Mountaineering

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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.

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(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.

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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.

Alex Teixeira

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Once a year, Dave, takes a trip to New Hampshire for some hiking and relaxing. Dave is from New York and looks forward to this trip each year. This year Dave planned is biggest hike yet, a traverse of Franconia Ridge including a summit of Lafayette.

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For many the Lafayette traverse is the most beautiful hike in the White Mountains. Indeed is is a special place. Stunning views of the eight Presidential Summits, Vermont Summits, and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Not to mention the alpine flowers and rugged landscape.

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One of my favorite ski descents.

Traversing the ridge a hiker is exposed an entirely different environment. Due to the elevation the climate is similar to the environment found in Newfoundland and Labrador. To Dave, he said it was as exotic as being on the Moon.

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Alpine Flowers.

We traversed the ridge under perfect weather, building clouds, and a cool breeze. We were both happy to be in the Alpine.

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To the west of the ridge is New Hampshires largest alpine wall, Cannon Cliff.

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Cloud Shadows over the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

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Clouds over the ridge.

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Waterfalls are just part of the stunning beauty on this adventure.

Thank you Dave for a great day in the hills.

Alex Teixeira

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.

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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.

Day One:

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.

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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.

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Sunset at Madison Spring Hut

Day Two:

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.

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Starting out on Day 2

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Midway Point Day 2

Day Three:

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.

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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.

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Final Summit in the Presidential’s complete.

Day Four:

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.

Alex Teixeira

MMG Guide

Mooney Mountain Guides is excited to offer a spring special. Our crag skills seminars will help you get ready for your best climbing session yet.

Crag Skills Seminar

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Choose one of four options:

1)  Top-Rope Construction.

2)  Introduction to Traditional Climbing.

3)  Gym to Crag Transition.

4) Self Rescue

Combine any two for a comprehensive two-day seminar.

 

Who: Learn from expert guides who not only teach these skills but apply them every single day in the field. Our guides are trained and certified by the AMGA and use the most up-to-date methods in the field.  4:1 guide to guest ratio.

What: You can expect to learn and apply the skills needed to perform independently at the crag with your friends or family.

When: Seminars will be held May 1st – May 20th. 

Where: Seminars will be held in four different locations based on interest and availability. These areas include Pawtuckaway State Park, Rumney, Echo Crag, and Crow Hill in Massachusetts.

Why: Climbing can be dangerous, especially if a climber is unprepared and underestimates the risks. Receiving training from experts allows a climber to choose the appropriate technical systems for the situation, make conservative decisions when evaluating risk, and reduce the time to gain independence.

 

For more information:

Please vist www.mooneymountainguides.com

E-mail at [email protected]

or Call Alex

774-263-2468

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Mark enjoying the sun on the Willard summit.

It may be late March, but many of the ice climbs in Crawford Notch remain in great shape. In fact, many of the climbs are larger than I have ever seen them. At least Mark seemed to think it was “the best day ever.” The bright sun didn’t hurt ether.

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Alex in the Cleft.

I often say that climbing ice is something special. We are climbing on a medium that only exists under the right circumstances. This is part of it. However, climbing with someone who is positive and loves climbing. Makes climbing anything special.

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Mark after doing battle with the flow above.

Thank you Mark for an awesome day on the ice.

Alex Teixeira

Saturday brought on the entire range of winter conditions. I was surely surprised at the 39 degree temp outside our morning meet up at the Highland Center. Somewhat overdressed for the deep trail breaking mission that lay ahead Danny, Cindy and I entered the forest and began our ascent of Mt Washington on the Ammo Trail. The snow was as deep as expected, our only advantage was the MRS snowshoes we were footed with kept us afloat. We climbed steadily with shoes all the way to Lakes of the Clouds.

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Once above the trees the winds picked up and the temps started dropping. The forecast was coming true with high winds and wind chill warnings for late in the day. With micro spikes now on our pace quickened on the supportive snowpack. Our moves were like those of a drunken person as we wavered to maintain balance in the high winds.

