On any given week you could bet good money that the MMG crew is out at the cliffs introducing folks to climbing and or new climbs to them, as well as working on their own climbing and guiding progression. This past week was no different! Below is a quick collection of updates from the past week.
Early on in the week Erik got out to Rumney Rocks for a half day of climbing with Jen and Amanda. These gals were visiting the area for the week, coming from Long Island. They’ve started climbing in the gym back home and venturing into Top Rope terrain when they travel. We had a gorgeous day for a sampling of classic pitches at Rumney!
This weekend Mike got out with the Schildge family. While on vacation in the north country they joined MMG for a day on Square Ledge. This venue has great moderate climbing for a family outing, with what is possibly the best backdrop of any crag in New England.
Earlier on in the week, Art was joined by Jerry “the Gale force” They had a couple of great days swinging leads at Rumney and reclaiming perennial classics on Cannon!
On the personal training front, Alex has headed out to CO to take the Advanced Rock Guide Course through the AMGA, one of many professional development courses MMG guides are involved in this summer. The course, and his acclimatization are taking place in Eldorado Canyon and Lumpy Ridge in the Estes park. Back home, Erik is taking advantage of dry days between the rain to regain strength on some steep sport routes. Most intriguing of these days was at the Groton High Grade Wall, in Marshfield VT.
Alex in CO
Erik in VT
The crew at MMG has been making a solid transition into Rock Climbing over the past month so that our guiding game is tip top, and our arm strength is where we want it for personal climbing. We’ve had many morning and evening sessions at Rumney where pitches are done quickly to build miles, and harder routes are worked on to build strength. Many of us have been seeing some personal climbing gains there already this spring and are looking forward to carrying that into pushing ourselves later on in the year.
Alex Scoping out The Book of Solemnity
Just as we train our bodies for the transition to rock climbing in the spring, we train our minds for the transition to the unique challenges of guiding on rock that we haven’t faced since last fall. Here’s a snap shot of what we’ve been up to lately.
Evening view from Cathedral
Erik and Alex have had multiple outings to Cathedral this spring to lap the classic hard routes we might get on with talented guests, as well as scope out some new out of the way ones for that busy weekend day.
Alex on Raising the Roof
Alex leading up Raising the Roof
Sinker jams on the Liger
The Two of them also took a trip out to Albany Slabs, a premiere backcountry climbing site. This cliff, situated off the Kancamangus Highway has a real remote feel, and solid granite. It has a collection of moderate 1 and 2 pitch slab routes that make for a relaxing but new day, hiking in, climbing in a wild place and hiking out. They’re looking forward to taking some adventurous guests to this out of the way gem of a crag sometime this summer.
Alex heading up Rainbow Slabs
view from Rainbow Slabs
A good collection of the MMG crew met last weekend to sharpen up our technical skills. Luckily the day was rainy making us much more eager to work out the rope work kinks than grab a couple of pitches while at Rumney. We found a perfect site for the work under the overhanging cliff at Orange Crush. Its always great to have a gathering of the minds, to exchange different ways of doing things and bounce ideas of eahcother, let alone catch up with co workers and friends!
This summer will be filled with a lot of professional development or MMG guides. It’s starting with Erik taking a Rock Guide course in North Conway that is co taught by company founder and mentor-extrodianaire, Art Mooney. We’re a quarter of the way through this course and looking forward to a handful more courses and exams for the MMG guides who are hoping to up their professional game this summer!
Art instructing on the 10 day AMGA Rock Guide Course
Alain Comeau instructing on Erik’s Rock Instructor Course
Alain and some Atlantic Climbing School Guides on the Rock Guide Course along with Erik
The crew at MMG is stoked to keep refining skills and put them to practice this summer when you come to visit! thanks for checking in.
Finally springtime has made the appearance in the lower elevation areas of the White Mountains and most climbers are ready to put on the rock shoes in search of a warm dry climb. Mt Washington on the other hand is Easing the Grip ever so slightly. The snow pack is melting out at the parking lots (2000 ft) and the temperatures on the mountain have moderated but even so once you venture onto the mountain its a snowy white world all the way to the summit and its May 1.
Kelly has a Rainier climbed planned for this July. She has been working hard at fine tuning her skills in the mountains. This trip was planned for additional work improving overall fitness on long tough climbs, to refine footwork on snow and to gain comfort on the steep descents.
