Mooney Mountain Guides
It was a pleasure to climb with Mike and Luke today at Cathedral and Whitehorse Cliffs. Both these guys are experienced climbers which made our day flow very fluidly. We started at Whitehorse to regain our footwork (precise movements) then we ventured over to Cathedral to play on two crack lines. By days end I felt we found the Beat as we ended up climbing 10+ pitches and took the final route to the top.
Early morning at a wet Whitehorse. I spied a dry line that went directly up to the bolts on the third pitch of Sliding Board.
Luke climbing fast and light.
Mike revisiting his old playground.
Our highpoint on Whitehorse. We descended from here – three rappels landed us on the ground.
The country club scene on the approach.
Time for some steep climbing – here is Luke on pitch one of Fun House.
Mike on the cracks and corners of Fun House.
The climbing is varied and fun – Fun House to Black Lung is a great link up to the top.
Luke flying high over the Mt Washington Valley.
Along with the climbing a few new techniques were getting attention. Mike is working on the butterfly coil.
Thanks to Mike and Luke for this day – its was a privilege to climb with both of you. I look forward to seeing you gain soon.
One of the most celebrated parts of the climbing life is the road trip. Taking off on a vacation with the sole purpose of climbing in new and varied locations. I was able to spend the month of June doing just that. My climbing partner and I loaded up my truck on May 28th and took off for California where we were able to climb in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Lovers leap. On the way out and back we stopped briefly for a day in Vedauwoo WY, a run up the First Flatiron in Boulder, and a handful of days in City of Rocks Idaho.
Through out the trip I got to test out some new and old Mammut gear. Being the gear geek that I am, I was excited to see how new things performed, and put some of my tried and true favorites to new tests and applications. I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you below!
When I was in the market for new shorts last summer, home crag pride made it a virtual necessity that I buy these shorts. Named after one of the best sport crags in the world (there’s that pride), I expected these to be among the best shorts in the world. While I haven’t worn enough shorts to qualify that, they have not let me down. The have the longer cut that is necessary for me to comfortably climb in a pair of shorts. They are an incredibly lightweight material, and yet have held up remarkably well. Most cotton climbing bottoms I’ve had have had a life span of about one year before some serious tears and blowouts. These show zero sign of wear but for a small tear where I decked and hip checked a ledge last summer. They have great pockets for use with or without a harness. The 4 step closure system was a little complex for me at first, often leaving me with an unzipped fly, but I’ve grown to appreciate how well you can custom fit these shorts without a belt, in part due to that 4 step process and the built in draw cord. Finally, they’re wicked fast drying. A lot of our days in the valley involved a mid day siesta to beet the heat. We’d grab lunch, a beer and a quick swim in the Merced before a nap or some reading. By the time we were ready to climb in the afternoon they were totally dry.
I’ve already written my praise for the Togir click harness here. I’ve had it for over a year now and If I were to rewrite the review it would only be filled with more praise. The unique benefit of the click is the ability to completely and easily undo the waist loop and leg loops, to more easily put it on over crampons. After ice season I briefly stopped putting my harness on this way. Why do it when not wearing crampons? This felt weird though! I quickly reverted back to using the click feature instead of putting it on one leg at a time like a normal harness. This feels much less cumbersome, like putting on a work belt as opposed to the cliffside-balancing act that can feel more like trying to put your pants on before your first cup of coffee. With the increased ease of putting a harness on and taking it off, I started to leave more and more gear right on my harness, making transitions between climbing and approaching/ descending much quicker. As if that weren’t enough Mammut makes a matching chalk bag for most of their harnesses. While I’d like to pretend that I don’t care that my chalk bag matches my harness (as well as my lockers, and jacket, and pants…) I have to admit it feels kind of cool. It’s like a professional sports uniform, for climbing! More important than the style bonus is the little pocket on the back of the chalk bag. I’ve used this to carry my phone for pictures and route beta, a headlamp for fright of being benighted and an energy bar to stop from getting hangry. Putting something large in the pocket affects its utility as a chalk bag a little bit. I’ve found that making sure its well stocked with chalk counteracts that well enough! A friend who forgot his chalck bag at the crag the other day needed to borrow mine. Unsolicited, he offered up, “I know this is silly, but this is a really nice chalk bag.”