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After a tough push on the summit cone the peak was reached just after the noon hour.

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The weather gods gave us a break this time. Our upper mountain descent was uneventful and the temps and winds maintained a moderate level. We enjoyed our travels down the summit cone to Lakes of the Clouds with good views towards Vermont and New York.

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Our final descent was a blast – the deep snow the Ammo Trail gave us the green light for the luge run of the year.

Thanks to Danny and Cindy for this fun Mt Rainier training day on Mt Washington.

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The team just after setting out.

This weekend Mooney Mountain Guides, along with five guests, had the opportunity to spend a night in the Mt. Washington Observatory (OBS) on the summit of Mt. Washington. Growing up as a New England kid in love with his local mountains, Mt. Washington represented the pinnacle of mountain terrain. As I stared at its windy white summit, it was completely wild to think that people actually lived and worked up there. It seemed as cold and remote as the moon. My curiosity and imagination running wild of what it must be like.

It seems that this feeling I experienced since my childhood is not uncommon among others who go to the mountains. After all, year round weather observatory that has been manually taking weather observations every hour on the our, 365, since the 1930’s is quite unique. Why wouldn’t a mountaineer want to spend a night up there? Spending the night is only half the fun. MMG’s five guests and I had to climb the mountain to get there.

The trip begins with a leisurely meeting time of 8:00am. Followed by a discussion on gear, and itinerary. Typically we are hitting the trail by 9:30, prepared to spend the next 36 hours on the mountain.

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Ascending the technical Lions Head trail.

After relatively laid back hike up the wide Tuckerman’s ravine trail providing us with lots of room to talk and get to know one another we reached the Lion’s head winter route. At this point on the trail, ice axes and crampons are used to ascend the steep semi technical terrain on our way to tree-line. Once above the trees on the exposed “Lion’s Head” our group began to feel the wind Mt. Washington is famous for; however, it was relatively light and the temperatures were warm with bright sun.

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Ascending the summit cone.

We continued our traverse across the southern end of the Alpine Garden, our sights fixed on the summit cone ahead. The team was making such good time in the favorable conditions that we had time to ditch the crampons for some self arrest practice on the snow fields of the summit cone. Following some fine tuning of our technique, the team continued up the snow and rock towards the summit. The bright sun, mild temperatures, and moderate winds made our time on the upper mountain very enjoyable.

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Taking a moment to enjoy the upper mountain.

We reached the summit and took our time taking photos and exploring the alpine terrain. On this particular day we enjoyed 130+ miles of  un-OBS-structed visibility. Seeing summits in New York’s Adirondack State Park! For those of you who know Mt. Washington, you know how special this opportunity was.

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Summit

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Sunset

Finally inside we were greater with warm soup and freshly baked bread. A magical sunset was followed by a delicious dinner. With some good conversation we called it a night with hopes of catching the sunrise the following morning.

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Sun rise

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Weather instrument tour.

Sunrise, breakfast, and a tour of the weather instruments left us prepared for the journey down the hill. The team made a slight detour to experience the stronger winds, spend more time in the beautiful sunshine, and explore more of the mountain. The team enjoyed a picture perfect descent. We all found it difficult not to smile following such a wonderful trip to the OBS.

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Descending the upper mountain

Special thanks to Mooney Mountain Guides and our guests, Mammut for the gear the makes alpine exploration possible, and the Mt. Washington Observatory for being such gracious hosts.

I hope to see you all in the Mountains

Alex Teixeira

 

 

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To many of us skiers, especially us back country and ski mountaineering folk, the Haute Route is on our radar. On skis, it is a week long traverse from Chamonix in France, to Zermat in Switzerland. On this journey a skier will be greeted with breath taking mountain landscapes, high-alpine terrain, spectacular descents, and beautiful touring across glaciers. A skier will also be faced with all the typical mountain challenges, navigation, weather, avalanches, while traveling in glaciated terrain. In addition to these challenges, a skier must be prepared with the skills for skinning, moving in crampons, skiing steep slopes, and transitioning between each element quickly and efficiently.

