A Positively Great Summer
At the recommendation of a friend, I have been reading the new Jerry Moffett book, Revelations. In it, Moffett talks about how reading Lanny Bassham’s With Winning in Mind helped him to change his self-image and think more positively about himself in order to succeed in competition climbing. One of the selections Moffett quotes states that
The mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If you are picturing something positive in your mind, it is impossible, at the same time, to picture something negative. And, if you have a negative thought, you cannot, at the same time, think positively.
In addition to Moffett’s story, I have seen the effects of a positivity in three different scenarios this summer at the crag.
Last month, my family and I took out friends who were beginner climbers. When it was my son’s turn to climb, he moved much more confidently than he had at the beginning of the summer. When I spoke to him about it, he could not really identify what had changed; he simply felt good on the rock. A couple of days later, he led his first sport route. Both he and I were much calmer than I had anticipated, for we both knew that the climb was within his ability and that he was capable of leading.
He placed his feet well, focused on the moves, clipped efficiently, and cruised to the top.
This past weekend, Matt, a fellow guide, and I met several Central Rock Gym members to Rumney for a day of climbing. Working with groups presents a challenge as climbers have different abilities, comfort levels, and goals. This group, however, maintained a positive vibe throughout the day. When a climber performed well on a specific route, the climber carried the success to the next climb. A few times, a climber struggled but did not dwell on the negatives. Instead, they focused on the upcoming route and climbed better.
People volunteered to belay each other and supported the person who was climbing at the time. When it began raining midway through the day, we stopped for lunch and waited for the rain to pass. Rather than grumbling about the delay or of getting wet, we spoke about the previous climbs and the possibilities of the next few routes.
By the end of the day, I was amazed at how many climbs each person had completed. The positive energy remained present throughout the day.
A few days ago, I made it over to Cathedral Ledge with my friends Matt and Brendan. Between a nagging shoulder injury and other time commitments, I have had less time to pursue some of my own personal climbing goals. We started the day on Funhouse, a classic 5.7 crack that takes you to the midpoint of the cliff.
As I followed Matt and Brendan, I felt like I was moving well and starting to get into a rhythm. At the base of Upper Refuse, I opted for Black Lung, a slightly harder variation to the first pitch of the route. The moves felt good and the gear went in easily; before I knew it, I was at the anchor. After we topped out, we headed to the North End to avoid the sun, and I saw that one of the climbs I had been thinking about was in the shade. The previous day, I had thought about it and wondered if I would be able to do. It had been some time since I climbed it and even longer since I led it. As I stood at the base, I visualized the moves and saw myself pulling the crux. After a few minutes of contemplation, I racked up.
The finger locks felt secure and the footholds felt good.
Right before the crux, I felt my right foot start to slip, and I plugged in a cam, which I instinctively reached for. Then I stopped. I returned my hand to the crack. The mind can focus on only one thing at a time. I consciously chose to shift my attention from grabbing a piece of gear to resetting my feet and slowing my breathing down. Something positive in mind leaves no room for something negative.
Looking up, I saw myself doing the moves. I brought my feet up, reached for the next hold, and fired the crux. Matt told me later that he saw me start to reach for the draw and almost said something. He didn’t need to. My trust in his belay helped me focus on the moves rather than thinking about the fall.
In each of the three situations I discuss in this blog, the positive outlook by both the climber and the belayer helped the climber succeed. Newer climbers can create an atmosphere where experienced climbers can succeed and vice-versa. I have seen it numerous times this summer and over the years, and I hope to help foster those positive experiences in the future.
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!
This Saturday, Eric and Amy came to Rumney to take a step in their climbing experience: leading.
We started the day in the Meadows on Mom”s Pancake to warm up and talk generally about lead climbing. After, we headed over to the Parking Lot Wall and hopped on Glory Jean’s.
Stopping for a snack and water, we practiced clipping techniques and spoke further about setting anchors before giving A Week With Pete a go.
