The Dark Crystal – A Cannon Testpiece!!!

The Dark Crystal, an ice route I have been tempted to climb for many seasons. The steep yellow drips of ice look enticing from the lower Black Dike pitch. The climb is barred by a thin mixed section which always looks unsteady and difficult.  Matt Ritter lead me up this route on a cold day many season ago. I remember getting a full body workout with cold frozen hands. Since then I have been tempted to go back and be the rope gun for this prize route.

Cannon is the early season hot spot for the ice fanatics. This cold sheltered gash has good water flow and the right temperature for forming up ice in a quick fashion. There are times when ice routes form up in one or two days after a rain followed by an arctic blast from the north. This season is a winner, Cannon has formed up early with big fat flows of juicy ice. The Black Dike, Fafnir, Dark Crystal, and hard mixed lines are all in great condition.

Dark Crystal aka Hassig’s caught my eye once again. I was one the Black Dike with Alex and took a look and quickly made plans to come back. A few days later Andrew and I came up  and had our first choice of the routes. Dark Crystal was our pick, and we both had a fine time sending the prize.

The main topic on this post is Jerry Gale. A long time friend and trusted partner, Jerry and I have been climbing together for a decade. It all started on a cold rainy day at the Flume Gorge, Jerry was instantly hooked on the sport. I am so fortunate to have Jerry to make plans with. A consistent, solid partner that takes climbing very serious. Jerry puts in the time, he trains up, mentally and physically, he is ready for the game. Whether it be in NH, Vermont, Red Rocks, or Canada, we travel and climb together picking off the classics in these world class areas.

Dark Crystal – a new route for us on Cannon. What could be better than opening up our season together with this fine line. I had excuses on this day, new snowfall, cloudy and cold, boy I was wavering on this morning. Jerry spoke up and gave me the boost, the courage I needed to get on with the project. The Dark Crystal pitch was excellent once again, I new the moves, the gear, and stayed on task.

Jerry gave the long belay and then rallied for the pitch. Managing cold fingers, removing lots of gear, Jerry kept himself together sending in excellent style. When he arrived at the belay station he casually stated “what a fantastic pitch, what could be better”.

Jerry in the midst of the action. The ice was hooked out but tools needed to be place with care, other wise the ice would fracture. The thoughtful and delicate climbing up this steep corner was fully engaging.

Jerry topping out on a different NH route – Upper Hitchcock, one a week earlier. Conditions were lean and scrappy but we made it into a fun outing. Training for the bigger routes to come.

Thank you to Jerry for our great partnership together. I am looking forward to another season full of adventures with you and who knows maybe we grab a couple of new lines too.

Art Mooney

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Kalymnos Limestone Sport Climbing

Here we are on The Greek Island of Kalymnos. Rob and Lizzie our good friends from Utah joined up with Terry and I for a very special week full of fun times and limestone sport climbing.

Kalymnos is stacked, so many crags with well over 3000 routes of all levels. The local climbers have done a fantastic job of keeping the routes in top shape with over 300 routes rebolted in 2016. Our house sits above the seaside town of  Massouri with a fantastic view of the Agean Sea and neighboring Island of Telendos. Massouri is a small town with many great restaurants, multiple climbing shops, supermarkets, catering to loads of climbers from all over the world. Its truly and international climbing scene that is regarded as one of the best places to visit in the spring and fall climbing seasons.

The Kalymnos team of climbers – Art, Terry, Lizzie, and Rob. This was our second trip together and we all truly had a blast together.

The Kalymnos Island area has many climbing areas, but if you want more the nearby island of Telendos is also a popular day trip. It’s a quick boat ride and approach hike to a half dozen excellent venues.

The limestone is quite good. Pockets, tufas, edges, of all shapes and sizes. The rock can be slick on the popular routes but it really is holding up quite well.

The Greek Restaurants are excellent. The food is fresh and delicious, the service is amazing, and the price is right. Every few nights we break away from the home kitchen and treat ourselves to a nice meal in town.

Kalydna a fantastic crag pictured above. Rob on the send of a very technical route called Ixiom 7a.

