Steve organized the first ice climbing trip this season to NH with Mooney Mountain Guides. On board were Steve, Chris, Mark and Adel. Our goal was to climb new terrain on mountains, on snow and ice climbs and of course have a great adventure in New Hampshires White Mountains.
Mt Lafayette is a tough climb, very similar to Mt Washington in distance and elevation gain. Alex and I joined up with the group at the C Man Inn in Plymouth for a quick bite to eat then we quickly headed out to climb. The trail was in good shape despite the recent wash out so the push was on to the summit. Our start time was a bit late and this was the shortest day of the year but if we kept at a solid pace I figured we could summit and make it to the Woodstock Inn for a Happy Hour treat at the end of the day.
Mt Willard was the second peak. This Cleft route involved climbing on ice, snow, and a bit of bushwhacking to gain the summit view of Crawford Notch. The day was crisp and clear – really felt like winter for the first time of the season. The conditions of the snow and ice was good – the route was in shape for our ascent. Today Alex was climbing with Adel and Steve and I were the other team. We climbed the route in stages keeping some friendly chatter with each other on the ascent. The view from the summit was spectacular, looking down the notch towards Mt Willy and Mt Webster
Kinsman’s Ice was our third objective. It was day three and we were in cruised mode today. The team arrived at the base early – just ahead of the crowds. Alex and I roped up and led the two classic center climbs. The fun was on – steep ice, technical moves, a solid pumpy completion to our Triple Crown!!!
Lafayette approach – The Bridle Path.
Mark suffering on the way to the summit.
On top – cold and windy – time for face protection and goggles.
Morning approach to Mt Willard.
Snot Rocket ready to go.
Steve in the Cleft of Mt Willard.
Kinsman routes – Alex on lead up high (right) and Steve just over the crux (left).
Great weekend. Plenty of physical activities to get the holidays of to a proper start. Thanks to Steve, Chris, Adel, Mark and MMG Guide Alex for all the fun we had climbing on New Hampshires snowy peaks.
Friday was a rainy day, a very rainy day. Someone informed me that we received an inch of the stuff between 4pm and 5pm! I believe it because as I was in my kitchen cooking dinner on a camp stove in candlelight due to a power outage, I was amazed and appalled by the thunderous impact it had on the roof. “This is supposed to be Winter! What Gives?” Worried about the condition of The Black Dike on Cannon for the next day’s climb, I packed some extra rock gear in case we opted to make a Winter ascent of the Whitney Gilman Ridge instead.
Paul and I arrived at the base of the route before anybody else had. We heard the sound of moving water. In fact the rain had washed out good sized sections of ice. We decided to give it a shot and found it to be safe enough, though it was very drippy and candled. We moved fast on the route to prevent from getting too wet. All in all it was a fun day, but I was praying for colder temps to lock it up for more enjoyable climbing.
Saturday night dipped below freezing up in the hills and I new the previously flowing Black Dike would be in stellar condition. Based on the fact that the ice in the area has been rather lean, Paul and I chose to make another ascent of this magnificent route. True to our predictions, the climb was in awesome shape on that chilly Sunday morning. The snow that had been washed away was replaced but a fresh dusting. We weren’t the first ones there this time so we layered up and waited in the sun.
Thanks Paul for another great weekend together! Have fun in Ouray!
Matt Ritter – Mooney Mountain Guides
Alfonzo says it – get out there and see the conditions first hand. It would have been easier to stay at home today as rain, sleet, warm temps were expected. Matt and I decided late last night to go have a look. We found wintry conditions and some very fine ice and mixed climbing. See the photos of Matt on one of Cannons testpiece routes called Meanstreak. To add Matt chose a nice variation on the top. A route called Pilaf a seldom climbed 5.9 pitch.
Excellent day on the cliff with Matt Ritter.
