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!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you Steve, family and friends for two great days on the rock.
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.
The colors on winter!!!
Terry working through the tricky rock step on Lower Hitchcock.
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.
Han Chen and I met very early today Jan 2. Our goal was to be first for the NH classic Black Dike ice climb.
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.
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.
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.
Seventh Seal and classic 5.10a finger crack on the Ethereal Buttress. Jerry approaching the crux which he cruised by with ease.
Our morning warm up on the first pitches of Standard Route.
The high end games began as Jerry took on the tricky leads of Wavelength 5.8.
Jerry styling the perfect granite finger crack leading up to Loose Lips.
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.
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
Steve leading the way up Whitehorse.
The three inline Steve, Catharine, and Nicole climbing the steep slabs of Whitehorse.
Success the team of five on the Whitehorse summit.
Repman viewing and coaching Catharine at Rumney Rocks.
Catharine to the top on the steep crack route at Rumney.
This was Steves fourteenth summit of the Mt Washington. Photo of him on the alpine gardens heading up.
A strategic partnership – Steve and Art on another amazing adventure together.
There you have it – Mt Washington.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
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?”