Erik Thatcher

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.11009098_868334546563079_6150497706563275578_n

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.

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Our good friends Doug Fergusson (Mountain Skills) of New York and Matt Shove (Ragged Mountain Guides) of Connecticut joined us for the multi pitch days which was great fun for us all.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Technical Clinic on Welch & Dicky

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

  Thanks!

MMG Crew

 

The Mooney Mountain Guides were out in force this past weekend. below you’ll find a couple of snippets of what went on.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Derrek and Alex are out there for a week guiding a handful of students from Middlebury College’s outdoor program.

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This is the premier destination for winter time rock climbing, and Im sure a welcome reprieve from the cold of a NH winter.

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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

The guides at Mooney Mountain Guides are very pleased to be supported by Petzl. Over the years many of us have found favorites in Petzl’s line from the Nomic’s and Dart’s on ice to the Spirit Express draw and Gri Gri on sport climbs. One of the reasons the relationship between Petzl and MMG is so great is because both companies have a passion for sharing knowledge and spreading climbing education. At MMG it’s our job on many days to act as educators in the climbing realm, and it’s what we truly love to do. At Petzl, they go beyond making and selling some of the best gear on the market, they also produce and distribute educational literature in their catalogs and on their website, towards the end of a safer more knowledgable climbing community.

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 For that reason I was excited this week to pull Petzl’s latest catalog out of the mail and check out, not only the new gear, but the new tech tips they offered up. I was thrilled to see that they tackled a common safety hazard in cleaning sport routes, one we see almost turn dangerous at Rumney, far to often.

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The scenario starts when the final climber leads an overhanging, or traversing sport route. On the way back down they have to clean the draws as they lower. A standard practice is to clip a spare quickdraw from your belay rope to the line of rope running through the draws. This way, as you lower, you can stay close to the rope line to mor easily clean the quick draws, as opposed to lowering straight down and away from the wall. This works well until the last draw. We see two dangerous scenarios here.

1.) Climber stays clipped into belay line and unclips last draw. In this scenario the climber swings out from under the overhang like a pendulum. Since they are clipped into the belay line, as they swing they drag belayer with them, possibly dragging them across the ground or into an object.

2.) Belayer lowers out away from the wall with the first draw off the ground still clipped in. This causes a lot of slack as the rope goes up through first bolt, out to climber, up to anchor, and finally back down to the climber. At this point the climber makes the poor decision to unclip themselves from the belay strand. As that extra slack is introduced into the system the climber drops, possibly decking.

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Erik Thatcher on Social Outcast at Rumney. A prime sight for this type of accident.

In both of those scenarios there are several easy work arounds. The first, and safest of all, is to have the final person up a steep climb top rope the climb on the strand of rope running through the draws, cleaning as they go. For severely angled routes such as Peer Pressure at Bonsai, this is the best method. For scenario number 2, the climber can be lowered to the ground without unclipping, so long as there is enough rope (knot your rope end just in case!)

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For a lot of climbs at Rumney, the best way around this accident involves clipping into the second to last draw above the ground. I have to do this frequently at Bonsai, and select other routes like the Crusher or Cereal killer. I’ll take the draw connected to my harness, unclip it from the rope and clip it into the rope end carabiner of the draw on the second to last bolt. My belayer then loses me until my weight is on these two draws. Then you unclip the rope from the second draw, and reach down to clean the first draw from the bolt and rope. At this point your belayer braces themselves and you check behind you for obstructions you might run into, before unclipping and taking what should be a safe and moderate swing.

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Whitney Steiner on The Crusher, another possible location for this technique

Many climbers at Rumney are starting their progression at the gym and working up to climbing outside at sport crags. I see two primary groups coming out of this situation. Some are those who climb moderates, and cautiously transition into leading similar grades outside. Others are generally younger climbers who quickly progress to leading hard routes on plastic, and then jump outside to do the same, of course there are all sorts of people in between. Mooney Mountain Guides works with many people who would fall into that former group, giving them learn to lead instruction and facilitating their transition outside. The latter group, it seems, rarely seeks out qualified instruction, and frequently we see them struggling or dangerously making their way through the learning curve, where qualified instruction from guides coaches or mentors would have made that transition quicker and safer. This, and other small safety tricks are critical to a safe and enjoyable day out at the crags!

