NH Ski Touring Guides
Mooney Mountain guides is proud to work closely with Mammut North America. we have a quality relationship with our friends at the headquarters in northern VT. Each year Mammut hooks us up with some of their quality product to use, abuse and test in the field. Recently, we’ve also been joining them in VT to share some technical knowledge with the employees and other groups and outfitters that they support. It’s a great two way relationship for all. Twice in the past few years Mammut has outfitted the guides at MMG with the mens Ultimate Hoody. 2 years ago we got them in red, while this past year we got the upgraded model year in an eye catching green.
MMG crew in Red Ultimate Hoodies
The following is a collection of thoughts on the Ultimate Hoody in general, as well as the changes for the new model. This experience reflects well over 100 days in the field ice climbing, mountaineering and skiing.
Erik on Hanging by a Moment
The most unique thing about the Ultimate Hoody is its inclusion of a Gore Wind Stopper membrane. In general we like to have layers that do one thing great (soft shell for mild conditions, wind shirt for windy conditions, hard shell for full on…). Often times by trying to make a layer that takes on multiple tasks you end up with a jacket of all trades, master of none. We’re not a fan of this compromise. The Ultimate Hoody has blurred this line by including the wind layer into the soft shell layer. I find that this makes the soft shell less breathable, but more useful in windy conditions, and has allowed me to stop carrying a wind shirt. It’s performed so remarkably that with roughly 20 days of Mt Washington’s worst weather I have yet to don my hardshell this season. The only sacrifice in the blending of these two layers has been a bit less breathability, which is compensated with large pit zips and opening up the front.
Art on Geographic Factor, Alex on The Promenade
We’ve found that there have been several key improvements in the new model year. All agree that they are slightly roomier in any given size than last year. The new thumb loop design is lower profile and more comfortable to use with or without mittens. Most of all, the addition of a chest pocket is a huge improvement as a place to keep essentials that need to be easily accessed. While fw of us put it to use, this pocket also has a port to thread headphones through, along with an additional keeper near the hood to keep headphone wires out of the way.
Alex testing the Ultimate Hoody’s wind and waterproof capabilities on Hillmans Highway and a secret woodsy powder stash
Art Mooney, one of Mammut’s sponsored guide’s and one of our lead guides had this to say about the Ultimate Hoody
“Comfortable, roomy yet lightweight, freedom to move, windproof, water resistant, need we say more?”
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!
(Click on any image to begin viewing in gallery mode.)
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 🙂
Alex breaking the new skin track.
Mountain guiding is as much of a life style as it is a profession. Guides around the country and world not only dedicate their lives to climbing and skiing at high levels recreationally, they also train and learn how to share theses amazing experiences with their guests. Its a whole other ball game when climbing transforms into guiding. It takes a life time of training and dedication to learn the art form of the mountain guide.
Eric, above the trees on our ascent.
Thanks to Mammut for the Trion Light 29L pack, and windproof short shell (perfect for our objective).
There are however some really great perks. Other than traveling to amazing places, playing outdoors every day, and meeting wonderful people; guides get to have fun. Sometimes when everyone else is at work. MMG guide Eric Thatcher and I took a personal day this Friday to enjoy the fresh powder that fell across northern New England. Skiing fresh tracks is most defiantly a quality perk of being a mountain guide.
Alex on the ascent at the tree line.
Our mission was a ten mile tour that would take us through beautiful silent forrest, over the summit of 4,802 foot Mt. Moosilauke, and down a beautiful carriage road filled with fresh white knee high powder. Along the way we would get breathtaking views of Mt. Washington, Mt. Lafayette, the Sandwich Range, and Pemi-Wilderness.
The 4,802′ summit.
Breaking trail to the nearly 4,802 foot summit required consistent swapping of the leader position. For the person following in the skin track laid out by the leader life is grand and easy as Sunday morning. For the leader breaking trail, its more like a sweaty meditation. Good news is, if you higher a guide they do all this work for you. Never the less we were on top in 3 hours. Not break neck speed, but good considering breaking the skin track.
Eric and Colby enjoying the ascent.
Once on the summit we admired the view pointed out the different summits we could see on the horizon, then headed down. About another mile of touring with skins led us to the top of the carriage road. Once there the skins were off and we were ripping new tracks in the fresh powder. It only took us and hour to get down. Needless to say, skiing = pure joy; and getting first tracks is a big perk of living the life of a mountain guide.
Thank you to our guests who make this possible and to Mammut for the perfect packs and soft shells for our powder-day in the hills.
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.
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.
The past few weeks has been a pretty amazing guiding time for me. Very fortunate comes to mind, as my work as a guide brings me in contact with so many positive, energetic and interesting guests.
This photo blog shows just that – in the course of my recent work with Mooney Mountain Guides our guests, family members and friends have been turned on to adventure climbing events in amazing New Hampshire places. The climbing is plentiful and varied whether we are on skis, on the ice, or ascending a mountain. Smiles are plentiful with suffering common too – but one thing we all commonly enjoy, is reaching for the top!!!
Margie and Dylan – on an exciting adventure – out of the normal routine!
Roland buffing out his ski touring skills to prep for the Haute Route.
Conditions were icy but we made the best of a sunny day and had a full mountain tour.
Long time guest Aubrey getting after the steep ice at the Flume.
Aubrey is a technician on the ice and mixed – armed with Petzl Ergo tools and footed with Boreal Ice shoes.
Laurie – a mother, a professional, a mountain traveler, and now an ice climbing addict.
Laurie and I had three amazing days sampling ice climbs in the notches of NH.
Laurie – mixing it up from ice to the stone.
Lisa and Sylvain drove south from Montreal to ski tour on Mt Cardigan. We had an absolute blast spending the day together.
The ski tour turned into a mountain climb – with grand smiles on top of the summit.
Mike has been with MMG for twelve years – it all started with skiing. He brings his entire family on some events but this one was just for him. Steep ice was our goal and we had at it.
Two sunny but cold days one at Crawford Notch and the other at Newfound Lake.
Thanks to all of you for climbing with me – it has been a pleasure and I look forward to seeing you all soon.
The ski conditions are pretty nice in the NH area right now. This past storm blanketed the area with over a foot of light and dry powder and ski tourers are out and about on the mountain trails. Paul and I enjoyed a full day over at Mt Cardigan yesterday. We skied the Alexandria Trail and the Dukes Trail both from the top. The Alexandria was bumped out like a ski area but the Dukes had a nice carpet of snow that made turns a bit easier and smoother.
During our tour we met up with friends Missy and Jay and toured with them on the Dukes. Jay is a Cardigan regular and he took us into one of his secret stashes for a bit of untracked snow.
Paul getting into his stride skinning up the hill.
Paul topping out on our second run.
The upper Dukes area – great place for a transition, food and drinks, to ready us for the long downhill run through the forest.
Paul in the secret powder stash.
Thanks to Paul – great fun ski touring with you.