Last weekends weather was in one way excellent with clear cobalt blue skies but on the other some would say brutal with temperatures in the negative numbers and winds hitting the century mark on the summit of Mt Washington. Our group of four climbers came to NH for a two day adventure on a intro to mountaineering program. Our first day was loaded with skills and techniques and day two followed with a climb of Mt Washington.
When the weather is extreme climbers must be prepared mentally, physically, clothing systems and equipment must be dialed in. Bob and I prepared the team for these conditions and by the time we ventured above tree line we were all in sync. At Lake of the Clouds everyone put the extreme gear to the test – shell coats, parkas, expedition mittens, facemasks and goggles kept us comfortable enough to keep climbing upwards. The winds did subside abit – down to 70 and the temp was a balmy -6 when we topped out on Mt Washington.
Enjoy the photos of winter mountaineering on Mt Washington – at times home to the worlds worst weather!
Louis and Neil on Welsh and Dickey.
Arturo – prepared and ready for the climb.
Don – learned about icing on the moustache.
On left Bob MMG Guide our Mammut Rep leading the way, Arturo keeping pace right behind .
Firm snow made for easy travel.
Neil cruising up the steeps.
Full face protection!
In Sync – using flat foot and rest step techniques.
Headed for the top!
Mt Washington aka the Rock Pile 6288.
Thanks to Arturo, Don, Neil, Louis and Bob for an excellent weekend adventure in New Hampshires White Mountains.
Yes it was a holiday and there were tons of climbers around NH but it was a fine holiday weekend on the ice. Jim, Eric, Mike and I enjoyed meeting and climbing with the Cleveland Ohio area Meet Up Group. The entire weekend was a blast – a fun experience for all with lots of education and practice on technical steep ice climbs then on Willeys Slide a multi pitch alpine climb.
Kinsman was our first choice to ease the team onto the ice. This cold day was spent climbing numerous single pitch slabs and pillars from NEI Grade 3 to 4. Our second day started early to avoid any crowds at Willeys. The plan worked as we topped we counted over 55 folks at the base or on the route. Could possibly be a record for the Willeys Side – who knows. After Willeys the Elephant Head Gully was located on own way home so we stopped for sure so each of the climbers could take a run on this varied and interesting climb.
Rob, Cat, Mark, Scott, Jen, Lauren, and Jack on approach to Kinsman Notch.
The ice cave – nice spot to take a rest.
Pot of Gold – steep hooking up the pillar of ice.
Cat on the pillar – Pot of Gold.
Three ladies ready for the icing at Kinsman Notch.
Jim telling the tale of Willeys Slide.
Jim – our motivational mountain guide.
Jen learning about the ice, anchors and protection as she climbs and cleans the route.
Lauren and cat on Willys.
Scott clearing the ice bulge high on the climb.
Lauren in Scenic Crawford Notch NH.
The rainbow of outdoor clothing!
Thanks to each of you for climbing with Mooney Mountain Guides in NH.
Great times for us.
Art, Jim, Erik, Mike – MMG Guides
These great photos are part of our NH guide team. I arranged this day to take a group photo of the guides in their new Ultimate Hoody Jackets from Mammut and as a general information gathering and training session. Missing are a few other guides from NH -Todd from Plymouth, Bob from Portsmouth, Majka, and Mike from the North Conway area and the Vermont guides Derek and Derrek.
Each spring and fall MMG schedules a training session for the guide team. Having all of us in one spot churning up the information is mandatory to have a group of guides that are on a similar page with MMG info and all the types of mountain training and guiding we do in the field.
You may have thought we get together working frequently but thats not the case. Much of the time the guides are working alone in the field. This goes on all over the country and world in mountain guiding. Frequent get togethers are well needed for quality control. At the same time its surely a fun way to get out with other guides and do what we all love – our passion.
Eric, Phil, Alex, Art, Matt Erik Jim
Eric roping up for Hanging by a Moment.
Phil and Erik off and climbing.
Matt – trying to get one of us to climb his new route Pot Of Mold.
Jim happy on the ice or the mountain!
Phil – the red man.
Jim – the man of many jobs.
Me getting on Pot of Gold – a short steep pillar.
Thank you for all the guides taking their time to get together for this day. I / MMG is very fortunate to have each of you on the MMG team.
We all met in Pinkham Notch at the base of Mt. Washington’s northeast side. Members of the trip from all aver; DC, to Campton, NH and places in-between. Even after our quick introductions and gear review, I knew this was going to be a fun trip.
With warm temperatures we started up the Tuckermans Ravine Trail, towards our destination of the weather observatory on the summit of Mt. Washington. The wide groomed trail allowed for good conversation, pictures and movement techniques. At the start of the Tuckermans winter trail we dawned our crampons, retrieved our ice axes and stowed our trekking poles. Now prepared for the steep trail ahead we climbed together towards tree line.
On a trip like this one it’s always interesting when our large group passes other climbers on the mountain. Due to the fact that we are only going half way and staying at the top, we were climbing late in the day. Other climbers on the mountain approached us with concern, but when they learned of our intentions to stay overnight on the summit they passed us – jealous.
The team kept a casual pace from Lion’s Head to the summit. Wind gusts neared 50 mph, and light precipitation fell, while fog moved in. Even though this we a brief dose of what Mt. Washington has in store for climbers, it was nice for our guests to see how quickly the weather can turn. At sun set we were around 200 feet from the summit, finishing the climb in the low light of dusk. After a few photos on the summit we headed inside.
