It is the time of year to focus in. The ice climbing game is one that should never be taken lightly. Sharp tools in hand, spikey crampons on the feet, a rack of razor sharp ice screws hanging from the harness and a medium of ice that is somewhat unpredictable will certainly keep one on there toes.
Winter is here and its the time to get out and enjoy the amazing world of ice. The season is two to three months long in these parts and you got to get after it while you can. With that said one should be prepared in so many ways. Many would agree that the mental game comes first – a focused mind with a calm cool head in a requirement for leading ice. Sound and tested equipment will help prepare one for a tough demanding pitch or route. Then there is the physical training for the body – running or cardio, stretching and yoga, lots of rock climbing equals the needed power to burn on a steep ice pitch.
Here are the Petzl Nomics in action – the finest ice tools of the trade.
Aubrey sampling the first sticks of the season. Felt a bit rough at first but came together quickly by days end.
Working the Petzl Ergos into the ice.
Tools in hand and sharp crampons on the feet – got to connect as this ice is slippery for sure.
Oh yeah – Hanging on by a Moment – a fine ice line. Aubrey finessing the moves on ice.
Sports action here as Aubrey tops out on the pillar.
Many fine years climbing together – the A Team!
The ice screw window – be creative to fine solid gear.
Aubrey and I enjoyed a fun season opener together. There will be more for us this winter stay tuned.
Ken and I finally started of our ice season together yesterday. This season has been different as I worked the on the rocks until Thanksgiving which is quite late for me. Then I came down with a nasty bout of the flu and needed a week and half to recover. All is going well now feeling much better, the ice is in good shape, so its Pick Swinging Time for sure.
The Elephant Head Gully – showing the recent rockfall at the base of the route. The ice was in fine shape on this route.
Highland Center meeting area – always feel very welcomed here – put the boots on by the warmth of the fire!!!
Lower Hitchcock with wet sticky ice drooling all the way to the base of the gully.
Clinic time with Ken – winding in a few screws, checking in on anchor configurations, then some scrappy mixed alpine climbing techniques.
Upper Hitchcock Gully – looks and feels like a mini Pinnacle Gully but without the long approach.
Clean, quick and simple is the way to approach building belay anchors set ups.
Lots of ice and running water – its building fast in the mountains now. The new snow will help feed the ice routes.
Topping out with numb hands – a reminder of the suffering on the ice.
Great times with Ken – we explored and climbed lots of new terrain today.
LNT? – This was a valuable root to hook the tools for the top out.
Top of the Notch in wintry conditions.
Thanks Ken for a great beginning on the ice. See you in January.
This waterway is the Tennessee River – and the T Wall is perched high above on the south side rim. We drove down along a windy narrow road for 6 miles to a trailhead and took a short approach hike to the base on the wall.
The T Wall is one of the premier cliffs in the southern sandstone belt and hosts routes in all grades with fantastic rock quality in a beautiful setting. November is prime climbing season here -temps are in the 60,s the rock is dry. Crowds well not yet we will see what the weekend brings.
The Tennessee River.
T is for Terry – taping up for our first route.
Terry stepped right up to the wall. Here she is leading a route called Art – a perfect dihedral – and Prerequisite for Excellence another gem of a crack corner climb .
One of the most perfect, pretty corners you will see.
Pursuit of Excellence.
Great setting at the T Wall, sun all day, great views of the gorge and river below.
Many a corner is capped by a roof.
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.
Rock Tober its called – the time when we have clear and cool at night but during the day the sun is bright warming the rocks up to a perfect temperature. The Main Cliff is perfect on most days from now on – avoided in the heat of summer but a refreshing place this time of year. Aubrey and I spent our training session working on the steep and technical routes. Progress is being made as the sequences are refined and sent and the body gets stronger. Soon enough will be the day to send.
Baker River Valley.
Heading to Gold Bug.
Joyce on the main attraction – Underdog.
Know Ethics – slippery and sequential.
Aubrey – another good time – you are climbing well!!!
The fall foliage was in peak display and the Cathedral and Rumney rocks were dry and crisp. I instantly knew this would be a good one, Jerry was in town for a fine weekend of climbing.
I feel exceptionally fortunate to work as a mountain guide. The climbing days can be challenging physically and mentally but they are always fun. I have the opportunity to share my passion (climbing) with others and this is rewarding in so many ways. This weekend was a reminder of how good my job is and how lucky I am to work as a guide with Jerry and a variety of interesting guest from all walks of life.