Conditions for Kelly’s goals were perfect on the mountain.
We planned for overcast the entire day – but the skies opened just enough for great views of mountains and the valleys below.
The summit cone was entered encased in snow.
Quite casual on the summit with a slight breeze and 25 degrees.
Kelly’s 2nd time on top of Mt Washington – Congrats to her for a great climb.
The descent was steep and slick. Kelly worked on the plunge steep and other moves to gain comfort while facing the downhill line. The following day Kelly and I climbed Cannon in under three hours and our descent was less than and hour. Kelly improved in all areas on this two day trip – she was able to Ease her Grip in the mountains.
Mooney Mountain guides is proud to work closely with Mammut North America. we have a quality relationship with our friends at the headquarters in northern VT. Each year Mammut hooks us up with some of their quality product to use, abuse and test in the field. Recently, we’ve also been joining them in VT to share some technical knowledge with the employees and other groups and outfitters that they support. It’s a great two way relationship for all. Twice in the past few years Mammut has outfitted the guides at MMG with the mens Ultimate Hoody. 2 years ago we got them in red, while this past year we got the upgraded model year in an eye catching green.
MMG crew in Red Ultimate Hoodies
The following is a collection of thoughts on the Ultimate Hoody in general, as well as the changes for the new model. This experience reflects well over 100 days in the field ice climbing, mountaineering and skiing.
Erik on Hanging by a Moment
The most unique thing about the Ultimate Hoody is its inclusion of a Gore Wind Stopper membrane. In general we like to have layers that do one thing great (soft shell for mild conditions, wind shirt for windy conditions, hard shell for full on…). Often times by trying to make a layer that takes on multiple tasks you end up with a jacket of all trades, master of none. We’re not a fan of this compromise. The Ultimate Hoody has blurred this line by including the wind layer into the soft shell layer. I find that this makes the soft shell less breathable, but more useful in windy conditions, and has allowed me to stop carrying a wind shirt. It’s performed so remarkably that with roughly 20 days of Mt Washington’s worst weather I have yet to don my hardshell this season. The only sacrifice in the blending of these two layers has been a bit less breathability, which is compensated with large pit zips and opening up the front.
Art on Geographic Factor, Alex on The Promenade
We’ve found that there have been several key improvements in the new model year. All agree that they are slightly roomier in any given size than last year. The new thumb loop design is lower profile and more comfortable to use with or without mittens. Most of all, the addition of a chest pocket is a huge improvement as a place to keep essentials that need to be easily accessed. While fw of us put it to use, this pocket also has a port to thread headphones through, along with an additional keeper near the hood to keep headphone wires out of the way.
Alex testing the Ultimate Hoody’s wind and waterproof capabilities on Hillmans Highway and a secret woodsy powder stash
Art Mooney, one of Mammut’s sponsored guide’s and one of our lead guides had this to say about the Ultimate Hoody
“Comfortable, roomy yet lightweight, freedom to move, windproof, water resistant, need we say more?”
Alex and Erik just had what may have been the course of their winter. Ski guiding is a relatively small segment of our business, and that of the NH guiding business in general, so when we get a day of this work, let alone a long weekend of it we’re excited. We’re currently trying to expand our ski programming to get more folks introduced to the world of back country skiing. The skiing and techniques required is not overly burdensome, but getting instruction for your first day out will greatly quicken the learning curve. As you get into the world of Ski Mountaineering their is a a slew of technical skills that need to be refined in order to participate safely.
This group of three was curious about getting into the world of back country and ski mountaineering, so we designed a three day curriculum to introduce them to the techniques and skills required. On day one we went over gear and clothing requirements for being in the backcountry. We practiced transitions ( moving up hill to downhill, which requires a number of equipment changes) and beacon searches in case of an avalanche burial. On day two we practiced moving as a rope team, dug a snow pit and experimented with a number of stability tests, and what these testes tell us about the relative avalanche safety. On day three we combined many of the formerly learned skills to ski Hillmans Highway in Tuckermans Ravine! The weather kept us from covering all that we wanted, but that in its self is a great learning experience, and gave us ample opportunity to address not only surviving but thriving in those conditions.