It was a long day on the mountain and when we walked inside the weather observatory (OBS for short) we were thankful for the homemade corn chowder that was waiting for us. Warm and dry we got settled and waited for dinner. The two very welcoming volunteers served dinner. The OBS weather staff and our group of climbers were thankful for the family style dinner. After dinner we were treated to a tour of the weather instrumentation of the OBS, a real treat! Cheesecake with strawberries and tea rounded off our evening and we retired to our warm bunks.
Due to the fog we couldn’t see the sunrise, but it allowed us to sleep in. Again the volunteers whipped up a great breakfast. We ate then geared up for a climb of the OBS tower, where the weather instrumentation is held. In order for a weather station to be considered legitimate the instrumentation must be held 30 feet off the ground. This is so the ground will not influence the readings.
We came down off the tower, dawned our crampons and headed down. We took a little detour to experience more of the mountain. Walking down the auto road for a bit before cutting over to Ball Crag. Named after an early survivor of misadventure on the mountain. From there we cut across the Alpine Garden; an area in the summer known for its rare plant life. Upon reaching this area the fog began to clear and we were treated with an undercast of clouds blanketing the valley. Many pictures were taken and high fives were passed around.
We continued down, passed Lions Head, and used a rope to aid our decent down the steep sections we cruised up the day before. With smiles from ear to ear we walked down the remainder of the Tuck’s trail proud of our accomplishment. After some goodbyes we went our separate ways.
Temps: Record warmth hovering around +40F. Winds: 25 – 35 with gusts to 50.
In reflection, I am always blow away at the people I meet. As a guide I go into the mountains with people from all over. There are many vacation options out there to choose from; however, few are as rewarding as a winter ascent of Mt. Washington.
Thank you to all who made this trip possible – Alex
Guides Jim Gagne, Alex Teixeira and Bob Blais.
Each time Jerry and I climb we have an unforgettable experience together. For over five years we have teamed up working from entry level ice routes at the beginning to steep ice lines around New England. This post features Jerry and I climbing a few of the prize ice lines in the Crawford Notch and Frankenstein areas. Ice conditions are prime right now in NH. The routes on Mt Willard as well as the Amphitheater at Frankenstein are in fantastic shape . On Tuesday morning we met up at the Highland Center and marched straight up to the Great Madness. This route is a steep NEI Grade 5 that requires excellent technical skills and efficient movement to ward off any mid pitch forearm pump. We dispatched in a quick and solid style then headed to Gully 1. This duo of routes is a fine combination of steep ice lines on the south face of Mt Willard. On our walk out the beauty of the Snot Rocket pulled us of the tracks. We weaved a line of interesting movements up the first pitch to a spacious belay ledge. The upper pillar had a fragile appearance but we had to take a look. Delicate hooking through holes in the column and quiet placement of the feet got us through to the top. This Snot rocket is an amazing and exciting piece of ice for sure.
Wednesday the choice was the Frankenstein Amphitheater and we began climbing a few of our repeat routes such as Hobbit, Chia, Pegasus. The new addition on this day was a quality gem called – Hard Rane. The start is exciting – thin and technical moves protected by a few stubby screws help my upward momentum. The mid section is slightly fatter but the thin techy theme continued all the way to a boney top out.
By days end my arms felt stretched out and I was packing a big smile. I just spent two fantastic days in the Mooney Mountain Guides office climbing steep ice lines with a great partner and friend. Thank you Jerry.
Majka – Thanks for the photos and update.
Thanks to Wendy, Dave and Emily for coming up to climb.
The adventure started early – our 5am drive up the snow covered highway was slippery and slow. We arrived at the finest Dunkin Donuts in the area and adjusted our strategy. One car left behind as we piled into 4×4’s to continued onward to the Ammonusuc Trailhead. Franconia Notch was icy and covered with drifts of the light snow then the Base Road to Marshfield Station was unplowed. It was exciting to be the first on unplowed roads then untracked mountain trails to climb Mt Washington. The Ammo trail had a foot of new at the start then as we ascended we found about two feet of new snow. We were amazed at the difference a thousand feet can make – truly a winter wonderland.
At treeline the wonderland changed – we layered up and entered the arctic alpine zone. Wind, ice, driving snows kept us in line and focused. The team followed Alex and we all climbed for 500 feet to the Lake of the Clouds Hut. The hut is closed but is one of the main stopping points on the Ammo climb. We headed for the leeward side to gain a break from the driving winds.
It was time to make a decision!!!
The weather was extreme and the forecast was for much worse to come as the winds were on the increase, temperatures were dropping, and frequent whiteout conditions existed. It was best for our team of climbers to enjoy the Lakes area as our high point and come back another time to climb higher.
After fueling up with drinks, high energy foods, warm gatorade we adjusted face masks and goggles and headed down the Ammo Trail directly into the wind. Frequently we grouped into huddles to check for exposed skin areas. Slowly we descended and entered the tree line area which immediately felt comfortable – like an average winter day.
It was clear to us all that above treeline travel in these conditions was extreme. We descended to enjoy the winter wonderland once again.
Early morning light while breaking the first path up the road.
Adventure seeker Stu enjoying this winter climb.
MMG Guide Bob our Mammut gear specialist.
Learning and practicing Crampon Techniques – The French Step.
Nate and Doug – Southern friends loving this place!
Alex in lead getting his leg workout breaking the trail
Pillows of snow bending over the trees.
Nick, Kevin and Tony taking a break from the slopes to try out mountaineering.
Masked men – full coverage needed for sure.
Rime ice on the brows and face mask.
Thanks to all for this weekend of adventure, excitement and fun.
MMG Guide Matt Ritter was at Kinsman Notch today 12/29, 2012. These are current conditions photos of the area.
Pot Of Gold area
Hanging By a Moment