The odds are not in your favor in Las Vegas – the house always wins.
Each morning as we departed the LaQuinta Inn, Jerry and I hoped we would be ahead of the game. This idea begins at the start of each climbing day and continues right up to the end. Planning and preparation are certainly key components but there are times when luck is on your side.
Early start times yield cool temperatures for the long approaches and the views of the Red Rock range can be magnificent.
Leading rock climbs is the ultimates experience for the climber. For those who put in their time and stick with the sport, leading provides the finest moments. Movement comes in first, one must have experience and know how to climb and be solid with the level they are leading. Terrain assessment, this is the art of finding the traveled line. Next is technical systems, the kraft of protection or placing gear, this kraft requires a careful approach as one looks for solid rock, the right piece, and a surface that will secure gear to the wall. The mental focus needed is a huge component – to keep calm and cool only comes with years of practice and training.
Straight Shooter – Jerry is not a gambling man – he sends this piece to the chains.
Physical Graffitti one of the areas finest moderate crack lines – with Jerry on the sharp end.
The Conundrum Crag has three very nice sport routes. The crag is located behind Kraft Mountain and is a long enough approach from the cars that you may likely have the area all to yourself.
Geronimo was the icing on the cake. Throughout the week Jerry refined his skills to put together this masterpiece of a lead. Five pitches of quality rock with the entire route void of bolts put Jerry to work. Finding the line, protecting the route, setting anchors, rope management all add up to a big day on the stone.
Fun climbing on cracks with steep pocketed rock on the sides.
The prize Geronimo in full view.
Red Rocks is one on the best multi pitch areas in the country. These canyon are loaded with climbs in full sun or shade. Climbers come here year round but you will find spring and fall to be the best.
The Green Wave?
That is when you pass through all the traffic lights on the way to the cliff – nice way to start the day.
Thanks Jerry for an amazing week together.
The Mooney Mountain Guides were out in force this past weekend. below you’ll find a couple of snippets of what went on.
Lynn and Mike visited us from South Carolina for their third attempt on Mt Washington. In the past, bad weather has thwarted their attempts. This past Friday looked like the best weather window of the long weekend, so we made hasty plans and changed our schedule around to get them the best shot of success.
Sure enough the forecasts delivered. Fog and steady snow hampered visibility, but coupled with 15mph winds at worst, created an eerily calm atmosphere while on the belly of the beast.
Mike and Lynn finally got their white whale.
After a day to rest up on Saturday they rejoined us for a sunny morning of ice climbing on Newfound Lake
On Saturday, good friends Connor and Yaffe joined us for a bitterly cold and bitterly awesome day of ice climbing in Crawford Notch. Connor has climbed ice before, but not in a while, and Yaffe was a first timer.
We chose the Trestle slabs as our starting location. This is an ideal classroom for ice climbing, with a 100′ slab of low angle ice, and a wall of low ice bulges to practice swinging and kicking on, with a particularly fluffy crash pad at the moment.
Connor on the North Face of Everst. Ok, fine. It’s just a spindrift filled picture of the Trestle slabs, but hardcore nonetheless.
After our warm up there we went to Standard route to finish the day. This meant that Yaffe got in his first ice climbing and his first multi pitch climb in one day. Not bad, Yaffe. Not bad.
While I was on sunny south facing ice Sunday, another group of three was battling brutal winds on Washington. This tough group made the summit on a day when winds reached near 100 mph and the cold was COLD!
Hopefully some pictures to come.
With most of the crew staving off frostbite and hypothermia in what finally feels like winter, two MMG guides traveled to Red Rocks NV where they are staving off sun burn and dehydration!
Derrek and Alex are out there for a week guiding a handful of students from Middlebury College’s outdoor program.
This is the premier destination for winter time rock climbing, and Im sure a welcome reprieve from the cold of a NH winter.
Thanks to all our guests and students who joined us this weekend! We look forward to hopefully seeing you in the mountains again soon.
The Mooney Mountain Guide Crew
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!!!
Our good friend Margie and niece Alyssa made time to visit Terry and I in the Red Rock Canyon area. There is so much to do in the Red Rock area so we did not have any idle time on our hands. Right off the planes we ventured out into the canyons to hike, to climb on the soft sandstone and to bask in the desert sun.
Margie arrived first – coming from the long winter in the Seattle area she was ready for the warm weather activities. Terry and Margie had a lot to catch up on as its been two years since our last get together. Boy how time flys.
Alyssa came in next and turned us on to Yoga on the Rocks. As an advanced yogi shen was able to demonstrate advanced inversion poses both on a rope and on the smooth slabs on rock at the base of the climbs. We in turn gave her some guidance on the stone. Alyssa picked up the transitions from ground yoga poses to the rock movements on a vertical wall with ease.
The coolness of the morning air drew us out to the desert for hikes. The early morning light, long shadows, brought a beautiful beginning to each day .
Margie, Terry and I at the Bellagio Resort viewing the fabulous display of spring flowers.
