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.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dispatch from the Ouray Ice Park

The warm weather has made for "hero" ice conditions in the ice park. The softened, but not overly melting ice makes of endless one-swing-stick-bliss! If you were ever thinking of getting on a particularly hard ice climbing now is the time while the ice is as user friendly as ever.

I have had the pleasure of exploring ice technique with a number of wonderful folks from all over the country over the last few days. We have hung out in the Scottish Gullies, The School Room, and South Park going through the San Juan Mountain Guides' Ice Curriculum.

We start with no tools on low angle ice to learn to trust the crampons and to develop solid foot work and stability. Next we incorporate one tool. Here we learn to swing and where the tool goes relative to the rest of our body position. Last, we put all the pieces together with both tools and swing and kick our way with  perfect form up the ice until our forearms turn to jelly!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kids Climbing College at The Ouray Ice Park

Future San Juan Mountain Guide?

Every year at San Juan Mountain Guides we run a number of free kids climbing clinics at the Ice Park. It is pretty remarkable to be able to offer young kids the chance to try out a sport once reserved only for adults. We are the only people in the world I know of who have a fleet of specially modified ice tools for kids to try ice climbing.

Guides helping future ice masters get roped up and ready to go!
The guides of SJMG, people with experience climbing ice all over the country and the world, coach kids up the ice, teaching them to balance on their crampons while they swing into the ice. It is fun watching kids problem solve their way to the tops of the climbs and gratifying to see their smiles when they notice the view from the top.

World famous mountaineers to be take their first steps.
Swingin' and kickin' to the top!
These future ice masters rocked the ice park yesterday. Kids clinics are for kids 8-17 and are totally free. All of the clinics are at the upper bridge at the Ouray Ice Park. Here are the 2012 dates:
Sat, Jan 7, 10a-3p
Sun, Jan 8, 10a-2p
Sun, Feb12, 12p-4p
Click here for details. See you there!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ouray Ice Park Time!

We all eagerly awaited like children in front of the case at the local chocolate shop Mouse's Chocolates as we watched the ice park grow faster and faster as the weather got cold. Our anticipation built with the ice in the park until finally... it opened.

I spent two days climbing in the Ouray Ice Park with Russell form CO. He had never tried ice climbing before but wanted to expand his outdoor recreation repertoire. During our time together we built Russell's foundation on low angle ice. He quickly grasped the technique and moved on to steeper climbing.

It was really fun getting to hang in the ice park with Russell and revisit some of my favorite climbs in the park. It was a treat to get to work on the finer points of kicking and swinging and balancing our way up  any one of over 200 freshly frozen ice climbs . Thanks for a great day Russell.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Silverton's Whorehouse Hoses

Come and get some!
 Yesterday Matt and I went to check out the local classic Whorehouse Hoses. So named because of its proximity to what was a brothel back in the mining days. While the red light district is gone, the ice remains and it is terrific.
The amazing first pitch

To be honest I have stayed away from Whorehouse since I climbed it two years ago. While it wasn't that hard, I made the mistake to climb it as spindrift poured down the climb. At times I could barely see in front of me as I made my way up the pitch.
Matt on the last pitch
This time was different. The beautiful clear and relatively warm weather made for an extra enjoyable outing. The classic first pitch is a 65 meter endurance test up moderate ice. This leads to a fun jaunt through a chimney system. The last pitch goes up a classic fat flow to the top. With bolted rappel stations the whole way down, getting back to the ground is a breeze. This is a great first big ice route for those who want to take a little bit of ice skills into the mountains.