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These four ladies are headed to Haute route, but before they go, a training day with MMG was in order. Our day began with a discussion on packing and quickly transitioned into skinning. After practicing with our ski’s skins we did some touring practicing our kick turns and walking in crampons. A discussion on avalanches preceded our transition into descent mode. The skins came off and boots were buckled tight for the hard fast snow. Following our exciting descent, the team practiced a few more transitions before a beacon search demonstration. At the end of the day our team had covered a lot. In the process we had a blast, got to see some great views, and even got some skiing in.

I hope you all have an amazing trip.

Alex Teixeira

 

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The Northern Presidential’s from the Summit

Kevin is a mountaineer. Africa, Europe, Mexico, North America. He has climbed around the world. Even though living in New York, Kevin hadn’t made it to Mt. Washington. It seems from the pictures that he was having a great time. All climbers of the North East are lucky to have such an awesome mountain within driving distance. As a training venue or objective itself. Mt. Washington is a real mountain and climbing it will make you a better climber. If mountaineering is something you may be interested in, come check out Mt. Washington.

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We are in the Mountains Now

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Cloud cover changing as a front moves through

 

At Mooney Mountain Guides we joke frequently that our company acronym (MMG) stands for Mountain’s, Mentorship, Guidance. In all seriousness, though, this is exactly what we provide. A day with MMG can simply be a day in the mountains pursuing a technical objective or experience, or it can be a day or days of learning and guidance. Our sport, mountain sports, have many intricacies to learn before one can safely pursue them on their own. A day in the mountains alone is fraught with potentially life threatening challenges that only experience and knowledge can help one navigate. Add the technical skills needed to climb in the mountains and there is a lifetime worth of learning.

A climber frequently navigates through this educational experience with the help of a mentor, some one older and more experienced who imparts their experiences, and helps the newer climber gain experience of their own, under a watchful eye. This is rewarding to both climbers, as the inexperienced get to safely learn how to navigate the challenges of the mountains and climbing, and the mentor gets to share their love of the mountains and climbing. At MMG, we are passionate about our sport, and love to share that passion and enable others to pursue it safely.

I consider my self blessed to have been able to do this over the past two winters with a student at Holderness School, where I coach rock climbing. Chance Wright was determined enough to get into the world of winter climbing that he successfully lobbied the school to allow him to pursue the sport as his winter sports option, and I was lucky enough to be able to coach him.  Holderness, located in the same area as MMG operates, is ideally suited for such a sports option. In the winter, classes end around noon, giving us half the day to get out to a local ice crag or mountain and practice skills. Our weeks generally consisted of 3 days of climbing on ice, all over central and northern NH. These days often involved practicing technical skills as well, such as building anchors or setting up rappels. The remainder of the days were usually spent on a brisk hike on the surrounding mountains, building endurance for an end of season objective. Last year, that objective was Pinnacle Gully on Mt Washington. This year, we did the 9 mile Franconia Ridge Traverse in full on winter conditions. Additionally, Chance was able to wrap up this season by leading his first ice climb.

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Progression: Chances second day on ice (Apocalypse Gulley), Pulling the roof on his first WI5 (Geographic Factor), and his first ice lead (Bloodline)

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Taking skills on the road: A christmas vacation trip to Ouray CO

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Last Season’s Objective: Pinnacle Gulley on Mt. Washington

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This years original objective was Lincoln’s Throat on the Franconia Ridge. An unstable snow pack, and violent winds forced us to amend this plan to traversing the ridge. Having to change our plans was perhaps the most valuable lesson Chance learned in 2 years. Always listen to the mountains.

Chance is incredibly lucky to be going off to college with the skills and experience he already has in the mountains. I’m sure one of the biggest lessons he learned, as we all have, is that these mountain sports offer a lifetime of learning, and his education has just begun. Chance, I wish you the best in this journey, and am eager to see where it takes you! Thanks, for letting me be a part of that process.

Erik Thatcher