Boasting 9,375 square miles, Adirondack State Park of New York is larger than the national parks of Yellow Stone, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, and Yosemite combined. For the climber that equals one thing…lots of potential. It’s no secret that there is lots of climbing within the park. Yet, it hasn’t taken off like Cathedral Ledge, Cannon, or the Gunks. Sure, as the sport grows so does the climbing in the “Dacks”; however, there is much, much more to the intrepid few who dare to venture into its wild reaches.
On my first trip to the Dacks, I was met by a local who had some words of advice for me. I was 19, about two weeks into my freshman year of college, and my trad-rack still glistened with the “fresh of the shelf” shine. No question, I was in for a surprise. “The Dacks will define what kind of climber you are,” I was told. “I hope you don’t mind a little lichen,” another stated. I retreated to my tent to await the morning when I would finally see what all the fuss was about.
Rain. “It always rains in the Dacks,” one of the local hard men proclaimed. Some of our group grabbed the canoes and fly rods and headed for the closest fishing spot. The rest of us headed up the mountain in search of something to climb. “Hey Alex, give this route a go, its 5.8 and the gear is great.” Happily I obliged and started up the route, plugging me brand new cams and stoppers as I went. My fellow climber was correct about one thing, the gear was good, but the climbing certainly felt harder than 5.8. I kept my mouth shut and climbed on through the driving rain. As I approached the top, my raincoat covered in green slimy lichen, I reached for the final hold crimped as hard as I could on the tripe covered quartz sloper-crimp. I moved my feet up, and slap. My hand popped, I hit my self square in the face, and I fell 12 or so feet safely onto the rope. Immediately I squirmed my way back to my high point and finished the move that I had previously fell on. I made my anchor and brought up my partner.
As Bill arrived to the cliffs edge, he stated, “good work, it was .10c.” “Welcome to the Dacks!”
From that day on I was both scared and enamored by the Adirondacks. I made a few trips, separated by months or even years. Throughout that time, I knew the land of plenty was right there a quick 30 min ferry ride across Lake Champlain.
Last week MMG Guides Derrek Anderson, Derek Doucet, Phil Tall-Hiker, and me made the ferry ride across the lake. In our sights was an area new to all of us, and we were looking forward to a weekend of on-sighting.
We were met with a stunning land scape. To our east, Mt. Mansfield and the Camels Hump. Our south, Poko-moonshine, Whiteface, and the Catskills, to our west, Mt. Marcy, and North… we couldn’t see, the cliff was in the way. Anyhow, the setting was stunning. On an approximate 3.5 miles of cliff ban sat 5 or 6 cathedral ledges worth of stone. Cracks, roofs, and perfectly dimpled slabs were there for the taking. Some of the best pitches I climbed this year were on this trip. Five star routes mostly within the 5.10 range. It was easy to see that the locals, truly loved this area. One even leaving a note offering a private tour of the area. (Sorry we couldn’t take you up on that!) Needless to say, the climbing was spectacular. The Adirondacks lived up to there potential, providing all the challenges they are known for. In the end, we were the intrepid few who ventured in, and were rewarded with an incredible experience.
I can hardly wait to go back.
Thank you Derrek, Derek, and Phil for a great time.
The ridge in its entirety.
Over the seasons I have had to opportunity to work with many individuals; young and old; highly experienced to complete novice. I typically find reward and incredible enjoyment out of my work, climbing with others. My guests ability has no baring on my enjoyment. 5.5 or 5.10, to me sharing the climbing is most important. I feel that the guide enjoying the climbing is fundamental to the success and enjoyment of the guest. I strive for each of my guests to drive home feeling accomplished and psyched.
This can be easier some days than others. Weather and conditions can have a large effect on psyche, my route selections and preparation, my relationship with the guest, and other climbers in the area can all effect the experience. For one guest, none of this matters, because every day out climbing is “the best day ever.”
Mark, high on the ridge.
I met Mark two years ago. It was January around his birth day, and Mark an avid adventurer wanted to try his hand at ice climbing. Out of chance, I was Mark’s guide. It was just he, I, and about 3 inches of rain. This was January and the ambient air temperature was around 31 degrees. Essentially, everything, including the roads were coated in a thin layer of ice, and as soon as the road crews put down sand, the rain would wash it away. The number of car accidents in the area set records, and kids were ice skating down the sidewalks. Thank fully the ice climbing was awesome the entire weekend, and with double layers of Gore-Tex, we were warm and dry.
That evening when it was time for me to head home, about 35 minutes down the highway, I couldn’t get my truck out of the parking space on all the ice. During my struggles there was a 5 car, slow speed pile up right in front of me. I decided that going home was a bad idea. Good thing Mark was there suggesting that I stay with him. I was super thankful for this kind gesture.
We managed to shuffle down the side walk to a local pub for dinner and refuel for the next day. The next day we saw a slight improvement in the weather and enjoyed many more pitches of blue water ice.
We were off to a good start.
Over the past two years Mark and I have shared a few adventures. Each one just as awesome as the last. Mark who has been climbing lots and building his skill set, has allowed us to climb larger and more complex objectives. So when Mark said he had a day to kill before catching a flight, I knew exactly how we should spend it. The Whitney-Gilman Ridge is a New England Classic 5.7 alpine rock climb. 5 pitches of stellar moves on high quality granite. Cracks, corners, lyebacks, crimps, exposure, slabs, and knife edge ridge are only some of the features that make up this stellar route. Since I knew that no matter what Mark has a great time, I knew that climbing the Whitney-Gilman would be a memorable experience.
One of the middle pitches, friction up the shady corner.
With blue skye and high friction the day was indeed a beauty. The climb seemed to go too fast. I would have enjoyed a few more thousand feet of climbing. However, after ever pitch Mark would exclaim, “best day ever.”