“I have been addicted to winter climbing on Cannon Cliff for a few seasons now. The wallpaper on my laptop and desktop has gone back and forth between a photo from Freddie Wilkinson’s blog highlighting the winter routes Mean Streak, Omega, and Prozac, to more recently, a photo that Bayard Russell posted on his blog after establishing Daedalus with Elliot Gaddy and Minatour with Matt McCormick. Bayard’s photograph shows the full length winter routes gracing the central section of Cannon; The Quartet Ice Hose, Daedalus, Minotaur, Mahoney-Gaddy, Icarus, and The Ghost. These are all inspiring routes put up by inspiring climbers. The “Desktop Wallpaper Technique” is a scientifically proven method to keep the psyche high. It is something you see each day maybe multiple times a day. It is a reminder as you go sport climbing or crack climbing. It keeps one motivated through painful training sessions, and for me, more than anything else it gives me incentive to not give up. Weather I am on that specific climb or another, it helps me to get my mind into a certain zone of calm intensity somewhere between The Incredible Hulk and the Dali Lama. When I am scared and pumped on a mixed climb or a crack climb, sometimes the most nauseating thought is the possibility that I will fall and have to do it all over again. But if I have been looking at that photo for a year or two, I try hard, and sometimes it all comes together. It came together for me the other day. Art and I went out to look at Mean Streak, a tough mixed route first climbed by Will Mayo and Andy Tuthill in 2007. I have been looking at other people’s photos of the route and had wondered about an alternate 2nd pitch which I knew was a crack climb known as Pilaf. So after spending 2 hours piecing together the sustained first pitch I saw Pilaf up there encrusted in a bit of snow. Amidst the Scottish whiteout conditions, I couldn’t resist. We found a splitter crack in a steep smooth wall that would be at home in the middle of any classic Cannon rock climb. Above this we climbed two moderate pitches to the top. This kind of climbing requires a high level of mental and physical toughness. A hard mixed pitch can take one, two, or three hours to lead while the belayer, hopefully in a position where they aren’t being attacked by falling ice or rock, shivers to stay “warm.” If you aren’t totally psyched, it just isn’t going to happen, but for some folks it’s easy to be psyched for these sufferfests because, Holy Cow is the climbing fun!’ Matt Ritter MMG Guide
Matt – thank you for this awesome day on Cannon. Nice job leading those excellent pitches.
It was time to get out and see for myself. Alex and I went up into Franconia Notch to have a look at Cannon and Lafayette. There was only a dusting of snow to be found and conditions on the Cannon face are very dry. The Black Dike looked doable from the road as we could see a thin vein of ice from top to bottom.
Conditions were good on the first and third pitches – the second pitch had very little ice and it was unbonded and very brittle. What made it go was good rock protection in the cracks. Care needs to be taken as there is quite a bit of loose unbonded rock on the route due to the lack on snow and ice.
Dike looking ready to go from this talus spot.
Awesome ice conditions on the first pitch.
Alex topping out on the runnel pitch.
The rock traverse into the ice – loaded 3 pieces of fixed gear plus a hanging rope.
Photos from afar were taken by Peter Doucette who was climbing Fafnir. Thanks to Peter for sending my way.
All said Alex and I had a great first day on the ice. The season has begun.
It has been a long time since my last visit to the New River Gorge. I have been to the Red River, Foster Falls, the Tennesse Wall numerous times but the New River remained off the list for some reason. Terry and I looked into flights to Charleston West Virginia and to our surprise we found cheap air tickets, this past week was open so we made it back to the New River.
First stop was the Waterstone Outdoor shop for the latest beta and New River Guide book. It was mid day so from there it was quick to head over to Kaymoor to sample the southern sandstone. Our first climbs were steep, pumpy, and sporty. I had forgotten that most of these sport routes were bolted in the 80’s and early 90’s when bolts were well spaced. I found the need to manage the forearm pump and also keep a cool and calm head on many of the climbs we did.
Over the course of our week we climbed at Central Endless, Summersville, Bubba City, Fern Point and the Whipporwill areas. Mid week was very quiet and on the weekend locals and mid atlantic folks were out enjoying some fine fall climbing conditions. The weather for the week was awesome sun each day with temps in the low 50’s.