The views are astounding. The Agean Sea with Telindos in the background from our climbing location.

Lizzie positively amazing, each day she brings the big smiles and happiness to the crags.

We are sad now that Rob and Lizzie have headed back to the States. Our times together were the best and we look forward to planning future trips together. Spain is on the list for next year!!!

Art Mooney


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Moab – Crack Climbs & Tower Climbs

Moab is a truly spectacular place with steep sandstone rock formations towering above in every direction. Jerry and I started our trip at Indian Creek and Castle Valley. We came here to crack climb and we are getting our wish. Our skills are being tested on thin cracks, hand jam cracks, and wide off width sections. If crack climbing is your pleasure this area is one to visit.

The Super Crack Buttress at Indian Creek.

Our first route was easy to locate with this inscription carved into the stone.

Binou’s is entry level for the Indian Creek area, we felt it was a stout 5.9.

So many routes, one in every corner, all 5.10 or harder.

Castleton Tower

The Kor Ingals route was our objective. A 50 Classics Climb that attracts climbers from all over the world. Today there was five parties, German, Norwegian, Austrian, NY and us.

The Kor Ingals route follows the diagonal line to the top. We opted to break the climb into five pitches. What I can say is wide cracks, wide is the climbing technique needed to get to the top of this tower.

Jerry working through and around a tough wide section on the fourth pitch.

The final pitch of Kor Ingals ascends a diagonal flake systems, a very nice pitch.

The anchors were awesome, three bolts here with chains and massive rings.

Views are amazing – here is the formation known as the Rectory, the Priest is on the end.

Wow, what a great climbing experience. Jerry and I are psyched to be on top of Castleton Tower.

Art Mooney

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The Red Rock

The Red Rock is a favorite climbing venue that I frequently visit during the spring and fall climbing seasons. My guide training work with the AMGA has drawn me to this place year after year. Occasionally a guest from the east joins up with me for the classic long rock routes in the Red Rock conservation area.

Rocktober is here, the prime climbing season all across the country. Climbers and guides have trained up all summer for this season. It’s the time to send projects, onsight new routes, test the skills on harder lines.

Han Chen arrived this weekend for a three day blitz in the Red Rock. A nonstop flight on the way out and a red eye for the return. This guy is motivated to rock climb. Han and I joined up right away and we got down to the business of multi pitch climbing in the Red Rock canyons.

Han and I decide upon the Ginger Buttress as a good first venue. Ginger Cracks is a seven pitch climb with cracks of all sizes and sections of technical face climbing linking together a fine line for over 600 feet.

Quickly we found ourselves up high on Ginger Cracks with two easy pitches to the top, it was 11:30am. Both Han and I had talked about a new line up and right called the Blade Runner. We were psyched, had the time, and our energy levels were strong.

The Blade Runner is an arete climb –  like a knife edge in the sky.  Climbing higher we entered a zone with exhilarating exposure.  We danced back and forth up the arete with  delicate movements, a truly amazing experience for each of us. We topped out by 2pm and made our descent back to the base. The Ginger Crack – Blade Runner link up is locked down in our memories as a high point of our season together.

The Rose Tower is pictured in this photo with the classic Red Rock climb called Olive Oil taking a line up the left side of the formation. Today was much cooler with high winds so a sunny route with sheltered corners was a perfect choice for us.

Han has spent many weekends prepping for this trip. It paid off, Han is climbing very well, enjoying the long moderate crack pitches on this route. We made short work and topped out just after the noon hour.

Han on lead at the top of Olive Oil climb.

Han and I on top of the Rose Tower.

Han and I have climbed together for many seasons on the rock and ice. I certainly look  forward to many more adventures to come our way.

Thank you Han it was an awesome weekend with you in the Red Rock.

Art Mooney

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The Medium of Granite!!!

New Hampshire, nicknamed the granite state due to the states extensive granite formations and quarries. The Medium of Granite is quite variable from one formation to another. For instance much of Cathedral and Whitehorse is fine grained and very smooth with slick polished climbs. The granite of Cannon Cliff is quite fractured with a more textured and grippy surface. From one area to another the rock climbing experience can differ dramatically.

