Mountaineering

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Learning to climb is a process. At some point in any our journey comes a moment when the seed is planted and we decide to pursue climbing as a sport. We all start with a concept of what climbing is and what it takes to move up the mountain. We begin with the basics of movement, foot work and equipment. We climb a little with these skills and develop  new skills along the way. If all goes well its a lot of fun and the cycle begins. The more we climb, the more we learn, the more we want to climb, and the more we climb.

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Descending in soft snow.

Ian, Mark, and George have decided that climbing is something they want to pursue, and have begun climbing on there own. The three decided to come climbing with Mooney Mountian Guides to build on what they have learned with some formal training.

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Self-arrest and hip belays.

Our day began with a discussion on essential gear. From there we headed to Willies Slide an excellent alpine training ground. We learned and practiced footwork, ice axe skills, and self arrest. After basking in the sun it was time to put our skills to the test and complete a technical ascent and decent of the slide. By the end of the day our team had covered a large range of mountaineering skills. We all enjoyed our time in the sun learning and climbing together.

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Enjoying the climb.

Ian, Mark and George I hope to see all of you in the hills.

Alex Teixeira

Willies slide in New Hanpshires Crawford Notch, is a popular area for learning the ropes of technical alpine mountaineering. Beginning with flat fool crampon skills, ice axe use, an and belay systems, and full exposure to mountain weather Amber had a true mountain experience. The days final lesson came to us as we topped out the slide, “sometimes in climbing, a little hard work yields a great reward.”

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Amber, starting up a steep snow pitch.

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Beta photo: The water ice head wall & technical crux of Willies Slide.

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View nearing the top. Amber is in the bottom center of the photo.

Thank you Amber.

Alex Teixeira

 

 

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Nick. Doing what he is supposed to be doing. On a frozen alpine lake in the White Mountains

This week, Nick, a long time guest came back to New Hampshire for his annual Mt. Washington week. Each February for some time now Nick returns to Mt. Washington. Nick has climbed around the world and continues to set lofty climbing goals at home and abroad. Yet the one mountain he keeps coming back to is New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. There must be something special about this place.

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Taking a moment to enjoy the sun.

Nick does not spend the entire week on the mountain. In fact during the week, he only spends one day on the mountain. Instead Nick and I have set smaller goals to help prepare our bodies and minds for the challenges of Mt. Washington and mountains abroad.

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Preparing for bigger summits, Nick climbing the steep water ice of New Hampshire.

“Its about the process” Nick often states. Each day out helps me prepare for what lies ahead. “The mountains provide us a unique perspective”. “You are where your supposed to be, doing what your supposed to be doing” are other sayings Nick seems to live by. One thing I am certain of, Nick loves the mountains, he loves the people he goes there with, and the summit is secondary to the process.

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The big picture.

It is inspiring to spend time with a climber who’s ego does not interfere with the enjoyment of each moment. To spend time with a climber who elation for simply being where he is matches the elation reaching the summit. Every climber could learn from Nick. What is it that keeps us coming back to the hills anyhow? Is it the summit? Or is it the process of getting there?

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Documenting one of the views his process affords him.

Thank you Nick for an amazing week in the hills. Good luck this weekend on Mt. Washington.

Alex Teixeira

Each week is so different in the guiding I do. I move around NH and Vermont climbing on the ice climbs, different peaks and all over the rock faces. It is a very challenging and exciting line of work that I love. This past weekend after a week on the ice I met up with a great group of new climbers and headed to the peaks to learn and practice skills for a couple of winter ascents. Our prep led us to climb NH’s big one – Mt Washington.

Ten of us summited the mountain in whiteout conditions. Being on top with this group was a fantastic experience for sure. We were able to climb efficiently and safely up and down – and all came home with great memories of a weekend adventure that will last a while.

Enjoy the trip photos of our Mt Washington climb.

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Thank you,

Art Mooney

Mountaineering is a term that encompasses many skills that all come together and enable us to climb mountains. There are no set rules and the creative have a clear advantage. Part of getting creative is climbing rock with ice climbing equipment (mixed climbing), and being able to climb ice and rock simultaneously. In the mountains there is no taped routes, it is up to the climber to decipher a route to the top. This route may require these mixed climbing skills. Aubrey and I took to the ice, and rock, to train, climb and have a great time. After climbing eight different routes the sun was setting on an amazing day of mixed climbing.

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Fat in the cave.

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Steep rock.

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Rock and Ice

Thanks Aubry for a great day on the rock and ice.

Alex Teixeira

Every once and a while we come across people and become fast friends. These four have known each other for some time and make it a point to travel and go on adventures together. Last year they decided to get into climbing. Of course, they learned that climbing together with friends is incredibly enjoyable. Plus, it gets us outside, keeps us healthy, and allows us to see some beautiful places. It was a pleasure to be a part of their latest adventure. I hope they continue to climb, or at the very least keep going on adventures.

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Matt, on his way to the top.

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Nick and Dave demonstrating textbook belaying.

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One tool challenge.

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Final challenge, climb out from under the roof.

Thank you all for an awesome day on the ice.

Alex Teixeira

 

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The group on the way up.

For many reasons, Mt. Washington is a sought after summit for many climbers and hikers. Its no surprise why; the tallest summit in the North East, the largest Alpine area in the east, and during winter it is home to “the worlds worst weather.” Our guides are no strangers to the mountain and its moods; it is this knowledge that helped a group of eight experience the mountain at full value.

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Let the training begin.

