Ice Climbs

Each time Jerry and I climb we have an unforgettable experience together. For over five years we have teamed up working from entry level ice routes at the beginning to steep ice lines around New England. This post features Jerry and I climbing a few of the prize ice lines in the Crawford Notch and Frankenstein areas. Ice conditions are prime right now in NH. The routes on Mt Willard as well as the Amphitheater at Frankenstein are in fantastic shape . On Tuesday morning we met up at the Highland Center and marched straight up to the Great Madness. This route is a steep NEI Grade 5 that requires excellent technical skills and efficient movement to ward off any mid pitch forearm pump. We dispatched in a quick and solid style then headed to Gully 1. This duo of routes is a fine combination of steep ice lines on the south face of Mt Willard. On our walk out the beauty of the Snot Rocket pulled us of the tracks. We weaved a line of interesting movements up the first pitch to a spacious belay ledge. The upper pillar had a fragile appearance but we had to take a look. Delicate hooking through holes in the column and quiet placement of the feet got us through to the top. This Snot rocket is an amazing and exciting piece of ice for sure.

Great Madness

Snot Rocket

Snot Rocket

Wednesday the choice was the Frankenstein Amphitheater and we began climbing a few of our repeat routes such as Hobbit, Chia, Pegasus. The new addition on this day was a quality gem called – Hard Rane. The start is exciting – thin and technical moves protected by a few stubby screws help my upward momentum. The mid section is slightly fatter but the thin techy theme continued all the way to a boney top out.


Chia Direct

Hard Rane


By days end my arms felt stretched out and I was packing a big smile. I just spent two fantastic days in the Mooney Mountain Guides office climbing steep ice lines with a great partner and friend. Thank you Jerry.

Art Mooney

A Quick Report from Majka Burhardt
Hi Art- I’ve been out for great guiding days with both new and experienced ice climbers. Wendy Bolton and I have climbed together for the past year and she’s been able to focus in on her ice climbing with 4 day trips to New Hampshire during pick-swinging season. Here’s a photo of her on Standard Route. We also went up to Grafton Notch in Maine to get in some early season climbing there as well.
I also recently went out with first time ice climbers David and Emily (a father-daughter duo) on December 26th. Both are experinced ice fisher”men” and Emily has recently taken a rock climbing class and school and thought it would be fun to get out and ice climb. Here they are before, after and even during with Emily skipping her ice tools and showing how to climb an ice slab with just great footwork.

Majka – Thanks for the photos and update.

Thanks to Wendy, Dave and Emily for coming up to climb.

Art Mooney

Steve organized the first ice climbing trip this season to NH with Mooney Mountain Guides. On board were Steve, Chris, Mark and Adel. Our goal was to climb new terrain on mountains, on snow and ice climbs and of course have a great adventure in New Hampshires White Mountains.

Mt Lafayette is a tough climb, very similar to Mt Washington in distance and elevation gain. Alex and I joined up with the group at the C Man Inn in Plymouth for a quick bite to eat then we quickly headed out to climb. The trail was in good shape despite the recent wash out so the push was on to the summit. Our start time was a bit late and this was the shortest day of the year but if we kept at a solid pace I figured we could summit and make it to the Woodstock Inn for a Happy Hour treat at the end of the day.

Mt Willard was the second peak. This Cleft route involved climbing on ice, snow, and a bit of bushwhacking to gain the summit view of Crawford Notch. The day was crisp and clear – really felt like winter for the first time of the season. The conditions of the snow and ice was good – the route was in shape for our ascent. Today Alex was climbing with Adel and Steve and I were the other team. We climbed the route in stages keeping some friendly chatter with each other on the ascent. The view from the summit was spectacular, looking down the notch towards Mt Willy and Mt Webster

Kinsman’s Ice was our third objective. It was day three and we were in cruised mode today. The team arrived at the base early – just ahead of the crowds. Alex and I roped up and led the two classic center climbs. The fun was on – steep ice, technical moves, a solid  pumpy completion to our Triple Crown!!!

Lafayette approach – The Bridle Path.

Mark suffering on the way to the summit.

On top – cold and windy – time for face protection and goggles.

Morning approach to Mt Willard.

Snot Rocket ready to go.

Steve in the Cleft of Mt Willard.

Kinsman routes – Alex on lead up high (right) and Steve just over the crux (left).

Great weekend. Plenty of physical activities to get the holidays of to a proper start. Thanks to Steve, Chris, Adel, Mark and MMG Guide Alex for all the fun we had climbing on New Hampshires snowy peaks.

Art Moooney

Friday was a rainy day, a very rainy day. Someone informed me that we received an inch of the stuff between 4pm and 5pm! I believe it because as I was in my kitchen cooking dinner on a camp stove in candlelight due to a power outage, I was amazed and appalled by the thunderous impact it had on the roof. “This is supposed to be Winter! What Gives?” Worried about the condition of The Black Dike on Cannon for the next day’s climb, I packed some extra rock gear in case we opted to make a Winter ascent of the Whitney Gilman Ridge instead.

Paul and I arrived at the base of the route before anybody else had. We heard the sound of moving water. In fact the rain had washed out good sized sections of ice. We decided to give it a shot and found it to be safe enough, though it was very drippy and candled. We moved fast on the route to prevent from getting too wet. All in all it was a fun day, but I was praying for colder temps to lock it up for more enjoyable climbing.

