Mooney Mountain Guides
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!
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Twice a year Mooney Mountain guides offer’s and exceptional trip, ascending Mt Washington with an overnight in the observatory. This trip is great for those who want to summit Washington and aren’t sure if they can do it in a day, or those who have already done it and are looking for something new.
We get a late start from Pinkahm Notch after going over clothing and equipment needs. This puts on on the summit mid afternoon. After the obligatory pictures and high fives we head inside to prepared coffee and snacks! After settling in and getting comfortable the head of the Observatory staff gives us a brief tour and intro to the building and the scientific work going on in the Observatory. We then have dinner with the whole crew, chatting up the volunteers and scientists and getting great stories. After dinner they were nice enough to open up the museum for us to learn more about the science and history behind Mt Washington. The next day we wake up at a reasonable hour, have a grand breakfast and mosey on down the mountain.
Doing the trip this way certainly lessens the technical demands of a usual day hiking up and down Washington. Despite that, its still an awesome accomplishment and an exceptional experience. We book these days far in advance each winter and spots frequently go fast. if you’re interested in joining us next year for one of our two over night Observatory trips ( 1 in Feb, 1 in March) get in touch early!
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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.
Its a rare day when guests are rope gunning for guides, but then i guess this was a rare week. Jerry the Gale Force continued his epic season climbing with Art. They had a stellar day on the on the east face of Willard. A few days before that, George joined us again and also took the sharp end on the east face of Willard with Alex. The snow is deep between the climbs, but the ice is great right now!
Also this week, Erik and Alex chose to use some rest days to hunt down the last of the powder from last weeks storms. These days were just long enough to help work the lactic acid out of legs from the previous week of work, as well as to put a day long powder grin on our faces 🙂
Following our week of ice we transitioned right into a weekend of ice. On Saturday Alex ventured north to Lake Willoughby with guests Mark and Matt.
This is the premiere venue in the east for big, bad, bold ice climbs! starting the day in -20 temps tempered the expectations some, but they still managed a couple of multi-pitch 4+ lines. Certainly a day for all to be proud of.
On Saturday and Sunday, Erik had two couples for an introduction to ice climbing. Day one was spent at Kinsman Notch, honing in the basics. Day two was spent basking in the sun (first day temps were above freezing in almost a month!) at Newfound Lake.
Thanks to all our guests from this weekend! we hope to see you again soon.
The Mooney Mountain Crew
Last week was a stellar week on ice for the Mooney Mountain crew as well as friends. The bulk of our week was spent with students from the Olivarian School. This school, in Haverhill, NH has a week long electives period. A strong outdoor program funnels a handful of their students into taking an ice climbing course led by two faculty members for this full week.
The bulk of the time was spent getting milage in on tope ropes around the state, while two days were spent getting students up on multi-pitch ice climbs in Crawford Notch.
Erik, Matt and Doug gearing up
Below is a gallery of some of the students having fun on this course. We’re thrilled any chance we get to work on a curriculum and multi day experience with organizations and groups. This week was no exception, and we can’t wait till next year!
On Friday Erik got out with George. George use to ice climb on a somewhat regular basis up until about 3 or 4 years ago. He wanted to get back into it this year, including leading, with an eye towards swinging leads on Pinnacle Gully by the end of the year. To that end, he’s booked a handful of days throughout the winter with us to work towards that goal. This was the third day he got out with us, and we focused specifically on leading skills.
We started with some warm up laps. George put up two of the easier lines at Kinsman and worked on making anchors on trees. We then had a quick ground school covering V threads, ice screw anchors and top belays.
George then lead up the first step of the main flow at Kinsman, skillfully made an anchor out of the fall line of the second pitch, and belayed me up. We then talked transitions and I look the lead, bringing him up to me at the anchor. Once there, George lead a multi pitch rappel including making and rappelling off of a V-thread.
These days of geeking out on technical skills are super fun for me. Not only is it another way of practicing our skills, but it is the clearest example of our ability to enable others to pursue their passions in the mountains. Hard to describe just how satisfying that is to us! Luckily we have a wealth of smaller, less busy crags on the west side of the mountains that are easy to access and offer incredible terrain for coaching and training of these technical skills.
Thanks for following our work, and hope to see you in the mountains!
The Crew at MMG
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.
Jackson and I have climbed together since the summer of 2010. It all started on the warm sunny rocks of Rumney, then led to bigger routes at Whitehorse. As the years went by Jackson decided he could not wait until the summer anymore. He was determined to get out in winter which meant he was in for a try on a mountain/ice climb in NH.
The NH mountains and ice climbs are no easy task. The winter environment is harsh and the terrain is usually very rough, this all adds up to pretty tough conditions for anyone. Jackson is 10 years of age and for most kids this would not be a fun time. Jackson keeps focused as he climbs up the mountain while maintaining a steady pace. On the ice he climbs like a champ, he overcomes each difficult section one at a time and always going for the top.
Yesterday was a huge achievement for Jackson, Mike and I as we ascended the Cleft on a very cold winter day. Jackson never voiced one complaint, he just kept moving up the mountain one kick, one stick at a time.
For me it is totally awesome to have this opportunity to work with Jackson – a young climber/skier with a huge Quest for Adventure!!!
Three is good company – a fine day in the mountains.
On approach to the Cleft on Mt Willard.
Jackson equipped and ready for ice climbing in the mountains
The Cleft – a deep chasm choked with ice – amazing!!!
Jackson and Mike climbing together up the narrow Cleft.
The Final top out onto level ground – time for a recharge with hot drinks and food.
On our way in to the Cleft we passed a beautiful climb – the Rocket in Crawford Notch.
Thanks to Jackson and Mike for closing out 2014 with this exciting day in the mountains.
Many of the Lake Willoughby climbs are ready for action and there are a few that need another week or two before the ice is fat enough to climb. The route Plug and Chug pictured below could be climbed but the sun was to much and throughout the day large daggers of ice were falling off from the intense heat that gets absorbed by the rock. The morning temps were 5 degrees but the mid day high was thirty two. Ice climbing can turn on frenzy type attitude with climbers – everyone wants first sticks.
Read Ryans blog in the link below and stay safe out there.
Great picture of Plug And Chug – it makes one want to climb it. See the climber at the base.
A smart decision to descend was made by this climber as he decided conditions were not right for this day.
Jerry and I climbed Renormalization on the far right. The route was shaded and far enough away from the daggers hanging above.
This is the easy line in the Mindbender area – just another stout grade 4 route at the Lake.
Pure fun in the afternoon – plastic/ buttery type ice at the tablets.
The end of a perfect day – it was a beauty, calm and warm.