Each winter Mooney Mountain Guides helps dozens climbers reach the summit of Mt. Washington. For the climbers of the west Mt. Washington does not stick up all that high; however, those of us on the east know its reputation for extreme weather and steep climbing. Climbing this mountain in winter is a quiver in any aspiring alpinists hat, regardless of its altitude. This weekend MMG got its Mt. Washington season underway with a successful summit. Thank you to all who participated.
The crew about to begin the more technical climbing or our route to the summit.
In the alpine and all smiles.
Thanks to Julbo for making awesome eyewear
A successful summit.
Thanks for a great weekend.
Yesterday, the climbing team from Milton Academy came to North Conway to get a multi-pitch experience. When they arrived is was sunny with seasonable (comfortable) temperatures. As we started up the cliff clouds began to role in and by the time we reached the top a full-on snow squall was upon us. It felt like climbing in an alpine environment and it couldn’t have been any more perfect.
Another shot of the Conway Scarecrow and sun on the cliff.
Squall rolling in.
Topping out as the snow began to fall.
Climbing fast to avoid the weather.
The two students I was climbing with not only topped out on Cathedral, they also had a lesson on predicting weather in the field. Even though the “smart” phone said all was clear, all the signs were there that an unstable airmass was moving down the valley. I communicated this to the students and our game plan changed a little, opting for an easier route to the top in order to move more quickly. In the end, when my predictions were correct the students got a real time lesson in forecasting weather from the field, and we were all glad to be on top under the trees watching the squall go by.
Thanks Milton for an Awesome Day on the Rock
The Conway Scarecrow standing guard.
For those of you who frequent the Mooney Mountain Guides blog, you know that our friend Jerry loves to climb. As made evident by his frequent appearance on the blog. Jerry’s goal for this past season has been to perfect the “dark art” of crack climbing. I say dark art because crack climbing is not always intuitive or straight forward. Your not climbing on holds; in-fact, your climbing whats not there filling the dark void with what ever body part you can to stay on the rock. Sending a crack climb requires creativity and tenacity, and if you have what it takes its the best kind of rock climbing there is. For someone who loves crack climbing, it was an honor to share all my favorite cracks with someone eager to learn.
Jerry on top of Bombardment.
Jerry and I set out to take advantage of these beautifully crisp fall days and work on the dark art. Monday dawned a beautiful day in Mt. Washington valley and we were pumped to move up the stone. So excited, that we climbed 11 pitches of cracks starting at one end of the cliff and moving our way to the other and climbing every crack in between. About half way through the day, Jerry made himself a pair of tape gloves to ensure that he could keep sending all the way through to sunset. Which we did, and it was awesome!
Time for tape-gloves.
Black-lung. A superb 5.8 crack pitch.
Jerry jamming his fingers into a thin 5.9 finger crack.
Jerry nearing the top on the final pitch of ” The Prow”
Tuesday it was off to Echo Crag in Franconia notch to work the single pitch cracks of the area. Echo is an awesome place to spend the day with a wide selection of crack and face climbs for all levels. Towards the end of our session we experienced a little rain, but that didn’t stop us from getting in one more pitch.
“Skeletal-Ribs” an Echo Crag classic.
Finally, Wednesday brought us back to Cathedral. We began our day on “Toe Crack” a beautiful splitter hand crack , doing our best to keep the motivation high as we waited for the temperature to get into the 50’s. However, the sun was out and it made the cliff feel much warmer than it was. Next up was “Turner’s Flake”, and enormous and beautiful left arching flake that beacons to be climbed. Due to its arching nature, its amazing to climb for 50-meeters on the same feature. “Windfall” was up next, followed by an ascent of “Thin Air”, where Jerry and I swung leads up the ultra classic. This was the best three days of climbing in think either of us had this fall.
“Turners Flake” left & “Toe-Crack” right.
Jerry’s expert lead on pitch 3 of “Thin Air” to round out our week.
Thank you Jerry for a great week on the rock.
On Tuesday, our guest Mike completed a goal of climbing Mt. Washington. In addition to being the tallest peak in the Northeast presenting a challenge to any climber, Mt. Washington is home to the worlds oldest Cog Railway (a train that goes to the summit). This combination offers a unique experience to the climber, difficult to find almost anywhere else, a chance to hike up and ride down.
We had a beautiful walk up the mountain, experiencing in small doses what the mountain has to offer. Sun, wind-gusts, and fog were each taking their turn in an ever revolving pattern that is so familiar in this alpine environment. Mike and I caught glimpses of the train on its way up and down the mountain carting tourists from the world over to the summit and back. We relaxed and took our time walking up, resting with the knowledge that we too, would be passengers of the cog for our decent. Upon his arrival, passengers of the train, and drivers in their own cars gave Mike a deserving hero’s welcome to the summit. The questions and congratulations were only fitting for reaching his goal.
Mike is into technology, as a small plane pilot, he and his wife flew themselves to New Hampshire from Pennsylvania (very impressive). It was only fitting that we would climb aboard the mechanical masterpiece that is Mt. Washington’s Cog Railway for our trip down. On the trip down, we passed through the changing environments of the mountain, making me take note of exactly how far we had come from the valley floor. It was a real treat to see the mountain from the train that I had seen role by so many times before.
Thank you Mike for an awesome day in the mountains.
This man, Steve, over the course of three days walked twenty + miles through rain, fog, near freezing temperatures, all above tree line, hopping from boulder to boulder and wind with gusts up to 50 mph… here’s the kicker, he did it for someone else, and he raised money to do it.
