Mooney Mountain Guides

An older post, saved from a while back. It seemed applicable to post it today as we enter rock season. Follow Steve’s lead, and get the whole family outdoors and rock climbing!

IMG_2704

I have had the pleasure of climbing with Steve twice over the past few weeks. Once with a his son and two friends, and a second time with his son a daughter. Both days were spent on the beautiful granite slabs of Whitehorse in North Conway, NH. Whitehorse seems to be the superior area for a family rock climbing outing. The slabs offering a host of routes that everyone can enjoy together.

IMG_2849

 This inclusiveness is important to Steve. As a climber himself, learning the craft on the granite big walls of Yosemite Vally, he wants to pass on the joy he received from climbing on to his two children. Moving to New England less than a year ago and not knowing the terrain prompted Steve to seek out Mooney Mountain Guides. Together we decided that Whitehorse would be the proper venue for his goals.

IMG_2706

In two days, more than ten pitches had been climbed from the Echo roof to Beginners Route. Lots of rappels, lowers, and funny pictures later everyone was happy to have shared the experience together. I was happy to have helped introduce the next generation of climbers to the sport.

IMG_2840

Thank you Steve, family and friends for two great days on the rock.

Alex Teixeira

 

Ice routes and conditions are vastly improving in NH. The warmer days and cold nights give the necessary water flow to the routes.  At a rapid rate I am seeing the ice conditions ramp up.

On News Years Day I gave an ice tour of Mt Willard to my good friends Masia and Todd and to Terry. A bright and colorful day we certainly had. We climbed both lower and upper Hitchcock gullys and found the entire route to be in fine shape.

IMG_8696

 The colors on winter!!!

IMG_8699

Terry working through the tricky rock step on Lower Hitchcock.

IMG_8703

Terry and I had a blast spending the day with Todd and Masia. They are so psyched to be climbing ice on New Years day.

IMG_8711

Han Chen and I met very early today Jan 2. Our goal was to be first for the NH classic Black Dike ice climb.

IMG_8708

First place did not happen but we did meet friends on the route. Soon enough we were high on the ice enjoying a warm day, sticky ice, and building conditions.

IMG_8704

So much thanks to you all for getting out climbing ice in the NH mountains. I enjoyed every moment and look forward to more good climbs together.

Art Mooney

Jerry and I completed a varied day of climbing on a few classic climbs at Whitehorse Ledge.

Wavelength – Seventh Seal – Loose Lips – Childrens Crusade 1st pitch.

 We are in the middle of SENDTEMBER and it felt like it today.  The climbing on the slabs and the central wall of Whitehorse Ledge in NH was exceptional.  The morning temps were in the 40’s, the sky was cobalt blue thus the rock on the slabs was perfect for the sticky rubber shoes, the edges on the face routes were crisp and the jams in the finger cracks felt dry and and solid.

IMG_7748

Seventh Seal and classic  5.10a finger crack on the Ethereal Buttress.  Jerry approaching the crux which he cruised by with ease.

IMG_7742

Our morning warm up on the first pitches of Standard Route.

IMG_7745

The high end games began as Jerry took on the tricky leads of Wavelength 5.8.

 IMG_7749

Jerry styling the perfect granite finger crack leading up to Loose Lips.

IMG_7758

Loose Lips – Wow this is an awesome route. The route is a personal favorite of mine and now Jerry.  A techy 5.10 face leads to a traverse and then the finale, a beautiful long finger crack.

Today was the start of a week long trip for Jerry and I.  Cathedral Ledge is our next stop and certainly a visit to Cannon Cliff will round out the trip.  We are in certainly luck this time as the weather looks to be clear, sunny and cool for the entire week.

Thanks Jerry for a great day on the stone.

Art Mooney

Rock, ice and mountain climbs have kept my interest for over thirty five years.  To say the least its my ultimate passion in life!!!

The movement over the stone or ice requires balance, flexibility, power and  focus.  The mindset is complete attention to gain control over the extreme situation.  The motion is fluid along the path or climb.   These are the three M’s that I try to achieve each time I head to rock face, the ice line or the mountain path.

Repman is back on the mountain.  After a needed break from the activtity he is back into shape and ready to climb. He bought family along to join him on this trip.  His daughter Catharine and friend Nicole came for their second time and it looks like they are both hooked on the sport too.

On a side note they all work at Peppercomm and this was a quick summertime break from their work. See the blog post Steve wrote about the trip.  http://www.repmanblog.com/repman/2015/08/we-are-family.html

IMG_7370

 

Steve leading the way up Whitehorse.

