Willies slide in New Hanpshires Crawford Notch, is a popular area for learning the ropes of technical alpine mountaineering. Beginning with flat fool crampon skills, ice axe use, an and belay systems, and full exposure to mountain weather Amber had a true mountain experience. The days final lesson came to us as we topped out the slide, “sometimes in climbing, a little hard work yields a great reward.”
Amber, starting up a steep snow pitch.
Beta photo: The water ice head wall & technical crux of Willies Slide.
View nearing the top. Amber is in the bottom center of the photo.
Thank you Amber.
Had a great day climbing with my brother Mike and Nephew Emmett at Kinsman Notch. Emmett recently saw some of my ice photos on Facebook and he really wanted to give ice climbing a try. I think he’s hooked on the sport and will be back again. We had an excellent day climbing, exploring, and sliding in the snow. It was a fantastic winter adventure for all.
Emmett – armed and dangerous!
Emmett learning the craft.
Time to climb
Emmett reaching the top on the Shamrock route.
Mike back on the ice – its been awhile but he got right into the swing of things.
Mike again on the steep pillar of ice – nice job on this one.
Kinsman ice caves – very cool place.
The Mooney’s – Mike, Emmett, Art
Happy ending the glissade.
Smiles all around – thanks to Mike and Emmett for making the long journey to NH.
Let me start by saying I’m a bit of a gear geek. I love knowing my gear, learning about new gear and what makes certain items better. Additionally, as with many people, there is immense satisfaction settling on a piece of gear that makes you happy when previous iterations have left you wanting more. I ordered the Mammut Togir Click harness this summer and have put it through many a trial over the last 6+ months climbing about 5 days a week for work and pleasure. I have been thrilled with the harness, and being the gear geek that I am, revel in the little things that make it unique.
My friends and I have had many a discussion on how to manage harnesses. Some like ultra lightweight harnesses for sport and more tricked out ones for trad and ice. Others like a simple trimmed down design for ice in particular. Many have two harnesses to cover all of their needs. For my purposes, I like the simplicity of one harness. This makes it easier on me, and harder on the harness, as it has more roles in which it has to please me. The Togir Click appeared to fit the bill, and thus far has proven its self worthy. I’ll break the review down by section from here on out to make it easier for me to organize my thoughts, and for you to follow them!
All of the standard features we’ve come to expect in high end harnesses are present in the Togir Click. Adequate padding, wider waist belt and leg loops for comfort. Four stiff, supported gear loops, and 4 well placed ice clipper locations as well as “speed” buckles, the kind that cinch down and are automatically doubled back. In addition this harness has 3 little quirks that are big plusses to me.
1.) Belay loop protection: Every harness I’ve worn out has worn out in the belay loop/ tie in area. This happens from the tie in points moving back and forth over the belay loop as you climb, and even more so as you walk. Mammut has developed an ingenious little plastic protector that eliminates that nylon on nylon rubbing, thereby virtually eliminating the most common way of waring out a harness. They have patented this, and no other harness companies have come up with an alternative. Before I had a Mammut harness I use to pad these areas with Ducktape to prolong them. Not only did this look pretty gheto, but the chemicals on the tape probably didn’t do the nylon any favors. In case your harness does wear out here, Mammut has put in an indicator strip, so you see that you a contrasting red layer of fabric under the worn out layer, to warn you (Identified by tabs with red exclamation mark on them).
2.) “5th gear loop” in the back: Many ice climbers will tie some accessory cord between their back two gear loops to add an additional gear loop. A good place to clip things you don’t need quite as quickly. It’s a great spot to clip your belay gloves and/ or puffy, V thread tool, off belay knife, or spare cordalette. Mammut must’ve caught on to this as they put two holes in the bottom outside corner of the back two gear loops. This allows you to attach the accessory cord for your 5th gear loop, while keeping that cord out of the way of carabiners you’re clipping into your back two gear loops. there’s also a sewn in tag line type loop in the back of the harness, a great place for your prussic to take up permanent residence.
