Mooney Mountain Guides
Mooney Mountain Guides and Mammut teamed up for the very successful Mammut Alpine School ice climbing trip. This was MMG’s and MAS’s first trip with more to come. Each of our guests joined in for this weekend of instruction, followed by experience and mileage on the ice climbs. By the end of the weekend we all had climbed over 1000 ft of ice at Frankenstein Cliff and on Mt Willard in Crawford Notch NH. The Highland Center Lodge was fabulous, the food was delicious, our rooms were quiet, our meeting space was spacious and private and the staff was super friendly.
Join us for our next MAS trip on Mt Washington Weekend climb over St Patty’s Day weekend March 17 – 19, 2017.
Our MAS team of Art, Laurie, Jodi, Andrew, Sarah and in front MMG guide Mike. Smiles of enjoyment from the rewards of our first ice climbing day. each of us reached new heights on this warm and sunny day at Frankenstein Cliffs
Jodi and Laurie working together for Jodi’s first ascent the Trestle Slab ice climb. This was Jodi’s first experience on the ice and Laurie came with miles of mountain and ice climbing experience. This mix created a perfect situation for both ladies to empower and climb to the top.
Mammut, the brand is well known and highly respected. Mammut clothing and equipment is innovative alpine mountain gear that stands up to the rigorous test of day to day use in extreme mountain environments. Mammut is one of the finest mountain climbing product companies in the outdoor market.
Jodi climbing the steeper ice on the Standard Route at Frankenstein. Jodi learned the basic moves then she was able to turn on her focus and determination to ascend each ice climb with power and grace.
The AMC Highland Center – our meeting and lodging location.
The Highland Center nestled in Crawford Notch is a perfect location for easy access to a variety of ice climbs.
Laurie setting up anchors and the belay as she guides Jodi on the ice. MMG guide Mike is nearby coaching and giving advise as needed.
Beautiful ice on the East Slabs right on Mt Willard. We all climbed to the top then rappelled back down for another route nearby.
Andrew gaining comfort in this new vertical ice environment. Andrew learned how to place solid ice tools, how to place the feet by finding the small ledges to kick good steps into and also the importance of flexibility and balance.
Sarah having a blast, high on the ice above the roadway on the East Slabs area of Mt Willard.
Jodi and Laurie climbing side by side on the East Slabs right. Mike set up a parallel rope system so the ladies could climb together. This technique is faster, guests stay warmer, and its tons of fun for all.
Standard Route in the afternoon, one more ice pitch to complete our first day. Sarah and Andrew coming into the cave area belay station on Standard Route.
A very successful Mammut Alpine School weekend on the ice. The conditions were fantastic, the crew was awesome, all in all a very fun weekend full of excitement and challenge.
Thank you all!!!
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.
3:11…I rolled out of bed. My alarm was going to go off anyway in about a half an hour, so I didn’t think it made sense to try and fall back asleep. After making some coffee and gathering my gear, I headed outside when I heard Art’s truck pull into my driveway.
Last year the day after Thanksgiving, I was rock climbing. Christmas day, in fact, my wife and I climbed at the 5.8 crag in fall conditions. Today, we were headed to Cannon for the classic ice climb the Black Dike.
We were the first in the parking lot. Excited, we packed up and headed down the trail. Our headlamps shining the way, I noticed that Art’s headlamp was brighter than mine. He told me that he had changed the batteries the night before. Hmmm…when was the last time I changed the batteries in mine? Two minutes later, I realized that I should have done the same when my headlamp went out. Luckily, Art had a spare in the truck. We dropped our packs, picked up the spare light, and headed out again.
Over the years, I have hiked up the talus field, wondering which of the many paths to choose. This morning, however, I had the luxury of simply following Art’s footprints. Periodically, I would instinctively reach my hand out for a rock only to see Art’s mitt print, which felt reassuring. I couldn’t see the cliff initially, for the darkness and clouds shrouded its face. I wondered what John Bouchard was thinking when he first ascended the route, ropeless. For some, The Black Dike serves as a test piece; for others, it serves as a classic climb that people do every year. For me, I was planning to follow it for the first time. Over the years, I had seen it while I was rock climbing at Cannon, and it looked loose – blocks teetering on another – nothing in that area looked secure. My friend RJ once told me that winter at Cannon was safer because all the blocks were frozen together. I reminded myself of this theory as we neared the cliff.
By the time I had arrived at the base, Art had already stomped out an area, put on his harness, and was sorting through some gear. I tried to move quickly but deliberately. Looking up the route, I saw the line, but I had no idea of the conditions. I saw snow and some ice and hoped that we would make it to the top. I put Art on belay, and before I knew it, he was off. Moving smoothly through the lower section, he placed a piece and traversed out to the right. Before I knew it, he had set an anchor and put me on belay.
