Rock Climbs

This pas weekend, MMG Guide Ben Mirkin was in charge of an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam. A big thanks to all the candidates on the exam.
Alex Teixeira
We had a fantastic group of participants in our AMGA SPI Assessment this weekend!  Our aspiring and re certifying guides included individuals from Atlantic Climbing School, the new Director of Carrabassett Valley Academy’s ALPS program.Like any AMGA course or assessment, the emphasis was on learning and bettering ourselves as climbers and guides – which I deinetly believe was accomplished this weekend.

I am reminded about how essential this type of training is for any climber leading groups, guiding, or just taking friends climbing.

Keep playing and keep learning!

Ben Mirkin

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An older post, saved from a while back. It seemed applicable to post it today as we enter rock season. Follow Steve’s lead, and get the whole family outdoors and rock climbing!

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I have had the pleasure of climbing with Steve twice over the past few weeks. Once with a his son and two friends, and a second time with his son a daughter. Both days were spent on the beautiful granite slabs of Whitehorse in North Conway, NH. Whitehorse seems to be the superior area for a family rock climbing outing. The slabs offering a host of routes that everyone can enjoy together.

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 This inclusiveness is important to Steve. As a climber himself, learning the craft on the granite big walls of Yosemite Vally, he wants to pass on the joy he received from climbing on to his two children. Moving to New England less than a year ago and not knowing the terrain prompted Steve to seek out Mooney Mountain Guides. Together we decided that Whitehorse would be the proper venue for his goals.

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In two days, more than ten pitches had been climbed from the Echo roof to Beginners Route. Lots of rappels, lowers, and funny pictures later everyone was happy to have shared the experience together. I was happy to have helped introduce the next generation of climbers to the sport.

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Thank you Steve, family and friends for two great days on the rock.

Alex Teixeira

 

Jerry and I completed a varied day of climbing on a few classic climbs at Whitehorse Ledge.

Wavelength – Seventh Seal – Loose Lips – Childrens Crusade 1st pitch.

 We are in the middle of SENDTEMBER and it felt like it today.  The climbing on the slabs and the central wall of Whitehorse Ledge in NH was exceptional.  The morning temps were in the 40′s, the sky was cobalt blue thus the rock on the slabs was perfect for the sticky rubber shoes, the edges on the face routes were crisp and the jams in the finger cracks felt dry and and solid.

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Seventh Seal and classic  5.10a finger crack on the Ethereal Buttress.  Jerry approaching the crux which he cruised by with ease.

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Our morning warm up on the first pitches of Standard Route.

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The high end games began as Jerry took on the tricky leads of Wavelength 5.8.

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Jerry styling the perfect granite finger crack leading up to Loose Lips.

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Loose Lips – Wow this is an awesome route. The route is a personal favorite of mine and now Jerry.  A techy 5.10 face leads to a traverse and then the finale, a beautiful long finger crack.

Today was the start of a week long trip for Jerry and I.  Cathedral Ledge is our next stop and certainly a visit to Cannon Cliff will round out the trip.  We are in certainly luck this time as the weather looks to be clear, sunny and cool for the entire week.

Thanks Jerry for a great day on the stone.

Art Mooney

Rock, ice and mountain climbs have kept my interest for over thirty five years.  To say the least its my ultimate passion in life!!!

The movement over the stone or ice requires balance, flexibility, power and  focus.  The mindset is complete attention to gain control over the extreme situation.  The motion is fluid along the path or climb.   These are the three M’s that I try to achieve each time I head to rock face, the ice line or the mountain path.

Repman is back on the mountain.  After a needed break from the activtity he is back into shape and ready to climb. He bought family along to join him on this trip.  His daughter Catharine and friend Nicole came for their second time and it looks like they are both hooked on the sport too.

On a side note they all work at Peppercomm and this was a quick summertime break from their work. See the blog post Steve wrote about the trip.  http://www.repmanblog.com/repman/2015/08/we-are-family.html

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Steve leading the way up Whitehorse.

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The three inline Steve, Catharine, and Nicole climbing the steep slabs of Whitehorse.

