Moderate Temps on Sunday Morning- Game on!
Last Sunday Matthew and I caught a break from the recent frigid temps and spent the day climbing some Smuggler’s Notch classics. On holiday from Australia, Matthew had plans to sample some Vermont ice, and the weather couldn’t have been better. We decided to head to the South Wall, which tends to serve up a great selection of consistently well-formed single and multi-pitch ice routes. Today was no exception, and we found plenty of ice.
The agenda for the day was to expand on some technical skills, explore some interesting terrain and get in as many ice pitches possible. Matthew has a solid climbing background, and was hungry both to climb and to learn. During the day we were able to cover a bunch of topics including ice evaluation and basic screw placements, belaying techniques and efficient movement skills.
We began on the steep and wet Blue Room, a great challenge with varying ice conditions. Great place to hone movement skills.
Matthew midway on Blue Room
After descending a dripping Blue Room, we continued along the South Wall to climb a two pitch moderate flow. The view from the top was brilliant, and we were able to practice some V-threads on the way down.
One thing I’ve learned living in New England is that a splitter day during the winter months is a gift!
! Thank you Matthew for a great and enjoyable outing. It’s always awesome spending a day climbing in the Notch, especially with good company and good weather.
The ice climb at Rumney called the Geographic Factor is certainly a prize of an ice line. The climb is guarded by a long steep approach and is hidden from view as it is tucked away in the Giant Man alcove at the Hinterlands Area. You must make the hike to see if the route is in shape or suitable for your climbing day.
Jerry and I cruised the cliffs today with Franky Lee as our warm up then onward to find out if Geo was in condition. Upon our arrival at the base we noticed a substantial overhang of ice at the crux area. Not sure if this would go – we decided to take a further look and climb to the half way point. It would either go or we would descend from there.
A bit of cleaning was needed to remove the fragile daggers of ice that barred the upward moves – once completed it was a go. We were very engaged by the technical and strenuous moves for twenty feet or so. Then is was fat and sticky ice to the top.
You must get out and try, seeing the route is not enough, feeling it is much better. Some days are just right for the climb and today was the right day for Jerry and I on the Geo.
First view of the route.
Wet and sticky ice on the sunny upper half of the route.
Crux overhang – three to four feet to clear.
Great send of the Geographic Factor.
It has been a few years since I have spent time in conditions like last weeks NH deep freeze. Friday was the coldest day with a daytime high temperature of 1 accompanied by high winds which made the air feel much colder. Saturday started with colder morning temps but the air was still making it quite comfortable once moving in the mountains.
Kathryn, Zach and Scott arrived Wednesday evening just in time for the winter storm to hit the New England coast. Weather models were quite varied on the snowfall amounts so we were not sure what was coming. Thursday we climbed Lafayette with light snow falling through the day then in the afternoon the snow really began to amount. By the end over a foot of light and dry powder blanketed the area. Our before the storm timing for Lafayette was good as I had broken trail once this year on the Bridle Path and it was a tough day for sure.
Friday we ice climbed at Kinsman Notch – Kathryn was in her element – as she prefers steep and technical over type mountain climbs. Zach was new to the ice – and he adapted his sport techniques to the ice arena quickly, Scott like it all – mountains are full of endurance and the ice requires burst of power which he has both on board.
Our final day was spent on Willys Slide. Base area clinics on multi topics for snow travel, snow anchors and belays, self arrest and structured practice of all. By mid day we were ready for our last climb together so we assaulted the Willys in a party of 4.
Puffy jackets received lots of use the past weekend.
Scott, Kathryn, and Zach descending Willys in deep snow.
This was a varied three day mountain and ice trip – much thanks to the visiting climbers from the Ohio area.
