Ice Climbs

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

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

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My first climbs at Lake Willoughby were in the mid 1980’s. From then on – year after year I have been venturing to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in search of ice. The lake as we call it – is home to the longest, steepest water ice climbs in the northeastern US.  The amazing setting is set with a southwestern exposure high above the lake on the flank of Mt Piscah. By far the Lake  stands by itself as a highly respected ice climbing area.

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From the highway Mt Piscah comes into view. It is days like these that bring out the brilliance of the area – clear sky, cold temps, and no wind.

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Max and Cheyenne going for the Last Gentleman – another prize route at the Lake.

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Jerry reaching high for the sticks into the ice.

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Hundreds of feet off the deck – truly amazing exposure on the ice.

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The Lake is the place I want to share with good friends – Jerry and I on the top of the Promenade.

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Steep exciting rappels down the routes – walk offs are along way from here.

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The Gentleman and Promenade Routes rise above.

For me this has been a great year at the Lake and its only mid January.

Looking forward to more exciting climbing at this amazing venue.

Art Mooney

 

 Many of the Lake Willoughby climbs are ready for action and there are a few that need another week or two before the ice is fat enough to climb.  The route Plug and Chug pictured below could be climbed but the sun was to much and throughout the day large daggers of ice were falling off from the intense heat that gets absorbed by the rock.  The morning temps were 5 degrees but the mid day high was thirty two.  Ice climbing can turn on frenzy type attitude with climbers – everyone wants first sticks.

Read Ryans blog in the link below and stay safe out there.

Why you should be careful out there!!!

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Great picture of Plug And Chug – it makes one want to climb it.  See the climber at the base.

A smart decision to descend was made by this climber as he decided conditions were not right for this day.

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Jerry and I climbed Renormalization on the far right.  The route was shaded and far enough away from the daggers hanging above.

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This is the easy line in the Mindbender area – just another stout grade 4 route at the Lake.

IMG_5082   The bright mid day sun – getting water to flow and fatten up the lines.

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Pure fun in the afternoon – plastic/ buttery type ice at the tablets.

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 The end of a perfect day – it was a beauty, calm and warm.

Art Mooney

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!

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Art enjoying pitch two of the Black Dike

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Finding some good ice in Shoe String

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Standard Route

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Crossing the Presi-ridge in 80-mph winds

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Kings Ravine!

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Early season = awesome climbing

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Crossing the Alpine Garden after a successful day in Huntington’s

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Topping out in Huntington’s

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Mark enjoying the sun on the Willard summit.

It may be late March, but many of the ice climbs in Crawford Notch remain in great shape. In fact, many of the climbs are larger than I have ever seen them. At least Mark seemed to think it was “the best day ever.” The bright sun didn’t hurt ether.

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Alex in the Cleft.

I often say that climbing ice is something special. We are climbing on a medium that only exists under the right circumstances. This is part of it. However, climbing with someone who is positive and loves climbing. Makes climbing anything special.

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Mark after doing battle with the flow above.

Thank you Mark for an awesome day on the ice.

Alex Teixeira

The past few weeks has been a pretty amazing guiding time for me. Very fortunate comes to mind, as my work as a guide brings me in contact with so many positive, energetic and interesting guests.

This photo blog shows just that – in the course of my recent work with Mooney Mountain Guides our guests, family members and friends have been turned on to adventure climbing events in amazing New Hampshire places. The climbing is plentiful and  varied whether we are on skis, on the ice, or ascending a mountain. Smiles are plentiful with suffering common too – but one thing we all commonly enjoy, is reaching for the top!!!

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Emmett taking on a serious look.IMG_1605Brother Mike, and nephew Emmett on the ice for the day.

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Margie and Dylan – on an exciting adventure – out of the normal routine!

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Roland buffing out his ski touring skills to prep for the Haute Route.

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Conditions were icy but we made the best of a sunny day and had a full mountain tour.

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Long time guest Aubrey getting after the steep ice at the Flume.

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Aubrey is a technician on the ice and mixed – armed with Petzl Ergo tools and footed with Boreal Ice shoes.

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Laurie – a mother, a professional, a mountain traveler, and now an ice climbing addict.

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Laurie and I had three amazing days sampling ice climbs in the notches of NH.

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Laurie – mixing it up from ice to the stone.

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Lisa and Sylvain drove south from Montreal to ski tour on Mt Cardigan. We had an absolute blast spending the day together.

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The ski tour turned into a mountain climb – with grand smiles on top of the summit.

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Mike has been with MMG for twelve years – it all started with skiing. He brings his entire family on some events but this one was just for him. Steep ice was our goal and we had at it.

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Two sunny but cold days one at Crawford Notch and the other at Newfound Lake.

Thanks to all of you for climbing with me – it has been a pleasure and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Art Mooney

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

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Learning to climb is a process. At some point in any our journey comes a moment when the seed is planted and we decide to pursue climbing as a sport. We all start with a concept of what climbing is and what it takes to move up the mountain. We begin with the basics of movement, foot work and equipment. We climb a little with these skills and develop  new skills along the way. If all goes well its a lot of fun and the cycle begins. The more we climb, the more we learn, the more we want to climb, and the more we climb.

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Descending in soft snow.

Ian, Mark, and George have decided that climbing is something they want to pursue, and have begun climbing on there own. The three decided to come climbing with Mooney Mountian Guides to build on what they have learned with some formal training.

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Self-arrest and hip belays.

Our day began with a discussion on essential gear. From there we headed to Willies Slide an excellent alpine training ground. We learned and practiced footwork, ice axe skills, and self arrest. After basking in the sun it was time to put our skills to the test and complete a technical ascent and decent of the slide. By the end of the day our team had covered a large range of mountaineering skills. We all enjoyed our time in the sun learning and climbing together.

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Enjoying the climb.

Ian, Mark and George I hope to see all of you in the hills.

Alex Teixeira

Margie and Dylan were up for an unusual adventure. They both enjoy trying new sports and do like to push their limits. Margie is an avid runner and Dylan is in season playing hockey. Both were very fit and up for the task of a steep mountain approach to start the day.  Once we accessed the ice climbs the ball was rolling and we climbed and climbed!!!

Usually a family outing is learning the moves on the slab route and climbing it a few times, then maybe the gully on the left for a finnish of the day. Dylan was not ready he kept asking for something steeper and harder. Our finale was the center route where both Dylan and Margie climb a line right up the steeper headwall.

It was an awesome day with two very energetic climbers.

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Margie learning the ropes right away while Dylan climbs above.

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Ready for the ice – Petzl Quarks in hand.

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Time to replenish – the engines are running low.

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Dylan on the ice, ready to climb inside the cave, and icicles to take away.

IMG_1626 Dylan tackling the steeper line – a very nice climb.

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Thank you Margie and Dylan

Art Mooney