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Success the team of five on the Whitehorse summit.

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Repman viewing and coaching Catharine at Rumney Rocks.

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Catharine to the top on the steep crack route at Rumney.

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This was Steves fourteenth summit of the Mt Washington. Photo of him on the alpine gardens heading up.

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A strategic partnership – Steve and Art on another amazing adventure together.

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There you have it – Mt Washington.

Art Mooney

For some people its shoes. Others, perhaps, baseball caps. Myself, I have a a problem with soft shell pants. I’ve discovered that they are the perfect pant for nearly any occasion. I have my standard pair for shoulder season rock, ice and mild mountaineering days. I have a pair with waterproof knees and butt for for backcountry skiing. I have an old pair I use for gardening and an even older pair (bought in high school) that I pulled out for landscaping in the rain. The benefits of soft shells are simply to great to list them all, but some of my favorites are that they’re durable, extremely comfortable, don’t get smelly musty or damp, and dry super quick. They’re such a huge part of my everyday wardrobe, that a girl I was seeing for a bit commented on the first time she saw me wearing pants other than soft shells, a few months in to the relationship.  Despite my affinity for them, I couldn’t find a pant to fit one particular niche. The summer climbing soft shell seemed to be an elusive pant.

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The Runbold Pant

This was a noticeable absence in my soft shell line up, as Im not a fan of wearing shorts when climbing. The perfect pant needed to be light enough to not overheat in on hot summer days, easy to roll up for long approaches, and preferably offer some sun protection.( read this if your curious why UPF rated clothes are better for sunny activities). Naturally Id want the pants to be stretchy and fast drying, after all, thats the whole reason for my love affair with soft shell.

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Stretchiness trial on The Groton High Grade, Marshfield VT

When I saw the Runbold pants on Mammut’s website they sounded like they’d fit the bill, even though Mammut markets them as being ideal for hiking and backpacking, and does not mention climbing. I’ve been using them for a few months now and can happily report that they’ve filled the void in my soft shell line up perfectly! My personal elasticity gives out far before that of the pants, and even if I did yoga 5 times a week I don’t think I could flex in such a way to find the limits of their stretchiness. The pants get wet at the mention of water, but this is to be expected for such a breathable fabric, and the upside is that they dry incredibly fast and don’t keep in your own moisture. The thinness of the material also makes this an incredible packable pant for a multi day climbing trip or throwing them in your pack just in case you want pants. The pants roll up easily and even have a tab and loop system to help keep the rolls in place. I’ve found this feature slightly superfluous and intent to cut it off soon, thought its never felt like it gets in the way. One of my favorite features that seems to be ubiquitous in soft shell pants is the right thigh pocket. This is the perfect place to keep a phone, camera, map or route topo, and my go to location for stashing things I want handy while climbing a multi pitch or guiding.

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The Dynamic Duo, Runbold Pants, Ultimate Light Hoody

The thing that cemented my love affair with these pants was their blue sign certification. This means the production of the fabric used in the pants meets strict human and environmental health standards as set forth and verified by an independent auditor. Third party certifications like this give the consumer faith that a product is being produced in a humane and sustainable way. By buying products with these certifications the consumer can tell businesses that they support environmentally healthy business practices. For more information on the process of getting BlueSign certified, read this.

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Shirt and Pants. Now the perfect summer combo

The other soft shells in my quiver give me a forlorn look now whenever I pass the gear room where they’e dutifully waiting their turn. They’ll just have to wait till winter.

-Erik

On any given week you could bet good money that the MMG crew is out at the cliffs introducing folks to climbing and or new climbs to them, as well as working on their own climbing and guiding progression. This past week was no different! Below is a quick collection of updates from the past week. 

Early on in the week Erik got out to Rumney Rocks for a half day of climbing with Jen and Amanda. These gals were visiting the area for the week, coming from Long Island. They’ve started climbing in the gym back home and venturing into Top Rope terrain when they travel. We had a gorgeous day for a sampling of classic pitches at Rumney!

