Training & Fitness
I must say I have an absolutely fantastic job. Yes guiding rock, ice, mountains is not for everyone. This is what I chose for a career and it is weeks like this past one that showcase how good a guides work can be.
The people – my guests – these folks are what make each day interesting, engaging, and fun. They all have a choice of who to climb with and I do feel very special that they choose to spend a day in the mountains, on a climb with me.
A huge Thank You is in order to all the guests who climb with me and the guides at Mooney Mountain Guides. I/We do appreciate your choice and climbing with each of you is a blast.
Jerry – aka the force – a driven man who loves to climb. Whether is be the rock, the ice, or big mountain faces in the Alps Jerry loves it all.
Aubrey – trains hard at home and plays hard when he gets out. A busy man running his business but still manages to find the time to get out on the cliffs to refresh the mind.
Charlie – our second season together – Charlie is on his way to becoming a major player on the stone. This week we crushed the routes at Rumney and with three upcoming sessions planned – new personal heights will be gained.
Ryan and Amy – new friends – on the Whitney Gilman.
We enjoyed a fantastic day on Cannon together. Amy was challenged but maintained her focus on the big stone. Ryan and I swapped leads and worked on transitions and systems.
Ryan on lead the final pitch of Whitney Gilman.
A special day for Ryan – Happy Birthday!!!
Thank you all for spending your time with me. This was amazing week of guide work/fun in NH.
Once a year, Dave, takes a trip to New Hampshire for some hiking and relaxing. Dave is from New York and looks forward to this trip each year. This year Dave planned is biggest hike yet, a traverse of Franconia Ridge including a summit of Lafayette.
For many the Lafayette traverse is the most beautiful hike in the White Mountains. Indeed is is a special place. Stunning views of the eight Presidential Summits, Vermont Summits, and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Not to mention the alpine flowers and rugged landscape.
One of my favorite ski descents.
Traversing the ridge a hiker is exposed an entirely different environment. Due to the elevation the climate is similar to the environment found in Newfoundland and Labrador. To Dave, he said it was as exotic as being on the Moon.
We traversed the ridge under perfect weather, building clouds, and a cool breeze. We were both happy to be in the Alpine.
To the west of the ridge is New Hampshires largest alpine wall, Cannon Cliff.
Cloud Shadows over the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
Clouds over the ridge.
Waterfalls are just part of the stunning beauty on this adventure.
Thank you Dave for a great day in the hills.
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For the past four or five years now, camp Wildwood has come to climb with Mooney Mountain Guides. Sometimes for a few days, other times for an entire week. We are very lucky to have created such an awesome relationship with Wildwood. The campers that have attended these trips are great kids, and the camp instructors are professional, friendly, and great with kids. It is a real pleasure to spend time with Camp Wildwood.
Technique overpowers strength every time, here a camper gets her feet high to reach the next hold.
MMG and Wildwood schedule these trips far in advance. We cross our fingers in the weeks leading up to the trip that the weather will provide us with beautiful days for climbing. This year, the weather forecasts were not perfect. Despite the forecast, MMG and Wildwood kept it positive, and went climbing anyway.
Rappelling is a vital skill for a climber; here MMG Guide Todd teaches a camper with the added support of a belay from above.
Day one was calling for thunderstorms. We all had our raincoats along with our climbing gear and super sticky 5.10 climbing shoes, ready for anything. By the time we reached the cliff we were going to climb, there were patches of blue sky and intermittent sun. The rock was perfectly dry, and even better, we had Rumney to our selves. Due to the fact that we wanted to get everything in before any rain, the group climbed a ton, and the rain never came. We had a beautiful day of climbing despite the forecast.
Working on technique, crimp session.
In the a.m. of day two we woke to rain, but it looked as tough it was heading east towards Maine and away from central N.H. Again, armed with our positive attitudes we headed up the trail to climb, with the idea that we would climb until we couldn’t. Yet again, the more we climbed the better the weather became. Day two was just as great as day one.
The team out climbing despite the drizzle; MMG Guide Todd looking sharp in his Mammut Rain Jacket
It was the power of the positive attitudes we all came to this trip with that allowed for two great days of rock climbing. It goes to show that climbing is about more than rocks and climbing them. Its about spending time in beautiful places with positive people.