Brothers Nick and Zack joined me last week for an intro to winter travel. We had three days over the weekend to get them into the mountains and experience and array of their offerings. On day 1 we sampled some low angle ice climbing in Kinsman Notch. Nick and Zack got to learn the power of front pointing in crampons and pulling on ice axes, as well as experience the beauty of the White Mountains in winter. On day 2 we did an intro to mountaineering on Welch and Dickey Mountains, learning various techniques for ascending snow slopes of differing angles. The brothers got to dial in their layers and get practice in keeping their hydration and calorie stores where we wanted them. Day 3 was the main event, an ascent of Mt Washington. The boys where apprehensive of this plan at first, but gained excitement throughout the weekend. We were greeted with rather favorable conditions on our summit day. Wind chills in the teens and winds in the 40’s allowed us to get to the summit with minimal suffering!
Thanks for joining us Nick and Zack. Best to both of you in the New year!
Jackson and Mike have been coming to NH to climb rock and ice with me for many seasons. It has been a rewarding experience being a part of their journey climbing on the vertical rock faces and on the spectacular ice climbs. Jackson loves the climbing world. He is a solid hiker, skier and climber. Jackson is able to keep his focus when climbing, he pays close attention to directions on the routes, and he is able to stop anytime to refine his movements as he ascends the route. A very special young climber and so much fun to be out with him and Mike.
Gearing up at the Highland Center.
Approach to the Trestle Slabs.
The trestle area.
Ready for the action and excitement.
Armed and dangerous – looking for the fun.
Jackson climbed this route multiple times – awesome job.
Lunch break in the mountains – PB and Pretzel!
Great day of climbing fun with these guys.
Annual MMG photo.
Thanks to Jackson and Mike.
Great to climb with you both again looking forward to seeing you in February.
Oh boy its been quite a week of fun in the mountains. It started off clear, cold and crisp, -10 and now its overcast and in the 30’s. This welcomed warm up is producing some of the finest ice to climb – wet and sticky. This ice ready, the climbers are also ready.
Our team of 5 is geared up with sharp ice tools and crampons. The varied climbing has felt a bit easier – as the placements are sinking into the surface with a welcomed sound of – thunk.
Mt Lafayette, Kinsman Ice, today the Frankenstien and tomorrow Mt Willard – Steve, Adel and Chris are crushing it for sure. One more full day of fun times will end this fabulous week in the mountains of NH.
Mammut Gear – the finest kind.
Lafayette Ridge on a cold crisp day. Click on this image.
Mercury Mitts – total warmth.
On top of the world – in a white out.
Kinsman Notch Icing.
Repman on the steeps.
Team of four – Chris,Steve, Adel, Erik.
Great day on Standard Route in Crawford Notch.
Derek and Steve.
Chris and Adel.
Thanks guys its been a blast again.
The time is here – New Hampshire & Vermont Ice climbs and Mountains are ready for your guided winter ascent. Here at Mooney Mountain Guides we do our part by holding an annual pre -winter guides training day . The theme varies from year to year but one thing is common – frequent meet ups and training with the MMG guides put us all on a similar page when we are working alone or together in the mountains.
New complete anchor
One theme this year was to Yank the Mank on Kinsman Notch Ice Climbs. The guides climbed all of the popular routes at the main area and cut out all the old webbing and replaced with bomber new redundant rope anchors – complete with double links to use when descending the routes.
As always another theme for the guides was to ice climb. This is what we love to do climb and ascend ice routes of all types is what we did.
Todd getting into action!!!
Mike working up the center route – tricky crux at the top.
Jim – MMG’s Mountain Master.
Erik – thank you – for prepping all the anchor material.
No down time today – a technical clinic.
Refresh, Renew, Reboot the mind.
Simple Anchors – the connection to ice and the belay.
Erik and Matt
Efficiency when working the Window Munter and One Handed Clove
Mooney Mountain Guides Team.
Thanks to all for joining in.
Its been full winter in the high hills of New England for over a month now. Not to say the ice has been fat the entire time, but the climbing has been amazing! When I found out that a long time friend of MMG couldn’t wait until January to swing his tools, I knew just were to take him … Huntington’s Ravine
Jerry – completing the steep, pitch one.
