Spring has SPRUNG

I don’t have a ton of time to write- I have to go to the Orthopedist to get my knee checked out, and then I have 15 days of work strait.

Spring has arrived .  Over the past few weeks, we’ve transitioned to rock climbing season.  Gunks, Ragged Mountain, North Conway, and a 3 day fun trip Red Rocks with Nate from Ascent Climbing.

We have 3 of 6 spaces open in May 13th’s Practical Self Rescue for Climbers. $140pp, Ragged area, Connecticut.

Book your Gunks days now.  Things are looking busy and before you know it, it’ll be too late.

Also, it’s Teton Training Season.  Get your training in so you can just scoot up the Grand when you get there.

View from sunrise on the CMC Route, Mt Moran, GTNP, WY


Today’s Musical Whip:

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Pinnacle Gully III WI3-3+, 700′, Mt Washington, NH

Pinnacle Gully is a favorite classic climb.  Generations of climbers have tested their skill and resilience while climbing this modern day moderate.  I can’t recall how many times I’ve climbed Pinnacle, but I do know that it has become a favorite.

After many multi day attempts by the regions best and most accomplished climbers, Samuel A. Scoville and Julian Whittlesey finally climbed the route in February, 1930.  This marked the end of the Golden Era of climbing on Mt Washington.  Consider the days equipment of 80cm piolet to cut the steps, crampons with out front points (these wouldn’t be available for another 35 years), wool knickers, leather boots, and surplus US Military mittens.

The Objective

Fast forward to the early 1970s……Jim McCarthy leads a team up Pinnacle Gully without cutting steps, using modern crampons with front points and alpine hammers. They managed the route in a single day!

Each season I am lucky enough to take climbers up this historic route.  Yesterday, I climbed it with Tim and Gina.  We met at 6:30a at the Frontside.  We chatted about the plan and headed up to Pinkham Notch where we packed beacons, shovels and probes, and headed up the 2 mile walk to the Harvard Cabin.  After a colorful visit with Rich and Marcia, we quickly roped up and headed up through the fan into the gully and it’s rope stretching crux first pitch. A quick belay off of ice screws here gives great view of your team, and makes communication easier if it’s windy.

Above the first pitch, a snowfield of firm neve snow leads to a bulge and a belay off decent pins and some rock gear.  Pitch 2 is about 50m and ends in a protected alcove with a good view of your partner.  Pitch 3 Leads up low angle ice ramps ad bulges to the top of the gully.  Again, belay off rock gear in solid rock.  This pitch stretches a 60m rope out.  A good anchor is important here as there can be some funky snow in this start zone.  I’ve seen an impressive crown here on 2 occasions over the years.  Sometime there is no snow, sometimes there is a lot.  Take a belay and put the gear in. Scramble to the boulders and belay up your team.  Congrats! The technical climbing is complete!

Rack Beta:

Some parties leading at the grade will likely pack a lot more, but what I bring is fairly conservative. I generally bring 8 screws, 4 small wires, and 4-5 small-medium cams, and a small repair kit (toe bail, linking bar, wrenches).  After countless ascents, I have found this to be just about right and provides a good amount of versatility.  It also gives options if there is a huge cue at the start of the route.

The rack

Add a 60m Sterling Nano Rope

Don’t forget to check the wx and avalanche advisory.


Avalanche Bulletin

Today’s Noise:

Historic jams for historic routes.





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Gear Talk: Presidential Range Traverse

A common question I receive for Range Traverses is will Rainier quality gear work?

Answer: Yes, but……Rainier generally gets climbed from about mid May to early September.  That’s summertime.

Climbing out of Edmunds Col

The Presidential Range Traverse is generally completed in winter as an objective on its own, or as preparation for Denali ascents.  That said, you climb Denali in the summertime too.  Traverses completed in the winter are cold, and I mean wicked cold. Expect highs of single digits and lows regularly in the minus 20 range.  Then add moderate winds. High winds generally make it not possible. You need warm gloves (not light ice climbing gloves), and heavy expedition weight mittens.  Don’t forget 2 puffy jackets and those puffy pants you’ve never worn (you’ll wear them on this trip).

Below is what I recommend for a Range Traverse and the photos show what I bring.

Gear List

Sleeping System

  • -20 degree sleeping bag. May be down or synthetic
  • Tent: 4 season, traditional or single wall with guy lines
  • Insulated full length Thermarest (Big Agnes Insulated Air Core type)
  • ½ length ensolite pad (core pad); some packs have a pull out foam pad, this will work. Optional


  • double plastic boots (Scarpa or Koflach or Lowa, etc)


  • modern synthetic double boots (Sportiva Spantik/Baruntse/G2SM, Scarpa Phantom 6000, Mammut Norwand 2.1 High
  • 2 pair high quality wool socks. Wear a pair, spare a pair for camp/sleep/change


  • Liner gloves, thin
  • Medium- Heavy Gloves. Similar to the BD Guide Glove, BD Patrol, OR Luminary.
  • Heavy Expedition Weight Mittens. 8000m weight. The same ones you bring to Denali. 