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MMG Guide, Alexa Siegel on Social Outcast

If you’re curious about seeing Petzl’s tech tip on cleaning draws in its entirety you can go here:

http://www.petzl.com/en/Sport/Recovering-quickdraws-in-an-overhang-while-descending?ActivityName=Rock-climbing&l=US#.VEklNDl4VQk

If you wish to geek out as the weather gets to cold or wet for climbing, here is the whole database of tech tips:

http://www.petzl.com/en/Sport/Activities?l=US

Erik Thatcher

MMG guide

Sisters Ceira and Ari have been visiting the town of Rumney since they were little girls, staying at their family’s summer home on Stinson Lake. Until this week, though, they had never climbed on the cliffs that make this quaint New England town world famous in the climbing community. With a taste for climbing developed while away at college in Vermont, Ceira decided it was time to introduce her sister to the sport and check out the cliffs around their summer hang out. We couldn’t have lucked out with a better day!

 

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With this being the view on the approach, I knew it was going to be a gorgeous day on the cliffs. As is standard for these fall days, it was warm and glorious in the sun, and a touch chilly in the shade!

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This was a special day for both girls as Ari got to do her first ever climb outdoors, and Ceira got to share in the excitement by doing her first ever lead on the same route. After a bit of a warm up we talked about leading skills over lunch and then set up Ceira on the sharp end. With her first successful lead under her belt, the girls then set up and cleaned a route entirely on their own, building confidence for the day when they hope to come out to rumney on their own.

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With the day coming to a close, we finished up on a perennial favorite. Begginer’s Route is the perfect intro climb or wrap up climb. I often describe it as pure bliss. With a fun array of hold types and moves, secure feet and engaging but not overly challenging, this route always brings a smile to my face, and I have yet to have a guest react differently!

 

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As always, we’re grateful to our guests for choosing us to help them explore or enter the world of rock climbing!

Thanks so much, Ceira and Ari!

MMG Guide

Erik Thatcher

Jill, mother of the Giacalone family hit one of those milestone birthdays this year. The kind where you get to suggest any kind of birthday gift you’d like, and be sure that you’ll get it. So what did this mom of an adventurous family of 5 ask for? A day out on the rock with her family!

Brother and sister climbing both variations of Beginner's Route

Brother and sister climbing both variations of Beginner’s Route

With a cousin/nephew tagging along, I was able to take 6 of the Giacalone’s out for a nice morning at Rumney NH. We were able to set up both variations of Beginner’s Route at the Meadows so the whole family could climb next to each other, 2 at a time.

Glenn stepping outside of his comfort zone. What a good husband!

Glenn stepping outside of his comfort zone. What a good husband!

Not only did Glenn, the patriarch of the family, bring everyone up here for this experience, but he stepped well out of his comfort zone to be a part of the experience that his wife wanted to share with her whole family. Its hard to see folks struggling with their fears, but at the same time it makes for the sweetest victories, when you also get see them push through those fears and tackle what they can.

The whole family cheering on Glenn

The whole family cheering on Glenn

This was one of the most supportive group of guests I have encountered. It was awesome to see them cheer each other on and relate their own experiences of pushing through fears or obstacles to encourage their brother/sister/ father/ mother/child push through as well. I spent a lot of the morning sitting back in awe at the positive atmosphere.

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It sounds like the Giacalone family shares outdoor adventures frequently, from Acadia ME to Moab UT. Thanks for visiting Rumney NH this time, and doing so with Mooney Mountain Guides. I was thrilled to be a part of this family outing and wish you guys many more fun ones in the future!

Erik Thatcher

MMG Guide

 

 

One of the most celebrated parts of the climbing life is the road trip. Taking off on a vacation with the sole purpose of climbing in new and varied locations. I was able to spend the month of June doing just that. My climbing partner and I loaded up my truck on May 28th and took off for California where we were able to climb in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Lovers leap. On the way out and back we stopped briefly for a day in Vedauwoo WY, a run up the First Flatiron in Boulder, and a handful of days in City of Rocks Idaho.

View from the summit of Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne Meadows

View from the summit of Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne Meadows

Through out the trip I got to test out some new and old Mammut gear. Being the gear geek that I am, I was excited to see how new things performed, and put some of my tried and true favorites to new tests and applications. I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you below!