If you’re getting tired of shredding groomers and riding lifts, or want to take your skiing to the next level, get in touch with us to book a custom back country ski day. NH is blessed with a wide range of terrain from historical backcountry ski trails at lower elevations, to big mountain lines in alpine terrain. The prime season for the bigger objectives is fast approaching!
(Click on any image to begin viewing in gallery mode.)
The odds are not in your favor in Las Vegas – the house always wins.
Each morning as we departed the LaQuinta Inn, Jerry and I hoped we would be ahead of the game. This idea begins at the start of each climbing day and continues right up to the end. Planning and preparation are certainly key components but there are times when luck is on your side.
Early start times yield cool temperatures for the long approaches and the views of the Red Rock range can be magnificent.
Leading rock climbs is the ultimates experience for the climber. For those who put in their time and stick with the sport, leading provides the finest moments. Movement comes in first, one must have experience and know how to climb and be solid with the level they are leading. Terrain assessment, this is the art of finding the traveled line. Next is technical systems, the kraft of protection or placing gear, this kraft requires a careful approach as one looks for solid rock, the right piece, and a surface that will secure gear to the wall. The mental focus needed is a huge component – to keep calm and cool only comes with years of practice and training.
Straight Shooter – Jerry is not a gambling man – he sends this piece to the chains.
Physical Graffitti one of the areas finest moderate crack lines – with Jerry on the sharp end.
The Conundrum Crag has three very nice sport routes. The crag is located behind Kraft Mountain and is a long enough approach from the cars that you may likely have the area all to yourself.
Geronimo was the icing on the cake. Throughout the week Jerry refined his skills to put together this masterpiece of a lead. Five pitches of quality rock with the entire route void of bolts put Jerry to work. Finding the line, protecting the route, setting anchors, rope management all add up to a big day on the stone.
Fun climbing on cracks with steep pocketed rock on the sides.
The prize Geronimo in full view.
Red Rocks is one on the best multi pitch areas in the country. These canyon are loaded with climbs in full sun or shade. Climbers come here year round but you will find spring and fall to be the best.
The Green Wave?
That is when you pass through all the traffic lights on the way to the cliff – nice way to start the day.
Thanks Jerry for an amazing week together.
The Mooney Mountain Guides were out in force this past weekend. below you’ll find a couple of snippets of what went on.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Derrek and Alex are out there for a week guiding a handful of students from Middlebury College’s outdoor program.
This is the premier destination for winter time rock climbing, and Im sure a welcome reprieve from the cold of a NH winter.
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
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.
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.
Max and Cheyenne going for the Last Gentleman – another prize route at the Lake.
Jerry reaching high for the sticks into the ice.
Hundreds of feet off the deck – truly amazing exposure on the ice.
The Lake is the place I want to share with good friends – Jerry and I on the top of the Promenade.
Steep exciting rappels down the routes – walk offs are along way from here.
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.
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!
Art enjoying pitch two of the Black Dike
Finding some good ice in Shoe String
Crossing the Presi-ridge in 80-mph winds
Early season = awesome climbing
Crossing the Alpine Garden after a successful day in Huntington’s
Topping out in Huntington’s
The Ridge from the bottom of the talus.
For almost any climber the striking arete’ that forms the Whitney-Gilman ridge begs to be climbed. The shear size of the feature is imposing. It can be easily see from the road and when walking along Lafayette Ridge, Cannon’s 5,000ft neighbor to the east. Needless to say, the climbing is just as fun and aww inspiring as it looks from the ground. Parallel cracks, perfect corners and exciting face climbing only add to the appeal.
(Left:) The excellent second pitch. (Right:) Mat, headed directly for the 5.9 exit moves on the final pitch.
Mat, came down from Montreal to climb the ridge. Together we made great time. Each pitch flowed smoothly into the next. The warm sun and cool breeze provided perfect rock climbing temperatures. It was truly a great day for Cannon.
What made this climb come full circle, was climbing it in October. Typically October brings cool temperatures, clear blue sky, and the amazing foliage. Watching the hills change from a sea of green to bright oranges, yellow’s and reds makes this experience even better. I’m not sure what it is about perfectly dry rock and collared leaves that makes climbing this route so fun, but I invite you to come and see for your self what the Whitney-Gilman ridge is like in October.
Thanks Mat for a great day on the ridge.