Mooney Mountain Guides
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
This October MMG founder, senior guide, and guide mentor Art Mooney was the recipient of the 2014 American Mountain Guides Association “Outstanding Guide Award”. As a mentee of Art I have been lucky enough to experience, first hand, the power of his presence and witness the excellence with which he practices his profession. This award is an acknowledgement by the AMGA community of this dedication and his contributions to the profession of mountain guiding.
Art Mooney in action
To many of us who know him, Art has represented the best of guiding in the United States. His mentorship of aspiring guides has helped many reach their full potential. His family, friends, and the MMG team couldn’t be more proud Art. We are all very lucky to shared the mountains with him.
Thank you are for all you have done and continue to do.
The guides at Mooney Mountain Guides are very pleased to be supported by Petzl. Over the years many of us have found favorites in Petzl’s line from the Nomic’s and Dart’s on ice to the Spirit Express draw and Gri Gri on sport climbs. One of the reasons the relationship between Petzl and MMG is so great is because both companies have a passion for sharing knowledge and spreading climbing education. At MMG it’s our job on many days to act as educators in the climbing realm, and it’s what we truly love to do. At Petzl, they go beyond making and selling some of the best gear on the market, they also produce and distribute educational literature in their catalogs and on their website, towards the end of a safer more knowledgable climbing community.
For that reason I was excited this week to pull Petzl’s latest catalog out of the mail and check out, not only the new gear, but the new tech tips they offered up. I was thrilled to see that they tackled a common safety hazard in cleaning sport routes, one we see almost turn dangerous at Rumney, far to often.
The scenario starts when the final climber leads an overhanging, or traversing sport route. On the way back down they have to clean the draws as they lower. A standard practice is to clip a spare quickdraw from your belay rope to the line of rope running through the draws. This way, as you lower, you can stay close to the rope line to mor easily clean the quick draws, as opposed to lowering straight down and away from the wall. This works well until the last draw. We see two dangerous scenarios here.
1.) Climber stays clipped into belay line and unclips last draw. In this scenario the climber swings out from under the overhang like a pendulum. Since they are clipped into the belay line, as they swing they drag belayer with them, possibly dragging them across the ground or into an object.
2.) Belayer lowers out away from the wall with the first draw off the ground still clipped in. This causes a lot of slack as the rope goes up through first bolt, out to climber, up to anchor, and finally back down to the climber. At this point the climber makes the poor decision to unclip themselves from the belay strand. As that extra slack is introduced into the system the climber drops, possibly decking.
Erik Thatcher on Social Outcast at Rumney. A prime sight for this type of accident.
In both of those scenarios there are several easy work arounds. The first, and safest of all, is to have the final person up a steep climb top rope the climb on the strand of rope running through the draws, cleaning as they go. For severely angled routes such as Peer Pressure at Bonsai, this is the best method. For scenario number 2, the climber can be lowered to the ground without unclipping, so long as there is enough rope (knot your rope end just in case!)
For a lot of climbs at Rumney, the best way around this accident involves clipping into the second to last draw above the ground. I have to do this frequently at Bonsai, and select other routes like the Crusher or Cereal killer. I’ll take the draw connected to my harness, unclip it from the rope and clip it into the rope end carabiner of the draw on the second to last bolt. My belayer then loses me until my weight is on these two draws. Then you unclip the rope from the second draw, and reach down to clean the first draw from the bolt and rope. At this point your belayer braces themselves and you check behind you for obstructions you might run into, before unclipping and taking what should be a safe and moderate swing.
Whitney Steiner on The Crusher, another possible location for this technique
Many climbers at Rumney are starting their progression at the gym and working up to climbing outside at sport crags. I see two primary groups coming out of this situation. Some are those who climb moderates, and cautiously transition into leading similar grades outside. Others are generally younger climbers who quickly progress to leading hard routes on plastic, and then jump outside to do the same, of course there are all sorts of people in between. Mooney Mountain Guides works with many people who would fall into that former group, giving them learn to lead instruction and facilitating their transition outside. The latter group, it seems, rarely seeks out qualified instruction, and frequently we see them struggling or dangerously making their way through the learning curve, where qualified instruction from guides coaches or mentors would have made that transition quicker and safer. This, and other small safety tricks are critical to a safe and enjoyable day out at the crags!
MMG Guide, Alexa Siegel on Social Outcast
If you’re curious about seeing Petzl’s tech tip on cleaning draws in its entirety you can go here:
If you wish to geek out as the weather gets to cold or wet for climbing, here is the whole database of tech tips:
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.
For many sports one suffers along the way, there will be sweating and pain, then the prize comes as one reaches the finish line.
In climbing the ultimate prize is the summit, the peak of the climb. The high fives and cheers are at the end of the route or on the top of the peak.
This Red Rocks trip has been full of suffering, sweating and then cheers. Many of the approaches are long, and for us the routes have been quite challenging. When Terry and I top out together a sigh of relief comes upon us. It is then the smiles come from another amazing route completed together. This is our scene together on the rocks and its been this way for over thirty years.
