Why Acadia is so Amazing!…





A few days ago was my 31st birthday and I wanted to celebrate it by spending time with my girlfriend, Katy, and running around Acadia National Park!

I devised a multi-sport adventure that would include some of my favorite activities and thoroughly whoop our butts! What follows is a breakdown of our wonderful day!

After a big breakfast, we shouldered our backpacks loaded with food and climbing gear and biked from our home off of the Knox road to the route 3 put-in of North East Creek. Here, we had stashed Delmar.

Delmar is a heavily used 14-foot aluminum canoe that I purchased for pennies for an expedition to Newfoundland in 2008. One of the seats is made of duct tape and the entire thing is spray panted camo. It has seen better days…








Katy and I with Delmar bikes and gear in the back!


Once we arrived at the creek we loaded the bikes and our packs on to our red neck watercraft and began the beautiful paddle to the other end of the creek. After a few miles of perfect conditions the creek turned into a swamp and soon we were dragging Delmar through the muck and mud. By the time we reached the Crooked Road we were covered in slime, scratches, bug bites and mud. In a futile attempt to make a graceful exit of the canoe I managed to violently flip the entire rig and go for a swim! After bailing out Delmar and dragging her to the road we were met by our good friend and ACS guide Dane Sterba. We loaded the Canoe onto his car and arranged to meet him later in the mission!


Delmar freighted down w bikes


At first the creek was like this!…


Soon it looked like this!


Katy all smiles waist deep in the muck!


Here is where I flipped the canoe and began the biking.


For the next leg of the adventure we biked to the South Wall (Precipice), which is my favorite climbing area on the island. Along the way we stopped at a yard sale and found some great treasures! (I love yard sales) I am not much of a biker and this soggy 12-mile trek on a rental bike was probably the hardest part of the day for me! Katy however, is a terrific biker and left me in the dust!



Katy and I before she left me in the dust!


Katy enjoying pitch 2 of Story of O


We stashed our bikes in the woods and hiked up to the base of the wall. We climbed the three-pitch classic Story of O and had a delicious lunch on the top! After some well deserved calories and some amazing views we rappelled back to the ground and were soon back on the bikes!



Katy nearing the top of the climb


The view from our elevated lunch spot!


We biked a few miles down the Park Loop Road to the Bee Hive Trail Head. Once again we stashed the bikes and did a quick trail run up and around the Beehive.

Back on the bikes we continued down the coast to Otter Cliffs. Here we once a gain met Dane. We gave him the bikes and he gave us back Delmar. We hiked Delmar down to Otter Cliffs and lowered her down the 60-foot face! This was quite the spectacle and certainly turned some heads. We did a little bit of climbing on some of the classics routes before throwing on our life jackets and hitting the high seas in Delmar!


Delmar about to descend!


Getting ready to rappell down to the girls…


Katy cruising Yellow Wall at Otter Cliffs. Delmar below


We very carefully and slowly paddled north heading towards Great Head. We had an exciting landing on the rocky and rugged coast and stashed Delmar in the woods. We ran around the peninsula and arrived at the 100+ foot sea cliff. As per usual there was no one at the cliff and we casually climbed the 2-pitch classic Full Sail and quickly boogied back to the Canoe. We stashed our gear and ran down to Sand Beach. Here, we met Dane and we all ran screaming into the frigid ocean! It was a perfect ending to an amazing day! Well, I guess it wasn’t the end. We portaged Delmar and all of our stuff to the Great head parking lot and loaded everything into Dane’s car. We drove home, and arrived to a party! About 20 of our best friends were already at the house with tons of great food, drinks, and energy! We were pooped, but super psyched to spend the few remaining hours of daylight hanging and laughing with great friends!



Katy and I happy to be on dry land! Otter cliffs the point of land in the back left.


Katy, Delmar and the DTS (Duct Tape Seat)


Running to Great Head!


Great Head


Katy on pitch 2 of Full Sail


Psyched! the tiny boat in the background is actually a massive cruise ship!


