Summer has passed and the days of a hot sun beating down and the black flies biting us at the cliffs are now behind us. The end of August, September and now October have been great months to get out and climb. Hopefully you all have had the opportunity get out, tie in and enjoy some of the nice weather we’ve been having.
It has certainly been a productive summer for our climbing community. Our staff have bumped into several members from the gym out at our local crags. It’s always great to see familiar faces out climbing on the local cliffs, either just for fun and to explore some place new, or for a more devoted climber trying hard to send their project before the snow flies.
Our guides have been busy either working, off receiving more training, or exploring Vermont and putting up new routes in our state. Steve and Andrea were able to get away for a short trip to the Cascades of Washington for a bit of Alpine Climbing. After about a week Andrea flew back and Steve stayed out for another couple weeks to go on to do the AMGA Advanced Alpine Guides Course and Aspirant Exam in the North Cascades. He returned safely last week and is now only a few steps away from becoming a fully certified IFMGA Guide! Go Steve. This level of certification takes many years of hard work and a dedication to both climbing and skiing disciplines.
Here’s what Steve had to say about the experience:
AMGA Advanced Alpine Guides Course and Aspirant Exam
“Some of you may have noticed my absence from the climbing gym or the crags for the past month, and no I have not been hiding at some secret cliff, but away training and getting schooled by the American Mountain Guides Association. As many of you know I have been pursuing certification and professional development from the AMGA since 2004 in an effort to eventually become a fully pinned and certified international mountain guide with both the AMGA and IFMGA. In order to become an IFMGA guide you must complete a variety of courses and exams along the way in three disciplines: Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. Not to mention all the avalanche education, wilderness medicine and all of the additional guiding and personal trips required just to be prepared and qualified to even apply for a course or exam.
This last September I took my final course and aspirant guide exam in the North Cascades, Washington. The Advanced Alpine Guides Course by far was the most difficult and strenuous course I have taken so far. Everyday requires candidates to endure long approaches, manage all the hazards the mountain can literally throw at you and this time around Mother Nature was angry and dealt us a healthy dose of cold, rain and lots of snow. The AMGA defines the Alpine discipline as one for people who guide glaciated and non-glaciated peaks, approaches and climbs, with no limitation with respect to season and elevation. It includes rock climbs, peak ascents, waterfall ice climbs, and expeditionary climbing. The alpine program progression helps fine-tune your skills in alpine snow, mixed, waterfall ice, and glaciated terrain. Over the 10 days we touched on everything with the exception of full on ice climbing.
The weather added a real sense of complexity and difficulty to almost every aspect of the course and exam. Whether it was the movement skills and a 45 minute drill in a downpour, verglas covered approaches and climbs, or full on winter blasting our objectives, it added a serious amount of hazard and complexity. There is nothing like climbing an “Alpine moderate rock route” in crampons all while brushing off every hidden hold from a layer of wet snow while short roping and pitching two “clients.” It was about as Alpine as you could get- screaming barfies, wet feet, saturated ropes, and marginal pro! All that said I learned a ton, got scared off more than one objective, and the weather, if nothing else, really highlighted my strengths and weaknesses, which will be a great benefit to me when I take my final exam. I am also pleased to announce that I did in fact pass my final Aspirant exam and I am now an Aspirant IFMGA Guide. I look forward to climbing and skiing with all of you as I prepare for my final exams.”
Smugglers’ Notch has seen a flurry of new routes these past few months. While the long time route developers have been continuing to establish hard new routes around the notch. Tim has been exploring potential for more moderate, naturally protected routes. Tim, along with Andrea and long time notch developer Alden Pellett added an airy third pitch to the Smugglers’ Notch classic The Diagonal. Tim returned to this area a few weeks later to establish another line above the top of pitch two. This alternate variation takes you to the top of the cliff to a walk-off. It’s now possible to do multiple pitches of climbing in a select area of the Quartz Crack face above the parking lot. About a month later, Steve, Tim and another partner added a two pitch climb in a very seldom visited area of Smugglers’ Notch. Lil Bean, 5.10d, tackles a fierce roof crack on the Beanstalker Buttress area of the notch. Several other new routes went in this summer including the 6-pitch Bushmaster established by Alden Pellett and Seth Maciejowski, and Yggdrasil put up by guidebook author Travis Peckham and Seth Maciejowski. Great job guys! See Vermontrock.com for full route descriptions.
With all the outdoor climbing that our staff and our members have been doing, we can’t forget to mention the great weather and astounding fall color that has complimented all the climbing. While we are past the prime now, Bolton, Smuggs and Marshfield have been the scene of some great climbing and some great views. If you haven’t had the chance to get up high and enjoy the color, there is a little time left before all the leaves fall completely off the branches. Give us a call today to speak with one of our guides and let us take you climbing up high.
With a crisp in the air, and the snow about to fly it’s time to start thinking about all the indoor events we will be having at the gym this winter. But before we get into the gym, the annual CRAG-VT Trail day is October 19th from 9am-4pm rain or shine. We will meet at the Bolton Quarry then split from there to tackle projects at Upper and Lower West Bolton. For more details check out their website. CRAG-VT.ORG If you’ve enjoyed climbing at any of these cliffs in the past, this is a great way to give back and meet likeminded climbers.
Now for Events at the gym:
We will kick off the early winter with our Member Appreciation Day and Halloween Feast on October 25th. This event is in collaboration with our locally owned gear shop, Outdoor Gear Exchange. Click on the flyer below for more details.
November 1st we will be showing the Reel Rock 8 film in the gym. It’s always a big party with a raffle mid-way where you can win awesome prizes from some of the best brands in the outdoor industry. Doors will open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm. You can purchase advanced tickets on our website or at the door the day of.
November 9th will be our annual ABS (American Boulder Series) boulder competition. Start training now as the competition is always fierce. All ages and abilities welcome. Come to watch, or enter your division and have the chance to win prizes from a slew of outdoor and climbing gear brands.
Then in January we will again be hosting the Smugglers’ Notch Ice Bash. This is Vermont’s premier ice climbing festival and a great time all weekend. The party gets started at the gym on Friday, January 24th with our Indoor Dry Tool Competition, tool demo and DJ. Last year we had a great turn out for competitors from across New England and beyond. This year the comp will again be set by Matt McCormick, Steve Charest and another undisclosed visiting hard man. Saturday and Sunday will be filled with ice and mixed climbing clinics and evening presentations so stay tuned for more details.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for all the latest news about what’s happening around the gym. And come in and climb! We’ve received a ton of new holds via Climberism for a hold review from a lot of different companies. Come pull on the nice new plastic and tell us what you think!!!