IMG_7379

 

The three inline Steve, Catharine, and Nicole climbing the steep slabs of Whitehorse.

IMG_7385

 

Success the team of five on the Whitehorse summit.

IMG_7387

 

Repman viewing and coaching Catharine at Rumney Rocks.

IMG_7389

 

Catharine to the top on the steep crack route at Rumney.

IMG_7400

 

This was Steves fourteenth summit of the Mt Washington. Photo of him on the alpine gardens heading up.

IMG_7435

 

A strategic partnership – Steve and Art on another amazing adventure together.

IMG_7447

 

There you have it – Mt Washington.

Art Mooney

For some people its shoes. Others, perhaps, baseball caps. Myself, I have a a problem with soft shell pants. I’ve discovered that they are the perfect pant for nearly any occasion. I have my standard pair for shoulder season rock, ice and mild mountaineering days. I have a pair with waterproof knees and butt for for backcountry skiing. I have an old pair I use for gardening and an even older pair (bought in high school) that I pulled out for landscaping in the rain. The benefits of soft shells are simply to great to list them all, but some of my favorites are that they’re durable, extremely comfortable, don’t get smelly musty or damp, and dry super quick. They’re such a huge part of my everyday wardrobe, that a girl I was seeing for a bit commented on the first time she saw me wearing pants other than soft shells, a few months in to the relationship.  Despite my affinity for them, I couldn’t find a pant to fit one particular niche. The summer climbing soft shell seemed to be an elusive pant.

 runbold-pt-m_black_gho1_rgb_Zoom2

The Runbold Pant

This was a noticeable absence in my soft shell line up, as Im not a fan of wearing shorts when climbing. The perfect pant needed to be light enough to not overheat in on hot summer days, easy to roll up for long approaches, and preferably offer some sun protection.( read this if your curious why UPF rated clothes are better for sunny activities). Naturally Id want the pants to be stretchy and fast drying, after all, thats the whole reason for my love affair with soft shell.

IMG_5715 IMG_5695

Stretchiness trial on The Groton High Grade, Marshfield VT

When I saw the Runbold pants on Mammut’s website they sounded like they’d fit the bill, even though Mammut markets them as being ideal for hiking and backpacking, and does not mention climbing. I’ve been using them for a few months now and can happily report that they’ve filled the void in my soft shell line up perfectly! My personal elasticity gives out far before that of the pants, and even if I did yoga 5 times a week I don’t think I could flex in such a way to find the limits of their stretchiness. The pants get wet at the mention of water, but this is to be expected for such a breathable fabric, and the upside is that they dry incredibly fast and don’t keep in your own moisture. The thinness of the material also makes this an incredible packable pant for a multi day climbing trip or throwing them in your pack just in case you want pants. The pants roll up easily and even have a tab and loop system to help keep the rolls in place. I’ve found this feature slightly superfluous and intent to cut it off soon, thought its never felt like it gets in the way. One of my favorite features that seems to be ubiquitous in soft shell pants is the right thigh pocket. This is the perfect place to keep a phone, camera, map or route topo, and my go to location for stashing things I want handy while climbing a multi pitch or guiding.

 1525445_10152979250095017_8955870859119808642_n

The Dynamic Duo, Runbold Pants, Ultimate Light Hoody

The thing that cemented my love affair with these pants was their blue sign certification. This means the production of the fabric used in the pants meets strict human and environmental health standards as set forth and verified by an independent auditor. Third party certifications like this give the consumer faith that a product is being produced in a humane and sustainable way. By buying products with these certifications the consumer can tell businesses that they support environmentally healthy business practices. For more information on the process of getting BlueSign certified, read this.

11391161_10152979251070017_9173856832033775303_n

Shirt and Pants. Now the perfect summer combo

The other soft shells in my quiver give me a forlorn look now whenever I pass the gear room where they’e dutifully waiting their turn. They’ll just have to wait till winter.

-Erik

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!

IMG_1959 IMG_1957

IMG_1960IMG_1961         

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.

IMG_0169       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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!

11226197_10153002159335017_2552767422472006782_n

10363657_10153000477225017_9177225416135905174_n1653512_10153000478240017_4109825913698891266_n

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  

10402946_997620623747_8806648423471717967_n 10439031_996342924267_3529093715043146268_n 18718_997620603787_7883506090968821389_n 10574350_996546541217_6424794975031150420_n             

Erik in VT                                                                                                                                                                                               

IMG_5695 IMG_5715 IMG_5690

There is a certain empowering feeling to teaching some one else the art and craft that you hold so dear. Whether its one day of sharing skills and techniques, or a multiple season long exchange of information, helping some one gain self sufficiency, empowering them to pursue this same craft on their own is a rich experience for both.

