What happens if we get bad weather?
For our winter courses this is almost never a problem, because inclement weather usually comes in the form of snow. Since snow storms are an integral part of the winter mountaineering experience, we simply go about our business. In some ways this can even be a welcome situation for someone who is preparing for a climb like Mt. Rainier or Denali, as it gives one the chance to learn how to survive in full winter conditions. We often make it through an entire winter season without needing to cancel because of bad weather. The one exception is a winter rain storm, which we do have once in a rare while. If the day looks like a complete waste, we will either cancel or reschedule. If you have paid a deposit it stands as a credit towards whenever you choose to make up the course. In the summer, the weather is a bigger variable, as rain can often shut us down. One option I have used in the past when people still want to get in the day is to take them to some overhanging cliffs that stay dry, even in a heavy rain. There are sections at Cathderal Ledge that are almost always dry, and another great rainy day crag is Sundown Ledge, which is out the Kancamagus. The catch is that the routes as these cliffs are more difficult, with route grades starting at about the 5.10 level. Another option is to turn the day into a self rescue or anchor building class - something I've done many times in the past.
Where will we meet in the morning?
This depends on where we are climbing. In the summer we usually meet at the parking areas below either Cathedral Ledge or Whitehorse. It is also possible to meet at The Frontside Grind, a coffee shop located in the Eastern Slope Inn. For climbs at Cannon cliff we meet at the parking area below the north end of the cliff. If you don't know the way I will send you a map and directions. In the winter we normally meet at Patch's Market in Glen or in Crawford Notch at whatever area where we'll be climbing. Mt. Washingtoon courses meet in the basement of the Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center.
What time do classes generally start and end?
Year round the normal meeting time is between 8:00 and 8:30am. I am also happy to meet people earlier. We normally climb for a full day, quitting around 5pm. We are very often the first group at the cliff and the last group to leave.
What do I need for equipment?
All of the equipment is included in the cost for all courses, be it intro to mountaineering, intro to rock, or intro to ice. We have a full fleet of boots, rock shoes, crampons, harnesses, axes, and helmets. So don't worry if you don't have any of your own gear- we have you covered. If you are interested in purchasing your own equipment, we recommend that perhaps you take your course first, as afterwards you'll be more informed in terms of exactly what you need.
What do I need for clothing?
For winter courses we recommend you dress as if going out for a day of skiing. You will need to supply your own long underwear and socks, but SMG can normally supply you with clothing items you might be missing such as shell pants and jacket, puffy jacket, gloves, hat, goggles etc. Let us know what you are missing and we can usually help you out. I don't want anyone to not take a course because they don't have the clothing or gear.
Where should we stay?
If you email me I will send you my list of recommended places to stay. It includes everthing from a local bed and breakfast run by some friends of mine, to a local hostel, motels, and camping (either free in the National Forest or at one of the many local campgrounds). Depending on the time of year, I've seen motel room rates as low as $29. In peak season you can expect to pay about $60 for one of the cheaper motels or inns. The youth hostel is approximately $22/night. I also own a small chalet which I have for rent on Cyber rentals. If you are interested let me know and I will send you the link. It goes for about $100-$125/night and will comfortably sleep 4-5.
How fit do I need to be to do this?
This depends a bit on which course you sign up for but generally speaking you need to be fit enough to hike around for most of a day wearing a moderate sized pack. Normally we can quite easily set an agenda which makes sense for someone's fitness level. There are only two courses where fitness is generally an issue: Mt. Washington ascents and Presidential Traverses. For either of these you need to be a strong hiker, capable of grinding uphill for most of a day with a pack on. If you are concerned about your fitness level, let me know and we can talk it over and probably devise a training scheme to follow in order to be ready for your course. Anyone who signs up for a course should use it as a reason to start training so as to show up in the best shape possible. You'll get more out of the experience if you show up in good physical condition.