The Rumney Shorts

When I was in the market for new shorts last summer, home crag pride made it a virtual necessity that I buy these shorts. Named after one of the best sport crags in the world (there’s that pride), I expected these to be among the best shorts in the world. While I haven’t worn enough shorts to qualify that, they have not let me down. The have the longer cut that is necessary for me to comfortably climb in a pair of shorts. They are an incredibly lightweight material, and yet have held up remarkably well. Most cotton climbing bottoms I’ve had have had a life span of about one year before some serious tears and blowouts. These show zero sign of wear but for a small tear where I decked and hip checked a ledge last summer. They have great pockets for use with or without a harness. The 4 step closure system was a little complex for me at first, often leaving me with an unzipped fly, but I’ve grown to appreciate how well you can custom fit these shorts without a belt, in part due to that 4 step process and the built in draw cord. Finally, they’re wicked fast drying. A lot of our days in the valley involved a mid day siesta to beet the heat. We’d grab lunch, a beer and a quick swim in the Merced before a nap or some reading. By the time we were ready to climb in the afternoon they were totally dry.

The Rumney shorts kicking butt on Corrugation Corner at Lover's Leap

The Rumney shorts kicking butt on Corrugation Corner at Lover’s Leap

Togir Click Harness and Chalk Bag

I’ve already written my praise for the Togir click harness here. I’ve had it for over a year now and If I were to rewrite the review it would only be filled with more praise. The unique benefit of the click is the ability to completely and easily undo the waist loop and leg loops, to more easily put it on over crampons. After ice season I briefly stopped putting my harness on this way. Why do it when not wearing crampons? This felt weird though! I quickly reverted back to using the click feature instead of putting it on one leg at a time like a normal harness. This feels much less cumbersome, like putting on a work belt as opposed to the cliffside-balancing act that can feel more like trying to put your pants on before your first cup of coffee. With the increased ease of putting a harness on and taking it off, I started to leave more and more gear right on my harness, making transitions between climbing and approaching/ descending much quicker. As if that weren’t enough Mammut makes a matching chalk bag for most of their harnesses. While I’d like to pretend that I don’t care that my chalk bag matches my harness (as well as my lockers, and jacket, and pants…) I have to admit it feels kind of cool. It’s like a professional sports uniform, for climbing! More important than the style bonus is the little pocket on the back of the chalk bag. I’ve used this to carry my phone for pictures and route beta, a headlamp for fright of being benighted and an energy bar to stop from getting hangry. Putting something large in the pocket affects its utility as a chalk bag a little bit. I’ve found that making sure its well stocked with chalk counteracts that well enough! A friend who forgot his chalck bag at the crag the other day needed to borrow mine. Unsolicited, he offered up, “I know this is silly, but this is a really nice chalk bag.”

The Fiamma Pants, Togir click Harness and Chalk bag

The Fiamma Pants, Togir click Harness and Chalk bag

Trion Pro

The Trion family of packs is an example of perfection. I have and love the Trion Light, and have a number of friends who are in love with their Trion Guides, but the go to bag for Mooney Mountain Guides is the Trion Pro in 35L. If in need of a one pack quiver, this would be the pack. It’s burly enough to with stand the plethora of sharp objects that are part of ice cragging, or even sport cragging at a place like Rumney. At the same time it’s light and compactable enough to be taken on a multipitch alpine climb in the mountains. The suspension system carries wonderfully for the approach, and the pack can easily be stripped down (hip pads and brain removed) and compressed for the climb. One of my favorite things about this pack is such a little detail! The buckles on the compression straps are opposite on either side so that you can strap something large to the very back of your pack, keeping it nice and balanced in the middle.

The Trion Guide pack loaded up for the trek into our base camp below Half Dome

The Trion Guide pack loaded up for the trek into our base camp below Half Dome

The Trion Guide pack trimmed down for climbing Snake Dike on Half Dome, along with the Swiss Tuxedo. Mammut's SOFtech pants and jacket.

The Trion Guide pack trimmed down for climbing Snake Dike on Half Dome, along with the Swiss Tuxedo. Mammut’s SOFtech pants and jacket.