The Trion family of packs is an example of perfection. I have and love the Trion Light, and have a number of friends who are in love with their Trion Guides, but the go to bag for Mooney Mountain Guides is the Trion Pro in 35L. If in need of a one pack quiver, this would be the pack. It’s burly enough to with stand the plethora of sharp objects that are part of ice cragging, or even sport cragging at a place like Rumney. At the same time it’s light and compactable enough to be taken on a multipitch alpine climb in the mountains. The suspension system carries wonderfully for the approach, and the pack can easily be stripped down (hip pads and brain removed) and compressed for the climb. One of my favorite things about this pack is such a little detail! The buckles on the compression straps are opposite on either side so that you can strap something large to the very back of your pack, keeping it nice and balanced in the middle.
If jeans and a jean jacket is considered a Canadian Tuxedo, then would SOFtech jacket and pants be considered a Swiss Tuxedo? Whatever the proper terminology, this material is a bomber soft shell fabric for jackets and pants. For much of the trip I was wearing The Fiamma Pants and Pokiok Jacket, both made with Mammut’s in house soft shell fabric. While I’ve only had the pants for a couple of months, I’ve had the jacket for a year now, so feel comfortable making some remarks on the material. I tend to like a more waterproof material for my main jacket, but the Pokiok has been great as a warm weather Ice climbing or skiing jacket, or a cold weather rock climbing shell. The Fiamma pants are sure to become my favorites. I generally ice climb in a thinner soft shell pant, like this weight, as well as doing a fair amount of my shoulder season rock in pants of this weight. These pants have a sizeable thigh pocket for maps a camera or food, and all the regular pockets for functioning as a normal pair of pants when off mountain. One of my favorite things about switching to these pants, from a similar pair by another brand, is the ankle cut. On similar soft shell pants the ankle taper downs very narrow to minimize crampon snag. The Fiamma pants instead have a simple way of cinching down the cuff when so desired. When climbing in the mountains you frequently go through many temperature changes, both from external sources and internal. An easy example is setting off in the lowlands, where it’s nice and warm, and approaching your climb high in the mountains, where wind and elevation make the mercury drop. In this scenario it’s an awesome option to be able to roll up your pants to cool off your legs, as seen in the picture above. The taper around the ankle of previous soft shell pants I’ve had have made this impossible, where as the Fiamma pants easily open wide at the ankle and roll up high, then roll back and can be cinched down again once in the mountains.
Oh do I love a skinny rope! Its my impression that any one who does multi pitch climbing let alone alpine climbing, needs a skinny. Mammut ropes are top notch. Their thorough dry treatment repels not only water, but dirt as well, increasing the life span of their ropes. We used the Revelation as our main rope for everything but wall climbing with Aid pitches. After a month of almost daily abuse it shows hardly a sign of wear. My love for skinny ropes comes from the fact that they make my life easier! At 57 grams per meter, this rope is almost a full pound lighter than a similar 9.8 rope. That adds up on long approaches, or when hitting cruxes at the end of a pitch. Equally as significant is the reduced friction in a belay device. Lets do some basic math! The most classic multiptich climb we did on our trip was the Regular Route on Fairview Dome. 1,000 feet of granite gloriousness and elbow destroying belaying! Swinging leads, Paul and I each pulled roughly 500’ of rope through a belay device that works on friction. Say each motion of the arm through the top belay movement brings up 2 feet. That’s 250 individual weighted movements on your elbow, in half a day! Its no wonder guides can easily develop repetitive use injuries in their elbows if not careful when belaying. Skinnier ropes mean your pulling up less weight each time, and with less resistance through your belay device. The difference is incredibly noticeable!