We approached the mountain in the morning is relatively warm temperatures, and began hiking in our base layers. It seemed warm, with no wind to speak of, and a fresh coating of snow on the trees, it seemed like a winter wonderland. As our group moved higher, eventually breaking treelike, the mountain remained quiet. With temperatures around fifteen degrees F, we could comfortably adjust layers and eat our snacks.

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Summit bid.

The group now prepared to make a bid for the summit, we departed out resting spot and launched towards the top. The experience of the guides telling them the weather was not going to get any better, and in fact it would only get worse. The pace quickened. Once on the summit cone, the snow was waist deep and the westerly wind was a steady 45mph.

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Proof of the top.

Elation was felt as we stepped on the summit.  The hard work and training the day before had payed off. A few quick photos for proof, and we were headed down. The forecasts were correct. Within fifteen minutes the mountain showed us what its famous for. The 45mph winds, were now 55+mph blowing snow into without conditions. Needless to say we were no longer in our base layers. Our forms now looked more like medieval knights ready for battle. These layers kept us comfortable and warm as the group worked its way down. The experience of the MMG guides keeping everyone together, covered, and on track.

Once back a treelike, the summit group was buzzing with excitement over reaching the top and experiencing the mountains extreme weather. They learned that with the proper gear and guidance, together they achieved a lofty goal.

Congratulations to the summiteers on your achievement.

We hope to see you again.

MMG Guides:

Alex, Bob, and Phil

 

Carolina and David are on a brisk climbing adventure  to NH. They left the West Palm Beach area, the 84 degree temps and had to shut down the air conditioning for this trip. The goal to seek out a different type of air conditioning – the type Mt Washington has to offer. Yesterdays weather on the mountain was actually quite pleasant, the Polar Vortex is long gone and we enjoyed above seasonable temperatures with light winds.

Trail conditions were another story – we were greeted with icy trails all the way to the parking lot, wash outs were common from the recent deluge and then above tree line the snow was deep – drifted into all the low spots on the route. Knee deep trail breaking was lots of fun (work) and a good challenge to keep us focused on the goal -Sea to Summit.

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Stop here or else!!!

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Dave and Carolina fresh, excited and ready for the climb.

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Lower mountain trails – like November conditions.

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Above treeline travel in the fog and deep snow.

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Shot blocks give the needed boost – time to recharge for the summit push.

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On the summit – congrats to all!!!

IMG_1213Excellent crampon conditions on a few of the slopes.

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Its was a long day for us – Carolina seeing the light at the end of the path.

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Beautiful evening glow as we reached Marshfield Station.

Thank you – Carolina and David for this awesome day on the mountain.

Art Mooney

It has been a few years since I have spent time in conditions like last weeks NH deep freeze. Friday was the coldest day with a daytime high temperature of 1 accompanied by high winds which made the air feel much colder. Saturday started with colder morning temps but the air was still making it quite comfortable once moving in the mountains.

Kathryn, Zach and Scott arrived Wednesday evening just in time for the winter storm to hit the New England coast. Weather models were quite varied on the snowfall amounts so we were not sure what was coming. Thursday we climbed Lafayette with light snow falling through the day then in the afternoon the snow really began to amount. By the end over a foot of light and dry powder blanketed the area. Our before the storm timing for Lafayette was good as I had broken trail once this year on the Bridle Path and it was a tough day for sure.

Friday we ice climbed at Kinsman Notch – Kathryn was in her element – as she prefers steep and technical over type mountain climbs. Zach was new to the ice – and he adapted his sport techniques to the ice arena quickly, Scott like it all – mountains are full of endurance and the ice requires burst of power which he has both on board.

Our final day was spent on Willys Slide. Base area clinics on multi topics for snow travel, snow anchors and belays, self arrest and structured practice of all. By mid day we were ready for our last climb together so we assaulted the Willys in a party of 4.

IMG_1033Frosted Scott – climbing Lafayette in the storm

IMG_1035 Self Arrest practice laps at the base of Willys Slide.

IMG_1036Try to pull this guy of the mountain – no chance for us.

IMG_1037Kathryn and Scott climbing parallel style on Willys.

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Puffy jackets received lots of use the past weekend.

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Scott, Kathryn, and Zach descending Willys in deep snow.

This was a varied three day mountain and ice trip – much thanks to the visiting climbers from the Ohio area.

Art Mooney

Brothers Nick and Zack joined me last week for an intro to winter travel. We had three days over the weekend to get them into the mountains and experience and array of their offerings. On day 1 we sampled some low angle ice climbing in Kinsman Notch. Nick and Zack got to learn the power of front pointing in crampons and pulling on ice axes, as well as experience the beauty of the White Mountains in winter.  On day 2 we did an intro to mountaineering on Welch and Dickey Mountains, learning various techniques for ascending snow slopes of differing angles. The brothers got to dial in their layers and get practice in keeping their hydration and calorie stores where we wanted them. Day 3 was the main event, an ascent of Mt Washington. The boys where apprehensive of this plan at first, but gained excitement throughout the weekend.  We were greeted with rather favorable conditions on our summit day. Wind chills in the teens and winds in the 40’s allowed us to get to the summit with minimal suffering!

Ascending, with Mt. Madison in the background

Ascending, with Mt. Madison in the background

On the Summit Cone

On the Summit Cone

Pushing up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

Pushing up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

Training day on Welch & Dickey

Training day on Welch & Dickey

Summit Cone!

Summit Cone!

Kinsman Notch

Kinsman Notch

Kinsman Notch

Kinsman Notch

Thanks for joining us Nick and Zack. Best to both of you in the New year!

Erik Thatcher