Is this what climbing in Scotland is like? Matt McCormick one of the many first pitch variations to Omega. Cannon Cliff, New Hampshire.

I just checked the weather for Aviemore, Scotland, the closest town to the Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngroms, and the forecast is for an 85-100% chance of rain every day next week. Apparently, that’s a good thing, and I’m hoping so, cause I’m flying out tonight on a red-eye through Reykjavik.

The British Mountaineering Council is hosting members of the alpine clubs of 35 different countries on their home turf. Scott Fife of Ohio and I are representing the American Alpine Club at this year’s climber’s meet. Thanks AAC! I’ve been doing my pull-ups, and after spending last weekend at the Adirondack International Mountain Fest, I am in good shape for late night drinking and long days of climbing. Should be good.

Malcolm Churches on the first pitch of Crystal Ice Tower, Chapel Pond, Adirondacks

As usual the folks over in Keene Valley threw one hell of a party. Zoe Hart gave a great slideshow Friday night. Saturday was my turn, actually our turn, Matt McCormick and I tagged teamed a show made up of a short videos and stills from routes we’ve done, and routes others have done around the Northeast. I didn’t see anyone falling asleep, but it was a dark room… The clinics seemed to be all full and, as usual, the psyche for winter climbing was super high – one of my favorite parts about the Adirondack community. Emily Drinkwater got up on Sunday night and cracked everyone up with a slideshow about her recent trip to Kashmir. I stopped by the Bivi to pay my respects to Joe Szot, and he graciously kicked my ass in a rollie-off. (If you don’t know what rollies are, click here.)

Been trying to bob and weave around the conditions, and getting some climbing in where I can, here are a few shots from so far this winter.

Kevin Mahoney taking a whack at Something About You Makes Me Wild, an M8 trad route, in desperate conditions. The Hanging Gardens, Frankenstein.

Matt McCormick on the Snotcicle in Smuggs.

Elliot Gaddy taking a victory lap after sending a new M8, Mustard Tiger, in New Hampshire


Mean Streak and Omega: Two Routes, Six People

I am still getting my head around this new era we live in where someone can get out climbing, come home and.. bam! we all have pictures and a report on conditions. It is so well suited for winter climbing. An intrepid friend and reporter for the Conway Daily Sun, Eric Eisele, got out to Cannon last weekend, he posted some pictures on Facebook, made a phone call or two and next thing you know half my friends are independently arriving at the Cannon parking parking lot, before sunrise, on a Tuesday morning. What a treat!

The kind of winter climbing I get excited about tends to be slow and cold, so the more good friends around the better. I often choose to climb in a team of three despite the difficulties. You always end up following a pitch right behind  your partner, dodging missiles, or, if your seconding first, you’re nervous because you don’t want to brain your wife’s-best-friend’s-husband. Somehow that is all manageable, and forgettable, though. The things I often remember clearly about a good day of climbing tend to involve brief flashes of climbing and a lot of hanging around at belays laughing with a friend. The truth of it is our cliffs are pretty small and winter climbing is really about 70% standing around shivering – so why not plan for what you are really doing and spend that time strapped into a belay catching up with someone, who, after many other similar afternoons, should be one of your best friends?

Here are a couple of shots from some Cannon three-way action yesterday.

The Catskill's ringer, Ryan Stefiuk, leading a second pitch to a lean and mean early season Omega, with Elliot Gaddy and Micheal Wejchert. These guys aren't afraid of a little hecklin'! (Prozac is trying to come in; just to the right of Omega.)


"Hey, there are some loose flakes, watch out.." Freddy Wilkinson and Matt McCormick folowing a little variaiton to the top of the first pitch of Mean Streak.


Freddy going straight through the puckerbush.

And check out this timelapse of the start of Mean Streak by Freddy Wilkinson:

The Mean Streak from Freddie Wilkinson on Vimeo.