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Andre’s children during the final day of Climbing Camp
I’ve worked with Ryan Howes for several years in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine climbing trips - he has even guided my kids (9-11yrs) for a “kids camp” which was epic! Ryan is experienced, safety conscious and a lot of fun to spend time with. He can lead you through easy trips (I’ve done with family) as well as some physical trips which were some of the most physically challenging of my career. On that score: if you are interested in an epic trip consider his Winter Katahdin Experience: snowmobiles, cross country skiing, ice climbing to the summit and home. The cabin experience was awesome and Ryan is a great chef as well.
When searching for a product or service, we often look at reviews and testimonials or friends and family for a yay or nay. 90% of Northern Vertical guests are word of mouth, repeat customers who are like family to me. They trust my overarching goals to keep them safe, to share knowledge and to push their comfort zone into the realm of experiencing change and personal growth. These are highly rewarding experiences whether climbing to the top of a mountain or the pinnacle of their health program. Here is what my clients have to say about the Northern Vertical experience.
Joel climbs Standard Route at Frankenstein Cliff in New Hampshire .
I first began working with Ryan in 2015 when he guided me on a winter ascent up Mt. Washington. Apart from the thrill of accomplishing our objective, two things stood out to me that day: The first is obvious - his expertise. Although we had only gotten to know each other on the short drive up, I felt completely at ease and knew I was in good hands. His knowledge of the terrain, conditions and gear is unquestionable. At every step along the way he made sure I understood what we were doing and why. It quickly became apparent not only is he a highly qualified guide but a willing and eager teacher. The other quality I noticed, which stands out to this day, is his ability to get me to step outside my comfort zone. Having established himself as a trusted guide I was able to take his advice and push on at a point when I was having doubts. It was high up on the Lion Head trial with conditions deteriorating and fingers getting cold that I began to question how badly I wanted to reach the summit. When I expressed my concerns he laid out the facts clearly and said the decision was up to me. At the same time he told me he had confidence in my ability to press on. That brief pep talk gave me the boost I needed to resume our ascent and eventually top out at 6288’.Over the next year I began spending more time in the mountains in increasingly challenging terrain and conditions. In the the winter of 2016 I contacted Ryan again, this time to guide me and a friend who had never been hiking in the winter on an ascent of Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams. Rather than starting over with my friend as a brand new client, Ryan encouraged me to use the knowledge I had acquired to take more of a leadership role. Even though he knew the answer he would ask me, “Well Joel, what do you think we should do?” So at the same time I was developing new skills I was also able to demonstrate what I had previously learned and impart that wisdom to others. This cycle of knowledge transfer has continued as I am now called upon by friends and family for my guidance in the mountains.Ryan and I remained in touch in the years that followed but it wasn’t until I had a physical exam with my physician that I decided to take the LEAP. My doctor told me although I was in good health I should consider strength training as a means to prolong the good health I have enjoyed. I immediately contacted Ryan who told me about his program offerings. It was a natural next step and a month later I was up in Maine learning not only new exercises, but new ways to enjoy food and a new way to approach challenges.At the heart of Ryan’s program is nutrition. What we put into our bodies has a direct and immediate impact on what we can get out of it. I’ve been fortunate to maintain a healthy weight however I soon learned my eating habits lacked many of the balanced, whole foods my body needed. Making significant changes after 46 years is not something I could do overnight which is why the concept of ‘crowding out’ appealed to me and continues to be successful. I found starting small and preparing cleaner, more natural food satisfied my needs but also made me less interested in lower quality items. The foods I now enjoy are just as easy to prepare and leave less room for the items my body doesn’t need.During my time up in Maine I was also introduced to rock climbing. I’ve always had a fear of heights but as we explored the vertical environment I came to realize the mindfulness skills we practiced could be applied to so much more. As we climbed, there was little value to worrying about what was behind, or in this case, below me. The only things I could control and about which I should be concerned were those right in front of me. Acknowledging my fear was quite liberating. Rather than worrying about the ‘what-ifs’ I was able to focus on the challenge at hand. These mindfulness exercises have become a part of my life. Given a stressful situation, I now make it a point to pause and ask myself, “What’s bothering me and what can I do about it now?” That’s not to say I take very natural emotions out of the equation. Rather the short time affords me the opportunity to step back, make an objective assessment and plan ahead.Since my time in Maine I’ve advanced my climbing with Ryan on both ice and rock. Each time we’ve gotten together has been a learning experience in both technical skills as well as personal development. Ryan continues to challenge and encourage me. His love of climbing is infectious and I’m motivated more now than ever to fuel my body with the whole foods it wants, live in the present and step outside my comfort zone. Despite being ten years his senior I’ve learned quite a lot from him. I value our friendship and look forward to our next adventure.