Thanks to MMG Guide Todd, Wildwood Instructors Shannon and Matt, and all the campers.
Alex Teixeira, MMG Guide
Ridge running has always been one of my favorite workout activities. Putting on the trail shoes, carrying a small pack with the essentials, and moving light and fast gives a feeling of a free spirit in the mountains. Lightweight travel and quick moves over boulder strewn trails leave the miles behind as one runs along the trails and ridges in the high peaks.
The Whitney Gilman Ridge is another type of ridge running adventure. The vertical 5th class kind! The game is played in a similar way, lightweight gear, efficient movements, and quick transitions all add up to topping out on the ridge in a short amount of time. The Whitney Gilman Ridge route is positioned along an exposed knife edge of stone, the route wanders back and forth with moments of exceptional exposure over the dark north wall. The route is somewhat committing as descending is not an easy task – there is certainly an excitement factor on this climb. This is Cannon and getting to the top in a timely way is the common goal.
The Whitney Gilman – 600ft of technical 5th class climbing.
Bill – happy to be back on Cannon!!!
Today we had a slight breeze and light cloud cover – this kept conditions quite nice on this hazy, hot, and humid day.
Team Mammut in action – Grib coming over the exposed pipe pitch, great vistas of the Lafayette Ridge from this spacious belay ledge, and Grib on the final corner pitch.
Pitch 5 has a steep corner system – excellent climbing high on Cannon.
The pitch 5 exposed belay station perch.
Great times – back in action on Cannon.
What a fantastic climbing area – right in our backyard of NH.
The Flatirons dominant the skyline high above Boulder on the slopes of the Rockies. These unusual formations of stone are numbered 1,2,3 and all are climbed regularly by Boulderites and visiting climbers.
Steve arrived in town and Flatiron number 1 was our first objective. Our choice of routes today weaved up the center of the wall and offered over 1 thousand feet of mindful movements in 10 pitches of varied roped climbing.
Steve giving the thumbs up to the Flatiron. There would be no wrinkles on this ascent – we pressed onward to the base.
Special times – breaking in the new rope.
This Mammut Revelation rope is a beauty and will be treated with care.
Today we went for comfort and performance and both of us chose to wear our new Five Ten – Guide Tennis shoes. These shoes went right into action, sticking to the stone. A great choice of climbing footwear for the moderate routes, much more than the so called approach shoe.
Learning the ropes, clove hitches, belays techniques and protection.
At the top of the face is an alpine style ridge. Here Steve is breaking down the anchor ready for the summit bid.
Our early start paid off big. The early morning approach was quiet and peaceful then the masses of climbers and hikers arrived. No worries for us we were on top for the day.
High above Boulders open space lands.
First Flatiron climbed, next stop Eldorado Canyon.
Great warm up day for Steve and I – let the fun times continue!!!
To Nick, climbing and mountaineering is less about achievement. Nick prefers to use the mountains as a place for discovery. He does not limit this discovery to natural places, and spectacular views; in addition to these, Nick takes time for self discovery and reflection. Knowing this about Nick I felt that a traverse of New Hampshire’s Presidential range was a perfect objective.
Foreground Mt. Adams, Mid-ground undercast clouds, Background Mt. Washington
New Hampshire’s Presidential Range is the loges exposed alpine ridge-line in the eastern half of the U.S. It also boasts eight summits, Mt. Washington being the tallest in the North East. There are some options on how to start and finish the traverse, however, our path would take us 24.5 miles over which we would gain and loose 7,200ft of elevation.
Our journey began at the Appalachia trail head where we walked 5 miles to tree-line, eventually topping out at the AMC Madison Spring Hut. With it being early season, Nick and I decided to stay in the huts operated by the AMC. This option allowed us to cary light day packs, as apposed to heavy overnight packs.
View from Madison Spring Hut
Our walk to the hut was beautiful, following a stream fed by an alpine spring made it even better. An easy pace with good conversation, gave us plenty of time to relax on the porch of the hut before we were served a delicious hot meal. One of the most stunning sunsets over a blanket of undercast clouds made a great ending to a even better day.
