are very pleased to be supported by Petzl. Over the years many of us have found favorites in Petzl’s line from the Nomic’s and Dart’s on ice to the Spirit Express draw and Gri Gri on sport climbs. One of the reasons the relationship between Petzl and MMG is so great is because both companies have a passion for sharing knowledge and spreading climbing education. At MMG it’s our job on many days to act as educators in the climbing realm, and it’s what we truly love to do. At Petzl, they go beyond making and selling some of the best gear on the market, they also produce and distribute educational literature in their catalogs and on their website, towards the end of a safer more knowledgable climbing community.
For that reason I was excited this week to pull Petzl’s latest catalog out of the mail and check out, not only the new gear, but the new tech tips they offered up. I was thrilled to see that they tackled a common safety hazard in cleaning sport routes, one we see almost turn dangerous at Rumney, far to often.
The scenario starts when the final climber leads an overhanging, or traversing sport route. On the way back down they have to clean the draws as they lower. A standard practice is to clip a spare quickdraw from your belay rope to the line of rope running through the draws. This way, as you lower, you can stay close to the rope line to mor easily clean the quick draws, as opposed to lowering straight down and away from the wall. This works well until the last draw. We see two dangerous scenarios here.
1.) Climber stays clipped into belay line and unclips last draw. In this scenario the climber swings out from under the overhang like a pendulum. Since they are clipped into the belay line, as they swing they drag belayer with them, possibly dragging them across the ground or into an object.
2.) Belayer lowers out away from the wall with the first draw off the ground still clipped in. This causes a lot of slack as the rope goes up through first bolt, out to climber, up to anchor, and finally back down to the climber. At this point the climber makes the poor decision to unclip themselves from the belay strand. As that extra slack is introduced into the system the climber drops, possibly decking.
Erik Thatcher on Social Outcast at Rumney. A prime sight for this type of accident.
In both of those scenarios there are several easy work arounds. The first, and safest of all, is to have the final person up a steep climb top rope the climb on the strand of rope running through the draws, cleaning as they go. For severely angled routes such as Peer Pressure at Bonsai, this is the best method. For scenario number 2, the climber can be lowered to the ground without unclipping, so long as there is enough rope (knot your rope end just in case!)
For a lot of climbs at Rumney, the best way around this accident involves clipping into the second to last draw above the ground. I have to do this frequently at Bonsai, and select other routes like the Crusher or Cereal killer. I’ll take the draw connected to my harness, unclip it from the rope and clip it into the rope end carabiner of the draw on the second to last bolt. My belayer then loses me until my weight is on these two draws. Then you unclip the rope from the second draw, and reach down to clean the first draw from the bolt and rope. At this point your belayer braces themselves and you check behind you for obstructions you might run into, before unclipping and taking what should be a safe and moderate swing.
Whitney Steiner on The Crusher, another possible location for this technique
Many climbers at Rumney are starting their progression at the gym and working up to climbing outside at sport crags. I see two primary groups coming out of this situation. Some are those who climb moderates, and cautiously transition into leading similar grades outside. Others are generally younger climbers who quickly progress to leading hard routes on plastic, and then jump outside to do the same, of course there are all sorts of people in between. Mooney Mountain Guides works with many people who would fall into that former group, giving them learn to lead instruction and facilitating their transition outside. The latter group, it seems, rarely seeks out qualified instruction, and frequently we see them struggling or dangerously making their way through the learning curve, where qualified instruction from guides coaches or mentors would have made that transition quicker and safer. This, and other small safety tricks are critical to a safe and enjoyable day out at the crags!
MMG Guide, Alexa Siegel on Social Outcast
If you’re curious about seeing Petzl’s tech tip on cleaning draws in its entirety you can go here:
If you wish to geek out as the weather gets to cold or wet for climbing, here is the whole database of tech tips:
The Ridge from the bottom of the talus.
For almost any climber the striking arete’ that forms the Whitney-Gilman ridge begs to be climbed. The shear size of the feature is imposing. It can be easily see from the road and when walking along Lafayette Ridge, Cannon’s 5,000ft neighbor to the east. Needless to say, the climbing is just as fun and aww inspiring as it looks from the ground. Parallel cracks, perfect corners and exciting face climbing only add to the appeal.