3.) “Click” buckles: Alright, the main event. What really sets this harness apart is the “click” buckles. In short, these allow you to quickly pull the buckle apart, opening the leg loops and waist loops completely. This is invaluable for winter climbing when you might put a harness on after crampons, or take it off before your crampons. Gents, it also makes peeing in the winter much easier. Unclick one leg loop, pull the harness to the side and you’ve removed one of far too many obstacle to relief! Some might find this a little gimmicky, thinking about how most harnesses can do this to an extant. What sets it apart in my mind is how versatile this makes the harness as a whole. Basic harnesses, where every buckle has to be threaded and doubled back come apart completely like this, but then are a pain to double back every time, and add one more thing to forget when looking to put a harness on quickly and easily while sport cragging. Even the speed style buckles can be completely taken apart, and re threaded as needed, but its a little to finicky in my experience because of the auto double back buckle. The click buckle is easy to remove and put back on, I’ve been doing it with mittens all winter long, and in the summer it goes on quickly and smoothly with the buckles acting like a normal “speed” buckle. To me this is what makes the harness such a great all around harness.
Over the past six months I’ve obsessively, hang dogged sport projects, spent all day hanging from multi pitch cliffs and worked 5 days a week coaching ice climbing in this harness (+ personal and guiding days). Throughout these experiences it has proven its self worthy, comfortable, durable and versatile. I never felt discomfort in this harness taking short hard falls or longer airy whippers at Rumney.
The true test of comfort came in trying the Prow multiple times this summer. To me, this climb had become infamous for its 5 kidney crunching hanging and semi hanging belays. In former harnesses my discomfort from hanging in my harness rivaled that of cramming my toes into tight shoes and my fingers into tiny cracks by the end of the day. This harness proved to be so comfortable that that internal discomfort was an afterthought. A very welcome change.
Finally, I’ve found this harness to be perfectly tricked out for ice climbing. As I stated before, the click buckles make it a cinch to put on after crampons and take off before. The 5th gear loop, with its out of the way accessory cord adds racking space, often eliminating the need to carry a backpack, and the ice clipper loops are sturdy enough to hold the clippers in place, but not so tight that you can’t easily remove them for a mid winter gym session. It’s the perfect jack of all trades.
Grade V comfort
NEI 5 versatility
Thanks to: Keyan Pishdadian, Geoff Wilson and Andy Neuman for photos, in descending order
Harness photos from Mammut: http://www.mammut.com/en/productDetail/211000891_v_7237/Togir-Click.html
Mountaineering is a term that encompasses many skills that all come together and enable us to climb mountains. There are no set rules and the creative have a clear advantage. Part of getting creative is climbing rock with ice climbing equipment (mixed climbing), and being able to climb ice and rock simultaneously. In the mountains there is no taped routes, it is up to the climber to decipher a route to the top. This route may require these mixed climbing skills. Aubrey and I took to the ice, and rock, to train, climb and have a great time. After climbing eight different routes the sun was setting on an amazing day of mixed climbing.
Fat in the cave.
Rock and Ice
Thanks Aubry for a great day on the rock and ice.
Every once and a while we come across people and become fast friends. These four have known each other for some time and make it a point to travel and go on adventures together. Last year they decided to get into climbing. Of course, they learned that climbing together with friends is incredibly enjoyable. Plus, it gets us outside, keeps us healthy, and allows us to see some beautiful places. It was a pleasure to be a part of their latest adventure. I hope they continue to climb, or at the very least keep going on adventures.
Matt, on his way to the top.
Nick and Dave demonstrating textbook belaying.
One tool challenge.
Final challenge, climb out from under the roof.
Thank you all for an awesome day on the ice.
Jerry and I have been on the ice for the past five days at a variety of areas. Jerry was looking to refine, steep climbing techniques on pillars and corners, climb a new alpine gully, and spend some time taking on the lead end of the rope. We kept our focus for the week and were treated to some fine ice conditions.
The Penguin route.
Dracula Right and Left
Trestle Cut area.
Jerry on lead – Duofold.
Crawford Notch area
The week was sooo good – thanks Jerry much appreciated.