As you will see in the photos Terry and I very much enjoy the tough challenges along the way.
The high points, the lofty summits, the outstanding views keep us coming back for more!!!
On are way into Black Velvet Canyon.
Terry powering through the cruxes of two very different climbs.
Yoga = Balance, Power, Focus!!!
Dream of Wild Turkeys – a three star route on some very fine rock.
Overview of the Red Rock Canyons from fossil ridge.
The Great Red Book.
Frogland and Black Velvet.
Terry guiding me for the day on Frogland.
High on the wall – friction moves and thin cracks.
Another day in paradise.
Hanging belay stations – high on a route called Unimpeachable Groping.
The cheers after a long day on the rock – we are at the base of the routes just completed.
Next March and April MMG will be back in Red Rocks – join us for your spring fling on the rock!!!
Mammut has produced top quality climbing ropes for almost 150 years!!!
The set of Revelation ropes pictured are my personal top choice of ropes for high end multi pitch rock or ice routes. I have used these ropes for well over ten years and my reasons are clear – the Revelation is a high quality lightweight rope with outstanding handling for climbing and belaying. The super dry treatment has a couple of benefits. The ropes are resistant to dirt and water and the slick finish provides exceptional glide and friction properties on the rock. When used as a set – two of these ropes slide with ease through the direct belay device with two climbers in action.
These Mammut Ropes have many features that set them as a leader in the industry and make a big difference for climbers and guides on the rock, ice and alpine routes.
Colorful sheath twines of the Revelation in Ocean and Duodess.
Revelations in action – two ropes used like one.
Grib and Bill climbing Kurts Corner – I am using a direct belay with a self locking belay plate off the master point of the anchor. This allows the two climbers to move together – efficiency and speed is achieved over a long route.
Cannon Cliff – New Hampshire.
Cannon is a high end alpine rock and ice climbing area which stands alone in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. Cannon is known for longer complex multi pitch routes, unpredictable fractured rock and unstable mountain weather. This adds up to high end excitement in the mountains.
Finger of Fate – the above shark fin feature is hanging on by a thread!!!
Bill, Grib and I climbed the Whitney Gilman last spring. We had an such an amazing day on Cannon we planned this climbing trip – the ascent of Moby Grape.
Moby Grape 5.8 – Grade III
May seem like a simple undertaking when viewed from the guide book.
Actually Moby Grape is one of the longest 5.8 crack routes in the area. There are many difficult cruxes, the route finding is complex, and the length just keep on coming. Nine pitches of quality climbing set you on top of the world – views below of the Pemi Valley and across to the summit of Lafayette.
The striking Whitney Gilman Ridge.
Bill climbing the sharp cracks leading up to the stout triangle roof moves.
Committed to the Core
Mammut USA – – Bill (CEO) and Gribbin (Marketing Manager) at work in the mountains.
Personally I am very proud to be included as one of the sponsored Mammut Athletes and my commitment stands strong. For over ten years I have put Mammut products to the test at my work while guiding and at play pushing the grades climbing on the rock and ice routes. The exceptional quality, innovative design, functionality have made these clothing and technical products stand out as the best in the industry.
Yesterday was a blast – it was a pleasure to get out and climb with Bill and Grib. Another day is in the works for the ice – which is coming fast. Yesterdays cool morning showed a taste to come of the flavor of winter.
Much Thanks to Bill and Grib for believing in Mooney Mountain Guides and myself.
Kavu – Klear Above Visibility Unlimited!!!
Yes it was that type of day. For Jerry and I this meant revisiting a few of the local test pieces at Cathedral Ledge. We found ourselves at the Barber Wall in the early morning for a run on the steep slanting route named Chicken Delight. This is a delight of a crack for sure as we found out in a short time!!!
Our move from here took us down to Diedre – a classic 5.9 route. Cracks, corners, chimney moves and a roof or two – this route keeps on giving right up to the last move. Jerry was on fire as he sent each pitch, by mid afternoon we were on top. Our hands and arms were feeling the punch for sure.
A bit to early to call it a day so we opted for one final pitch on They Died Laughing. We certainly laughed during this day, tons of good moves and lots of fun was had!!!
Jerry lay backing on the Chicken Delight.
A bit of scrappy 5.6 to start Diedre.
A problematic roof for many, unlocking a tricky sequence will get you across.
Jerry completing the final roof moves onto the belay ledge.
This is the sustained classic 5.8/9 corner. Beautiful rock, great moves, a steep pitch – this one is a gem.
Jerry pulling into the final move to the top.
Steep moves lead to a jam – then a scrappy mantle to top out.
Taped hands did the trick.
They Died Laughing – North End Cracks.
Awesome day on the granite cracks!!!
This Labor Day weekend, my wife and I were looking for a nice moderate climb away from the crowds at Rumney, Cathedral, and Whitehorse. We decided on Endeavor, a classic 5.7+ route at White’s Ledge in Bartlett. I had first heard of the route more than ten years ago and wanted to climb it but never made it out there.
While the beginning of the trail seemed a little perplexing, we followed our instinct and realized quickly we were on the right track. The short hike and approach through the boulder field warmed us up this cool morning, and before we knew it, we were at the base. No other parties had arrived yet.