The Sunday 2 pm rains shut Jerry and I down at Rumney Rocks. This in one way was a good event for us after all we had completed two amazing days on the rocks. Our first day at Cathedral was jamb packed with a variety of cracks and face routes, and today we rallied early at Rumney keeping a brisk pace while logging in ten routes by mid afternoon. The time was right to wrap our weekend up, with many high points, a new route or two, a couple of Rumney test piece climbs, all totaled into 18 pitches of fine climbing, we were certainly very satisfied.
Mt Washington Valley – a vibrant display of fall colors.
Jerry topping out on P1 of Recompense.
This is the scrappy top out from Three Birches. Due to all the leaves and dirt its quite hard to tell but there is some fine climbing on this route.
Whitehorse Ledge in the distance.
Barber Wall – multiple testpiece cracks lined up.
Jerry working on Chicken Delight 5.9.
Bombardment an area classic.
Jerry just after the slab pitch of Bombardment
Rumney Rocks – The route is False Modesty 5.8 – slick and complex. The crux moves are just above Jerry. Note the narrow strip of clean rock between the moss and lichen.
Hippos on Parade – nice corner climbing leads to the pumpy roof.
Thank you Jerry for this exceptional weekend climbing together and great way to kick off Rock Tober!!!
See you again soon,
It was Sunday – Game day and our early morning meet up to climb strategy paid off. The Stonemasters aka Peppercom team arrived at Rumney Rocks, all players were fresh and ready to play ball. The goal of this day was Challenge by Choice although there may have been a slight bit of pressure from the viewing players below.
Todays stone to be climbed was the Rumney schist. Our route choices today began with a few technical faces requiring the climbers to execute decisive and delicate footwork. Alignment and balance was also a key component to the necessary smearing of the feet to stick to the stone. After a few of these testy face routes the guns appeared to tackle the steep overhangs – a fast pump was delivered to one arms.
Rumney is loaded with climbing routes – unusual wavy grains of rock, countless tricky bulges, and overhangs loom above in every direction. Rumney Rocks is the northeasts number one sport climbing area.
Our Sendtember game session was a winner!!!
It is fall a prime time to be climbing the stone.
Chris belaying Steve (aka Repman) up the route named Truth and Advertising.
Mark sporting a fine set of calfs on Hippos on Parade.
Sendtember – cobalt blue skies, crisp rock, and vibrate colors!!!
Photo of Steve tackling the steep overhang.
Our Rookie of the Year – Sean Dog Reddy working the tecky moves high on the wall.
Deivis – this man has plenty of excess power.
Just to be sure a mid day protein shake fired him up for the sending fest.
A focused Adel, climbing in fine style, thinking ahead and using good footwork.
Today he was on the move – Rise and Shine!!!
Sean – on the last ascent of the day – the game was played and played well.
Thanks to the team Stonemasters for an amazing day at Rumney.
Art Mooney, Alex Teixeira
Aubrey has taken on a powerful approach and I am quite impressed with his dedication to the game.
Each time he joins me for a climb his goal is to clinic on the difficult routes at Rumney. Aubrey enjoys figuring out the complexities of the movements on steep, technical 5.10’s and 5.11s. All of these routes require the climber to think ahead, to use the power when needed and to conserve the energy for the final push to the chains. Our climbing clinics are lengthy lasting 5 or 6 hours on route after route.
Stacking the odds in your favor.
The preparation for these days should be well thought out. The body must be rested prior to the clinic – fresh and energetic is what one needs to push the body and mind to the limit. Equipment should be suited to the game, shoes are a personal choice but a highly important one.
My personal favorite is the Five Ten Arrowhead with Stealth Rubber.
A new standard in high friction rubber with unbeatable hardness for precise edging and stickiness for friction.
The Five Ten Elite team raves about the Arrowhead’s fit and performance. You will instantly feel the difference in the casually down-turned toe and heel cup that grips without pinching. The upper is a supple, breathable Cowdura™ that molds to the foot.
Gold bug Main Cliff another tricky 5.10 plus route.
Steep rock with wild moves up the flaring dihedrals.
Rumney schist – unusual grainy rock, with good friction, underlings – side pulls and many unusual holds.
Aubrey – great day working the routes with you.
Hats off to Dustin, Derrek, Grant and Will for their dedication, performance and excellence in guiding!!!