Few places on the planet offer as much world-class recreational activities in such a small area. Sprinkle in great weather and some of the best people on the planet and you have a true paradise! I love this island so much and I am so very happy to call this place my home! A huge thanks to Dane for the logistical support and to Hanna for running the office, and to everyone else who helped make this past birthday the best one yet! And of course, a huge thanks to Katy for being so wonderful and for sharing this very special day with me!

Continuing Education

 I am super psyched to say that everyone of our guides have returned to Acadia for another year of guiding! I am certain that our 21st season will be the best year yet! 

Atlantic Climbing School Staff

Today five ACS guides are heading over to New Hampshire to take part in the ten day American Mountain Guides Association Rock Guide Course. This is an advanced guiding course that focuses on moving efficiently in a multi-pitch setting with multiple clients. The guides will certainly learn a ton and refine their skills in risk-management, industry standards, route finding, technical skills, terrain assessment, rescue scenarios, and client care. The course is being taught by two amazing instructors Alain Comeau and Art Mooney.newhireslarge

I am so happy to see such a great group of guides dedicated to continuing education, professionalism, and to ACS. We are all very excited for another great season and look forward to sharing the joys of climbing in Maine with all of you!

Band of Gypsies

Eli Simon on the first ascent of Band of Gypsies


A few years ago I was rappelling from the top of the route Sea Gypsy at the South Wall.  The rappel line descends through a beautiful pink headwall at the highest part of the cliff. As I lowered myself towards the next rappel anchor I carefully inspected a series of very tiny crimps that seemed to appear every four or five feet. It looked as if it might be possible to connect the dots and climb up this relatively blank face. It would certainly be a very tenuous climb, but it looked like it might be possible.

A few weeks ago, I once again found myself at the top rappel anchor with my good buddy and former ACS guide Nate Miller. He lowered me to the base of the wall and I tried, with out a lot of luck, to scratch and claw my way up the blank face on a top-rope. Slowly but surely we were able to piece together larger and larger sections of the climb. We visited this pitch on three more occasions over the course of a few weeks, and just a few days ago we were finally able to top-rope the entire pitch with out falling.


The Fixe hardware!


I submitted a proposal to the Acadia Climbing Advisory Group to add five bolts to this beautiful face. These bolts would provide protection in the areas where there were no options for traditions gear. My proposal was accepted and soon I had a Special Use Permit from the park to equip the route.

Nate Miller tightening a bolt


This morning was amazingly gorgeous. The sun shined on the head-wall and a cool breeze kept us a perfect temperature. It was an ideal day to be climbing, the type of day that makes me so unbelievably happy to call this island my home!

Nate plugging in a cam on the 2nd ascent of Band of Gypsies


 Once Nate and I were certain of the exact location for each bolt we bolted the line and each gave the pitch a good try on lead. I was able to huff and puff and claw my way to the chains but Nate fell on the last move!

 Establishing this new route with Nate has been such a wonderful process filled with lots of chalk, laughs, and sore fingertips! Our new route Band of Gypsies is a fantastic addition to one of the most amazing crags in the entire world!

Nate and Eli drillin'

All smiles at the South Wall!

The new Acadia guidebook is available!!!!

Eli Simon on Head Arete at Great Head in Acadia, Maine.It’s finally here!  The new guidebook – Rock Climbs of Acadia – is now available!


Written and published by ACS guide, Grant Simmons, this new guide provides descriptions for nearly 300 routes and 15 different climbing areas.  All of the classic climbs are there, plus many great lines that you’ve never heard of.  Detailed information will keep you climbing and beautiful photography will keep you inspired.


For more information, or to purchase a copy, visit www.rockclimbsofacadia.com.  Guidebooks will also be available in a number of locally owned outdoors shops in the New England area.

Yoga for guides

Yoga for GuidesBy Richard Parker:  ACS Guide, AMGA Rock Instructor & Certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor

A big part of managing life as a professional guide is staying healthy (mind, body, and spirit) to meet the demands of the work. Keeping the body flexible, balanced, and strong is generally not too tough for those in their 20’s. As folks move into their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, having an excellent program for strength and flexibility, injury prevention, and recovery becomes increasingly more critical. Yoga is a great way to keep you biologically young for decades, as well as help with stress reduction and with cultivating serenity, acceptance, and kindness.