The Flatiron Franconia Notch NH

Jerry and I climbed at two different backcountry crags this weekend. On Saturday we climbed at Mt Oscar which has many fine cracks and faces. The rock is quite sharp and very coarsely grained. On Sunday we visited The Flatiron (pictured above). The Flatiron is located in a true alpine setting an exposed area with textured and grippy stone. The routes are primarily face climbs requiring delicate movements on crimps, tiny cracks, and in cut flakes. This weekend reminded us how important it is to be a well versed climber.

Medium of Granite

Jerry took charge at Mt Oscar. Four challenging on sight leads kept his attention throughout the day. It was wonderful to belay him on these fine routes. We were both excited and charged up as we moved from one climb to another ticking of the recommended three star routes.

Oscar the Grouch - Mt Oscar

Oscar the Grouch – a varied climb starting with a lie back crack, moving right onto a face, then into the beautiful steep hand crack.  A surprise comes as you near the top. You must leave the crack for moves on a face/slab linking to the arete and then the bolted anchor. A fantastic lead – well done Jerry!!!

Medium of Granite

Jerry into the goods – solid hands and excellent gear.

Medium of Granite

Our day ended with a nice easy ride back to the trailhead.

Medium of Granite

On Sunday it was a party of three. Terry joined us for our mountain day in Franconia Notch. It was a perfect end of summer outing, the warm weather had arrived in NH.

Medium of Granite

Terry enjoying Franconia Notches best 5.8 face climb – Salt Pack.

Medium of Granite

Jerry on the arete climb called Little Porky.

Medium of GraniteWe climbed the three routes on the Flatiron, above Terry is completing the testy climb called Puckered Pork.

The state of NH is loaded with stone to climb. The Medium of Granite varies widely which is fantastic for us climbers. As we ventured from one area to another the climbing experience changes which puts our skills to the test.

What an amazing weekend!!! So much thanks to Jerry and Terry for joining me to climb on the spectacular faces around NH the granite state.

Art Mooney

Join up with Art  –

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The Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

This has been a season filled with adventures and climbs. With countless hours of training behind me, I have felt good, ready to take on new and exciting climbs. The Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH is one climb I have looked at for years.

Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

This dark, steep, wide crack looks burly, an undertaking that would spit me out quickly. I always thought – no way, not a chance.
Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

Yesterday Terry and I made the trip to Cathedral. I found myself racking up with gear at the base of the Black Crack. Loaded with cams, fueled up with Expresso Gu gels, fired in my mind, I set of upward into the unknown of the Black Crack.

Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

The first 40 feet are uneventful but this mode quickly changes pace. I reached the Off Width portion of the climb and it was wide and steep.

Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

The inside wall was mostly smooth, the outside had small foot holds to press against to assist in maintaining my position. I used arm bars, knee locks, chicken wings, and many physical moves to move upward. My knee area took a beating as the knee locks were difficult to set and release, my left shoulder/arm was also put to the test pressing against the inside walls to hold my body position while the feet were reset. To say the least it was a battle, one that I truly enjoyed and an experience I thrive for and will remember.

Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

It’s the day after, my body is quite sore. My mind is set at ease as I took on a project that had been looming above, on the mind for quite some time. Glad to say the Black Crack is completed.

Black Crack Cathedral Ledge NH

I need to give a huge Thank You to Terry. Very supportive for this climb and she took on the belay task. I climbed the route then rappelled the route and cleaned the gear. We went on with our day climbing a few of Cathedrals sunny more appealing climbs.

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A seaside paradise – Acadia Maine

Terry and I have traveled to the seaside paradise Acadia Maine in the summer season for the past 30 years.  From central NH its and easy five hour drive and the rewards are so many. Each day is full of activities. We begin with early morning hikes, then always enjoy sessions of seaside crack climbing. By late afternoon a recoup session of rest and relaxation is in order. A gentle happy hour and a good meal puts the night cap on.