Sunset at Madison Spring Hut
Day two dawned bluebird skies, and 20% humidity. A perfect day to hike across one of the most stunning landscapes in the east. We passed deep glacial cirques, and craggy summits on our way south. After our hike across the the Northern Presidentials, we arrived at the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut at the foot of Mt. Washington. We sipped hot coco as we unpacked our packs and prepared for dinner. Another wonderful four course meal. Both tired, we headed to bed early for day 3.
Starting out on Day 2
Midway Point Day 2
Nick and I awoke to the sound of rain blowing against the window of the hut and coffee brewing in the kitchen. Two large bowls of oatmeal prepared us for our journey across the southern end of the range. Out the door we were met with rain, but it didn’t detract from the experience. We were prepared with rain gear to stay warm and dry. Over the summit of Monroe we went.
No more rain, and good visibility.
Nick and I had been out for two hours,when suddenly the rain slowed to a stop and the fog lifted. The skies remained cloudy and dark, yet the clouds were in the upper atmosphere and visibility increased to about 30 miles. We completed the final 2/3rds of our day with beautiful views all the way to Mizpah Hut. By this point in our travels we had gotten to know some of the other southbound hikers on the trail. Having dinner and breakfast with these other hikers, Nick and I got to know them a little. Walking into the hut, it was like seeing old friends at the local watering hole. Another hot four course meal was served. Desert of cream cheese brownies sent us full and warm to our bunks.
Final Summit in the Presidential’s complete.
Breakfast and goodbyes to the hut workers, then we were off down the trail. We were out around lunch time. On our hike out Nick and I reflected on how the mountains teach us about our selves. Our physical fitness becomes apparent, our decision making, and what is important to us. Nick and I promised to meet again for another mountain adventure in the future. Between now and then, Nick will go to Mt. Rainer in the Cascades of Washington, as well as Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus of Russia. No doubt that he will have done some self discovery.
Thank you Nick for a great week on the trail.
A big shout out is in store for the MMG guides.
Thanks very much for attending the spring training day this season. This day is where and when the MMG Guide team gets together to Raise the Bar. By reviewing our practices, discussing new techniques, lots of hands on with new and previous skills, and general fun times cragging on the rocks the team comes together and tightens up the MMG guiding operation.
L to R: Derrek Anderson, Phil Thalheimer,Derek Doucet,Steve Cooney, Alex Teixeira, Todd Goodman, and Mike Leathem
Missing – not forgotten are: Erik Thatcher, Jim Gagne, Matt Shove.
Our Sponsors Mammut, Julbo, Five Ten – came through again – in a big way!!!
Check out these excellent products.
On approach to Jimmy Cliff area.
Discussing the descent technique options.
MMG’s team – we have been together for many years which says a lot.
Good friends, good times = good guiding and instruction.
The Gi Gi and the Connecticut Hitch
Phil managing the station and transitioning to the descent.
Great day getting together – Thank you all.
Mooney Mountain Guides calls this blog posted trip the New Hampshire sampler – a day of sport climbing, a mountain adventure, and an alpine rock day on Cannon Cliff. This three day action packed event is not one for a week heart or mind.
Steve is a motivated man, when he sets his sights on a climb, a goal, a project he gives it 100+ percent. This was crystal clear from the beginning. United a not so favorite airline of his canceled his flight earlier this week and within a short time Steve was in the car racing from New York to New Hampshire. The weather pattern was solid, a mid week break from Peppercom was needed, and the body and mind were ready to climb.
Rumney Rocks was the first stop on Tuesday. The skies had cleared from the weekends low pressure and the cliff was drying out fast. A visit to the Jimmy Cliff got us off on the right tune, Bonsai was next with a fine display of sending a project by MMG guide Alex, and then to complete we ventured over to the Main wall for a steep technical face climb that put on the first of many pumps during the week.
A quick cardio workout romping up the Clippidy Do Dah!!!
Main Cliff action as Steve nears the belay.
Off to a good start.
The great weather continued on Wednesday which happened to be our Mt Washington mountain day. To both our surprise the mountain was in late winter condition with snow and ice covered trails from the Cog Station to the summit. There has been over 1 foot of new snow since May first which is quite unusual even for the rock pile. The new snow along with brisk temps and a stiff breeze make us feel like we took a step back in time by a few months.
Thanks to Julbo for keeping our vision in order – excellence with eyewear for mountain travelers and more.
Bluebird skies, wild rime ice, all in all a spectacular day.
