Training & Fitness
Mooney Mountain Guides has a new ice climbing course which I termed the Mileage Plus+. This is a specialized course for ice and rock climbers seeking to fast track their movement and technical skills. Under the mentorship of Art, Laurie has developed a plan with a mutual commitment of time and energy. The Mileage Plus+ days are full of education followed by mileage which equates to experience. This winter Laurie and I have immersed ourselves together into the finer aspects of the ice world. Our instructional topics include movement skills, ice protection, ice anchoring, belay techniques, v threads and once again Mileage Plus+. Over regular intervals Laurie is quickly advancing, with a solid understanding of the many intricacies of the ice.
Kinsman Notch, a fabulous area for moving into ice leading. Laurie has set off on Lepricuans Lament NEI2. This route is perfect for Laurie to sharpen her mental focus to lead, to place ice screws at regular intervals,and then set up the anchor at the top.
The ice climber can never take a casual approach, stay connected to the tools, to the gear, to the ice. Laurie has three solid points of contact to free up her right hand to place ice screw protection on the pitch.
As Laurie approaches the top she is deciding where to place her top out ice screw. It is the rounded out bulges with thin ice above that may look easy but climb quite hard, thus need the extra attention and protection.
Laurie is climbing on Shamrock NEI3. Pictured is the lower crux which a very steep corner leading to a rest. Laurie is keeping her cool knowing that once on the above ice ledge she can rest and re energize for the remainder of the climb.
Laurie brought along these tasty home made energy bars of dates, walnuts, and cacao.
The Beast at Kinsman – here Laurie is testing her movement skills on a steep NEI4+
Multi pitch transitions is where the technical action takes place. Being able to swap leads with efficiency is key to keeping the flow, staying warm, reducing the time and risk on the climb.
A backed up V thread – a recommended technique before committing the entire team to this tunnel into the ice.
Last week was a huge break through for Laurie and I. We logged in many hours on the ice together, Laurie took on the task on leading the routes and we worked on fine tuning skills along the way. This all happened in the White Mountains of NH, one of the finest ice climbing venues in the world.
Thank you Laurie for this amazing experience.
Mammut Ridge Low GTX
Mooney Mountain Guides has been a long time user of Mammut equipment and clothing. In my opinion what Mammut produces matches very well with the rigors of guiding year round. Year after year I reach for the same gear with confidence that it is going to work every time. Although ropes and clothing have been my primary focus, I began using their footwear as well. The running shoes have been one of my favorite pair in years.
When in the field I enjoy talking about gear with guests and other climbers I meet at the crag, and I feel great about promoting Mammut. Earlier this November while climbing with a long time guest, I noticed he was wearing a pair of Mammut approach/hiking shoes (Mammut Ridge Low GTX). I asked him how he liked them, which produced a long conversation on how he wore them for the majority of his recent Appalachian Trail through-hike. He also said, “I’m never going back to any other shoe.” With such awesome feedback I asked George if he would mind writing a short review on the shoe for me to post on the blog. He obliged. Below is real, unsolicited, unedited, customer feedback on a quality product. Thank you to George and Mammut!
My new favorites: MTR 201-11 Low
(Words of George Brenckle)
In 2015, my son Ian and I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. We went southbound, starting at Katahdin on Memorial Day and reaching Springer Mountain in early December. I went through 4 pairs of boots in the process. My first pair, traditional hiking boots, did not make it our of Maine before they literally fell apart on me. To be fair it was a wet and cold traverse of Maine. I don’t think my feet were dry for a month. The uppers literally rotted away.
As a side note. I’ve done some winter hiking and have “post-holed” in snow before. However, I has never experience post-holing in mud. Unlike snow, the mud literally tries to pull your show right off your foot. Extricating yourself and you shoe is a slow and careful process.
I switched to a pair of trail runners in Rangely, ME and wore them until Massachusetts. They were not the best, but convinced me that a lower, lighter shoe had a lot of value. Another pair of trail runners got me to Pennsylvania.