Margie getting reaquainted with the sandstone climbs – Red Rocks.
Alyssa starting off with ease on a 5.9 route at Conundrum Crag.
Alyssa – Shredding all Fear!!!
These poses requires focus, balance, power, and grace.
Early morning wake up hike.
Terry – Art
Great times with good friends and family.
Thanks Margie and Alyssa for putting some extra spring into our trip.
Art & Terry
For many of the visitors to Red Rocks the desert can be viewed afar as a bleak, dusty, barren area. It takes more than a drive through to fully appreciate what is out there just a short distance from the paved roads. On all our rock climbing trips there comes a time when we need a break from pulling down on the stone. These are the times we explore new areas and see what other activities are around. Today we took a hike in an area called Fossil Ridge that I have drove by many times – it was a short three mile circuit. Viewed from the road I never saw the beauty that lay up on this hillside – after all it was over by the gypsum mining area which we always avoided. The hike was amazing and we were treated with a beautiful display of desert flora.
Enjoy these amazing photos of the desert in spring bloom!!!
This is the road side view most visitors see of the desert.
As you leave the road the scene changes. Here the Mojave Yucca stands behind the blooming Globe Mallows.
Desert orchids in bloom.
Fish hook Cactus
Fossils from the past.
Barrel growing out of the rock.
This spring rock climbing trip was Derek’s and my third one running for the Peppercom Team and friends in Red Rocks of Las Vegas. Steve, Chris, Adel, Mark and Deivis were quite overdue for this warm weather vacation/break. The long lasting northeastern winter had certainly taken its affect on many of us and by now it was time to escape and have some fun climbing and adventuring in the desert.
The goals were set on day one by the team. It was decided that we have full days with lots of challenging rock climbing. Steep and technical sport routes, a few traditional lines with a mid week type break ascending Mt Wilson would keep us occupied for the five days. Right away the Wake Up wall kicked us into gear with a variety of climbing on slabs, cracks and overhangs. The Sunny and Steep Wall was next with a few burns on the steep climbs there and then a session on a little known route called the sport chimney which took on a sleeper type role for a 5.8 climb. These two days put smiles on everyones face and turned our eyes towards Mt Wilson.
How hard could it be to climb that peak – Mt Wilson? The day was full of bush wacking, route finding, 3rd and 4th class terrain with a spring storm adding some additional excitement. We titled the climb and day the 2014 Suffer fest as the First Creek Wash and overall Mt Wilson climb was no easy undertaking.
A few more days of cragging on the cracks and steeps routes at Cannibal Crag, the Black Corridor, and Physcial Graffiti rounded out the week nicely.
It was another fantastic spring break for us all. The desert is in bloom, the sun was high and warm, and there were lots of climbers around to meet and hang out with.
Enjoy the photos of our 2014 spring trip. If you are interested in a fun time on the sandstone rocks just outside Las Vegas get in touch. We are planning our October fall climbing days and weeks at this tim
Arrival at the wake Up wall.
Chris relaxing at the Sunny And Steep crag
“It was an awesome trip – probably the best yet! And Mount Wilson, aka ‘suffer fest 2014,’ was some legit type 2 fun.”
Deivis pulling down at Sunny and Steep
“Ditto. I can’t wait for the next adventure. These trips just get better every year.”
Chris on a 5.10c – how hard can this be!!!
Steve aka Repman and Chris on Mt Wilson
Margie and terry escaping the spring snow shower on Mt Wilson.
Long arduous climb above the wash.
Just sitting here at my desk, looking out my office window at the lingering snowbanks, and thinking about the warm(er) desert! I really appreciate the continuing opportunities to climb with you all, so thank you once again. I look forward to the next round of team Cody time soon. Until then…
Cheers, Derek – MMG Guide
Adel – Mammut logos on his gear.
Mark silhouetted on Caliban at Cannibal Crag.
“Great times as always everyone. I had a blast. Art and Derek you guys are awesome. I can’t wait till the next adventure! Next time were gonna beat Mt. Wilson’s ass haha.”
Adel raising the bar on a tough 5.10 at Cannibal Crag.
Red Rock Canyons.
Morning warm up on – Turtle Mountain.
Thanks guys it was a great week with you all.
I’m looking ahead to climbing with you this spring and summer in the northeast – at the Gunks, Rumney, North Conway and Acadia.
The Red Rock AMGA Rock Guide Exam has passed by. Upon reflection I will share my views of subtle but extremely important strategies that I apply as the examiner. Any examination process will amp up the heartbeat, unnatural stress is automatically created, the apprentice rock guides and myself are both put on the hot seat. Exam candidates must put on the guide hat for an entire week and display their finer guide performance and I am in the role to view the performance with an open mind removing myself from any vaccuum or routine I may currently reside in. At times candidates can be on sighting climbs up to 5.10+ that I may or may not have climbed and or guided myself.
There is a place in each of these exams where we all Reach a Higher Ground.