Traversing the Presidential Range in New Hampshire (a.k.a. Presi-traverse) is a coveted achievement among climbers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts all over the north east. It can be breathtakingly beautiful, and is always immensely rewarding. However, it is no secret that Mt. Washington and the surrounding alpine environment is known for its severe weather. Yet, maybe its this knowledge that draws us to the the mountain. The knowledge that even with preparation, skill, wisdom, and endurance, it may take a little bit of luck to be successful in climbing it.
There in lies the scale of Steve’s achievement. The fact that despite the adversity he faced up on the exposed ridge-line he kept moving forward and was successful in his journey across the “home of the worlds worst weather”.
Steve was climbing for an organization known as “Summit for Someone”. This organization raises money for inner city at risk youth, and uses that money to fund programing and opportunities for these children. Fundraisers set a goal of climbing one of many mountains around the country, and then fundraise and train to prepare for their expedition. It takes individuals like Steve to participate in these organizations in order for them to be successful. We all owe Steve a couple of nods; one, for being successful on his first presidential traverse, and two, raising all that money to benefit children.
Thank you Steve for an awesome adventure!
Many climbers go to the cliffs seeking freedom. Freedom to go where you want, when you want to. You can choose the level of challenge, style of climb, even where in the world you want to go. There is no greater freedom than leading. Leading a climb requires the climber to not only be strong physically and mentally, but it requires an intimate knowledge of the gear and rope systems used to stay safe while on the cliff.
Nick and Rodger came out with Mooney Mountain Guides on a custom learn to lead course. It is important to have all the essential rope system skills in order to lead safely, and climbing with a professional guide is a great way to learn the most up to date information. Nick and Rodger are strong climbers, spending many days in the gym honing their climbing abilities. There number one goal was to take there skills into the outdoors and climb a cliff such as Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire.
Nick, Belaying after mock leading pitch two of Fun House, Cathedral Ledge.
Rodger Belaying top of pitch two on Upper Refuse, Cathedral Ledge NH.
Day one of the two day course was spent at Cathedral Ledge where we climbed from bottom to top discussing gear placements, belay systems, cleaning a pitch, mock leading (leading while on a top-rope), building anchors, and rappelling.
Day two was spent at Rumney. Rumney is a sport climbing area, meaning the protection for the leader is already placed in the rock. This allows for the climber to concentrate on the climbing and rope systems and not each individual gear placement. When learning to lead with a professional or highly experienced recreational climber, Rumney is an excellent venue to lead a lot in a short time. Nick and Rodger were able to lead many climbs, the goal to becoming proficient and then go out and climb at Rumney on there own.
Rodger leading, Rumney NH.
Nick leading, Rumney, NH.
Nick and Rodger are now ready to continue the learning on there own. As guides we are constantly learning and tweaking our systems to become better and more skilled climbers and guides. Maybe a custom course in “leading” is right for you.
Thank you Nick and Rodger for two awesome days on the cliff.
This month has been rainy, but Mooney Mountain Guides has been climbing with guests and having a great time climbing and learning with our guests. Today was no different. On third and final day of camp seven boys came to Rumney to try their hands at rock climbing. I think the photo’s speak for themselves, smiles were all around and each of the boys was successful.
It was truly a great day on the rock with everyone.
It’s Saturday April sixth and its still winter on Mt. Washington. The conditions today were cold to say the least. The temperature was 4 below zero with 65mph winds, bringing the wind-chill to 45 below zero. Yet it was sunny and the landscape was beautiful. It was a great day to be out despite the wind. Climbing late in the season like this we see the terrain in a whole new light. Things look different when the sun is higher in the sky.
Upon reaching the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, we decided that going for the summit of Washington was going to mean being exposed for to the wind for a while, and instead we decided to go for Mt. Monroe. A slightly shorter peak, that is closer to the hut, it meant less exposure to the wind. We made quick work of the summit, enjoying the sun and the wind. We were back down to the safety of the hut in no time with another summit to record.
All together, it was a great day in the hills.
The Sunday forecast for Mt. Washington was calling for sever weather. Too sever for a summit attempt as planned for that day. So early Saturday morning the call was made to go for it on Saturday. All the participants were willing to make the change in exchange for weather more favorable for a summit bid. While we were normally taking our time saying hello, we were quickly preparing for our summit bid. It was the positive attitudes of the participants that made this day possible. By the end of the day five climbers made it to the top of the mountain and descended under clear skies.
This left Sunday. Our typical summit day had no agenda. At dinner we took a vote. It was no surprise that ice climbing won. For some it was one more experence to make on the list, and for others it was one step in the process of climbing the tallest mountain on all seven continents. Either way ice climbing was the chosen objective. The guests knew this was a bonus, Mt. Washington and Ice climbing, two trips in one!
Thank you all for a great weekend.
MMG Guides Alex Teixeira and Jim Gagne
Ben and Jonathan are two guys who have started climbing together. Their current goal is to climb Mt. Rainer, a challenging yet highly rewarding mountain. These guys are fit and can cruse up anything, as I found out last Friday. However, they know that they need to spend time climbing to become familiar with gear and climbing techniques. The two had participated in an introduction to mountaineering course this winter, but wanted to test there skill and fitness on a more technical and challenging objective. We headed to Shoe String Gully in Crawford Notch to climb and train.
These two guys crushed it. They were flying up the ice pitches and moving even faster up the snow pitches, which had become rock hard with the recent rain (even better for climbing!). They even climbed the crux technical rock finish! These guys are going to have a great time on Rainer in July.
Thank you guys for a great day!