Yoga…small “y”…large “Y”: Most people think of yoga (small “y”) as a series of postures (known as asanas) linked with breath that increase flexibility and strength and aid in managing stress. Yoga (capital “Y”) is an ancient system with ethics, breathing disciplines, and meditation techniques designed to advance one’s spiritual journey. Within the practice of Yoga, asanas play an important but secondary role. This post focuses on the physical practice and its specific benefits for guides. A subsequent article will expand to include discussion of breath work, meditation, and other possible benefits of Yoga.

Guiding produces specific and repeated motions that can lead to imbalance, injury, and reduction in the range of motion (ROM). Shortened hamstrings and restricted hips from repeated stepping upward (climbing, skinning, and approaching), drooping and rounded shoulders and rounded upper back from carrying heavy loads, painful elbows, wrists, and fingers from too much crimping, moving rope, and hanging on to ice axes while placing screws, strained necks from looking down (or up) and coaching while belaying, tweaky lower backs from leaning forward in skiing and sliding into poor posture as the long day of work extends…this is just a start to a list that I am certain many of us could easily add to.

I have yet to meet someone who said, “it sure would be great if I could be more tight!” As we teach our clients every time we guide, efficient movement and technique is crucial in technical terrain, and flexibility is a key to this. We are all looking for flexibility because flexible muscles are strong, resilient, and provide our joints with a full ROM, and, yes, tight muscles are the opposite: weak, vulnerable, and limit the ROM. Stretching while breathing mindfully not only lengthens muscles and makes them supple, it is also helps muscles recover from stress by increasing blood flow. A key to asana practice is not to force muscles to lengthen, not to use one muscle group against another but to relax, breathe, and allow the muscles to open. Attempts to push generally lead to injury or stagnation.

By stretching specific muscle groups in a systematic and balanced way, a regular asana practice can effectively help avoid or diminish the effects of repeated stress and imbalance. I look for heart opening poses and back bends to address tight shoulders and lumbar compression, hip openers like lunges and pigeon pose to address tight hamstrings, psoas, hip flexors, quadriceps, and calves, arch stretches for stressed feet, chaturangas (low push up) and hand/arm balances to add some pushing to counter the pulling that dominates climbing and moving rope, inversions to help the legs flush out toxins and allow for easy lymphatic fluid return, core exercises to strengthen the muscles that support all motion and especially the lower back, and very careful attention to the neck to address “belayer’s neck”. I also add balancing poses to bolster this key skill and exercise the proprioceptive (body awareness) sense of feet, ankles and legs, etc.

American Mountain Guide and Instructor Pool member Art Mooney has been a proponent of Yoga for many years: “My practice of yoga began over ten years ago. At that time I found myself feeling sore, overall stiffness, and injured at times. I needed flexibility and thought yoga would help. Yoga was originally intended to increase my overall flexibility which would reduce injuries. Since then I have found a consistent practice of yoga offers many other benefits. Flexibility is certainly one big benefit, but I also noticed my focus, power, breathing, and alignment all improved. With all these yoga benefits I am much more in tune with my physical body and I have taken climbing/guiding movements to a higher level. As a working mountain guide, yoga helps me wind down from a tough day or multiple days at work. The practice of centering and leaving all the guiding work and business behind is truly the way to clear and refresh the mind. After a yoga practice I feel refreshed and ready for another day in the mountains.”

What is the best way to get started? Find a certified and experienced teacher, and my bias would be to look for a teacher with an athletic background who understands the physical demands of your work. Take your time in finding a teacher and a style that suits you. It is important to learn the basics from a teacher to avoid injury, and injuries come easily to beginners, especially when one brings a competitive attitude and one chooses an aggressive style of asana practice. Once you have learned how to safely and effectively practice, it can be time to shift more to a home practice, which saves money, makes it easier to squeeze in a practice, and you can be guided specifically by what you need as opposed to what a teacher is offering on a given day. To see true gains in flexibility, try to commit to at least 2-3 sessions a week (daily is best), even if these sessions are at home (or while camping!) with a book or a video for 10-20 minutes at a time.

