The ridge in its entirety.
Over the seasons I have had to opportunity to work with many individuals; young and old; highly experienced to complete novice. I typically find reward and incredible enjoyment out of my work, climbing with others. My guests ability has no baring on my enjoyment. 5.5 or 5.10, to me sharing the climbing is most important. I feel that the guide enjoying the climbing is fundamental to the success and enjoyment of the guest. I strive for each of my guests to drive home feeling accomplished and psyched.
This can be easier some days than others. Weather and conditions can have a large effect on psyche, my route selections and preparation, my relationship with the guest, and other climbers in the area can all effect the experience. For one guest, none of this matters, because every day out climbing is “the best day ever.”
Mark, high on the ridge.
I met Mark two years ago. It was January around his birth day, and Mark an avid adventurer wanted to try his hand at ice climbing. Out of chance, I was Mark’s guide. It was just he, I, and about 3 inches of rain. This was January and the ambient air temperature was around 31 degrees. Essentially, everything, including the roads were coated in a thin layer of ice, and as soon as the road crews put down sand, the rain would wash it away. The number of car accidents in the area set records, and kids were ice skating down the sidewalks. Thank fully the ice climbing was awesome the entire weekend, and with double layers of Gore-Tex, we were warm and dry.
That evening when it was time for me to head home, about 35 minutes down the highway, I couldn’t get my truck out of the parking space on all the ice. During my struggles there was a 5 car, slow speed pile up right in front of me. I decided that going home was a bad idea. Good thing Mark was there suggesting that I stay with him. I was super thankful for this kind gesture.
We managed to shuffle down the side walk to a local pub for dinner and refuel for the next day. The next day we saw a slight improvement in the weather and enjoyed many more pitches of blue water ice.
We were off to a good start.
Over the past two years Mark and I have shared a few adventures. Each one just as awesome as the last. Mark who has been climbing lots and building his skill set, has allowed us to climb larger and more complex objectives. So when Mark said he had a day to kill before catching a flight, I knew exactly how we should spend it. The Whitney-Gilman Ridge is a New England Classic 5.7 alpine rock climb. 5 pitches of stellar moves on high quality granite. Cracks, corners, lyebacks, crimps, exposure, slabs, and knife edge ridge are only some of the features that make up this stellar route. Since I knew that no matter what Mark has a great time, I knew that climbing the Whitney-Gilman would be a memorable experience.
One of the middle pitches, friction up the shady corner.
With blue skye and high friction the day was indeed a beauty. The climb seemed to go too fast. I would have enjoyed a few more thousand feet of climbing. However, after ever pitch Mark would exclaim, “best day ever.”
When people ask me who I think the best climber in the world is, I think of Mark. Why? Because he is having the most fun.
Thanks Mark for another “best day ever.”
Mark, on top of the W.G.