Saturday night dipped below freezing up in the hills and I new the previously flowing Black Dike would be in stellar condition. Based on the fact that the ice in the area has been rather lean, Paul and I chose to make another ascent of this magnificent route. True to our predictions, the climb was in awesome shape on that chilly Sunday morning. The snow that had been washed away was replaced but a fresh dusting. We weren’t the first ones there this time so we layered up and waited in the sun.

Thanks Paul for another great weekend together! Have fun in Ouray!

Matt Ritter – Mooney Mountain Guides

Alfonzo says it – get out there and see the conditions first hand. It would have been easier to stay at home today as rain, sleet, warm temps were expected. Matt and I decided late last night to go have a look. We found wintry conditions and some very fine ice and mixed climbing. See the photos of Matt on one of Cannons testpiece routes called Meanstreak. To add Matt chose a nice variation on the top. A route called Pilaf a seldom climbed 5.9 pitch.

Excellent day on the cliff with Matt Ritter.

Matt wrote:

“I have been addicted to winter climbing on Cannon Cliff for a few seasons now. The wallpaper on my laptop and desktop has gone back and forth between a photo from Freddie Wilkinson’s blog highlighting the winter routes Mean Streak, Omega, and Prozac, to more recently, a photo that Bayard Russell posted on his blog after establishing Daedalus with Elliot Gaddy and Minatour with Matt McCormick. Bayard’s photograph shows the full length winter routes gracing the central section of Cannon; The Quartet Ice Hose, Daedalus, Minotaur, Mahoney-Gaddy, Icarus, and The Ghost. These are all inspiring routes put up by inspiring climbers. The “Desktop Wallpaper Technique” is a scientifically proven method to keep the psyche high. It is something you see each day maybe multiple times a day. It is a reminder as you go sport climbing or crack climbing. It keeps one motivated through painful training sessions, and for me, more than anything else it gives me incentive to not give up. Weather I am on that specific climb or another, it helps me to get my mind into a certain zone of calm intensity somewhere between The Incredible Hulk and the Dali Lama. When I am scared and pumped on a mixed climb or a crack climb, sometimes the most nauseating thought is the possibility that I will fall and have to do it all over again. But if I have been looking at that photo for a year or two, I try hard, and sometimes it all comes together. It came together for me the other day. Art and I went out to look at Mean Streak, a tough mixed route first climbed by Will Mayo and Andy Tuthill in 2007. I have been looking at other people’s photos of the route and had wondered about an alternate 2nd pitch which I knew was a crack climb known as Pilaf. So after spending 2 hours piecing together the sustained first pitch I saw Pilaf up there encrusted in a bit of snow. Amidst the Scottish whiteout conditions, I couldn’t resist. We found a splitter crack in a steep smooth wall that would be at home in the middle of any classic Cannon rock climb. Above this we climbed two moderate pitches to the top. This kind of climbing requires a high level of mental and physical toughness. A hard mixed pitch can take one, two, or three hours to lead while the belayer, hopefully in a position where they aren’t being attacked by falling ice or rock, shivers to stay “warm.”  If you aren’t totally psyched, it just isn’t going to happen, but for some folks it’s easy to be psyched for these sufferfests because, Holy Cow is the climbing fun!’           Matt Ritter MMG Guide

Matt – thank you for this awesome day on Cannon. Nice job leading those excellent pitches.

Art Mooney

It was time to get out and see for myself. Alex and I went up into Franconia Notch to have a look at Cannon and Lafayette. There was only a dusting of snow to be found and conditions on the Cannon face are very dry. The Black Dike looked doable from the road as we could see a thin vein of ice from top to bottom.

Conditions were good on the first and third pitches – the second pitch had very little ice and it was unbonded and very brittle. What made it go was good rock protection in the cracks. Care needs to be taken as there is quite a bit of loose unbonded rock on the route due to the lack on snow and ice.

Dike looking ready to go from this talus spot.

Getting prepped at the base area.

Awesome ice conditions on the first pitch.

Alex topping out on the runnel pitch.

The rock traverse into the ice – loaded 3 pieces of fixed gear plus a hanging rope.

Photos from afar were taken by Peter Doucette who was climbing Fafnir. Thanks to Peter for sending my way.

All said Alex and I had a great first day on the ice. The season has begun.

Art Mooney


Laurie had her first taste of the ice today and she was full of smiles. We went to Willey’s and had the place to ourselves for most of the day. Conditions were excellent, mostly soft ice with some areas plastered with a few inches from last nights squall. We spent a few hours at the base area getting comfortable on knots, belays techniques, and anchoring systems. Then it was time to climb and climb we did. Our first route went upper the plum center line for four pitches. We topped out at 1 pm.  Plenty of time for a second route up the felt side. It was a great day on the ice with Laurie, we had fun and she was challenged.

Laurie with Willeys Slide behind.

Laurie learning the systems, here she is placing an ice screw for our first anchor.

Laurie belaying me on our first pitch.

Getting into the swing using a very lightweight Petzl Quark Ice Tool.

Smiles as we topped out high on Mt Willey.


Red cheeks – a sign of a good winter day.

Thanks to Laurie for today, let’s get out and climb again soon.

Art Mooney