Monthly Archives: February 2015
Its a rare day when guests are rope gunning for guides, but then i guess this was a rare week. Jerry the Gale Force continued his epic season climbing with Art. They had a stellar day on the on the east face of Willard. A few days before that, George joined us again and also took the sharp end on the east face of Willard with Alex. The snow is deep between the climbs, but the ice is great right now!
Also this week, Erik and Alex chose to use some rest days to hunt down the last of the powder from last weeks storms. These days were just long enough to help work the lactic acid out of legs from the previous week of work, as well as to put a day long powder grin on our faces 🙂
Following our week of ice we transitioned right into a weekend of ice. On Saturday Alex ventured north to Lake Willoughby with guests Mark and Matt.
This is the premiere venue in the east for big, bad, bold ice climbs! starting the day in -20 temps tempered the expectations some, but they still managed a couple of multi-pitch 4+ lines. Certainly a day for all to be proud of.
On Saturday and Sunday, Erik had two couples for an introduction to ice climbing. Day one was spent at Kinsman Notch, honing in the basics. Day two was spent basking in the sun (first day temps were above freezing in almost a month!) at Newfound Lake.
Thanks to all our guests from this weekend! we hope to see you again soon.
The Mooney Mountain Crew
Last week was a stellar week on ice for the Mooney Mountain crew as well as friends. The bulk of our week was spent with students from the Olivarian School. This school, in Haverhill, NH has a week long electives period. A strong outdoor program funnels a handful of their students into taking an ice climbing course led by two faculty members for this full week.
The bulk of the time was spent getting milage in on tope ropes around the state, while two days were spent getting students up on multi-pitch ice climbs in Crawford Notch.
Erik, Matt and Doug gearing up
Below is a gallery of some of the students having fun on this course. We’re thrilled any chance we get to work on a curriculum and multi day experience with organizations and groups. This week was no exception, and we can’t wait till next year!
On Friday Erik got out with George. George use to ice climb on a somewhat regular basis up until about 3 or 4 years ago. He wanted to get back into it this year, including leading, with an eye towards swinging leads on Pinnacle Gully by the end of the year. To that end, he’s booked a handful of days throughout the winter with us to work towards that goal. This was the third day he got out with us, and we focused specifically on leading skills.
We started with some warm up laps. George put up two of the easier lines at Kinsman and worked on making anchors on trees. We then had a quick ground school covering V threads, ice screw anchors and top belays.
George then lead up the first step of the main flow at Kinsman, skillfully made an anchor out of the fall line of the second pitch, and belayed me up. We then talked transitions and I look the lead, bringing him up to me at the anchor. Once there, George lead a multi pitch rappel including making and rappelling off of a V-thread.
These days of geeking out on technical skills are super fun for me. Not only is it another way of practicing our skills, but it is the clearest example of our ability to enable others to pursue their passions in the mountains. Hard to describe just how satisfying that is to us! Luckily we have a wealth of smaller, less busy crags on the west side of the mountains that are easy to access and offer incredible terrain for coaching and training of these technical skills.
Thanks for following our work, and hope to see you in the mountains!
The Crew at MMG
This weekend was marked by yet another blizzard, this time with brutally cold temperatures and high winds. Here’s what the Mooney Mountain Guides were up to!
On Thursday, Erik and two lucky guests were able to sneak in a summit push on Mt Washington before the brutal weather rolled in. That being said, it was no walk in the park weather wise. Ted and John pushed there way up to the summit at a blistering pace, covered in rime ice and hiding from the wind, followed by world class glissading (butt sliding) on the way back down for a flashback to child like enjoyment of simple pleasures.
Saturday, Guides Alex and Erik ran an intro to mountaineering course on Welch and Dicky. This exposed guests to the weather conditions of a big mountain, and layering challenges of staying warm while hiking at various levels of exertion. At the pinnacle of the days hike we dropped packs and took out mountaineering axes to practice crampon and ice axe technique.
Technical Clinic on Welch & Dicky
On Sunday, a handful of these same guests who felt up for the challenge went to Mt Washington to test themselves against some of the worst weather we’ve seen on the rock pile this year. Through snow, bitterly cold wind chills and steep terrain, this group pushed the high point to 5,000 feet, just about tree line, before turning around and enjoying the slide back down.
The mountain conditioned folks at the MT Washington Avalanche Center had this to say about this weekend: “Mt. Washington will truly be putting on a show today and tomorrow. Its well-earned reputation for harsh winter weather will be on display, and I’d recommend taking a seat away from the action for this show.” Big props to this group. The summit was all but unreachable with the given forecast, and yet they were game to go out and punish themselves in these conditions for the mere satisfaction of experiencing the wrath of a big mountain.