While taking a zero day in Hamburg, PA, we bumped into a fellow hiker, trail name “OneStep”, who had been waiting 4 days for a pair of Mamuts to be delivered. He swore that they were the most comfortable hiking shoes he had ever worn and were well worth the wait. He let me try them on, and I was sold.
I ordered a pair and had them delivered by the time we hit southern PA. I wore them to the next 1,100 miles to Springer. I’ve decided I’ll stick with them for all of the future. I’m not sure I would wear them in the dead of winter, but for all other seasons they are wonderful.
“Dos Equis” Maine to Georgia 2015
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you Steve, family and friends for two great days on the rock.
To me, above all, climbing is a pursuit, a lifestyle that is best shard with others. For generations of climbers, skills have been passed down through mentorship. The 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s did not have a lot of climbers. Climbing was not apart of the main stream media. Gear was primitive and hard to come by. Climbing was better referred to as an art-form, than a sport. The equipment of the day closer to a hammer and chisel, than to the space age equipment of today. The 80′s brought on the popularity of sport climbing, and as a result climbing became slightly more accessible to the average joe. The 90′s and 00′s made this even more true with the increased popularity of climbing gym’s, ABS, and mainstream media.
It is awesome, especially for a working mountain guide, to have the pursuit of climbing be more popular than ever. However, a part of me feels that the most special part of this life, the mentorship, has been, at least a little, diluted down by the main stream. The main-streamness of climbing has led many young/new climbers into believing that you can learn all you need to know from the gym, that, if you are strong you can go anywhere, and its every climber for his or her self.
There is an individual who I met this ice climbing season that has defied the trend. A relatively new climber, but a lifetime lover of wild places. A passionate people person, Stephanie has created her own climbing community by combining the powers of the mainstream with the magic of mentorship.
Nature Girls is a “Meet Up” group with over 600 followers! Just one example of how modern times are changing the climbing world. Stefanie is the boss and she has done some amazing work this year. On top of her own busy life and climbing goals, she has taken the time to run two ice climbing trips with Mooney Mountain Guides. I’m not sure why the guiding gods were so good to MMG by allowing us to work with such a great group, but I am grateful for the opportunity.
I can’t say enough positive things about this group. Women from all walks of life, getting together to climb frozen waterfalls. So cool! The most inspiring aspect of the Nature Girls is their drive to learn more about the sport, and not in a rapid way, but how they enjoy the process. Through Stefanie the Nature Girls are seeking guidance to help push their limits. I can’t say the MMG is sensei to this great group of gals, but I am honored to have helped provide a little guidance along their way. My hope is that MMG can help Stef provide amazing climbing experiences to her followers, and push them in the direction of seeking a climbing mentor.
I so look forward to many climbing trips with the Nature Girls on the ice and rock. I think there are many great experience to come. I must send out a big Thank You to Stefanie, for being the driving force behind Nature Girls and all the have accomplished.
If your interested in learning more, or joining a trip please check out:
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
Steve leading the way up Whitehorse.
The three inline Steve, Catharine, and Nicole climbing the steep slabs of Whitehorse.
Success the team of five on the Whitehorse summit.
Repman viewing and coaching Catharine at Rumney Rocks.
Catharine to the top on the steep crack route at Rumney.
This was Steves fourteenth summit of the Mt Washington. Photo of him on the alpine gardens heading up.
A strategic partnership – Steve and Art on another amazing adventure together.
There you have it – Mt Washington.
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!
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.
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!
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
Erik in VT
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
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
The winter season is here. It was quite a shift from the warm desert of Red Rocks, Nevada and into to cold of New England. Yet the psyche is high and MMG is is off to a great start. Routes include a few laps on the Black Dike, Standard Route, Shoe String, Kings Ravine, and routes in Huntington’s Ravine. Thanks to all the MMG guides and guests who made the first week of the ’14, ’15 ice season a amazing one.
There’s plenty to go around, come and get it!
Art enjoying pitch two of the Black Dike
Finding some good ice in Shoe String
Crossing the Presi-ridge in 80-mph winds
Early season = awesome climbing
Crossing the Alpine Garden after a successful day in Huntington’s
Topping out in Huntington’s