Technical Systems

The Mountains are a common bond with climbers and guides. This is the place we all love to spend our days, climbing high on the rocks, ascending ice routes or traveling amongst the high peaks. For this years Mooney Mountain Guides training day I decided to hold the rock climbing training session on Cannon Mountain. Cannon is an amazing place. The cliff face soars high above the valley floor of Franconia Notch. The views of the Pemigewasset Valley to the south and Mt Lafayette to the east are spectacular.

The MMG Guides and myself have rock and ice climbed on this granite face hundreds of times. For me the Cannon experience is always exciting and full of amazement. This mountain is alive and each time I climb here I sharpen my senses, bring respect and focus to the area, and make decisions based on the time, place, and the current events around me. Maintaining this type of awareness is needed for Cannon, this higher end NH alpine rock climbing area.


View of the Whitney Gilman Ridge and Cannons big wall section.


Exposed climber on the Whitney Gilman Ridge.


Classic Rock Climb – Whitney Gilman Ridge – first climbed in 1929.

IMG_2183 Mooney Mountain Guide team.

The Mentorship is a crucial part of the development and training of all climbing guides. Alain Comeau of New England Mountain Guides was my first instructor with the AMGA certification program. I feel Alain has mentored me over the past 20 years. To this day we are in touch, working together and bouncing new ideas and guiding issues off  each other. Much thanks goes to Alain for all the mentoring and sharing of his mountain expertise.

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“Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less”.

Mentorship comes is many ways. I led the MMG training with assistance from MMG Guides Derek Doucet and Matt Ritter (AMGA Certified Rock Instructors). Our focus was on general discussions pertinent to guiding on the rocks this summer. In addition the above photos picture the MMG guides solving specific technical problems and brushing up and practicing rope techniques.

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Guidance is what we do. To do this well a guide must have strong climbing movement skills. Part of our training day was to have  fun on the rocks. Derek and Erik led and set up two of Cannons base area routes Slow and Easy and Sticky Fingers. The MMG team followed with multiple laps of rock climbing fun.

Thanks to the Mooney Mountain Guide sponsors Mammut, Julbo, Petzl and Five Ten for the continued support of MMG, the guides and AMGA certification and training.

Mammut styled us with new Pokiok soft shell guide jackets. Being a very warm sunny day we did not need to use them today but this soft shell will be in our packs for the fickle weather on Cannon this summer. Thanks to Gribbin and Mammut for the ongoing support of MMG Guides and myself.

Julbo hooked us up with cool new shades for this event. Keeping the guides eyes sharp on Cannon is a must. Thanks to Julbo and Nick Yardley for the continued support of the MMG Guides.


Dave Karl of Sky Ambition – the northeast area Petzl representative. 

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Dave traveled over to Cannon to meet the MMG staff and present new Petzl products and valuable technical info on many products in use today. In Daves kit was the new Sirocco helmet, the Ange carabiner, Spirit Express Draws, and new this season Petzl ice screws.

IMG_2171  On approach.


The wall – Cannon Cliff!!!


Great day on the mountain – Cannon that is!!! Thanks to all the MMG guides for taking time on a sunny Saturday to  join in on this training day.

Art Mooney


Todays climbing experience on Cannon was fantastic. Jerry and I arrived early and made plans to climb a few classic cracks  along the base of the cliff.  We could not have asked for better weather we climbed all day with blue skies, no wind,  just wearing a t shirt. The rock was completely dry on all the routes we climbed and we viewed parties on Direct direct, Vertigo.

Enjoy it this week if you can!!!


View of the WG Ridge -The Big Wall section – Moby Grape area.

DSCN1496Fast efficient anchor and belay setup.


The crack climbing session started here with the roll 1.5 inch tape


Reppy’s Crack

DSCN1519  Wild pitch the expanding flake on pitch 2 of Union Jack.


Jerry cruising the steep 5.9 corner on Union Jack


Over the weekend there was plenty of active rock fall coming out of the Black Dike area. This was a new area of rubble between the Benedictus and Moby Grape rock climbs.


Large fractured blocks littered the base area here.


Slow and easy getting done!!!


 Duet a Cannon Classic for sure – Yosemite style rock climbing in NH.