Noted Yoga teacher Erich Shiffman said, “Yoga creates symmetry through your whole body, making you strong and flexible in a balanced way. It also teaches you to balance the mental impulse to push, control, and be assertive with the complementary impulse to yield, surrender and be passive.” Try to avoid thinking of asana practice as a time to gain strength, and focus on the flexibility, balancing, and recovery benefits. This does not mean that there are not some opportunities to enhance strength through asanas, but specifically work on strength for climbing elsewhere.

Thanks to Richard Parker for this piece introducing the benefits of yoga for professional guides. A climbing guide since 1977, Richard is a certified Rock Instructor and certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher. In the next installment look for discussion of the benefits beyond the physical and for specifics about breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation. In addition, I will provide guidance on how to build your own, balanced asana practice to do at home. In the meantime consider using the transition between the fall and winter to get started by taking some classes and establishing a regular routine. Feel free to be in touch if I can be of any help: rlparker78@gmail.com.

El Potrero Chico

Each winter many of the ACS staff travel to Northern Mexico to climb in the sun! El potrero Chico is a sport climbing mecca located about one hour from Monterrey. This amazing climbing destination makes for the perfect winter vacation! Here are some reasons why we keep coming back year after year…..


The climbing!

2000 foot limestone fins rise out of the high desert providing thousands of amazing and easily assessable sport climbs! From mellow single pitch climbs perfect for the first time climber, to huge 20 pitch routes that are often climbed over multiple days, El Potrero has it all!  The climbing is only a five minute walk from the camp sites and guest houses.

Tufa pullin'

Tufa pullin’

The weather!

Winter in Mexico is idea for climbing! With average temps in the high 70s  during the day and 60s at night  climbers often work on their tan just as much as they work on their climbing project! Rest days are often spent in the shade of a palm tree, pool side with a fruity drink and a good book. The layout of the limestone fins makes it super easy to climb either in the sun or the shade.

Katy on Pitch 3 of her first multi-pitch

Katy on Pitch 3 of her first multi-pitch

The food!

The food in Northern Mexico is remarkably fresh and delicious! Twice  a week there is a local food market where one can buy the most amazing fruits veggies and meats for pennies!  You can buy an avocado for about 15 cents!

ACS guide Christian Waggner on pitch five of Snott Girls

ACS guide Christian Waggner on pitch five of Snott Girls

The people!

The locals are all super nice and love climbers! As a climbing mecca EL Potrero brings in climbers from all over the world. The campsites are always filled with wonderful folks who are psyched to be climbing in paradise!

Sunset over the town of Hidalgo

Sunset over the town of Hidalgo

The accommodation!

Many options are available from $4.00 a night camping to beautiful private villas. All of the options are just a few minute walk from the climbing. No car needed!

The ACS crew will be staying in a house at La Quinta Pagoda for the entire month of January and we would love to see you down there and do some amazing climbing! In addition to offering private guiding we will also be offering an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course January 3-5th with an assessment the following weekend.

Traveling to El Potrero is super easy! Fly into Monterrey and our personal driver will pick you up and take you to your house, room, or campsite. Amazing climbing, beautiful weather, delicious food, and great people! What else could you ask for in a climbing vacation! Come on down to Mexico and climb with ACS!

Here are some great links to the area:

-El Potrero information

More general information

La Posada Campsites/rooms/houses/restaurant/yoga, etc..

 If you have any questions or would like more information give our office a call!

AMGA Single Pitch Manual!

The new American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch Manual is complete! A huge thanks to Bob Gaines and Jason D. Martin along with the many others who helped put together this amazing resource together.


Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual is the textbook for past and future participants of the American Mountain Guides Association’s Single Pitch Instructor program. It presents the most current, internationally recognized standards for technical climbing systems used in single pitch terrain. Included are chapters on effective teaching, risk management, professionalism, and rescue.

“This is a comprehensive resource for understanding the complexities of teaching in the single pitch environment. Highly recommended!” Arno Ilgner, Certified AMGA SPI and author of The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers

This beautiful book can be purchased in our office, through the AMGA’s website, or on Amazon.com.


The new Acadia rock climbing guidebook!!!!

Eli Simon on Head Arete at Great Head in Acadia, Maine.AssemblageThings changed for me this year.  For the first time in three years, I wouldn’t be going to Patagonia.  I’d be living in a house; paying rent.  I wouldn’t be rock climbing.  I’d be working.
Fortunately, I had a pretty good thing going for me.  Every once in awhile it would hit me that I wasn’t climbing in those bottom reaches of the world that I have come to love so much, but generally, I was just totally excited about what was right in front of me.  The New Hampshire winter treated me well, and I felt good being there.  I worked hard on the guidebook, sometimes staring at this computer screen until I could feel my bloodshot eyes burning in my head.  But although some of the techy moments proved trying for me, I loved working on the book.  Building topos, researching the history, writing route descriptions, and putting it all together – for me, that was all so exciting.
Now, there is a piece of it out there in the world.  The book itself is a year out, but with the help of Rakkup (recent recipients of Climbing Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award), the first edition of a digital guide for the Iphone was recently released.  This edition covers over 175 routes at Otter Cliffs, Great Head, and the South Wall and features cool tricks like GPS navigation and search filters that allow your to find the climbs and conditions that you need for a perfect day.  Plus, there is all that critical route beta that you look for in a guidebook – route description, rack information, useful photos, etc.  
Visit http://www.rakkup.com/climbing-guidebooks/ for more information.  The app comes in a 2-month or a 2-year package (hint – if you have the 2-year package, you will receive next year’s second edition for free!), and if you buy it directly from the Rakkup website, you’ll save a couple of bucks.  Oh, and for the Android users out there, know that the Rakkup guys are working hard to finish up an Android version of this thing!
Well, here in St. George, Utah, the desert sun has risen, and the race is on to get to the walls before the shade disappears.  Hanna and I head to Zion tomorrow, a place that has some of the most inspiring walls I have ever seen.  The excitement is high!
As always, please feel free to contact me at brian.grant.simmons@gmail.com.
Happy spring,
Grant Simmons
ACS guide Grant Simmons on the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!
ACS guide Grant Simmons on the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!

Rock Climbing Adventure Camps in Camden, Maine.

This summer ACS will be offering two weeks of our Rock Climbing Adventure Camps! Come join us as we climb and explore the Camden Hills!

SPI assessment at Otter Cliffs

Maine Youth Adventure Camp (For ages 9-13)

2014 dates: Monday, June 30th – Friday, July 4th

This climbing and adventure day camp is perfect for kids who are new to rock climbing and want to learn the basics of the sport in a fun, rewarding and social setting. This camp is a great way for kids to build confidence, meet other adventurous kids, and experience the Camden Hills like never before.  Each day the campers will go on a new adventure, whether it is rappelling Barrett’s coves 200 foot face, rock climbing on Maidens cliff, or traversing the breathtaking Camden hills.

For young adventurous kids there is no better way to experience a summer in Maine! Campers will learn the basics of  rock climbing on real rock in an outdoor setting under the direct supervision of Certified AMGA guides. Topics covered will include climbing movement, belaying, rappelling, and risk management. In addition to these climbing-specific skills the campers will learn about leadership, teamwork, geology, Leave No Trace practices, and natural history of the Maine woods. All Atlantic Climbing School’s guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association and are trained in wilderness first aid.

Key Points

Location: Camden, Maine

-Five days of rock climbing, Hiking, and adventure in the outdoors!