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This weekend Mike got out with the Schildge family. While on vacation in the north country they joined MMG for a day on Square Ledge. This venue has great moderate climbing for a family outing, with what is possibly the best backdrop of any crag in New England.

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Earlier on in the week, Art was joined by Jerry “the Gale force” They had a couple of great days swinging leads at Rumney and reclaiming perennial classics on Cannon!

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On the personal training front, Alex has headed out to CO to take the Advanced Rock Guide Course through the AMGA, one of many professional development courses MMG guides are involved in this summer. The course, and his acclimatization are taking place in Eldorado Canyon and Lumpy Ridge in the Estes park. Back home, Erik is taking advantage of dry days between the rain to regain strength on some steep sport routes. Most intriguing of these days was at the Groton High Grade Wall, in Marshfield VT.

Alex in CO  

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Erik in VT                                                                                                                                                                                               

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There is a certain empowering feeling to teaching some one else the art and craft that you hold so dear. Whether its one day of sharing skills and techniques, or a multiple season long exchange of information, helping some one gain self sufficiency, empowering them to pursue this same craft on their own is a rich experience for both.

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Dappled Sun at the Square Inch Wall, Echo Crag

Sawyer has been a student of mine on the Holderness School rock climbing team for two seasons. Her enthusiasm and energy for climbing and adventure as a whole was tangible from day one. In that program I’m able to get students proficient in movement on rock, belaying, and even leading sport. Unfortunately we don’t have the time or the terrain to get students leading trad, though they do follow from time to time.

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Sawyer cleaning gear and examining placements

Sawyer graduated last month and wanted to get a solid foundation of leading in before heading off to college at the end of this summer. To that end, her dad gifted her a couple of days with Mooney Mountain Guides to dial in her technical skills.

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Following Skeletal Ribs and placing gear, to be inspected on lower

For her day of Trad climbing Sawyer and I went to Echo Crag. This location is ideal for learning and dialing in gear placement and other essential skills for trad climbing. Despite the wetness we did a couple of great routes, mock leading, and assessing gear placements and proper extension while on a counterbalanced lower together. This way we’re able to look at and talk about the placements together, and look at alternatives.

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Lunch Break Anchor Clinic

A quick lunch brake was an ideal time to talk about anchor construction methods on the ground. We were able to look at the standard, 3 piece equalized cordelette, the quad, and single piece anchors (i.e. big trees!)

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A Commanding View of Franconia Notch from Profile Cliff

From here we made our way up to Profile Cliff, which sits in the sun above Echo, and was therefore much drier. We did a classic long 5.7 line here that requires a double rope rappel, exposing Sawyer to pre rigging, rappel back ups, and joining two ropes for a rappel.

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Sawyer Climbing on Profile Cliff

Once on the ground we wrapped up the day practicing various top belay techniques, including how to release and lower with various devices, and the advantages and disadvantages to different techniques.

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Releasing a weighted ATC guide with a redirected sling

Its impossible to retain every rid bit of information thrown at you in a day like this. What it does do is set a solid foundation. As long as the person trying to learn this continues to seek to educate themselves by playing with the systems they learned, thinking through scenarios and practicing in real life, then the progression will continue to move forward!

Thanks for joining us, Sawyer!

 MMG

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.

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Early start times yield cool temperatures for the long approaches and the views of the Red Rock range can be magnificent.

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 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.

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   Straight Shooter – Jerry is not a gambling man – he sends this piece to the chains.

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Physical Graffitti one of the areas finest moderate crack lines – with Jerry on the sharp end.

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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.

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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.

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 Fun climbing on cracks with steep pocketed rock on the sides.

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The prize Geronimo in full view.

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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.

Art Mooney

The Mooney Mountain Guides were out in force this past weekend. below you’ll find a couple of snippets of what went on.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Derrek and Alex are out there for a week guiding a handful of students from Middlebury College’s outdoor program.

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This is the premier destination for winter time rock climbing, and Im sure a welcome reprieve from the cold of a NH winter.