  • Expedition Weight tops and bottom. Similar to the Patagonia R1 hoody, pants. Sub midweight for warm trips at guide’s descretion
  • Light long sleeve shirt
  • Light puffy jacket or vest Similar to Millet Synthesis down, Patagonia Nano, Arcteryx Atom LT, BD Access Hybrid Hoody OR mid weight fleece jacket.  Puffy jackets are usually preferred.
  • Heavy Belay Jacket. Similar to BD Stance Belay Parka, Acrteryx Atom AR or Dually, Patagonia DAS, OR model
  • Puffy Pants. Mountain Hardwear Chugach or Patagonia Nano. Excellent for camp or cold starts.
  • Light or medium Soft Shell Jacket with hood. Wind resistant is best.
  • Hardshell Jacket with Hood. Needs to be windproof and waterproof. Gore Tex fabric preferred.
  • Harshell bottoms or bibs. Needs to be windproof and waterproof. Gore tex fabric preferred.
  • Gaiters if desired or if pants are baggy.
  • Wool or fleece hat that covers ears.
  • Balaclava, power stretch fleece is best. Scuba style hood is preferred.
  • Light weight Buff neck gaiter
  • High quality goggles.
  • Sunglasses


  • 70-90 liter size. Cold Cold World Chaos and Wild Things Andinista are popular . Leave room for food and shared group gear like fuel, tent components, etc.


  • 12 point crampons, automatic or semi automatic. Petzl Vasak, Grivel G12, BD Sabertooth
  • 60-70cm traditional ice axe. BD Raven or Grivel Racing or Petzl Summit. Mine is 60cm.
  • Snowshoes for mid winter traverses
  • 1 Trek pole with a snow basket.

Odds & Ends

  • Cup or small thermos bottle
  • Fold flat Fozzils are great (this is my cup and bowl).
  • Titanium sporks don’t break. skip the plastic spoon.
  • 2 1 liter water bottles with real water bottle parkas. OR makes the best one. Need 2 liter capacity for the traverse. I carry a 1 liter Nalgene and a 20 oz. clean canteen thermos type bottle with hot gatorade in side.
  • Stuff sack for food
  • Headlamp with fresh batteries, I like the Petzl Tikka RXP with reactive technology.
  • Smart Phone fully charged, with battery charger if desired. Core Third makes a great one.
  • Chap stick/lip balm
  • Dermatone salve for sun screen and wind protection
  • Tooth brush/paste
  • Small pocketknife, Swiss Army with scissors or a small Leatherman.
  • Ouch pouch- small first aid with Ibuprofen, band aids, blister care, etc.
  • Stove of your choice with 6-8oz fuel per day. Melting snow will likely be your best bet for creating water.  If your group is larger than 3 you will likely need 2 stoves.
  • Map, Compass, dedicated GPS, and pre figured route plan.  I also use the Gaia GPS App on my iPhone.

A Note on Food Choices

Breakfast for me is 2 via French Roast coffee packets (sometimes 3), some kind of pastry like a croissant, and 2 packets of instant hot cereal.  Grits seem to go farther than oatmeal for me anyway.  Granola is a good substitute. Bring something easy, that you like to eat, and requires minimal stove time.  It’s easy to waste time hanging around the stove in the morning.  My buddies, guides from CA, prefer glazed donuts.  Seriously.

Lunch is a pre made PB & J sandwich, a snickers bar, some jerky, some almonds, a packet of shot blocks, and a larabar. I commonly see folks pack way too much for lunch.  Food is the single most heavy item we bring, so you might as well not over do it.

Dinner is a soup packet or two, some cheese and salami, maybe with crackers, &  an easy to make meal, like the Good to Go Pad Thai packets. Add some Milano cookies and a hot drink.  You should be hungry at dinner time.

sunrise coffee at the Perch


Hopefully someone will find this helpful.  I only do traverses in march when the days are longer and the temps might be warmer.

That said, I wish I had something like this years ago.  Bests wishes on your Traverse!


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Nothin’ gonna bring us down

Lemmy said “Nothin’ gonna bring us down”

New Hampshire sub alpine, Jackson Hole ski touring and avalanche training, back to a warming New Hampshire, 2 Range Traverse trips, more ice climbing.  Spring is around the corner, it’ll be rock season soon, so book up your dates.  They’re filling quickly.

AMGA SPI Programs are enrolling now and some are already full.  Don’t delay.

Today’s kick in the pants:


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We Are the Road Crew

Another busy time here at Ragged Mountain Guides……..ice climbing is getting pretty darn sweet & the snow is falling.  Mid winter has officially arrived!

So far so good!  We’ve got climbs on the calendar with some of our favorite guests, a trip to the Tetons, a couple of Presidential Range Traverses, and more ice climbing on the way!  Stay tuned!

Tetons Summer 2017

Want to climb a Teton classic?  Give me a call if we have climbed together.  I will set you up with a prime training plan.

AMGA SPI Programs 2017


March 31-April 2, 1 spot left

May 19-21 open


April 15-16 3 Spots open

May 5-6 1 spot left

Thanks to Petzl, Sterling Rope, Millet, J Snare, Hyperlight Mountain Gear, & Core Third for keeping us ready and light!


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