For each of these Gents this AMGA Rock Instructor Exam in North Conway was the culmination of many years of education, training, and mentorship. The finale being a week long assessment of guiding skills and expertise while leading teams up multi pitch rock climbs.
Any exam can be a stressful experience, to pass or to fail runs through one mind. The ego can set in, the nerves get racked both which alter ones performance. As an AMGA examiner it is my job to manage and mitigate the overall risk, critique and grade ones performance and at the same time develop a positive learning environment that will allow each student to perform at their peak level of guiding.
Sound easy its not – for me or the students.
This group of Gents worked long hours, they trained on difficult climbs and learned how to balance the soft client skills. This was a key factor during their preparation for this week long examination process. It showed and was noted on the exam. Alain and I were both highly impressed with the top quality of technical guiding skills and the solid professionalism brought forward.
Dustin on the tricky final pitch of Inferno – Whitehorse Ledge.
Will running two ropes on the sparsely protected Sea of Holes.
Scenic NH – Mt Washington Valley.
“Guides Guiding Guides”
My Experiences with the AMGA Rock Instructor Exam
I had been considering doing the Rock Instructor exam for quite a while, and this year I finally decided to commit and go through with it. I know quite a few people who skipped the RIE and went straight into the guide program, and that was what my original plan was. Having just finished the instructor exam, I am certainly glad that I went through with it. I think that I may have learned more on the exam than I did during the course, and I also think that I will be able to better and more confidently serve clients now that I have completed it.
After signing up for the exam, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially since I do not know that many people who have done it. I got quite a bit of exceptionally vague advice, and my imagination ran wild with expectations of obscure routes, girdle traverses, heinous descents, and examiners that were going to be constantly trying to untie their knots or undo their harness buckles. Needless to say, none of that ever happened. The examiners work to minimize guide stress and bring out the best in folks, the routes are guide routes, and there were few tricks thrown at us. Having completed the exam, I have the same vague advice to offer to others as was given to me: Wait until you are ready—the exam shouldn’t be a test, but rather a chance for you to show the world what you can do. Be able to climb the grade comfortably, you should be able to focus entirely on guiding and not have to worry about crux moves. Lastly, keep it simple. Rock instructor terrain is straightforward and doesn’t require any guide tricks or rope work. The routes are short and there is plenty of time; take advantage of it and think through everything you do. Guide confidently, give the examiners the same experience you give paying clients, and believe in yourself.
Thanks to Will for the extra effort in providing this fine critique of his experience.
Dustin instructing us on the jam crack moves – Funhouse Cathedral Ledge.
Derrek – demonstrating solid, steady moves on the classic crack climb – Retaliation
Overall, the AMGA Rock Instructor Exam met or exceeded my expectations. I was very impressed with both the professionalism of the examiners as well as the examinees. This certainly aided in creating a less stressful atmosphere throughout the entire process. The feedback I received from the examiners during the exam was pertinent to my success and will help me continue cultivating my guiding technique. It is apparent the exam is designed both as an educational piece as well as a standard for certification.
Grant finding solid hand jambs on Inferno.
Thanks to everyone for an amazing week of guidance in New Hampshire.
It was a pleasure to meet up with each of you again.
On approach to the Eaglet and Franconia Crags we were treated to the thick air and humidity on the lush forested trail. Our friends Sandy and John were in for a real treat – first the sweat fest up the steep boulder strewn trail then a multi pitch climb on the exposed granite spire that loomed above us.
The thick air and steep approach is understood for most NH climbers. Our visitors were from Taos New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment – from the hot and dry south west with humidity in the 10% range. Yesterday was a very special day – one to showcase New Hampshire our hidden gem of a state. The day was to Access the Goods – a hike to start, a trad route next, Rumney sport pitches later, then the finale a lake side dinner table overlooking Winnipesaukee.
John, Sandy and Terry packed up and ready for the tour to begin.
The day was one of the finest in recent weeks. A KAVU day – klear above visibility unlimited!
Sandy learning about the chicken wing move and the heel and opposed knee combo to work her way up the chimney.
Terry in style – moving over the boulder problem.
Keeping in control – focusing on the guiding during this fun day with our Taos friends.
John enjoying this fantastic climb and alpine area.
Gang of Four – on top of the Eaglet Spire!!!
Summit shot – with the NH Watcher in the background.
Found this photo online of the Watcher above the Eaglet
To round out our day – a warm night, the outside table, a fine dinner at Lago in Meredith.
Awesome time – thanks John and Sandy it was so good to see you!
Art & Terry