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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

The guides at Mooney Mountain Guides are very pleased to be supported by Petzl. Over the years many of us have found favorites in Petzl’s line from the Nomic’s and Dart’s on ice to the Spirit Express draw and Gri Gri on sport climbs. One of the reasons the relationship between Petzl and MMG is so great is because both companies have a passion for sharing knowledge and spreading climbing education. At MMG it’s our job on many days to act as educators in the climbing realm, and it’s what we truly love to do. At Petzl, they go beyond making and selling some of the best gear on the market, they also produce and distribute educational literature in their catalogs and on their website, towards the end of a safer more knowledgable climbing community.

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 For that reason I was excited this week to pull Petzl’s latest catalog out of the mail and check out, not only the new gear, but the new tech tips they offered up. I was thrilled to see that they tackled a common safety hazard in cleaning sport routes, one we see almost turn dangerous at Rumney, far to often.

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The scenario starts when the final climber leads an overhanging, or traversing sport route. On the way back down they have to clean the draws as they lower. A standard practice is to clip a spare quickdraw from your belay rope to the line of rope running through the draws. This way, as you lower, you can stay close to the rope line to mor easily clean the quick draws, as opposed to lowering straight down and away from the wall. This works well until the last draw. We see two dangerous scenarios here.

1.) Climber stays clipped into belay line and unclips last draw. In this scenario the climber swings out from under the overhang like a pendulum. Since they are clipped into the belay line, as they swing they drag belayer with them, possibly dragging them across the ground or into an object.

2.) Belayer lowers out away from the wall with the first draw off the ground still clipped in. This causes a lot of slack as the rope goes up through first bolt, out to climber, up to anchor, and finally back down to the climber. At this point the climber makes the poor decision to unclip themselves from the belay strand. As that extra slack is introduced into the system the climber drops, possibly decking.

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Erik Thatcher on Social Outcast at Rumney. A prime sight for this type of accident.

In both of those scenarios there are several easy work arounds. The first, and safest of all, is to have the final person up a steep climb top rope the climb on the strand of rope running through the draws, cleaning as they go. For severely angled routes such as Peer Pressure at Bonsai, this is the best method. For scenario number 2, the climber can be lowered to the ground without unclipping, so long as there is enough rope (knot your rope end just in case!)

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For a lot of climbs at Rumney, the best way around this accident involves clipping into the second to last draw above the ground. I have to do this frequently at Bonsai, and select other routes like the Crusher or Cereal killer. I’ll take the draw connected to my harness, unclip it from the rope and clip it into the rope end carabiner of the draw on the second to last bolt. My belayer then loses me until my weight is on these two draws. Then you unclip the rope from the second draw, and reach down to clean the first draw from the bolt and rope. At this point your belayer braces themselves and you check behind you for obstructions you might run into, before unclipping and taking what should be a safe and moderate swing.

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Whitney Steiner on The Crusher, another possible location for this technique

Many climbers at Rumney are starting their progression at the gym and working up to climbing outside at sport crags. I see two primary groups coming out of this situation. Some are those who climb moderates, and cautiously transition into leading similar grades outside. Others are generally younger climbers who quickly progress to leading hard routes on plastic, and then jump outside to do the same, of course there are all sorts of people in between. Mooney Mountain Guides works with many people who would fall into that former group, giving them learn to lead instruction and facilitating their transition outside. The latter group, it seems, rarely seeks out qualified instruction, and frequently we see them struggling or dangerously making their way through the learning curve, where qualified instruction from guides coaches or mentors would have made that transition quicker and safer. This, and other small safety tricks are critical to a safe and enjoyable day out at the crags!

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MMG Guide, Alexa Siegel on Social Outcast

If you’re curious about seeing Petzl’s tech tip on cleaning draws in its entirety you can go here:

http://www.petzl.com/en/Sport/Recovering-quickdraws-in-an-overhang-while-descending?ActivityName=Rock-climbing&l=US#.VEklNDl4VQk

If you wish to geek out as the weather gets to cold or wet for climbing, here is the whole database of tech tips:

http://www.petzl.com/en/Sport/Activities?l=US

Erik Thatcher

MMG guide