Awesome day – thanks Jerry.

Art Mooney 

Right after my returned from the sunny and warm south west I was treated to a cold moist day on the Willys Slide. This was the beginning of a six day technical training session for a group of visiting PJ’s. Over the six days Alain Comeau lead this group through a series of train ups followed by practical sessions on the ice, the cliffs and over the rivers. I was along to assist and be the other set of eyes keeping the group on target with these new and highly technical skills.


A modified self arrest – note slider is picking up axe on the move.


Snow anchors – these should be the last of the season on Willys.


Ice bollard for rappels.


The twin rescue system in action.


Twin system on the top of Cathedral Ledge.


Getting started with the English Reeve system .


English Reeve system in action over the gorge.

Thanks to Alain and the men from the pararescue squad – it was a great week of learning with some additional fun hack sessions.

Art Mooney

Glacier Travel and more.

It’s a lot of information for ones grey matter to take in. Four days of knowledge in two days is a circuit over load for anybody. When you are looking to plan a trip that requires a variation of so many skills such as what it might take to plan a trip, altitude concerns, belaying, rappelling, setting up tents, the importance of  good kitchen skills, rescue skills, snow anchors and much, much more.  It can be difficult to take in so much information in just a short period of time.  In order to maintain everything we learned we all must keep doing the same thing……Practice, practice and practice.  Did I mention we saw Fred Beckey too.

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Technical systems galore.


 Taking the skills up the climb.


The group still smiling after two long days.

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Did I  mention we saw Fred Beckey!

Thanks Nick, Ethan, Justin and Jenna for a great two days

Jim Gagne – MMG Guide

The American Mountain Guides Association – is the premier guide training and certification organization in the US The AMGA offers a variety of courses in rock climbing, alpine climbing and ski mountaineering tours. Throughout each years hundreds of climbers and guides enroll in these training and certification programs which teach new skills and refine their instructing and guiding skills.

In Joshua Tree KC and I met and worked with six new students in this years first Rock Instructor Course. The students were either at the beginning stages of instructing while others were already in the transition from climber to instructor – guide. The RIC course has an extensive curriculum which is covered over a ten day period. Starting with ground school we work to learn,refresh and refine techniques. When climbing we shift the mind set from oneself to thinking of overall risk management for the group. Then we apply efficient techniques to cruise up and down the granite domes.

Transitions are two fold – first is the transition from climber to instructor. The second part of transition is the technical area. Much of the course is focused on practice and refining transitions on multi pitch rock climbs. Examples are 3rd and 4th class movement to 5th class climbing, from climbing to descending, climbing to short rope travel, and single belayed climbing to simul belayed climbing. These are major areas we focus on to execute the right technique and minimize the time the rope is not moving.

After all the goal for the climber is to climb and reach the summit!!!


The desert landscape – Joshua Trees and granite domes.


Marcus – on the Dapple Mare – Lost Horse Wall.

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 Miranda on the wide and Chris liking the finger locks.


Greg giving us the beta in the guano chimney.

Joshua tree has varied climbing, cracks faces slabs and some wide chimneys. A well rounded climber will enjoy sampling any of these routes.

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Jason, Marcus and Chris enjoying the J tree area.


Left hand perfect size for number three camalots – right hand the number two fits fine.

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Techniques – Jason leading the short rope travel, Luke with an extended belay system, and KC demonstrating the 2 to 1 raise.


Practice of rescue skills for all.

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Kiwi coil races – the guys rocked it coiled and tied off in under 1 minute!!!


Thanks to each of the students,KC, and the AMGA – it was a great course, with lots of learning and a fun time meeting and climbing with you all.

Art Mooney

Mike and I just had two days of steep ice climbing together. Each time Mike come to NH we take climbing to a higher level. This time is was the steep ice and two great venues Frankenstein and the Lake Willoughby.

As you will see the climbing is fantastic right now – get it while you can.


Lots of steep long routes at the Lake.


Mike warming up on the hobbit.


Pegasus done – lots of varied climbing on this one.


Chia right side – beautiful ice climbing in the sun.


Lake Willoughby


Thanks for a great two days Mike!

