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, 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.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Black Canyon

Only 2 hours from our office in Ouray, CO, The Black Canyon is home to some of the most adventurous, not to mention spectacular, rock climbing in the lower 48. The Black is one of those places that it is easy to fall in love with. The giant canyon drops, in some places up to 2,000 feet, down to the Gunnison River. The canyon is all but invisible until you round a corner to hike down into it and suddenly the spectacular scenery unfolds below you.

Though guided access was recently threatened in the Black Canyon, thanks to CO legislators, companies with permits like SJMG can guide the incredible multi pitch rock routes in the canyon. With many long 5.8, 5.9, and 5.10 rock climbs the Black Canyon is a great place for intermediate and advanced climbers to experience a wild multi pitch outing. Because it is a canyon, the climbs in the Black top out at or near the campground (and beer cooler) tucked away in the junipers.

Yesterday I climbed a pleasant 5.9 in the canyon named, Casually Off Route. The climb is not very sustained at 5.9, only a couple hard moves, and makes for a great introduction to climbing in this unique and unforgettable venue.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ouray Rocks!

Ouray is, of course, world famous for its ice climbing. When spring time comes and you put the ice tools away you shouldn't stop thinking of Ouray.

Have you ever sat in the hot springs looking up at the cliffs above? There are hundreds of rock climbs sprinkled throughout Ouray from single pitch sport climbs to long adventurous multi-pitch routes.

Imagine a couple days of rock climbing followed by an alpine ascent into the rugged Sneffels Range or the incredible Grenadiers.

In the spring, the airport ramps up its flight schedules making logistics of getting here even simpler. At the same time mining roads that wind up into the mountains are cleared. Ouray's already incredible access only gets better! The only question is when do you want to come climb?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

San Juan Spring Skiing

Let me share two secrets about the Colorado's San Juans with you. Secret number 1: The ice is great in the late fall. Secret number 2: Spring is the time to ski! The spring melt freeze changes the shapes of the snow crystals. It turns them into rounds that skiers call "corn". This corn makes for creamy, smooth, and fast skiing. The consistency of the snow means that you can ski a bit more aggressively, like you might on a groomed trail, than winter's variable conditions allow.

Not only do the great conditions make spring skiing a joy, the warm temps make for pleasant, warm, touring. Touring in the sunshine, it is hard to not to go to the summit of the many 12k and 13k peaks in the area. From these summits, skiers can enjoy wide open alpine bowl skiing or skinny couloir skiing, take your pick.

Come check it out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sneffel's Range Reconnoiter

There is an imposing group of mountains that sit on the horizon as you drive from Ouray through Ridgway to Telluride. This group of mountains are the most rugged peaks in the Rocky Mountain sub range, the San Juans. This is the Sneffles range. Named for Mount Sneffels a 14k peak.

While I have often glimpsed these peaks on my way back form getting groceries in Montrose, I hade never visited them until recently. Phillipe and I decided to ski up into the Sneffles range for a ski mountaineering adventure.

We skied close to ten miles to right below the summit of Reconnoiter peak. The peak is capped by a 80 foot rock pinnacle. Since we had no rock climbing gear and we had our ski boots on our feet, we could not find a weakness that would lead to the summit.

 The prominent couloir to the west (left) of the peak  made for an exciting ski descent. Though the upper section was full of breakable wind crust, the bottom was pure San Juan ski bliss. The Sneffels Range is home to some of Colorado's best technical mountaineering. I cannot wait for my next chance to visit this unique range.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Still Kickin' (and Swingin')

So it has been a while since we were last able to post simply because we have been so busy taking people from all over the country ice climbing all over the San Juans. From the Ice Park, to Camp Bird Road, to Telluride, to Silverton. 

It is such a joy sharing ice climbing with climbers of all levels. Whether it is teaching people to plant their front points solidly into the ice for the first time, or taking them up one of the areas famous hard-man (or woman) climbs, we love getting people out on the ice.