The first look at White’s Ledge after exiting the boulder field.
The first few pitches went smoothly as we encountered some technical sections and beautiful exposure. Taking our time, we chose not to link any of the pitches, though it would have been possible. The fourth pitch (5.6) was a little “spicy,” and challenging to find gear in some places, but the half of the crack that continued on to the next pitch was superb: solid jams, good gear, and footholds outside the crack in case your feet hurt too much from being in climbing shoes all day. We enjoyed the view from the top and set up our rappel.
At the rappel station at the top. You can see the Saco River in background.
About ten feet from the rappel station – close enough to see your partner and communicate clearly but far enough to be truly on your own – I stepped on a large rock that shifted slightly and came loose. I stuck my foot out to try and stop it. Before I realized what was truly happening, I saw that the rock rested on my right foot. I held it in place and yelled rock to the party below me. A small stone fell toward the woman at the anchor, which was right below me. I told her there was a huge rock still loose as I carefully bent down and steadied the rock with my hand before picking it up with my right hand. Though I was aware at the time that I had wisely backed up my rappel with an auto block, a practice I employ regularly when rappelling without a fireman’s backup, in retrospect, I am even more thankful for taking the extra two minutes to do so.
Gripping the rock tightly to my chest, I told her we were still not entirely safe. She informed me that there was at least another party below her at the base. I eventually managed to finagle the rock in my backpack (my wife’s suggestion) and rappelled down with the extra weight.
I hope the photo gives a sense of the rock’s size.
We made it down safely, warning everyone we encountered about the precarious section right below the rappel and made our way back to the car and then home. Despite the scare at the end, I would highly recommend Endeavor, a nice, long classic route with moderate climbing with a fairly short approach and less crowded than the popular crags.
I expect the views are even more spectacular once the leaves change.
The adventure begins – here is the entire Cody, Barr and Hall team on top of the summit of Welsh and Dickey.
This was a very special trip – the MMG guides enjoyed showing off the NH climbing areas to Catharine and Nicole who join Team Cody for their first rock and mountain climbing adventure.
This past week Team Cody reached yet another milestone – leading rock climbs!!!
It all took place during the end of summer climbing trip where the main goal was to have a fun time and climb rock and mountains in a variety of areas. We had six days planned so this could easily be achieved if the bodies would do the job – hold up from day after day of climbing.
The other goal planned was to learn the skills to lead rock. Learning the skills is one part then another one comes into play when the sharp end of the rope is taken on – its the focus and the change of mindset that automatically comes on board – it happens to everyone.
We all joked around when Chris tied in for the first lead – the mood immediately took on a serious note – he was Scared Straight!!! Chris did a fine job leading multiple sport routes and Steve took on the challenge too. By days end we all had racked up a few notable leads and we all had a blast of a time.
Team Cody and Barr setting up for the day.
A focused Chris getting some action clipping bolts on lead at Rumney Rocks.
The attentive belay is no easy task – nice work Adel .
Repman alive and feeling the sharp mindset change with the rope hanging below his feet. Fantastic job leading these routes.
Suns out guns out – summer returns to NH.
Cathedral was also on out hit list. It was a hot day so we opted for a fast ascent of the Funhouse and Upper Refuse.
Here I am topping out on the lookout of Cathedral Ledge.
A surprise visit from Alex yielded these great photos. Alex dropped a fixed rope and came down to see and record the action. Here is Steve mid pitch on Funhouse – a three star crack climb!!!
Chris hanging on by a thread – looking casual up high on the granite faces of Cathedral Ledge.
Scared Straight – the vision is clear – more leads and more adventure to come.
Thanks to all of you for an awesome week on the rocks in NH.
This past week my work has been with a group of 4 rock climbing instructors seeking to raise the bar for themselves and their guests. Each of these instructors put themselves and their skills on the line by guiding Alain and myself around Cathedral and Whitehorse. The end goal was certification as a Rock Instructor with the American Mountain Guides Association.
Rock Instructor Certification is designed to apply to most “cragging” style rock climbing areas in the United States. It is meant for guides or aspiring guides who work on routes that are Grade III or shorter. While these routes are multi-pitch, they are relatively straightforward and may involve complex approaches and/or descents. Time factors are important on all of these routes.
The photos below are of the instructors guiding us around last week. Great job to all of you for continuing your education and your commitment to guiding!!!
Whitehorse – a pleasurable day out on the slabs with AMGA guides.
Cathedral Ledge – fantastic steep cracks and flakes.
Diedre – one of the best corner systems around the NH area.
Rock rescue skills in action – mock drills for the instructors tool box.
Solid, efficient,movement – is number one for the climber, instructor, guide.
When choosing your guide look into the guides page. The information in bios will tell you who may be the best fit for your instruction and guiding day.
SPI guides are trained for the single pitch terrain and the RI are trained for multi pitch. Many certified SPI guides are in the process with mentorship and training for the RI. The Rock Guide is trained for the longest, complex routes.
Thanks to all of you for a great week.