By the time I reached the anchor, I had knocked off some of the rust. The picks went in ok, but the feet needed some work. After clipping in, I looked up and tried to figure out exactly where the line went. When Art took off for the next pitch, the leader of the party below us started his way up. Art brushed snow off several places. Then brushed some more. Then some more. I looked down at my snow covered pack that was hanging from the anchor and smiled. I cleared some of the snow from my pack and myself. Luckily, I was nice and cozy wearing the hoods of the Mammut Ultimate Hoody and the Broad Peak Jacket. The former I would wear during the climb, the latter I used to stay warm at the belay.
Mammut Ultimate Hoody
Mammut Broad Peak Jacket
Art placed a nut, moved left, provided some beta for me, and worked his way up to a corner. The leader below me anchored to my right, and before I knew it, I was on belay. As I climbed to the stopper, I tried to remember what Art had said. I had a vague recollection, but I felt out of balance as I adjusted and readjusted my feet. I brushed some more snow from the rock ledges and found the flat surfaces of the rock. The party below me gave words of encouragement, reminding me of how supporting the climbing community can be most of the time. I took my time and moved past the awkward section and into a snowy corner. I turned around to see a perspective of Cannon I had never seen before. Snow covered the usually teetering blocks and talus below. The scene looked serene, a word I never thought I would use to describe this cliff. The light mist hung in the air, and I knew not to linger too long, for the weather could change quicker than you might think.
The nook for the next belay provided some shelter, and we stopped to refuel and hydrate for the final section. Art moved through the final pitch stopping periodically to place a screw or a piece of pro. He warned me of the sections that were steeper than they looked (I thought they looked pretty steep from where I was anyway).
When he pulled the rope tight, I took down the anchor and began to climb. Despite some awkward sections, I found movement quite enjoyable. I could hear Alex’s voice remind me to use “small, ticky tack feet” as I worked my way up the steep sections, which required precise feet and encouraged purposeful and deliberate movement. For the thin sections, I remembered Tim’s advice and tapped one of the picks with the other tool and delicately moved my way up.
Near the top, I even used an armbar to wedge my way up an off-width section. I hooked deep into a crack and felt a decent sized rock shift and begin to pull out. “Of course,” I thought, “what would a trip to Cannon be without at least one loose rock?” By the time I had reached the top, I felt elated about finishing the climb and slightly disappointed that the climbing was over.
We ate some more food, coiled the ropes, packed our gear, and headed down the trail. We reached the truck and headed home. Later that night, I reflected upon the day. Many friends had spoken about the climb for years, and some even suggested we climb it, but the timing never seemed to work out. While I had tried not to build up the climb for fear of being disappointed, I had wondered for years what it would be like to climb it. I am pleased to say that it lived up to the hype.
To start the ice season climbing the Black Dike in November is encouraging. I am excited for the coming months and the adventures that lay ahead.
Get out there and take advantage of the season. I hope to see you out there!
Jerry Gale and I traveled to the Canadian Rockies for ten days of ice climbing in early March. This trip was our grand finale for our 2015/16 ice climbing season. Over the winter we climbed, we trained, and readied ourselves for the cold difficult ice routes of the north. Upon our arrival and through out the trip we both were truly surprised at what we found. The temperatures remained constant, hovering around freezing levels, the ice was generally fat and sticky, and the routes plentiful with so many to choose!!!
The Canadian Rockies viewed from Banff
Our first day we found ourselves walking up to this local favorite – The Pilsnar Pillar. This gem was our prize climb, right up the center pillar.
Inside the cave behind Pilsnar Pillar.
Wicked Wanda is located in the South Ghost area. The Ghost areas comprised of two main areas the north and south. Wicked Wanda was our first choice as it was the easier to get to. Easy being barred by a 10 mile dirt road, the infamous big hill, and gravel river crossings.
The north Ghost is another story. Both Jerry and I wanted this place in a bad way. Home to the Sorcerer pictured above and another classic called Hydrophobia. We settled on this unknown route, the Sorcerer. We were gifted with this picture as were rounded the bend early in the morning.
A spectacular afternoon on the Sorcerer!!!
My friend Dale made this Sorcerer journey possible. As you can see the a rental car would not make these river crossings. Dale had the right rig for the task the Toyota Tacoma in 4×4 low.
Snowline – the center, Moonlight the left were two long flows of ice in tip top shape. This ice climbing area was south of Canmore in the Evan- Thomas Creek area in the Kananaskis foothills.
Snowline – a skinny route that spiraled its way to the top
Mammut in action – the Nordwand GTX Boot, Trion Guide Pack, Neon Light Pack, Nordwand Gloves and much more. Thanks to the Mammut and the Vermont staff for all the help gearing up for this fine adventure.
Our grand finale was Curtain Call. A brilliant climb in our minds. We approached in the dark and the first light displayed this – a very technical looking ice route with an overhang at the top. We both new this would be our grand prize for the season.
This is our third and final pitch. Beautiful stemming up the corner leads to the imposing roof section. Picked out by others, the transition over the overhang was doable for us.
Jerry topping out high above the Icefields Parkway.
Wild ice formations on the Curtain Call – Canadian Rockies.
