International Man of Mystery...

My photo
I grew up in the Boston area and lived there until my junior year in high school when I attended the Mountain School, a semester program run by Milton Academy in Vershire, VT. I then attended Colby College in Waterville, ME. During my time at Colby I studied anthropology, spent a semester in Northeast India, and became fluent in Nepali. Before I became a guide I earned my black belt in kenpo karate and taught karate for 6 years. I began guiding in college on the rocky coast of ME with Acadia Mountain Guides and on ice at the International Mountain Climbing School in NH. After graduating I took to the highway and drove from ME to WA for the big mountains and glaciers. I spend my winters in lovely Ouray, CO guiding in the famous ice park. I am currently working towards becoming a certified guide through the American Mountain Guides Association. I live, work and play in the hills and on the rocks. On the rocks both literally and, well, with ice.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

For many people the Ouray Ice Park and front country ice climbing is the extent of their ice climbing horizons. However, for the first time this year among the many terrific seminars offered at the Ouray Ice Festival, participants had the chance to hone their skills on backcountry ice in a seminar run by athlete and super guide Angela Hawse and Me.

Climbers in the seminar learned to negotiate the varieties in character of backcountry ice. We went up to Senator's Gulch up on Camp Bird Road. We got a rope up on a steep pillar, another on some dead vertical fat blue ice, and the last on some cauliflower.

Even though the Fest is over, the backcountry ice  and skiing is great and getting better. With all the new snow and  cold weather the powder is deep and the ice is fattening. If you are looking to expand your climbing horizons, consider getting out into the backcountry with the  SJMG team.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ouray Ice Park Opening Day

Ice Park opening day is always has a festive feel to it. There isn't really any official fanfare but climbers from all over the state show up and bring with them a distinct enthusiasm. They are excited for another season with miles of farmed ice climbs dripping down from the western rim of the Uncompahgre Gorge.

The shady canyon with over 200 routes farmed from motel shower heads, the ice park makes an incredible ice classroom for those looking to learn to ice climb and training lab for those looking to perfect their technique. Only a few minutes drive from downtown Ouray, CO, the ice park is home to as many climber's first "perfect stick" as it is seasoned veteran's projects.

Ice climbing in the Ouray Ice Park is as memorable a part of a Ouray vacation as it is a new destination in an ice climbing career. See you soon.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ouray Ice Climbing Tour

I spent the last four days climbing with Rob from NY. Despite some difficulties from the weather and high avalanche danger in many places, we managed to cover a fair amount of ground and climb some terrific pitches.

It seems that this is good year for our high flow backcountry waterfall climbs as opposed to the climbs that form from seepage. Rob and I climbed Lower Ames Falls, Senators Gulch, Slip Sliding Away, and on the last day we finished up with a multi pitch romp up the four pitch Horsetail Falls where we enjoyed terrific views of the peaks above highway 550.

In the course of the four days we honed Rob's ice technique, and practiced the skill necessary to get him on lead at some of his home ice crags in New York and New England. Along the way we got to explore the gorgeous and shady canyons and drainages of Colorado's San Juan Mountains. Thanks for some great climbing Rob!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Colfax Peak Cosley-Houston Route

I had never ice climbed in WA before. Honestly, spending so much time ice climbing in CO and NH, it was hard not to have a bit of a snobby attitude about it. Getting out with Lee the other day gave me a whole new appreciation for the possibilities in WA.

We climbed a route known as the Cosley-Houston on Colfax peak. Colfax is a sub peak of Mount Baker with a summit at 9,360'.  The Cosley-Houston climbs water ice pillars and snow slopes formed by the melt-freeze cycles of the peaks upper snow fields.

Lee and I crossed the Coleman Glacier which, with a thin November snow cover made for some very scenic hiking across a very broken glacier. We climbed increasingly steep snow slopes to the bergschrund where we roped up. A few pitches of water ice led to some steep snow and a bit more water ice, more snow and finally the summit. The upper snow field was a bit sketchy with worthless protection options and what I can only describe as double lensing. That is, a snice crust over 8" of powder over and ice lens and more powder.

We delicately climbed this layer cake to the summit as the visibility dropped. Luckily Lee had climbed the East Ridge (a worthy route in its own right) and found the way down fairly easily as the visibility improved. We enjoyed an incredible sunset as we hiked down the glacier. It felt late and it had been a long time since I used my headlamp in the field. Turns out it was only about 4:30pm. On a roughly thousand foot route, with difficulties to WI4+, and that much hiking ~12 hours car to car seemed respectable, but damn the days get short up here this time of year!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rock Climbing in Red Rock, Las Vegas

I recently enjoyed the chance to explore Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas with Elena. We consistently marveled at how despite being so close to a huge city Red Rock feels so far away both physically and mentally from the busy city of neon lights.

Together, Elena and I explored the rock climbing in the canyons of Red Rock. The park consists of a 13-mile scenic drive. The climbing is located off this loop road. Driving the loop, we could see our climbs. Each day we marveled at what we climbed the day before and looked ahead to the adventures we were about to embark on.

Red Rock is home to endless pitches of climbing of all levels and all styles. Whether you are looking to climb hard or learn the ropes, whether you want to climb the big routes or stay close to the ground, Red Rock is a terrific, not to mention convenient place to do it!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Scenic Cruise

Often referred to as the best rock climb in Colorado the Scenic Cruise is stacked with incredible pitches of climbing. It is amazing how many hand cracks are on this 2000' route! Because the route is one of the most famous in the Black Canyon, it receives considerable traffic (which by standards outside the Black is not much) which means the that much of the loose rock has been cleaned off the route.

Still, with a pumpy 5.10d crux and many in your face pitches of 5.9 and 5.10, the route is an in-your-face undertaking for many climbers. The difficulty of retreating from any of the Scenic Cruise's 13 pitches (or any other route in the Black for that matter) gives the route a seriousness that keeps the crowds away.

Still open to guided access, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison offers incredible rock climbing adventures beyond the Scenic Cruise for intermediate and advanced climbers. Hiring a guide is a great way to demystify and defang this otherwise serious and sometimes intimidating venue.