IMG_1926

Dappled Sun at the Square Inch Wall, Echo Crag

Sawyer has been a student of mine on the Holderness School rock climbing team for two seasons. Her enthusiasm and energy for climbing and adventure as a whole was tangible from day one. In that program I’m able to get students proficient in movement on rock, belaying, and even leading sport. Unfortunately we don’t have the time or the terrain to get students leading trad, though they do follow from time to time.

IMG_1927

Sawyer cleaning gear and examining placements

Sawyer graduated last month and wanted to get a solid foundation of leading in before heading off to college at the end of this summer. To that end, her dad gifted her a couple of days with Mooney Mountain Guides to dial in her technical skills.

IMG_1929

Following Skeletal Ribs and placing gear, to be inspected on lower

For her day of Trad climbing Sawyer and I went to Echo Crag. This location is ideal for learning and dialing in gear placement and other essential skills for trad climbing. Despite the wetness we did a couple of great routes, mock leading, and assessing gear placements and proper extension while on a counterbalanced lower together. This way we’re able to look at and talk about the placements together, and look at alternatives.

IMG_1931

Lunch Break Anchor Clinic

A quick lunch brake was an ideal time to talk about anchor construction methods on the ground. We were able to look at the standard, 3 piece equalized cordelette, the quad, and single piece anchors (i.e. big trees!)

IMG_1934

A Commanding View of Franconia Notch from Profile Cliff

From here we made our way up to Profile Cliff, which sits in the sun above Echo, and was therefore much drier. We did a classic long 5.7 line here that requires a double rope rappel, exposing Sawyer to pre rigging, rappel back ups, and joining two ropes for a rappel.

 IMG_1932

Sawyer Climbing on Profile Cliff

Once on the ground we wrapped up the day practicing various top belay techniques, including how to release and lower with various devices, and the advantages and disadvantages to different techniques.

 IMG_1936

Releasing a weighted ATC guide with a redirected sling

Its impossible to retain every rid bit of information thrown at you in a day like this. What it does do is set a solid foundation. As long as the person trying to learn this continues to seek to educate themselves by playing with the systems they learned, thinking through scenarios and practicing in real life, then the progression will continue to move forward!

Thanks for joining us, Sawyer!

 MMG

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.

IMG_1638

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.

IMG_1790

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.

IMG_1689

Alex on Raising the Roof

IMG_1684

Alex leading up Raising the Roof

IMG_1681

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.

IMG_1745

Alex heading up Rainbow Slabs

IMG_1743

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!

11204974_918958421500691_6088280805696173885_n 10441918_918958371500696_7200551002339028053_n 11377301_918958451500688_7474430637400910078_n

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!

IMG_1789

Art instructing on the 10 day AMGA Rock Guide Course

IMG_1819

Alain Comeau instructing on Erik’s Rock Instructor Course

IMG_1822

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.                                      IMG_6505 IMG_6534

Road into the cog base station and towers completely covered in snow and ice at the top!!  IMG_6506 IMG_6512

  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.

                  IMG_6514 IMG_6522

Conditions for Kelly’s goals were perfect on the mountain.

IMG_6525

We planned for overcast the entire day – but the skies opened just enough for great views of mountains and the valleys below.

IMG_6533

The summit cone was entered encased in snow.

IMG_6538

Quite casual on the summit with a slight breeze and 25 degrees.

IMG_6539

Kelly’s 2nd time on top of Mt Washington – Congrats to her for a great climb.

IMG_6542

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.

Art Mooney

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.

GUIDESWINTER

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.

60456_4636060742693_1284018553_n

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.

10955608_10152715878255017_6311954574861736884_n 10303787_10203691485310825_3845690104703625836_n

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.

IMG_1132 IMG_0852

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?”

1510593_10203270374263312_6593812116700535292_n

Erik heading up the Black Dike in wet early season conditions, yet staying dry and comfortable
A couple of our guides have had issues with blowing out pocket zippers. Mammut has been fast to respond and remedy the situation with free repairs. It’s good to not just know but to see a company stand by their product in such a way.
Ultimately, we think this is a great soft shell “hoody.” It doesn’t brake the bank, and yet it performs wonderfully. The jackets we got 3 years ago now are standing up wonderfully and have retained their quality properties through the years.
Thanks to Mammut for producing great clothing for alpine terrain and to Mammut North America for continuing to support what we do!