I-phone screen shot of Mt Washington summit forecast for Sunday
This brought a good lesson back to the front of my mind. A lot of hype for mountain trips is to “summit, or bust!” This despite the fact that summits are often allusive, and when gained, are only done so at the will of the mountain. A saying that frequently comes to mind is “expectations lead to disappointment.” Of course this comes with a caveat about reasonable expectations. If you take off on the trail for Mt Washington expecting to get a great work out and enjoy the natural beauty of nature, then you will never be disappointed and you will often be rewarded with accomplishments that exceed your expectations. If you take off with the expectation of summiting with no other intermediary goals, then you are setting your self up for a very likely disappointment.
Over the course of Friday and Saturday, guides Alex, Tim, and Phil got over 30 graduate students from Dartmouth Universities Tuck Business School on ice climbs at Rumney. This was surely a good time for all!
Thanks to all the guests who climbed with us this weekend despite the oppressive weather! Suffering through these days together builds character and relationships.
This past week and weekend was heavy on the climbing education front for Mooney Mountain Guides. Guides Derek Doucet and Alex Teixeira continued their Red Rocks expedition with the Middlebury College Outdoor Programs, which Doucet runs. This college offers a slew of expeditions every year and this seems to be one of the favorites. Why not, when you get to escape New England winter for a week of sun and fun in the desert?
Back on the home front, Guide Erik Thatcher was teaching a weekend long 1 credit course in Ice Climbing for New England College. This course was mostly Outdoor Ed majors and minors, and Environmental science students, with a smattering of students from other majors. Students were introduced to the sport on campus where a brief history of the sport was given and everyone got prepared for the weekend ahead. This was followed by time in the field learning the intricate techniques and movement of ice climbing! Particular attention was given to sharing leadership tips and ideas with the Outdoor Education Students.
Also on the home front, guide mentor extraordinaire Art Mooney, was instructing in a week long Ice Instructor course for the American Mountain Guides Association. This group, which Art has been heavily involved in, creates curriculum and administers training and exams that are internationally recognized. A few years ago Art was part of a team of top American guides who created a curriculum for training guides to work on Ice climbing terrain. As the East is the premiere destination for this terrain in the country, this team designed the curriculum around the area of Crawford Notch in NH, where the course was held.
Many of the Mooney Mountain Guides are involved with leading trips and coaching climbing at various educational institutes outside of our work with MMG (Middlebury College, Lyndon State College, Holderness School, Olivarian School, Waterville Academy, White Mountain School, Kismet Rock Foundation…) as well as working through Mooney Mountain Guides with various colleges and outing clubs to offer educational experiences. We love to work out curriculum and be able to offer specialized educational experiences for an array of institutions. If you’re looking to do something with your college or high school give us a call!
The Mooney Mountain Guides were out in force this past weekend. below you’ll find a couple of snippets of what went on.
Lynn and Mike visited us from South Carolina for their third attempt on Mt Washington. In the past, bad weather has thwarted their attempts. This past Friday looked like the best weather window of the long weekend, so we made hasty plans and changed our schedule around to get them the best shot of success.
Sure enough the forecasts delivered. Fog and steady snow hampered visibility, but coupled with 15mph winds at worst, created an eerily calm atmosphere while on the belly of the beast.
Mike and Lynn finally got their white whale.
After a day to rest up on Saturday they rejoined us for a sunny morning of ice climbing on Newfound Lake
On Saturday, good friends Connor and Yaffe joined us for a bitterly cold and bitterly awesome day of ice climbing in Crawford Notch. Connor has climbed ice before, but not in a while, and Yaffe was a first timer.
We chose the Trestle slabs as our starting location. This is an ideal classroom for ice climbing, with a 100′ slab of low angle ice, and a wall of low ice bulges to practice swinging and kicking on, with a particularly fluffy crash pad at the moment.
Connor on the North Face of Everst. Ok, fine. It’s just a spindrift filled picture of the Trestle slabs, but hardcore nonetheless.
After our warm up there we went to Standard route to finish the day. This meant that Yaffe got in his first ice climbing and his first multi pitch climb in one day. Not bad, Yaffe. Not bad.
While I was on sunny south facing ice Sunday, another group of three was battling brutal winds on Washington. This tough group made the summit on a day when winds reached near 100 mph and the cold was COLD!
Hopefully some pictures to come.
With most of the crew staving off frostbite and hypothermia in what finally feels like winter, two MMG guides traveled to Red Rocks NV where they are staving off sun burn and dehydration!
Derrek and Alex are out there for a week guiding a handful of students from Middlebury College’s outdoor program.
This is the premier destination for winter time rock climbing, and Im sure a welcome reprieve from the cold of a NH winter.
Thanks to all our guests and students who joined us this weekend! We look forward to hopefully seeing you in the mountains again soon.
The Mooney Mountain Guide Crew