Our special friends Todd and Masia joined in on Mt Desert Islands summer pleasure a few years back. Now a regular event, the four of us absolutely enjoy our time together,  exploring new and old places on the island.

Todd and Masia on the exciting Precipice Trail. The exposure is wild, vertical in places  with many ladders and narrow walkways weaving a path to the summit.

The Precipice trail on Champlain mountain lead to a fabulous view of the sea.

This Down East Island resets the bar, refreshes the mind, and reboots the body!!!

These granite cracks and corners are a delight to us.

With high recommendations  – Cafe This Way serves up a feast of fresh fish, meats, and vegetarian options – a wonderful eatery not to be missed.

Coconut chia mousse capped by fresh fruit – outstanding!!!

Terry on the narrow walkway on the Precipice trail.

Todd getting after it on the first pitch of High Plains Drifter.

Our good friend Richard, now and Island local took us on a very special early morning tour. We found ourselves summiting Cadillac mountain in the golden light.

Thanks to all for this amazing rip.

Art Mooney


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Down East – Cannon Cliff NH

This past weekend Jerry and I were looking for a new route so we set our sight on a rock climb called Down East – Cannon Cliff NH.  It was a busy summer weekend so we opted for an out of the way, seldom visited climb known for the magnificent crux slab pitch up high on the wall. Down East is much more than a slab climb, the route is quite varied. As we climbed we encountered a technical face section, cracks from fingers to hands and even two feisty off width sections.

Down East - Cannon Cliff NH

Down East – Cannon Cliff NH is the large white section on right side of photo.

Down East - Cannon Cliff NH

Down East – Cannon Cliff NH a magnificent slab high on the wall.

Down East - Cannon Cliff NH

Jerry enters the first wide section on the climb. This crack is to big for hands so lay backs turned into arm bars led the way.

Down East - Cannon Cliff NH

Jerry working the tight finger crack on pitch 4 Down East – Cannon Cliff NH.

Down East - Cannon Cliff NH

The view of the slab pitch. On this pitch one climbs the grass filled finger crack to 3/4 height then traverses left for 30 feet gaining a wide crack which leads to a spacious grassy ledge.

Down East - Cannon Cliff NH

Jerry in the middle of the delicate traverse. Thoughtful and steady movement is required to advance on this type of stone. With tiny foot holds and no real hand holds its time for Jerry get his slab technique on!!!

Down East - Cannon Cliff NH

Jerry and I are pictured on the top of Raven Crack. We have been climbing together on Cannon for years. It’s such a special place and climbing here on a mid summer day is alpine perfection. We always enjoy Cannon, whether we repeat routes or climb new ones it’s a fantastic place.

Art Mooney

It’s the prime season for climbs on Cannon contact Art at Mooney Mountain Guides.

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Moby Grape – Fourth of July Glory!!!

Moby Grape has been on Han Chen’s to climb list for some time. Han has trained up for this route on long routes in the Red Rock and a few other Cannon climbs. Yesterday we had the green light so we met at 5:30 to assure a prime spot (first) on the route. We arrived in the parking lot by 6am  and were a bit surprised to find two other parties getting ready for the day, it was the 4th of July!!! No worries as they had other plans, the big wall section and Lakeview. Han and I packed the gear and started our approach.

Moby Grape Cannon Cliff

Reppy’s is the first pitch of Moby Grape. The original start fell of a few years ago. Yes the main part actually broke of the cliff, ending up in the talus below. Now all parties start up the Reppy’s to begin Moby Grape. This long crack puts the hurt on the feet and hands

Moby Grape Cannon Cliff  The morning light show was quite nice. Here the sun pops out over the Lafayette Ridge.

Moby Grape Cannon Cliff

Moby Grape takes a line up the buttress in center, then wanders back and forth on the upper wall. Over 1000ft of good solid cracks take one to the top of the wall.

Moby Grape Cannon Cliff

Han tapes up for the Reppy’s crack. Sinker hand jams are a must to climb this pitch. Taped gloves protect the skin from abrasion and give the extra stick when hand jamming up the wall.