Carabiners and Slings
The Mammut Contact slings have been a staple of my rack since I started fantasizing about its existence based on what my mentor’s used. One can have a lengthy debate on the merits of nylon vs dyneema slings. Ultimately, when used in the right application, having a rack of dyneema slings reduces both weight and clutter. While the weight is often sited as the selling point, the clutter is just as important in my mind. When wall climbing, alpine climbing or multipitch rock climbing, harness racking space is at a premium, and the less bulky dyneema slings take up considerably less room than their nylon brethren. I usually rack two 4-footers for slinging horns and trees or use in an anchor, and about six 2-footers for use as alpine draws.
One place I feel comfortable investing money is in my carabineers. Even the skinny lightweight ones will last you a long time, getting your moneys worth in weight savings over many years. The Mammut Wall (formerly Moses) carabiner is a great example of such an investment. At 27 Grams a piece you can save over a pound of weight on your harness by going with this lightweight wire gate over a typical wire gate for your standard carabiner on a trad rack ( 10 draws + 8 cams +2 4’foot slings)
Finally, I like to have a mix of lockers to match their needs. Low profile lockers like the Wall Micro are awesome for where you just need a carabiner that locks; attached to your gri-gri, connecting your haul bag and haul line, or on your jugging set up for example. They’re lightweight and less bulky, reducing clutter. I usually carry two to three lightweight, medium profile lockers like the Bionic Mytholito for applications where you need to put a knot or hitch on it, such as cloving in at the anchor, or belaying a second on a munter. These are still lightweight but a bit bigger to accommodate the hitches and knots. Finnally I like to carry one lightweight large profile carabiner like the Bionic HMS. This allows you to “stack” things on to it at an anchor, often reducing clutter. It would have been killer to have 6 of these for wall climbing, where you generally have three lockers on bolts for an anchor and are stacking all sorts of items on them from the lead line to multiple haul bags and everything in between.
This was truly an every man’s climbing trip. While we did a smattering of routes in the 5.9-5.10 range, the vast majority of pitches we climbed where at the attainable grades of 5.6-5.8. The lightness and ease of use of these products probably doesn’t mean the difference between send or sail until much harder grades. That being said, the same attributes can make big days in the mountains and on the cliffs much more enjoyable and comfortable, and the multifaceted use of many of them justifies their place in the limited space one has living out of a truck on a month long climbing trip!
A big thanks to Mammut for their support of Mooney Mountain guides!
For a trip report and photo gallery from my trip, please vist my personal blog here
Hurricane Author might have dropped a significant amount of rain on the North East on Friday, but that didn’t stop the Buzanis’s from a great day of climbing on Saturday. The cool damp morning kept the crowds away giving us first go on the classic climb “Upper Refuse”.
Upon topping out the tourists looking down the cliff saw our team coming up. What an exciting way to top-out on Cathedral, with a clapping audience.
The excitement wasn’t over. After lunch on top of the cliff, we headed to the Thin Air Face for 400 more feet of climbing before the day was done. By then the rock was dry and a cool breeze was sweeping down the valley, a perfect afternoon of rock climbing. All together a spectacular day.
Starting the day with a beautiful view of Whitehorse Ledge
Topping out on Upper Refuse
Lounging around on top of Upper Refuse
Pre-rigged on Rappel
Ridge running has always been one of my favorite workout activities. Putting on the trail shoes, carrying a small pack with the essentials, and moving light and fast gives a feeling of a free spirit in the mountains. Lightweight travel and quick moves over boulder strewn trails leave the miles behind as one runs along the trails and ridges in the high peaks.
The Whitney Gilman Ridge is another type of ridge running adventure. The vertical 5th class kind! The game is played in a similar way, lightweight gear, efficient movements, and quick transitions all add up to topping out on the ridge in a short amount of time. The Whitney Gilman Ridge route is positioned along an exposed knife edge of stone, the route wanders back and forth with moments of exceptional exposure over the dark north wall. The route is somewhat committing as descending is not an easy task – there is certainly an excitement factor on this climb. This is Cannon and getting to the top in a timely way is the common goal.
The Whitney Gilman – 600ft of technical 5th class climbing.
Bill – happy to be back on Cannon!!!
