Between the Hammer and the Anvil

Years ago there was a photo of Rob Frost under the first roof at the crux published in a climbing magazine.  I have met Rob, and he’s a monster when it comes to climbing.  The photo makes the route look pretty damn hard.

The Thor’s Hammer is an ancient Norse symbol. In Norse mythology, Thor is the god of thunder and his hammer, called the Mjölnir,  has the power of lightning. It is also the name of a badass rock climb at East Peak in Central Connecticut. Furious fist jams, big lay backs, physical climbing, and a chimney characterize what is likely the best 5.9 in Connecticut.  That’s a bold statement, but I’ve done almost all of the good ones around here.  Just remember, 5.9 around here can be rowdy.

I hadn’t been on the route in probably 8 years, and I had only done it once. When a subtle change in plans forced a different venue, the questions became “what do you have for big cams in your car?” We had the right posse, the right level of stoke, and almost enough big cams.

As it turns out, it was as challenging as I remembered.  Move quickly, be precise, and avoid the anvil. I can’t wait to go back.


Today’s whip:

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Roger’s Rangers- The Battle on Snowshoes

Each year, Casi and her crew of BIC SUPpers go on a paddle and climb adventure.  So far, we’ve been doing a Connecticut River expedition. Casi paddles a bazillion miles on SUP boards to meet me.  We go climbing over the water, then finish with a few sport routes at Seldon Island. Basically, a three hour tour.

This year, I felt like we needed to up the ante.  I suggested we go to Rogers Rock on Lake George in the Adirondack Park.  After some reconnaissance, Casi agreed that this was going to be the spot.  Since the climbing here is 500 feet tall, and there were six climbers, I recruited my good friend and IFMGA Guide Silas Rossi.  If you know him, you know he’s a stud with sharp wit, and he’s quick to crack a joke- He’d be a perfect fit.

Silas. The 5th Discipline.

We would meet at the Roger’s Rock Boat launch at 0900.  Paddle northwest for a 30 minutes.  Next, a review of systems and gear, and launch.  Silas would climb with Casi, Michelle, and Bronwyn.  I had mixed emotions.  They have always been mine.  I was going to climb with Heather, LouAnn, and Trish.  Turns out they’re pretty cool too.

Rack up. Lead. Build anchors. Manage 600′ of rope. Get after it. 

So, we sent it!  A quick paddle with an overloaded canoe back to the launch, and like that, it was over.  High fives, hugs, and seeds planted for next time!

Crush it like Quint.

Roger’s Rock History:

“The 1758 Battle on Snowshoes occurred on March 13, 1758, during the French and Indian War. It was fought by members of British Ranger companies led by Robert Rogers against French troops and Indians allied to France. The battle took place near Lake George, now in northern New York, but then in the frontier area between the British province of New York and the French province of Canada. The battle was given its name because the British combatants were wearing snowshoes.

Rogers led a band of about 180 rangers and regulars out to scout French positions. The French commander at Fort Carillon had been alerted to their movement, and sent a force consisting mostly of Indians to meet them. In fierce fighting, the British troop was nearly destroyed, with more than 120 casualties. The French believed that Rogers was killed in this action, as he was forced to abandon his regimental jacket, which contained his commission papers, during his escape from the scene.

This battle gave rise to the tale that Rogers escaped capture by sliding 400 feet (120 m) down a rockface to the frozen surface of Lake George. That rock is now known as Rogers Rock or Rogers Slide.” -Wikipedia


Soundtrack: Social Distortion- Bad Luck

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Favorite Things

This last week, I guided YMC route twice, and climbed it three times over 4 days.  It’s so good.

Central Connecticut’s Ragged Mountain’s YMC Route is rated 5.9.  It is about 90 feet tall.

Here are three photos of Laurie and Chelsea on the route.

After this, Carey Corner comes a close second.  I think this route is a fabulous way to work on hand jam skills.

Laurie on Carey Corner, 5.7+

Some will say Carey Corner is 5.8, even 5.9.  I say no way.  Every move might be 5.7.  That’s why it’s so good.  Moderate, physical, fun. Get after it.

We are on the doorstep to October which is the best month to climb here and in the Gunks.  Let book it up and go!

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Whitney-Gilman Ridge

Dave on the Whitney-Gilman Ridge, Cannon Mountain, NH

Dave and I had an awesome day linking the Whitney-Gilman Ridge and the Eaglet Spire last week. Not a bad way to spend a day in exposed places.

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Repost from JHMG

I recently wrote a blog for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. It was all spurred by a conversation I had with an upcoming guest about a Grand Teton Ascent. 