Jerry a long time partner who is committed to the sport. Whether it be rock, ice or mountain climbs Jerry seeks out the cleanest line. We both work together to climb the prize lines of the area together.
So much thanks to Jerry.
Ice routes and conditions are vastly improving in NH. The warmer days and cold nights give the necessary water flow to the routes. At a rapid rate I am seeing the ice conditions ramp up.
On News Years Day I gave an ice tour of Mt Willard to my good friends Masia and Todd and to Terry. A bright and colorful day we certainly had. We climbed both lower and upper Hitchcock gullys and found the entire route to be in fine shape.
The colors on winter!!!
Terry working through the tricky rock step on Lower Hitchcock.
Terry and I had a blast spending the day with Todd and Masia. They are so psyched to be climbing ice on New Years day.
Han Chen and I met very early today Jan 2. Our goal was to be first for the NH classic Black Dike ice climb.
First place did not happen but we did meet friends on the route. Soon enough we were high on the ice enjoying a warm day, sticky ice, and building conditions.
So much thanks to you all for getting out climbing ice in the NH mountains. I enjoyed every moment and look forward to more good climbs together.
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.
Seventh Seal and classic 5.10a finger crack on the Ethereal Buttress. Jerry approaching the crux which he cruised by with ease.
Our morning warm up on the first pitches of Standard Route.
The high end games began as Jerry took on the tricky leads of Wavelength 5.8.
Jerry styling the perfect granite finger crack leading up to Loose Lips.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
Finally springtime has made the appearance in the lower elevation areas of the White Mountains and most climbers are ready to put on the rock shoes in search of a warm dry climb. Mt Washington on the other hand is Easing the Grip ever so slightly. The snow pack is melting out at the parking lots (2000 ft) and the temperatures on the mountain have moderated but even so once you venture onto the mountain its a snowy white world all the way to the summit and its May 1.
Kelly has a Rainier climbed planned for this July. She has been working hard at fine tuning her skills in the mountains. This trip was planned for additional work improving overall fitness on long tough climbs, to refine footwork on snow and to gain comfort on the steep descents.
Conditions for Kelly’s goals were perfect on the mountain.
We planned for overcast the entire day – but the skies opened just enough for great views of mountains and the valleys below.
The summit cone was entered encased in snow.
Quite casual on the summit with a slight breeze and 25 degrees.
Kelly’s 2nd time on top of Mt Washington – Congrats to her for a great climb.
The descent was steep and slick. Kelly worked on the plunge steep and other moves to gain comfort while facing the downhill line. The following day Kelly and I climbed Cannon in under three hours and our descent was less than and hour. Kelly improved in all areas on this two day trip – she was able to Ease her Grip in the mountains.
Mooney Mountain guides is proud to work closely with Mammut North America. we have a quality relationship with our friends at the headquarters in northern VT. Each year Mammut hooks us up with some of their quality product to use, abuse and test in the field. Recently, we’ve also been joining them in VT to share some technical knowledge with the employees and other groups and outfitters that they support. It’s a great two way relationship for all. Twice in the past few years Mammut has outfitted the guides at MMG with the mens Ultimate Hoody. 2 years ago we got them in red, while this past year we got the upgraded model year in an eye catching green.
MMG crew in Red Ultimate Hoodies
The following is a collection of thoughts on the Ultimate Hoody in general, as well as the changes for the new model. This experience reflects well over 100 days in the field ice climbing, mountaineering and skiing.
Erik on Hanging by a Moment
The most unique thing about the Ultimate Hoody is its inclusion of a Gore Wind Stopper membrane. In general we like to have layers that do one thing great (soft shell for mild conditions, wind shirt for windy conditions, hard shell for full on…). Often times by trying to make a layer that takes on multiple tasks you end up with a jacket of all trades, master of none. We’re not a fan of this compromise. The Ultimate Hoody has blurred this line by including the wind layer into the soft shell layer. I find that this makes the soft shell less breathable, but more useful in windy conditions, and has allowed me to stop carrying a wind shirt. It’s performed so remarkably that with roughly 20 days of Mt Washington’s worst weather I have yet to don my hardshell this season. The only sacrifice in the blending of these two layers has been a bit less breathability, which is compensated with large pit zips and opening up the front.
Art on Geographic Factor, Alex on The Promenade
We’ve found that there have been several key improvements in the new model year. All agree that they are slightly roomier in any given size than last year. The new thumb loop design is lower profile and more comfortable to use with or without mittens. Most of all, the addition of a chest pocket is a huge improvement as a place to keep essentials that need to be easily accessed. While fw of us put it to use, this pocket also has a port to thread headphones through, along with an additional keeper near the hood to keep headphone wires out of the way.
Alex testing the Ultimate Hoody’s wind and waterproof capabilities on Hillmans Highway and a secret woodsy powder stash
Art Mooney, one of Mammut’s sponsored guide’s and one of our lead guides had this to say about the Ultimate Hoody
“Comfortable, roomy yet lightweight, freedom to move, windproof, water resistant, need we say more?”