Art Mooney

The MMG Guides along with myself strive to be mountain athletes. I am a full promoter that the MMG Guides (all guides) must climb often and also guides/climbers should develop a regular mountain athlete training program to keep on the cutting edge of movement skills on rock, ice, and mountain climbs. Specific training such as yoga, free weights, climbing wall, hit strips, running all add up to a strong more nimble guide who can operate day after day with out injury.

This post is of Jerry  – one of Mooney Mountain Guides frequent travelers. First Jerry maintains a high quality home life and career then he climbs. Many times he has joined MMG for five day stretches on the ice and rock. He has come a long way in a short time and now he is able to climb a variety of high end ice routes, long rock climbs, mountain tours without missing a beat. He is a Mountain Athlete. Jerry has developed a regular training program that keeps him in great shape – when he comes out to climb he is ready.

The payoff is huge – last week we climbed ice routes for four straight days then Jerry finished the week off with a climb of Repentance on Friday and a fast early morning ascent of Mt Washington on Saturday.

Nice job Jerry – keep up the specific training and fitness program you are doing – it works!


Jerry working the back step on the Penguin Route.


Lead time on Hitchcock Gully – Willard is in great shape right now.


Descending from Penguin area.


 Jerry on lead at the end of the day  – Trestle Cut!


Repentance in fine shape – arriving at 2nd belay area.


Steep alpine rock and scrub at the top of Willard.


Another back step on Dracula.


 A new route for us – Twenty Below Zero Gully.


The technical side – making a V thread for our descent at Newfound Lake.


No line up for Jerry and Matt on this day – green light.


 Great day on the mountain with good friends.

Thanks Jerry for the superb week together. I am looking forward to our next trip to Red Rocks this spring.

Art Mooney

The American Mountain Guides held the Ice Instructor Course last week in Crawford Notch NH. This course is a 5 day ice guiding course designed to train alpine guides and ice guides who are in the guide program. The course focus is on the guides movements skills, and on the guidance and movement of clients on a wide variety of ice and snow climbs.

Marc Chauvin, Silas Rossi and I instructed 9 students during the week. Over half the students were visiting guides from Colorado and the remainder were locals from New England and New York. I always enjoy showing the western guides our fantastic climbing areas. New England is a hidden gem in the climbing world.



Silas at the AMC Highland center getting our program started.


Mike leading up the East Slabs of Mt Willard.


Outdoor writer Rob taking the team up Frankensteins Standard Route.


Petra Cliffs owner – Mammut ambassador Andrea on the Chia Pillar.


Sea of Ice.

AMGA Instructor Team

The instructors Silas Rossi, Art Mooney, Marc Chauvin.

Thanks to all the students for their commitment to education as a guide.

Art Mooney

The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course is an ideal training program for proficient recreational climbers wishing to transition in to the world of professional guiding and instruction. Despite some weather related challenges (Read: Thunder, downpours and hail!), I just wrapped up an excellent SPI course with three well prepared and motivated participants. Here are a few scenes from the course.

Solid anchors are essential components of effective guiding. SPIs should be able to build them quickly and with a minimum of equipment to maximize efficiency and climbing time for guests. The two solid pieces below are joined using a two-loop figure eight knot on a static cord, forming one of two legs which will comprise the final anchor.

 Below we see the overall rigging used to create an actual anchor.This is a bombproof system constructed with just the placements themselves, four carabiners and the static rope. Efficient indeed! The extra strand on the right leg is an instructor tether, offering a secure clip-in should both ends of the climbing rope by otherwise used, as in a belayed rappel system.

This is the big picture. Peter is thoughtfully arranging his belay station as a tidy and efficient work space. Visualizing how to organize a given belay stance to maximize its utility for working is a key SPI skill, and surprisingly tricky for many folks at first.

Here, Peter practices running a belayed rappel. Note that he is connected to the tether mentioned above by his GriGri, which allows him to easily adjust his position and maintain good line of sight as Taylor descends. Just out of frame on the tether line is a catastrophe knot, a prudent measure to close the system and eliminate the possibility of going off the end of the tether should the GriGri not engage.

Peter, Taylor and Brian were a pleasure to work with. Thanks, guys. I look forward to seeing you out on the cliffs this summer!

-Derek Doucet, MMG