Moby Grape Cannon Cliff

Han enjoying the splitter cracks on the triangle roof pitch. Moby Grape has such a wide variety of climbing,  all techniques are used to climb. Slabs, cracks, chimneys, and overhang cruxes keep coming at you right to the top.

Moby Grape Cannon CliffHan and I made the summit in excellent time. On the top with coiled up ropes at 11:30 . It was a 4th of July glory day on Moby Grape, Cannon Cliff, NH.

Moby Grape is certainly one of my favorites and a climb I truly enjoy giving the tour. Thank you Han for this climb!!!

Art Mooney – IFMGA Mountain Guide

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AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

The Red Rock Canyon area is the premier training ground for rock climbing guides who are seeking the highest level of rock climbing certification, the AMGA Rock Guide. This highest level of certification stands above all the other rock certifications, such as the Rock Instructor, the Single Pitch, and the Climbing Wall. To reach this level the guides must first complete a ten day Rock Guide Course then meet a new set of prerequisites before advancing to the ten day AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course and Aspirant Exam. This post is one course and the journey guides take along the way to becoming the AMGA Certified Rock Guide!!!

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

The Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE (ARGC/AE) covers the tools used when guiding and instructing multiple clients on longer routes up to Grade V—management of 3rd and 4th class terrain, technical descents, simultaneous multi-client belaying, lowering and rappelling, management of transitions, and short roping and short pitching techniques. It emphasizes effective risk management while maximizing client rewards.

The Red Rock is home to some fantastic sand stone rock with long and complex routes. The peaks hold many classic lines that follow steep difficult cracks and long intricate faces. The approaches and descents are lengthy and in many places technical as well.
AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course
Guides must first pass a movement test on the first day. Intimidating, yes it is, but all guides must be able to handle stress and continue onward and upward guiding their guests. The above photo is Lindsay ascending a route called the Fox. This is beauty, an Indian creek style crack that widens at the top. Guides must carry a standard rack then add on the big pro.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

Additional big gear for the Fox.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

The first few days of the course set the pace for the remainder. Here Rob Hess is teaching a clinic on short rope and short pitching techniques before we disperse into groups to tackle a long and varied 3rd and 4th class climb utilizing this same technique.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

With the first days completed its time to ascend the classic routes. Above Lance is working around the crux roof on a route called Black Magic.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide CourseThomas is finding the line on another route named Lotta Balls. The name comes from the small, round iron deposits that are attached to the face in the form of little balls.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

Cracks are abundant of this steep line. Alison ascends the first pitch of Ginger Cracks.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

Zach is high above us on the Community Pillar a fantastic wide crack and chimney climb. All styles of movement techniques are used to climb this amazing route with face, cracks and even chimneys that challenge the leader pitch after pitch.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

A few of the Red Rock climbs enter the depths of the mountains. Above Zach climbs a pitch totally enclosed by the rock with a exit hole at the top.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

Rock horns or chicken heads are a useful tools for the guide. The sandstone does not offer many but here is a good example of one used for a quick belay, then an anchor on a section of 3rd class rock.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

Much of our practice time is on multi pitch routes. A first goal is to find proper ledges with good stances for the team. On these ledges high above the desert, transitions are practiced and refined. Teams of three work towards efficiently ascending the climbs with solid anchors, proper belays, fine rope work and a high level of movement skills.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide CourseIts the beauty that arises on a climb. This day is perfect, sunny, blue skies, and cool temps, a fine reward for us!!!

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

What goes up must descend. On technical descents we learn and practice techniques such as rappels and lowers. Most of the accidents in North America happens on the descent and many at the end of the day. Guides and climbers are tired and stressed. This is a time when focus goes down. On this course we work hard to recognize hazards, mitigate the risks and  maintaining guide and guest security.

AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course

The education continues with demonstration and practice. It all leads to refinement of guide skills and techniques applied during guided climbs.

This past course was full with 12 students and 4 instructors. We all had a safe, educational and fun learning experience. The climbs were challenging, the days were long, our limits were pushed as individuals and as a team. I am thankful to have had this opportunity to work with an amazing group of guides once again.

Art Mooney

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