Even though some people are thinking spring, as I look out my window at the latest snow storm I know that the ice climbing and backcountry skiing will stay good for a while to come. If you haven't had the chance to come climb or ski with us yet this year, give us a call, we would love to take you out!

Friday, February 17, 2012


I got to spend yesterday climbing with Marista and John from OH. Though they had never climbed in the Ouray back country before they had done a bunch of climbing out east and in the Ice Park. I was thrilled to show these two the gems that lay outside the Ice Park.

We managed to tick off two classic Ouray lines with wildly different character. The First, Dexter Slabs, Was a wide open flow with incredible views of the Mount Ridgeway and the Uncomphagre Gorge. We finished that around noon and drove up Camp Bird Road to climb the classic ice chimney Skylight. Marista and John thought the ice chimneying was 'the craziest route' they had ever done. Thanks for a great day guys!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Keeping it Real in Ouray

Wow, what a crazy month! I have been fortunate to climb with a number of awesome folks from all over the country within and outside the ice park. I had the opportunity to teach two people to lead ice climbs, I guided Bridal Veil Falls, and made the ascent of an obscure trad mixed line on Camp Bird road. I admit, I have been so busy I have been slacking on the blog posting, I am sorry.

Now I am sore and content. Oh, and I am psyched to go climbing tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ouray Ice Trip

I recently got to spend four days climbing with Keegan from MN. Keegan and I climbed Denali together this past spring. This fall he told me he wanted to dial in his ice skills so he came to Ouray to do it. In the process, Keegan and I got to climb some of the San Juan classics, the routes that make this place special.

The first day we hung out in the ice park working on ice technique, efficiency and we discussed some key concepts to multi-pitch climbing. Next, we took advantage of the end of a weather window to climb Silverton's Whorehouse Hoses. The next day we managed to sneak in Horsetail falls before the weather got really bad.  It snowed over night and we enjoyed snowy climbing and patchy skies on Dexter Slabs.

The incredible access here in Ouray to a wide variety of terrain makes it so there is something for everyone regardless of the weather. Thanks for a great few days Keegan!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guide's Day Out

People often ask me if I climb in the Ice Park on my days off. Of course! While I love the steep ice lines in the park It is the mixed lines that really hold my attention. These routes are pumpy and often tenuous affairs that push you to climb with maximum efficiency.

People don't often think of projecting and winter climbing in the same vein but projecting mixed climbs can be a really fun activity for day or two in the park. while I prefer to lead bolted rock climbs, but with all the sharp things around mixed climbing I prefer to learn the moves on top rope.

I like to lead the routes once I feel like I can climb the route in control the whole time even if I do hang on a draw or whip. Because the routes are steep the falls are usually clean. I like to lead the routes with as few tries as possible but every route is different technically as well as mentally and it is hard to compare them. I was super excited to send Chinese Water Torture, M9 in the Scottish Gullies at the Ice Park. This is a great route, check it out!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bird Brain Boulevard

Low on the route
 I heard it was terrifyingly run out. I heard the rock was loose and rotten. I heard I would grovel up the chimneys. I also heard it was a classic San Juan mixed climb. It didn't really make sense so I figured I should try and climb Bird Brain Boulevard. It was everything I had heard, especially the classic part.

Bird Brain is among the top few routes in the San Juans. It is right up there with the Ames Ice Hose and Bridal Veil Falls. Bird Brain is a serious route with big run outs, loose rock, and crux moves well above your gear which perhaps explains why it gets a bit less attention than other hard routes in the area. The route is, however an awesome adventure.

May this be my worst climbing injury...
The eight pitches take you high above the Camp Bird climbing area, up a frozen water course through volcanic San Juan rock. It is a bit like vertical canyoneering as you negotiate interesting ice and mixed climbing cruxes. Chimneys, turf climbing, and ice pillars lead to a top out high above the valley over looking Ouray. The descent down to the Ribbon and rappelling that route made for a convenient exit. The route is committing and requires a cool head, which only enhances the experience.
About halfway