When people ask me who I think the best climber in the world is, I think of Mark. Why? Because he is having the most fun.
Thanks Mark for another “best day ever.”
Mark, on top of the W.G.
For the past few years MMG and Mammut have had a working relationship., in the form of mutual promotion of the goods and services that the two companies provide. Over the seasons of rock and ice climbing that relation ship has grown.
It has been an honor and a privilege to use the gear that Mammut produces to help me in my guiding craft. There is no question that together with Mammut, MMG guides have an extra edge when working in the field. An extra edge ultimately means, an improved guest reward.
This spring, the office staff of Mammut North America, decided to go out for some adventure. I was honored that they called on their industry partner, Mooney Mountain Guides, to help guide them through the terrain of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range. There were two objectives as part of this adventure. The first, a group of climbers would go for a summit bid on Mt. Monroe; the second objective, a ski decent of Monroe Brook.
Saturday morning dawned cloudy with a fresh blanket of snow (April 25th). It was still winter in the Presi’s. Our team, decked out in Mammut gear, made excellent progress to tree line. We made it a point not to talk shop, but rather take the time to build friendship between colleagues and between the two businesses.
Once above the trees, the famous bad weather of Mt. Washington made itself known. High winds, cold temperatures, and poor visibility were staring us face. As guides who work regularly in environments like this we know the importance of good gear. It was great to watch the Mammut staff put the gear they sell to the test, in the conditions the garments, boots, and backpacks are designed for. We all were equipped with the right stuff, making out objectives of a summit bid and ski descent possible even in these alpine conditions. So in many ways, the poor but manageable weather was a plus.
Standing on the summit of Monroe, feeling the alpine fury, the team was stoked to have achieved something together. At this point the skiers headed down into the ravine, and the climbers doubled backed to the Lakes of the Clouds hut, before there decent into the trees.
The ski team was blessed with 10 inches of new snow, on top of a very stable snowpack. Any avalanche danger was moderate, with potential for D2 avalanches in isolated terrain features. We stayed out of those pockets and we ripped it up out running our small sluffs down the 1000’ descent.
At the end of the day everyone was proud of there accomplishments and I was proud of the effort the two companies put forth to make this adventure happen. As I said before, the Mammut products MMG guides use in the field give us an extra edge. II was psyched to be able to share that with the staff at Mammut North America.
The winter season is here. It was quite a shift from the warm desert of Red Rocks, Nevada and into to cold of New England. Yet the psyche is high and MMG is is off to a great start. Routes include a few laps on the Black Dike, Standard Route, Shoe String, Kings Ravine, and routes in Huntington’s Ravine. Thanks to all the MMG guides and guests who made the first week of the ’14, ’15 ice season a amazing one.
There’s plenty to go around, come and get it!
Art enjoying pitch two of the Black Dike
Finding some good ice in Shoe String
Crossing the Presi-ridge in 80-mph winds
Early season = awesome climbing
Crossing the Alpine Garden after a successful day in Huntington’s
Topping out in Huntington’s
This October MMG founder, senior guide, and guide mentor Art Mooney was the recipient of the 2014 American Mountain Guides Association “Outstanding Guide Award”. As a mentee of Art I have been lucky enough to experience, first hand, the power of his presence and witness the excellence with which he practices his profession. This award is an acknowledgement by the AMGA community of this dedication and his contributions to the profession of mountain guiding.
Art Mooney in action
To many of us who know him, Art has represented the best of guiding in the United States. His mentorship of aspiring guides has helped many reach their full potential. His family, friends, and the MMG team couldn’t be more proud Art. We are all very lucky to shared the mountains with him.
Thank you are for all you have done and continue to do.
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.
For outdoor families finding new adventures is a continuous project. For the Case family, rock climbing was next on the list. The team of five came to Rumney in hopes of discovering some great new adventure.
The camera’s were ready and the GoPro’s rolling, documenting the adventures for future proof.
Mom, Dad, and the three boys all got in on the action. Taking photos, climbing tall cliffs, and even learning to rappel. Not bad for a families first day climbing outside.
This face says it all. Rock climbing is a great adventure for any family.
Thank you to the Case family for a great day at Rumney Rocks!
Once a year, Dave, takes a trip to New Hampshire for some hiking and relaxing. Dave is from New York and looks forward to this trip each year. This year Dave planned is biggest hike yet, a traverse of Franconia Ridge including a summit of Lafayette.
For many the Lafayette traverse is the most beautiful hike in the White Mountains. Indeed is is a special place. Stunning views of the eight Presidential Summits, Vermont Summits, and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Not to mention the alpine flowers and rugged landscape.
One of my favorite ski descents.
Traversing the ridge a hiker is exposed an entirely different environment. Due to the elevation the climate is similar to the environment found in Newfoundland and Labrador. To Dave, he said it was as exotic as being on the Moon.
We traversed the ridge under perfect weather, building clouds, and a cool breeze. We were both happy to be in the Alpine.
To the west of the ridge is New Hampshires largest alpine wall, Cannon Cliff.
Cloud Shadows over the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
Clouds over the ridge.
Waterfalls are just part of the stunning beauty on this adventure.
Thank you Dave for a great day in the hills.
Aileen wanted to do something fun for Martin’s birthday. The couple has been climbing in the gym since last fall, getting in two or three days a week. Taking there skills to the outdoors seemed like a great time. Up to the Granite State they came. New Hampshire is home to some of the best rock climbing east of the Mississippi River. A great place for an aspiring rock climber to hone his or her skills. Aileen and Martin are off to a great start, and what a great time to start a new adventure than on a birthday. Thank you Aileen and Martin for a great day on the rock. Happy Birthday Martin!
Alex Teixeira, MMG Guide