Today we had a slight breeze and light cloud cover – this kept conditions quite nice on this hazy, hot, and humid day.
Team Mammut in action – Grib coming over the exposed pipe pitch, great vistas of the Lafayette Ridge from this spacious belay ledge, and Grib on the final corner pitch.
Pitch 5 has a steep corner system – excellent climbing high on Cannon.
The pitch 5 exposed belay station perch.
Great times – back in action on Cannon.
What a fantastic climbing area – right in our backyard of NH.
The Flatirons dominant the skyline high above Boulder on the slopes of the Rockies. These unusual formations of stone are numbered 1,2,3 and all are climbed regularly by Boulderites and visiting climbers.
Steve arrived in town and Flatiron number 1 was our first objective. Our choice of routes today weaved up the center of the wall and offered over 1 thousand feet of mindful movements in 10 pitches of varied roped climbing.
Steve giving the thumbs up to the Flatiron. There would be no wrinkles on this ascent – we pressed onward to the base.
Special times – breaking in the new rope.
This Mammut Revelation rope is a beauty and will be treated with care.
Today we went for comfort and performance and both of us chose to wear our new Five Ten – Guide Tennis shoes. These shoes went right into action, sticking to the stone. A great choice of climbing footwear for the moderate routes, much more than the so called approach shoe.
Learning the ropes, clove hitches, belays techniques and protection.
At the top of the face is an alpine style ridge. Here Steve is breaking down the anchor ready for the summit bid.
Our early start paid off big. The early morning approach was quiet and peaceful then the masses of climbers and hikers arrived. No worries for us we were on top for the day.
High above Boulders open space lands.
First Flatiron climbed, next stop Eldorado Canyon.
Great warm up day for Steve and I – let the fun times continue!!!
To Nick, climbing and mountaineering is less about achievement. Nick prefers to use the mountains as a place for discovery. He does not limit this discovery to natural places, and spectacular views; in addition to these, Nick takes time for self discovery and reflection. Knowing this about Nick I felt that a traverse of New Hampshire’s Presidential range was a perfect objective.
Foreground Mt. Adams, Mid-ground undercast clouds, Background Mt. Washington
New Hampshire’s Presidential Range is the loges exposed alpine ridge-line in the eastern half of the U.S. It also boasts eight summits, Mt. Washington being the tallest in the North East. There are some options on how to start and finish the traverse, however, our path would take us 24.5 miles over which we would gain and loose 7,200ft of elevation.
Our journey began at the Appalachia trail head where we walked 5 miles to tree-line, eventually topping out at the AMC Madison Spring Hut. With it being early season, Nick and I decided to stay in the huts operated by the AMC. This option allowed us to cary light day packs, as apposed to heavy overnight packs.
View from Madison Spring Hut
Our walk to the hut was beautiful, following a stream fed by an alpine spring made it even better. An easy pace with good conversation, gave us plenty of time to relax on the porch of the hut before we were served a delicious hot meal. One of the most stunning sunsets over a blanket of undercast clouds made a great ending to a even better day.
Sunset at Madison Spring Hut
Day two dawned bluebird skies, and 20% humidity. A perfect day to hike across one of the most stunning landscapes in the east. We passed deep glacial cirques, and craggy summits on our way south. After our hike across the the Northern Presidentials, we arrived at the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut at the foot of Mt. Washington. We sipped hot coco as we unpacked our packs and prepared for dinner. Another wonderful four course meal. Both tired, we headed to bed early for day 3.
Starting out on Day 2
Midway Point Day 2
Nick and I awoke to the sound of rain blowing against the window of the hut and coffee brewing in the kitchen. Two large bowls of oatmeal prepared us for our journey across the southern end of the range. Out the door we were met with rain, but it didn’t detract from the experience. We were prepared with rain gear to stay warm and dry. Over the summit of Monroe we went.
No more rain, and good visibility.