Eric looked solid with his climbing, rope management, and anchoring.
With a little more time in the day, we hiked up to Dirtigo where we climbed, led, and rappelled, broadening the skill set.
A lap on the Wimpy Gilman was a fine finish to the afternoon.
Thanks Eric and Amy for a fantastic day on the rock!
Todd Goodman MMG
Wow – I must say Laura was spot on when she decided to give the gift of climbing outside to Issac. Issac was pumped to climb and eager to learn the skills to take climbing to a new and quite different level. Both Laura and Issac have climbed mostly indoors and both wanted to learn the proper techniques to get on the outdoor climbing track. Rumney rocks is the perfect place for sport climbers to make this transition. This day was planned to happen three weeks ago but weather kept us off the rock – finally we had a clear an sunny day – perfect for outdoor climbing.
Issac and Laura – having a blast – all day long!!!
Laura getting a feel for the stone and pushing herself to new heights.
Issac in good form on the tricky traverse moves on Bolt Line!!!
The entire day was full on learning – both Laura and Issac set the routes up, belayed each other and then cleaned the routes. Nice job to both of them!
Issac’s new Petzl rope – silky and smooth.
Fun times at Rumney Rocks.
A very happy Laura – she climbed more routes than any of her other trips – fantastic!!!
Thanks to Laura and Issac.
I hope to climb with you again.
It was a pleasure to climb with Mike and Luke today at Cathedral and Whitehorse Cliffs. Both these guys are experienced climbers which made our day flow very fluidly. We started at Whitehorse to regain our footwork (precise movements) then we ventured over to Cathedral to play on two crack lines. By days end I felt we found the Beat as we ended up climbing 10+ pitches and took the final route to the top.
Early morning at a wet Whitehorse. I spied a dry line that went directly up to the bolts on the third pitch of Sliding Board.
Luke climbing fast and light.
Mike revisiting his old playground.
Our highpoint on Whitehorse. We descended from here – three rappels landed us on the ground.
The country club scene on the approach.
Time for some steep climbing – here is Luke on pitch one of Fun House.
Mike on the cracks and corners of Fun House.
The climbing is varied and fun – Fun House to Black Lung is a great link up to the top.
Luke flying high over the Mt Washington Valley.
Along with the climbing a few new techniques were getting attention. Mike is working on the butterfly coil.
Thanks to Mike and Luke for this day – its was a privilege to climb with both of you. I look forward to seeing you gain soon.
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!!!
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.
Yesterday was an absolutely stellar day of the stone. Brilliant sunshine, a light breeze, crisp dry rock gave Jerry and I the go ahead for sports action on Whitehorse. The Julbo Stunt glasses were on board to keep the glare out of my eyes – my guide job for the day was to assist Jerry in leading the way to the top. I needed a good visual from below to point out a few key placements on the sparsely protected route – a Whitehorse specialty.
Pitch one starting off the launch pad – easy slabs lead to the anchor 150 feet up and right.
Jerry keeping his focus on the typical long run outs on moderate terrain.
Simple anchors on the bolted station were solid and fast to set and remove.
Taking this place for Granted – never – a special area for all to enjoy.
BD Cams placed in good solid rock, surface area excellent and direction of pull considered.
Crystal pocket belay area.
Headed out to Lunch ledge – long runout on easy terrain leads to great gear before the steep climbing.
Jerry and I on top – enjoying views on the valley and Mt Washington in the distance.
Mammut – Innovative Rock and Alpine equipment for all our climbs.
Julbo – The World needs your vision!!!
Troop 1 from Northboro Mass climbed at Rumney Rocks this past Saturday. The day was full of excitement and challenges. After our morning skills session the Scouts were put to the rocks of Rumney. Tying knots, climbing, belaying and lowering skills were practiced in full force with three groups at various areas.
Check out these fun photos of the day.
Thanks to all the Scouts and leaders.
The MMG staff of guides – Art, Steve, Phil