This past weekend Rodger and Steve, college roommates, came to New Hampshire to try their hand at ice climbing. Although one now lives in Colorado and the other in Virginia, the two make an effort to go on trips together a couple times a year.
Steve working a slab at Kinsman
Their adventure began at Kinsman Notch, a primer climbing area that typically has beautiful blue ice, even when other areas don’t. The guys climbed slabs, steep ice, thin ice and fat ice. Running the gambit of conditions, learning to read the ice like a book helping them climb more efficiently.
Many climbs to be had at Rumney
Day two it was time for Rumney, and its south facing cliffs perfect for a cold day. At this time of year, Rumney offers a variety of excellent climbs from the moderate, to the difficult. Rodger and Steve took multiple laps each on the steep ice employing the skills they learned the day before. After a full day of climbing, everyone went home happy to have had such a great weekend on the ice.
Rodger putting an ! on the weekend.
Thank you Steve & Rodger for a great weekend.
Last week I was lucky enough to get out with a large portion of the Egger family, Rod and 3 of his sons, Sean Keith and Evan. The boys came with no ice climbing experience, varying levels of experience rock climbing, but a generally adventurous background. They were well prepared for the challenges both of weather, and of pushing ones self physically and mentally. It was great to see all four of them attack this new expereince with lots of determination and a fair amount of natural ability. Within a couple of laps they were on the steeps and running up lower angle ice without tools, building confidence in their footwork. By the end of the day many of them were running laps on the steepest ice Kinsman had to offer. Lucky for me, impending darkness called an end to our day. I don’t think I would’ve been able to tire them out to the point of quitting otherwise!
A family affair, and a not so rare, Art Mooney sighting at Kinsman Notch
Never enough steeps for the Egger Family
Some of them even decided to run laps on this steep pillar to finish the day!
Thanks for the visit guys! I hope to see you again soon, hear of your adventures and share another!
Selsun Blue was the objective for this day. The brutal cold weather steered me to finding an ice line on the warmer sunny ice flows at Rumney Rocks. Ken and I tried Selsun Blue a few years back and now it was time for a rematch. Kens ice kit has been refined with new lighter boots, modern tools and mono points. To prepare Ken has been working on movements skills on the steeper ice flows and today our goal was to put it all together.
We arrived at Selsun Blue and were quite surprised to find much of the ice route laying on the ground in huge ice blocks. The deluge we had over a week ago washed the main portion of the flow completely out. Our plan quickly adjusted to the Cave Route.
MMG Guide Alex joined us for the day an he racked up with gear and led the Cave Route. He climbed brittle hard ice for the first portion then found a wet sticky vein in the cave and took this to the top. It is amazing how and where the water flows on the ice – even on the coldest days of the year. Cave route was climbed and then a top rope was set for a nice series of stacked pillars on Selsun Right. Ken delicately climbed upward enjoying this technical piece of ice.
The Selsun Blue – out of the game.
Ken styling the moves on the thin pillar.
Alex finding a sweet spot on the Cave Route.
Our afternoon led us down to the Meadows area where we chatted about our next routes. Ken wanted to try the Newfound Lake area. We hopped into the cars cranked up the heat and headed that way. Newfound is mostly shaded and the routes have been in great shape this year,
Ken on the long route called Bloodline. We found fantastic conditions on this route.
Newfound Lake – ice above and below.
Thanks to Ken and Alex for a fun day on the ice. We found good ice lines at two areas Rumney and Newfound.
Jerry took the ice on lead today. Mount Willard was the perfect place for this. Hitchcock Gully and the Upper East Face Slabs were in fantastic shape. Jerry was in solid form as he steadily led all the routes. Protection was placed were needed and directionals were adding to keep the rope from freezing up in the running water. It is on days like these that all the hard work comes together and a new zone is entered. The zone is the lead area which requires focus, balance, power and a calm cool head.
Lower Hitchcock Gully.
The guides Jerry and Alex at the first belay .
Jerry on Upper Hitchcock Gully.
Rappelling Upper Hitchcock – to access one more climb.
Going for the summit – Jerry on lead on the East Slabs route.
Jerry – Great job leading today.