SoftTech

If jeans and a jean jacket is considered a Canadian Tuxedo, then would SOFtech jacket and pants be considered a Swiss Tuxedo? Whatever the proper terminology, this material is a bomber soft shell fabric for jackets and pants. For much of the trip I was wearing The Fiamma Pants and Pokiok Jacket, both made with Mammut’s in house soft shell fabric. While I’ve only had the pants for a couple of months, I’ve had the jacket for a year now, so feel comfortable making some remarks on the material. I tend to like a more waterproof material for my main jacket, but the Pokiok has been great as a warm weather Ice climbing or skiing jacket, or a cold weather rock climbing shell. The Fiamma pants are sure to become my favorites. I generally ice climb in a thinner soft shell pant, like this weight, as well as doing a fair amount of my shoulder season rock in pants of this weight. These pants have a sizeable thigh pocket for maps a camera or food, and all the regular pockets for functioning as a normal pair of pants when off mountain. One of my favorite things about switching to these pants, from a similar pair by another brand, is the ankle cut. On similar soft shell pants the ankle taper downs very narrow to minimize crampon snag. The Fiamma pants instead have a simple way of cinching down the cuff when so desired. When climbing in the mountains you frequently go through many temperature changes, both from external sources and internal. An easy example is setting off in the lowlands, where it’s nice and warm, and approaching your climb high in the mountains, where wind and elevation make the mercury drop. In this scenario it’s an awesome option to be able to roll up your pants to cool off your legs, as seen in the picture above. The taper around the ankle of previous soft shell pants I’ve had have made this impossible, where as the Fiamma pants easily open wide at the ankle and roll up high, then roll back and can be cinched down again once in the mountains.

Yosemite Valley from the top of Half Dome

Yosemite Valley from the top of Half Dome

 

9.2 Revelation

Oh do I love a skinny rope! Its my impression that any one who does multi pitch climbing let alone alpine climbing, needs a skinny. Mammut ropes are top notch. Their thorough dry treatment repels not only water, but dirt as well, increasing the life span of their ropes. We used the Revelation as our main rope for everything but wall climbing with Aid pitches. After a month of almost daily abuse it shows hardly a sign of wear. My love for skinny ropes comes from the fact that they make my life easier! At 57 grams per meter, this rope is almost a full pound lighter than a similar 9.8 rope. That adds up on long approaches, or when hitting cruxes at the end of a pitch. Equally as significant is the reduced friction in a belay device. Lets do some basic math! The most classic multiptich climb we did on our trip was the Regular Route on Fairview Dome. 1,000 feet of granite gloriousness and elbow destroying belaying! Swinging leads, Paul and I each pulled roughly 500’ of rope through a belay device that works on friction. Say each motion of the arm through the top belay movement brings up 2 feet. That’s 250 individual weighted movements on your elbow, in half a day! Its no wonder guides can easily develop repetitive use injuries in their elbows if not careful when belaying. Skinnier ropes mean your pulling up less weight each time, and with less resistance through your belay device. The difference is incredibly noticeable!

My Partner half way up the Regular Route on Fairview Dome

My Partner half way up the Regular Route on Fairview Dome

Carabiners and Slings

The Mammut Contact slings have been a staple of my rack since I started fantasizing about its existence based on what my mentor’s used. One can have a lengthy debate on the merits of nylon vs dyneema slings. Ultimately, when used in the right application, having a rack of dyneema slings reduces both weight and clutter. While the weight is often sited as the selling point, the clutter is just as important in my mind. When wall climbing, alpine climbing or multipitch rock climbing, harness racking space is at a premium, and the less bulky dyneema slings take up considerably less room than their nylon brethren. I usually rack two 4-footers for slinging horns and trees or use in an anchor, and about six 2-footers for use as alpine draws.

4' sling with beaner through the knot to make untying easier

4′ sling with beaner through the knot to make untying easier

One place I feel comfortable investing money is in my carabineers. Even the skinny lightweight ones will last you a long time, getting your moneys worth in weight savings over many years. The Mammut Wall (formerly Moses) carabiner is a great example of such an investment. At 27 Grams a piece you can save over a pound of weight on your harness by going with this lightweight wire gate over a typical wire gate for your standard carabiner on a trad rack ( 10 draws + 8 cams +2 4’foot slings)

Packing up on top of Nut Cracker in Yosemite Valley

Packing up on top of Nut Cracker in Yosemite Valley

Finally, I like to have a mix of lockers to match their needs. Low profile lockers like the Wall Micro are awesome for where you just need a carabiner that locks; attached to your gri-gri, connecting your haul bag and haul line, or on your jugging set up for example. They’re lightweight and less bulky, reducing clutter. I usually carry two to three lightweight, medium profile lockers like the Bionic Mytholito for applications where you need to put a knot or hitch on it, such as cloving in at the anchor, or belaying a second on a munter. These are still lightweight but a bit bigger to accommodate the hitches and knots.  Finnally I like to carry one lightweight large profile carabiner like the Bionic HMS. This allows you to “stack” things on to it at an anchor, often reducing clutter. It would have been killer to have 6 of these for wall climbing, where you generally have three lockers on bolts for an anchor and are stacking all sorts of items on them from the lead line to multiple haul bags and everything in between.