As my health coach, Ryan Howes helped me reach important goals and change my life. At 76, I was overweight, getting stiff and feeling stuck. I am now 15 pounds lighter, exercising and stretching every day, and much more flexible, energetic and optimistic about life. I am happier. I now have a healthy balance between the physical, emotional, spiritual and community parts of my life. This wasn’t magic. Ryan’s program prompted me to focus on what I wanted to achieve. He provided solid, helpful information about everything from nutrition to body mechanics to the search for one’s inner self. He taught, guided, coached and cheered. As a result, this next phase of my life may be the best yet.
High above Lake Megunticook in the Camden Hills State Park after the first ascent of Scarface.
My partner Joe and I have climbed with Ryan for 3 winters and have had an excellent ice climbing experience each time. Climbing with Ryan is like climbing with an old friend. We joke and carry on, all the while learning new techniques and climbing some incredible ice. Besides Ryan’s great personality, the best part is you have the adventure you want and feel totally secure that you are with a professional who will make sure you are as safe as possible. This gives you the confidence to push your limits as far as you can, making your trip even more fun. I have been rock climbing for over 40 years and have climbed with many different people and Ryan is a stand alone professional. We took up ice climbing 5 years ago and Ryan has helped us learn this new sport and exceed our expectations of what we could do. If you want to learn a new sport or get better at one you already enjoy, spend some time with Ryan. You’ll really be glad you did.
I’m not a technical climber. I had no idea what I was getting into. Just that we would be climbing Mount Katahdin. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say it was one of the best adventures I have ever taken. I’ve climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. Cold water scuba diving in Iceland. Etc. Ryan set the bar high and over-delivered. First and foremost, he understands and respects safety. That is mission number one. Next, he’s adept at discerning the climber’s skill level. Can that person be pushed but not pushed so hard that they don’t enjoy the overall experience. This is an art few master. Ryan makes this a priority. Finally, have a great time. Camping at night included 5 star meals by a fire. I was a bit sore when I came home. But, that was to be expected. We hit the top of Katahdin. A couple of days later jumped into a stream which was probably 40 degrees cold (not for very long I might add). Then, the next day did three technical climbs about 100 ft each, the most challenging being 5.8. Just don’t look down. Ryan is engaging. Great sense of humor. Smart. And focused. Finally, he makes it all look easy. If you want to push yourself, Ryan is your man.
First climb, first rappel
Can we invite him to dinner? One of the many wonderful quotes from one of our five teens who hiked with Ryan! Ryan was an outstanding climbing guide! He was personable, professional and fun. From the very beginning of researching climbing trips for our family vacation, he communicated well and politely, and in a timely manner. When we met to climb, he looked each family member in the eye and took a moment to get to know them. He communicated safety and climbing skills well. He was ALOT of fun! My crew wanted to climb with him again and have him over for dinner! Absolutely wonderful experience, so thankful we did it! Highly recommended!
Alpenglow light on Barrett's Cove Cliff after a day of climbing and caving with the Theodosopoulos Sisters
My friend and I went climbing with Ryan over Labor Day in Acadia. We had different levels of experience but Ryan did an incredible job at tailoring the day and make it both fun, challenging and rewarding for both of us. He also helped us feel that we all had something to contribute to the team as we tried different techniques and climbs throughout the day, and ultimately reached the top. I would recommend Northern Vertical to anyone looking to get their climbing to the next level in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Ryan is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic at sharing his passion for climbing, and you will learn more than you expect from climbing with him!
Otter Cliffs, Sand Beach, The Beehive and The Atlantic Ocean - this is Acadia National Park!
I have known Ryan for over eight years. He has taught my entire family and their cousins how to rock climb. He is a patient teacher and very reassuring to everyone, regardless of their level of experience. I have traveled on guided trips with instructors in the western US (Rockies and Cascades), Europe, South America and Africa (Kilimanjaro) and without a doubt, Ryan is by far the best guide/teacher I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Yesterday, we combined rock climbing and caving and he taught 7 teenagers how to climb. Every one of them loved the experience. I am planning on a winter mountaineering trip with him with some friends and a mountaineering route up Mt Katahdin. He is a wonderful instructor and you will love the experience. Whether you are an expert climber or a novice or want to try something new like caving, Ryan is the man!