The exam start has been adjusted and changed over the years and now begins with a climbing movement day on the stone. I have the view that so much arises on this day of climbing sport and traditional routes. The scene I create is a professional but relaxed setting and candidates and examineers can perform movements in a setting that promotes us to reach the top. Risk management is achieved, movements are gauged, the exam pressure can be decreased and lastly its a fun day on the rocks.
The next four days are for the candidates to showcase their multi pitch guide skills on the walls of Red Rock Canyon. Compassion and understanding is a key component for me as the examiner. Each morning I take a step back and revisit when I put my exam shoes on in my first exam 1999. This certainly helps set the stage for the day. Many of the routes we climb are moderate multi pitch lines in the 5.7 to 5.10 range but there are times we venture into remote areas onto the lesser traveled routes. This is the place to encourage solid guiding within ones limits. Any guide should know what it will take to red line their abilities and be able to shut it down before reaching this zone. A true self assessment and solid decision making must take place as it represents excellent risk management as a guide.
Our final day is a review of the entire exam week. First on each course or exam I conduct an overall exam discussion with each of us highlighting important moments (our crux) and then a time on which we sent (achieved excellent results) during the day or climb. The completion must followthrough with personal talk to each student. This final debrief is the place for encouragement – passing or not passing – all must continue to gain from this experience and move forward to a higher level.
Core skills assessment – Climbing movement at the Sunny and Steep and Winter Heat Wall areas.
No projects here – all routes were climbed solid and clean. Great to see all of us fired up to send.
Triassic Sands – a Red Rock Classic crack climb!!!
Max and Ryan did a great job guiding me on this awesome route
Angela and Karen discussing the proposed climbing route and time plan for the next day.
Karen leading us into Black Orpheous on a beautiful morning. Karen cruising the lower pitches of the route.
Each day routes are split in half with the two participants – a morning session and then the afternoon. He is Lee guiding the upper pitch on Black Orpheous. Lees leads us on excellent rock with high exposure upwards into the upper Painted Bowl.
To guide these longer routes effectively one must have tools of the trade. This Mammut Revelation rope is one of the tools that assists the guide in the job of rope work. This rope is durable yet slides easily over the rock and it runs smoothly and easily through the belay plates.
Windy peak is a remote location for Red Rocks. One hour plus to arrive a the base and Jubilant Song is one of the lesser climbed routes in the area. Seba and Peter were guides in the led on this spectacular crack and corner climb in the desert.
Parting shot of Max reaching for the gear on the upper pitches of Olive Oil.
It truly was an excellent week of guidance. These apprentice guides should be commended for their commitment for displaying their craft of guiding guests up the long multi pitch rock climbing routes. This is what we guides love to do – take guest onto the rocks and teach each of them new skills in an amazing location.
Today the Team took a new direction in the Red Rock area – a session at the Kraft Boulders. Armed with two pads we warmed up at the Wake Up Wall and then sampled a few nearby classic boulder problems. Potato Chips was a steep one that tested Derek and Art’s crimps strength and the Poker Chips overhanging hand rail with left heel hooks was dispatched by Mark and Chris. Kraft is an amazing place full of all types of boulder problems.
Deivis traversing the warm up boulder.
Mark getting after one of the days high ball problems
Steve enjoying a well deserved rest after 5 days straight on the rock.
Here is a re-energized Steve with three great 5.9 runs on the Conundrum Crag routes.
Chris sending everything that comes his way – 5.10 tomorrow!
Elbow pain didn’t keep Adel down on this impressive attempt on the 45 degree wall.
Mark may have gotten a pump today?
Deivis working the complete loop traverse.
A Friendly Chuckwalla
Thanks to the team for a great day at the Kraft and Conundrum crag.
MMG Guides – Art And Derek
It was 4am and the Epinepherine move was on. Coffee was had in the hotel room with PB and J’s for breakfast. Jerry and I new this early start was needed for this long traditional route in the Black Velvet Canyon. The route proper is 1500 feet of technical climbing which leads to 700 ft of 4th and 5th class scrambling with high exposure – total route is 2200ft.
The Main Event of the route is the 300ft of chimney pitches which lead one to the stacked 5.9 corners which continue for another 700 ft or so. We prepared for the route by climbing the previous three days on the routes Group Therapy, Dark Shadows and Sundog. All had a small amount of the wide stuff to get us in the groove. One main goal was to have quick transitions to keep us move fast another was to be lightweight. We carried minimal gear in our small Mammut Neon Packs and the racks and ropes were on our backs.
The day was excellent, we ended up second in line with another party on our tail. The climbing was very physical in the chimneys and the corners were steep and technical. Over all good fun climbing in a wildly exposed setting.
Enjoy the photos of the Red Rock classic route – Epinephrine.
First light as we start up pitch one.
Early morning glow on the wall.
The Main Event – Chimneys and Corners!!!
The upper wall comes into view.
The exposure starts to get good on pitch 7.
Jerry – focused on the moves high on the wall.
Early afternoon on the summit of Black Velvet Peak.
Thanks to Jerry for joining me on this spectacular climb.