The summit cone was tough – bear down and keep on trucking.
The prize Steve’s 13th time on the summit
The base area – four thousand feet lower – in spring time condition.
Our third day – time to ramp it up!!!
Cannon Cliff is New Hampshires finest alpine rock area. Our 1 hour approach to the Whitney Gilman wanders up the steep talus field to the base of the serpentine ridge. The WG ridge is a classic old school 5.7 route first completed in 1929. This was our last day objective and we were set to take it to the top.
All the movement skills are put to the test climbing on Cannon. Cracks, faces, loose shattered rock, wildy exposed moves as one works back and forth along the 600ft ridge climb. The Whitney Gilman Ridge can make one feel like they are climbing in the Alps.
The final pitch – Steve jamming and liebacking the final corner to the top.
The descent – snow and ice again?
Micro spikes on the Guide Tennies was the ticket home.
Steve and MMG guide Alex blasting home on the return.
Steve has come to New Hampshire many times to climb with MMG. This trip was one of the finest, it was
full of SERF – Surprises, Educational, Rewards, Fun time for all.
Thanks to Steve – for this amazing three day sampler.
Early season is tough. With the improved weather, excitement fills the air and climbers get anxious not only to get out but also to send. Attacking a project too high too soon often results in injury, putting the kibosh on training until you heal. Dialing down routes can help maximize your training early season (and throughout the year).
Several years ago, I was climbing with a friend of mine at Rumney, and we were warming up before heading off to our respective projects. After completing a route that I enjoyed but did not climb smoothly, I muttered, “That was sloppy.” I had wished I felt more comfortable on the route.
“Don’t untie,” he said. “Dial it down.” So I climbed it again, much more smoothly. When I reached the ground the second time, he smiled. “Don’t untie. You’re not done.” I sighed but started again. I moved more fluidly than the previous times and anticipated the next handhold and my feet found the footholds. The fourth time…yes, he made me climb it four times…I felt solid.
The more familiar you are with a route, the greater chance you have to move efficiently, grabbing the holds the best way the first time or finding the right footholds without hanging too much on your arms. Each spring, when I have been off the rock for several months, I gravitate to the routes where my body knows the motions like dialing the number to an old friend. Often times, these routes are either the same grade or harder than the routes that I am trying to onsight. Because I am so familiar with these routes I have dialed down, I am performing challenging moves without wasting too much energy trying to figure out the beta. As a result, I can climb harder for a longer period of time, enabling me to get into climbing shape faster.
This season when you climb a route that you enjoy, don’t rush off too quickly for the next one. Spend the extra time to work through the moves. Dial it down.
Movement – a core skill on the rocks, in the mountains, on the ice.
All climbers strive for exceptional movements on the stone. The precise movements in the vertical realm require a great deal – a calm focused mind, agility and flexibility, a well tuned body and positive mental drive all are needed to advance up the wall. It may sounds easy but I can assure you its not. Hours into days of specific training and practice sessions help one maintain a high level of climbing. To advance into to the next level specialize training sessions are a must.
Motion – a body in motion should remain in motion.
Right now is exciting time spring is here and it the time to rock climb – develop new projects and advance. Motion is needed to keep us on task. Frequent runs and walks are helpful for the cardio and certainly known to be an effective way to start each day. The pace of the day is set with a light and fast tone when I start with a motion exercise in the am.
Guidance – help and advice to reach the higher level.
Whether it be climbing or yoga I need guidance to break through plateaus. Yoga has become a necessary part of life for me. Practice on and off the mat yoga is helping prevent injuries through breathing exercises, flexibility, balance, power and mindfulness.
During this past month Terry and I took on a more focused spring training project. Each day we start with movement in the form of early morning walks and/or runs. The main part of the day is set aside for focused climbing sessions. Then many evenings find us at a variety of yoga studios being guided through Vinyasa sequences of all types.
Alyssa – grace and flexibility on the stone.
Power, Balance, Alignment.
Reaching for the higher ground.
Footwork – standing right upon the front toes using the Five Ten Anasazi.
Ready for the move.
Calico Hills – Red Rocks.
These steep routes require the body to stay in motion. The fore arm pump comes on fast.
Mountain hikes and runs in the desert. Fast and light
Spring time is here – it is time to leave winter behind and get into gear.