-For ages 9-13

-No experience needed

-All equipment is included

– All campers should be dropped off at the Barrett’s Cove Picnic area at 8:00am. And picked up at the same location at 4:00pm each day

Cost: $425.00

For more information or to make a reservation give us a call at (207) 288.2521.


Camden Climbing Camp (for ages 14-17), 

-2014 dates:  Monday, July 7th- Friday July 11th 

 The Camden Climbing Camp is designed for kids who want to take their climbing to the next level. This camp will provide the focused instruction required to master the fundamentals of the sport.  The diversity of terrain that Camden has to offer makes it a perfect location for climbers of all ages and experience levels. Each day the campers will have lots of hands-on experience climbing in an outdoor setting under the direct supervision of  AMGA certified guides. Topics covered will include: climbing movement, equipment, belaying, knots, anchors and rappelling. In addition to these climbing-specific skills the campers will learn about leadership, geology, Leave No Trace practices, and natural history of the Maine woods.  All Atlantic Climbing School’s guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association and are trained in wilderness first aid. 

 Key points:

-Location: Camden, Maine

-Five days of rock climbing and instruction in the Camden Hills

-For ages 13-17

-No experience needed 

-All equipment is included

–  All campers should be dropped off at the Barrett’s Cove Picnic area at 8:00am. And picked up at the same location at 4:00pm each day

– Cost: $425.00 

For more information or to make a reservation give us a call at (207) 288.2521.


    Our Guides: 

The core of our climbing school, or of any business, is its staff. At ACS our staff are expert climbers, dedicated teachers, and talented and friendly guides. As trained professionals, our guides are masters of matching a client’s needs with our local terrain in order to create courses that consistently exceed our client’s expectations. All of our staff are certified by the  American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) for the terrain on which they guide, and we are proud to be the only guide service in Maine to have this distinction.

At ACS, we pride ourselves on our sterling reputation. With 19 years of  exceptional service, we strive every day to continue to be Maine’s premier climbing school.

What to Bring:

Clothing & Footwear: 
Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows freedom of movement. Jeans are not recommended; in warm weather, shorts are best. Dress for the weather conditions but plan ahead for abrupt changes; layers are ideal so that you may easily adapt to changing conditions. Footwear needs to be sturdy: tennis, running or hiking shoes are best. Please, no sandals – the approach to some of our climbing sites requires hiking over rocky, uneven terrain.

Personal Items: 
Bring plenty of water and a few light snacks and a big lunchSunscreen and sunglasses are highly advisable since there is very little shade on the side of a cliff (it is best to put sunscreen on before you leave so you can wash your hands). A small day pack is necessary to carry your personal items as well as the gear we will provide – we do have packs available if you do not have your own. Don’t forget a camera – even the disposable kind – you won’t believe the great shots you and your guide will get! Please arrive prepared so that none of your course time is spent locating/purchasing these personal items.


What we Supply: 

Atlantic Climbing School provides each participant with a pair of climbing shoes, a harness and a helmet. Chalk bags and day packs are also available. ACS also provides all course equipment including ropes, technical hardware, and a first aid kit.


Drop Off and Pick up:

 All campers should be dropped off at the Barrett’s Cove Picnic area at 8:00am. And picked up at the same location at 4:00pm each day.



A day on Mt. Washington

Mount Washington at 6,288 feet is known for its horrendous weather. Last Sunday was no exception, but that didn’t keep Wendy, Manoj, and myself from having an awesome time on a mountain the natives called Agiocochook, or “Home of the Great Spirit.” The summit forecast called for negative temperatures and winds well above 100 miles per hour. The resulting -55 wind chill will freeze uncovered skin instantly. Although we were unable to summit in such conditions, we enjoyed the plethora of new snow on the 2.5 miles up to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut as we practiced crampon technique and moving efficiently in the mountains. Winds from the NW were were mostly behind us for the ascent and right in our faces for the descent back to treeline. It was definitely a day for goggles and face masks! Thanks Wendy and Manoj for being great climbing partners and wonderful company! Y’all crushed! Here are a few great photos from our trip.

-Matt Ritter: ACS Guide

wash 4




wash 6