Today we head back to NH. Hoping for either warm weather or for the winter to kick into gear. It is time to climb ice but I wouldn’t mind a few more sunny days on the rock.
New River local info.
Fern Point approach – down the ladder through the tunnel.
Scenic vistas from the rim.
Terry loving the soft sandstone rock.
Summersville Lake area – just great – water and the stone meet up again.
Technical face led to this fun roof with big holds.
Beautiful climbing at Bubba City area.
Bubba City again – nice lieback crack to the face above.
Another lake area – Whipporwill.
Terry on our last lead as the sun starts setting.
The New River has over a few thousand routes, over half are traditional and then the rest are the sport routes. If you can come down be sure to bring a trad rack, some sport draws. You will be treated to some fine sandstone rock climbing.
On our recent trip to NY Gunks climbing area MMG Guide Derek took these wonderful photos from the top of the cliff. Many of the photos we take are from the ground looking up but these offer a different perspective. One where you can see how much excitement, focus and fun rock climbing can be.
Each year as the fall rock season winds down Terry and I travel to southern areas for an attempt to extend the warm weather into November and December. The winter is long enough in NH so this extension of the fall rock season is just what we need.
Kalymnos has been on the radar for quite a while and this fall was the right time for us to go. The journey is a long one – after 24 hours of planes, ferries, and taxis we landed in a small hotel in the seaside port of Masuri on the Greek Island of Kalymnos.
Let the climbing begin. The access is quite easy – a short walk led us to the main areas around the Grand Grotto and the second more fun option was the Scooter rental for the cliffs scattered around the island.
We climbed for 11 days at a variety of areas and never repeated a route. This two week trip was a good amount of time but the next time we go back we will try for three weeks. The limestone rock was sharp on the slab routes and very soft on the steep tufa type routes. All the routes were well maintained with solid bolts and quick clip anchors.
Enjoy the photos of our trip!!!
Route info along the base.
Well supplied with Mammut ropes and equipment and Five Ten shoes.
Fun traveling on the Scooters.
Greek food – fresh and delicious.
Each night we were treated to a beautiful sunset over the Island of Teledonus.
I’ve climbed in Red Rocks for twenty years and have never seen rain come down so hard. It was like being in a tropical storm on the east coast. In just a few hours the creeks rose up and the water started flowing into town. My phone alerted me through out the day with flash flood warnings in the area.
This morning we went to work in Calico Basin and this is what we viewed. After a few photos we drove through the debris to Red Springs Area. No climbing today as the fragile sandstone needs time to dry out. To make the most of the situation we taught clinics on transitions to the group of AMGA guides.
The weather looks to be sunny and warmer for the next week.
The AMGA Rock Guide exam was held in the canyons of Red Rocks National Conservation Area. This is an amazing climbing venue with a large variety of varied multi pitch climbing routes. During this six day Rock Guide exam we focused on the long moderate climbs with technical face and spitter cracks pitches. Each of these climbs led our teams to seldom traveled summits high above the desert floor.
The photos below are all of one of the 50 Classic Climbs in North America – Epinephrine.
This 1200 foot climb requires a climber or guide to have mastery of a variety of climbing techniques.
Enjoy the photos of this spectacular climb!!!
The Black Velvet Wall. For perspective the Brown Wall in shade and sun is seven pitches in length.
Rainbow Wall deep in Juniper Canyon.
In the depths of Community Pillar.
Early approach to Epinephrine.
The morning sun lights up the wall in this orange glow.
Three solid chimney pitches ahead.
Climbers progress by using opposing pressure on both walls.
Brian climbing a crack and face – just outside the chimney pitch.
The upper wall has face, corners and crack for a few hundred feet. Awesome climbing with big exposure.
A light pack is need for these longer routes. The Mammut Neon Light is the choice climbing backpack. Extremely light and packs up small, while its short, slim body and integrated gear loops make it ideal for rock or ice climbing.