For months prior to a climb with us at Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, many of you spend hours every week training.  Climbers seem to spend their training time focused on the uphill.  That’s great, and necessary, however, we often find that some time focused on the downhill trajectory will be helpful.  Remember, going up a Teton peak is roughly 60% of the work.  The other 40% occurs on the return trip when you are already tired and have been awake and moving for 6 to 12 hours.

Going is 60% of the work. 

Whether the workout is in the gym or running down the bike path, there are a few things you can do to make your trip more comfortable for you and your climbing partners. You want to start training a full 8-12 weeks prior to your trip.  Think of these tips as an investment in yourself to support your climbing goals.

  • First of all, mentally prepare to do some hard things. Recently, I climbed the Pownall-Gilkey route with Joe, a local here in the Tetons.  When we arrived on the summit, he says to me “Matt, I can’t really think of a word to describe this! It’s just ………….” I replied “uhh, it’s just hard!”.  Joe says “YES!!!! That’s it!”. Climbing mountains is a lot of fun, but scrambling over rocks and cliffs, using crampons on the firm morning snow, covering ground, and getting to the top will expend some calories.
  • When you hike downhill, it’s ok to try to go fast. I’m not talking about running, but just swift, continuous movement.  Some areas will require more attention and time.  Areas such as boulders, or rocky zones simply take longer to cover.  That’s OK.  Try to make up time on the flatter, dusty trail sections.  Let your momentum help carry you.  Fighting gravity and momentum seem to make me more tired and sore.  I feel as though I am fighting myself and gravity.  Obviously, do this within reason.  This helps to build your agility and puts that mountain chassis to work.
  • Practice hiking downhill in loose gravely type areas. The Tetons have a nickname – ”the Scree-tons”.  There is no shortage of loose small rocks in the alpine zones. Getting used to it before you get here will increase your confidence and mountain mobility.  Think about your body position as well- nose over knees, knees over toes.  That puts you in a strong athletic stance that helps to use your quads as shock absorbers.  It keeps you in balance as well.
  • If you use trekking poles, consider using just one. I find that two poles require more mental energy.  One is good for balance and additional support, but two is simply too much.  I frequently find that I’m placing a hand down on a boulder to make a larger step. Two poles don’t allow you to do this as easily.  No wrist loop either.
  • Your weekly workout or training plan could look something like this:
    • Days 1 and 2. Spend an hour or more hiking with a pack on.  This pack should be 25-30 pounds for the uphill portion.  A ski hill, stadium steps, or even a hilly hiking trail should be sufficient.  Work up to 3,000’ of elevation gain.  Most of our approaches gain 3000-4000 feet in elevation before we ever start climbing. On the downhill, I recommend that you pack is lighter. Ten pounds of that pack weight can be in water.  A trick is to fill up four to five liters of water, then dump it out for the way down.  This will help to save your knees from getting too tired. Fifteen pounds of gear should be plenty to train your legs for any descent.  This is a tried and true strategy that alpinists the world over have used for years. Give it a try. Try to do this two times a week.  Some good tunes in your ear buds can help.  This is also mental training. Remember 3000-4000’ feet up equals 3000-4000’ back down.
    • Day 3. Spent doing some functional movements in the gym. I recommend getting familiar with the squat rack (front and back squats).  Squats are the king of exercises.  Deadlifts help balance out the legs (hamstrings and glutes).  Walking lunges with dumb bells help develop balance and general strength.   The next part should be hardening of the mountain chassis- that’s your trunk or core.  Sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, bird dogs, etc.  Rowing some intervals or even good kettlebell swings will be helpful.  An hour in the gym should be plenty for this.  I like a gym that has no benches or mirrors- I don’t want to see how hard I’m working and I’m not there to sit down.  Please keep in mind that it is worth seeking qualified strength training coaching if you haven’t spent much time in the weight room.  Start light too. Don’t worry. You will not get bulky and heavy.  Trust me on this.
    • Day 4. This should be a full day’s hike covering eight to ten miles with up to 4000 feet of elevation gain. Do an out and back hike so you can hike back down to where you started. You may have to do some laps.
    • Day 5. Go rock climbing! Or hit up the local rock gym for a couple of hours.

To wrap this up, remember that eccentric movement is the opposite of concentric movements.  Going up is concentric, going down is eccentric.  Train both.  We go up for our heart and lungs, and down for our legs, so train them both. No one has ever complained that they were too strong for a Teton ascent.  Don’t forget to take it easy the week before your climbing trip. A couple of days off and 3 active rest days after a taper should set you up well.

We look forward to climbing with you!


Matt Shove


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