The snow has returned along with the ice to these high climbing areas, making route finding and decision making of upmost importance. Still we were able to pick the prize of the ravine, Pinnacle Gully. After safely negotiating around an ocean size snow slab at the base of the gully, we climbed bright blue water ice for a full 60 meters. The climbing felt like WI4 in the steep early season conditions. Early season “is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gunna get.” What we got was “full-on” alpine conditions: cascading snow that filled your pulled up hood, hard ice, cold hands, and wind. What could be better than that!
Jerry and I just topping out on Pinnacle Gully.
We negotiated our way up the rest of the gully, with the climbing taking us a little longer than expected due to the conditions. Still, Jerry and I were psyched to be climbing in such a beautiful place. We got to the cars just after sunset, finishing the easy part of the walk down with headlamps and in a snow squall. Only fitting for the time of year and size of our adventure.
Throughout our entire adventure, Jerry said repeatedly, ” don’t you just love this?” “Yeee-haww”, I replied in my best cowboy yell. Climbing these routes, or in these mountains is special. It shows us what we are capable of and our limitations. It humbles us and reminds us of the power of our planet. Every so often they allow us to pass through and return home with tales of adventure.
Thank you Jerry, for an amazing adventure.
It is the time of year to focus in. The ice climbing game is one that should never be taken lightly. Sharp tools in hand, spikey crampons on the feet, a rack of razor sharp ice screws hanging from the harness and a medium of ice that is somewhat unpredictable will certainly keep one on there toes.
Winter is here and its the time to get out and enjoy the amazing world of ice. The season is two to three months long in these parts and you got to get after it while you can. With that said one should be prepared in so many ways. Many would agree that the mental game comes first – a focused mind with a calm cool head in a requirement for leading ice. Sound and tested equipment will help prepare one for a tough demanding pitch or route. Then there is the physical training for the body – running or cardio, stretching and yoga, lots of rock climbing equals the needed power to burn on a steep ice pitch.
Here are the Petzl Nomics in action – the finest ice tools of the trade.
Aubrey sampling the first sticks of the season. Felt a bit rough at first but came together quickly by days end.
Working the Petzl Ergos into the ice.
Tools in hand and sharp crampons on the feet – got to connect as this ice is slippery for sure.
Oh yeah – Hanging on by a Moment – a fine ice line. Aubrey finessing the moves on ice.
Sports action here as Aubrey tops out on the pillar.
Many fine years climbing together – the A Team!
The ice screw window – be creative to fine solid gear.
Aubrey and I enjoyed a fun season opener together. There will be more for us this winter stay tuned.
Ken and I finally started of our ice season together yesterday. This season has been different as I worked the on the rocks until Thanksgiving which is quite late for me. Then I came down with a nasty bout of the flu and needed a week and half to recover. All is going well now feeling much better, the ice is in good shape, so its Pick Swinging Time for sure.
The Elephant Head Gully – showing the recent rockfall at the base of the route. The ice was in fine shape on this route.
Highland Center meeting area – always feel very welcomed here – put the boots on by the warmth of the fire!!!
Lower Hitchcock with wet sticky ice drooling all the way to the base of the gully.
Clinic time with Ken – winding in a few screws, checking in on anchor configurations, then some scrappy mixed alpine climbing techniques.
Upper Hitchcock Gully – looks and feels like a mini Pinnacle Gully but without the long approach.
Clean, quick and simple is the way to approach building belay anchors set ups.
Lots of ice and running water – its building fast in the mountains now. The new snow will help feed the ice routes.
Topping out with numb hands – a reminder of the suffering on the ice.
Great times with Ken – we explored and climbed lots of new terrain today.
LNT? – This was a valuable root to hook the tools for the top out.
Top of the Notch in wintry conditions.
Thanks Ken for a great beginning on the ice. See you in January.