Nick and I had been out for two hours,when suddenly the rain slowed to a stop and the fog lifted. The skies remained cloudy and dark, yet the clouds were in the upper atmosphere and visibility increased to about 30 miles. We completed the final 2/3rds of our day with beautiful views all the way to Mizpah Hut. By this point in our travels we had gotten to know some of the other southbound hikers on the trail. Having dinner and breakfast with these other hikers, Nick and I got to know them a little. Walking into the hut, it was like seeing old friends at the local watering hole. Another hot four course meal was served. Desert of cream cheese brownies sent us full and warm to our bunks.
Final Summit in the Presidential’s complete.
Breakfast and goodbyes to the hut workers, then we were off down the trail. We were out around lunch time. On our hike out Nick and I reflected on how the mountains teach us about our selves. Our physical fitness becomes apparent, our decision making, and what is important to us. Nick and I promised to meet again for another mountain adventure in the future. Between now and then, Nick will go to Mt. Rainer in the Cascades of Washington, as well as Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus of Russia. No doubt that he will have done some self discovery.
Thank you Nick for a great week on the trail.
A big shout out is in store for the MMG guides.
Thanks very much for attending the spring training day this season. This day is where and when the MMG Guide team gets together to Raise the Bar. By reviewing our practices, discussing new techniques, lots of hands on with new and previous skills, and general fun times cragging on the rocks the team comes together and tightens up the MMG guiding operation.
L to R: Derrek Anderson, Phil Thalheimer,Derek Doucet,Steve Cooney, Alex Teixeira, Todd Goodman, and Mike Leathem
Missing – not forgotten are: Erik Thatcher, Jim Gagne, Matt Shove.
Our Sponsors Mammut, Julbo, Five Ten – came through again – in a big way!!!
Check out these excellent products.
On approach to Jimmy Cliff area.
Discussing the descent technique options.
MMG’s team – we have been together for many years which says a lot.
Good friends, good times = good guiding and instruction.
The Gi Gi and the Connecticut Hitch
Phil managing the station and transitioning to the descent.
Great day getting together – Thank you all.
Yesterday was an absolutely stellar day of the stone. Brilliant sunshine, a light breeze, crisp dry rock gave Jerry and I the go ahead for sports action on Whitehorse. The Julbo Stunt glasses were on board to keep the glare out of my eyes – my guide job for the day was to assist Jerry in leading the way to the top. I needed a good visual from below to point out a few key placements on the sparsely protected route – a Whitehorse specialty.
Pitch one starting off the launch pad – easy slabs lead to the anchor 150 feet up and right.
Jerry keeping his focus on the typical long run outs on moderate terrain.
Simple anchors on the bolted station were solid and fast to set and remove.
Taking this place for Granted – never – a special area for all to enjoy.
BD Cams placed in good solid rock, surface area excellent and direction of pull considered.
Crystal pocket belay area.
Headed out to Lunch ledge – long runout on easy terrain leads to great gear before the steep climbing.
Jerry and I on top – enjoying views on the valley and Mt Washington in the distance.
Mammut – Innovative Rock and Alpine equipment for all our climbs.
Julbo – The World needs your vision!!!
Troop 1 from Northboro Mass climbed at Rumney Rocks this past Saturday. The day was full of excitement and challenges. After our morning skills session the Scouts were put to the rocks of Rumney. Tying knots, climbing, belaying and lowering skills were practiced in full force with three groups at various areas.
Check out these fun photos of the day.
Thanks to all the Scouts and leaders.
The MMG staff of guides – Art, Steve, Phil
Kelly and Bob ventured north from Philadelphia in hopes of climbing in North Conway this Memorial Day weekend; however, the storms soaked the cliffs. With Whitehorse running with water, they drove over to Rumney and found some dry rock, sunny weather, and stellar routes.
Kelly working her way up Beginner’s Route.
Bob nearing the top with someone starting up Bolt Line.
After warming up and getting their feet underneath them, we headed over to the Parking Lot Wall to find that Glory Jeans was open. We were able to climb a little more before the skies opened up with an afternoon shower.
Bob on the ledge ready to step over the void.
Thanks to Kelly and Bob for their positive energy and enthusiasm!