Quick, light, and Swiss. The best kind of anchors.

Quick, light, and Swiss. The best kind of anchors.

This was truly an every man’s climbing trip. While we did a smattering of routes in the 5.9-5.10 range, the vast majority of pitches we climbed where at the attainable grades of 5.6-5.8. The lightness and ease of use of these products probably doesn’t mean the difference between send or sail until much harder grades. That being said, the same attributes can make big days in the mountains and on the cliffs much more enjoyable and comfortable, and the multifaceted use of many of them justifies their place in the limited space one has living out of a truck on a month long climbing trip!

Sunset from City of Rocks, Idaho

Sunset from City of Rocks, Idaho

A big thanks to Mammut for their support of Mooney Mountain guides!

For a trip report and photo gallery from my trip, please vist my personal blog here

Erik Thatcher

At Mooney Mountain Guides we joke frequently that our company acronym (MMG) stands for Mountain’s, Mentorship, Guidance. In all seriousness, though, this is exactly what we provide. A day with MMG can simply be a day in the mountains pursuing a technical objective or experience, or it can be a day or days of learning and guidance. Our sport, mountain sports, have many intricacies to learn before one can safely pursue them on their own. A day in the mountains alone is fraught with potentially life threatening challenges that only experience and knowledge can help one navigate. Add the technical skills needed to climb in the mountains and there is a lifetime worth of learning.

A climber frequently navigates through this educational experience with the help of a mentor, some one older and more experienced who imparts their experiences, and helps the newer climber gain experience of their own, under a watchful eye. This is rewarding to both climbers, as the inexperienced get to safely learn how to navigate the challenges of the mountains and climbing, and the mentor gets to share their love of the mountains and climbing. At MMG, we are passionate about our sport, and love to share that passion and enable others to pursue it safely.

I consider my self blessed to have been able to do this over the past two winters with a student at Holderness School, where I coach rock climbing. Chance Wright was determined enough to get into the world of winter climbing that he successfully lobbied the school to allow him to pursue the sport as his winter sports option, and I was lucky enough to be able to coach him.  Holderness, located in the same area as MMG operates, is ideally suited for such a sports option. In the winter, classes end around noon, giving us half the day to get out to a local ice crag or mountain and practice skills. Our weeks generally consisted of 3 days of climbing on ice, all over central and northern NH. These days often involved practicing technical skills as well, such as building anchors or setting up rappels. The remainder of the days were usually spent on a brisk hike on the surrounding mountains, building endurance for an end of season objective. Last year, that objective was Pinnacle Gully on Mt Washington. This year, we did the 9 mile Franconia Ridge Traverse in full on winter conditions. Additionally, Chance was able to wrap up this season by leading his first ice climb.

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Progression: Chances second day on ice (Apocalypse Gulley), Pulling the roof on his first WI5 (Geographic Factor), and his first ice lead (Bloodline)

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Taking skills on the road: A christmas vacation trip to Ouray CO

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Last Season’s Objective: Pinnacle Gulley on Mt. Washington

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This years original objective was Lincoln’s Throat on the Franconia Ridge. An unstable snow pack, and violent winds forced us to amend this plan to traversing the ridge. Having to change our plans was perhaps the most valuable lesson Chance learned in 2 years. Always listen to the mountains.

Chance is incredibly lucky to be going off to college with the skills and experience he already has in the mountains. I’m sure one of the biggest lessons he learned, as we all have, is that these mountain sports offer a lifetime of learning, and his education has just begun. Chance, I wish you the best in this journey, and am eager to see where it takes you! Thanks, for letting me be a part of that process.

Erik Thatcher

This past weekend, MMG Guide Phil, and myself, had the pleasure of introducing 7 never-ever’s to the sport of Ice Climbing. We we’re lucky to have great weather, great ice, and great group dynamics! Day one was at our secret spot (Shhh!), a short flow that allows for lots of laps and easy coaching. For day two we went to Kinsman notch to test the groups strength on the steeps, as well as their footwork, sending them up lower angled terrain with no tools. Below are some pictures from both days.

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Thanks for an awesome weekend gang!

Erik Thatcher

MMG Guide