(Left:) The excellent second pitch. (Right:) Mat, headed directly for the 5.9 exit moves on the final pitch.
Mat, came down from Montreal to climb the ridge. Together we made great time. Each pitch flowed smoothly into the next. The warm sun and cool breeze provided perfect rock climbing temperatures. It was truly a great day for Cannon.
What made this climb come full circle, was climbing it in October. Typically October brings cool temperatures, clear blue sky, and the amazing foliage. Watching the hills change from a sea of green to bright oranges, yellow’s and reds makes this experience even better. I’m not sure what it is about perfectly dry rock and collared leaves that makes climbing this route so fun, but I invite you to come and see for your self what the Whitney-Gilman ridge is like in October.
Thanks Mat for a great day on the ridge.
The view from the top of the main cliff
Were are all a little jealous of Jerry. He climbs a lot, and in many different locations world wide. So when he called to go out for a day of climbing, I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and take Jerry somewhere he had never been. Given Jerry’s love for crack climbing, Woodchuck seemed to fit the bill.
(Left): Jerry following splitter 5.8 (Right): Jerry taking laps on a stout 5.10a
Woodchuck ledge is mostly known for two classic Jimmy Dunn routes; “Screaming Yellow Zonkers”, and “Zonked Out”. Two superb, hard, old school crack climbs. However, there are many other quality and exciting climbs to be had in the 5.8 – 5.10 range. So our day went, from one amazing climb to the next, all while in the bright sun with breathtaking views.
Jerry to round out the day takes the lead in a perfect corner.
Thank you Jerry for a great day of adventure and good old rock climbing. I look forward to climbing together soon.
Sisters Ceira and Ari have been visiting the town of Rumney since they were little girls, staying at their family’s summer home on Stinson Lake. Until this week, though, they had never climbed on the cliffs that make this quaint New England town world famous in the climbing community. With a taste for climbing developed while away at college in Vermont, Ceira decided it was time to introduce her sister to the sport and check out the cliffs around their summer hang out. We couldn’t have lucked out with a better day!
With this being the view on the approach, I knew it was going to be a gorgeous day on the cliffs. As is standard for these fall days, it was warm and glorious in the sun, and a touch chilly in the shade!
This was a special day for both girls as Ari got to do her first ever climb outdoors, and Ceira got to share in the excitement by doing her first ever lead on the same route. After a bit of a warm up we talked about leading skills over lunch and then set up Ceira on the sharp end. With her first successful lead under her belt, the girls then set up and cleaned a route entirely on their own, building confidence for the day when they hope to come out to rumney on their own.
With the day coming to a close, we finished up on a perennial favorite. Begginer’s Route is the perfect intro climb or wrap up climb. I often describe it as pure bliss. With a fun array of hold types and moves, secure feet and engaging but not overly challenging, this route always brings a smile to my face, and I have yet to have a guest react differently!
As always, we’re grateful to our guests for choosing us to help them explore or enter the world of rock climbing!
Thanks so much, Ceira and Ari!
For many sports one suffers along the way, there will be sweating and pain, then the prize comes as one reaches the finish line.
In climbing the ultimate prize is the summit, the peak of the climb. The high fives and cheers are at the end of the route or on the top of the peak.
This Red Rocks trip has been full of suffering, sweating and then cheers. Many of the approaches are long, and for us the routes have been quite challenging. When Terry and I top out together a sigh of relief comes upon us. It is then the smiles come from another amazing route completed together. This is our scene together on the rocks and its been this way for over thirty years.
As you will see in the photos Terry and I very much enjoy the tough challenges along the way.
The high points, the lofty summits, the outstanding views keep us coming back for more!!!
On are way into Black Velvet Canyon.
Terry powering through the cruxes of two very different climbs.
Yoga = Balance, Power, Focus!!!
Dream of Wild Turkeys – a three star route on some very fine rock.
Overview of the Red Rock Canyons from fossil ridge.
The Great Red Book.
Frogland and Black Velvet.
Terry guiding me for the day on Frogland.
High on the wall – friction moves and thin cracks.
Another day in paradise.
Hanging belay stations – high on a route called Unimpeachable Groping.
The cheers after a long day on the rock – we are at the base of the routes just completed.
Next March and April MMG will be back in Red Rocks – join us for your spring fling on the rock!!!