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

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New Winter Programs!

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When the snow starts to fly and ice begins to form at our favorite vertical playgrounds, it is time to trade in the rock climbing shoes and chalk bags for crampons and ices axes. Winter is here and the climbing season has just begun! New England is THE place to be for this magical time of year! Don’t hibernate this season, come on out and join The Atlantic Climbing School to see what Old Man Winter has to offer.

We offer private customized courses in ice climbing, mountaineering,snowshoeing and cross country skiing for everyone from an absolute beginner, to experienced outdoor enthusiasts looking to take their skills to the next level. From the granite mountains that rise from the frigid seas of Acadia, to the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington, let our experienced guides make your winter a little more adventurous and FUN!  

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Learn more about:

-ICE CLIMBING

-MOUNTAINEERING

-CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

-SNOWSHOEING

Are programs are available in the following locations:

-Mt. Washington Valley, NH

-North Conway, NH

-Acadia National Park, ME

-Camden, ME

-Rumney, NH

-Grafton Notch, ME

-Mt Kineo, ME

-Baxter Sate Park (Mt. Katahdin) ME

- Make a reservation today!

Rocktober ( a climbers favorite month)

For most climbers the month of October is the time to drop everything and hit the road. The temperature cools down allowing for better friction and ideal climbing  conditions. The days are still long enough for big objectives and the scenery is amazing with the changing of the season.  

This October I was lucky enough to travel to some of the best climbing destinations in the country with some great friends. What follows is a brief synopsis of my Rocktober!

As the guiding season slowed down (Park Closure)  I packed up the Sea Stack Slider (my Nissan Versa) and headed to the New River George with three of my favorite climbing buddies. Our plan was simple, we were going to climb as much as we could in this amazing area for just over two weeks.

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Steep climbing at the New River George

 The New river George is a world class climbing area located in Appalachian Mountains of West Virgina.  The New is also white water rafting mecca offering boaters a chance to paddle the biggest white water sections in the east. Stunning sandstone cliffs line the New and the Gauley rivers and stretch for miles in every direction. There is enough climbing in this area to last 100 lifetimes! The climbing is varied with an abundance of both traditional and sport climbs.  We did tons of amazing routes and were also lucky enough to raft the upper Gauley River which hosts five super rugged class V sections.
 I would highly recommend this area to everyone! The people in West Virginia were super nice and the climbing was phenomenal!

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Being weird in the New River George.

 

My next stop was Yosemite National Park! Yosemite is the epicenter of climbing in the US and with out a doubt my favorite climbing destination in the world! Whether you are a climber or not this is an area everyone should visit at some point. My favorite times to visit are in early May when the dogwood trees are in bloom, and in the fall when the crowds thin out.

I was climbing in Yosemite with my buddy Pete who used to run ACS with me. Pete now lives in CA and works as a vegetable farmer on a vineyard.

We arrived in the Valley at around 2:00am and got a few hours of sleep beneath the stars. It was super cold on the valley floor and I slept in three pairs of pants and two down jackets! The next morning we climbed Serenity-Sons which is by far the best free climb I have ever climbed in the Valley! That night we met up with some friends (three of which are ACS guides) in the meadow at the base of El Capitan. We had a few beers and watched the headlights up on El Cap start to blink on. Pete and I wanted to climb the Nose the following day. The Nose is the most famous rock climb in the world. It rises over 3000 feet from the valley floor and  begs to be climbed. In 2007 Pete and I climbed the Nose over three and a half days. Our goal was to now climb the route in under 24 hours.

We slept at the base of the route and started climbing at 6:00am just before the sun rose.  We had one 70m rope, five cliff bars each and one gallon of water. We were PSYCHED!

The best way to climb such a huge route is to break up the climb in to sections. This way there are fewer transitions between the lead climbers and each climber can settle in to his role (leading or jugging) for a longer period of time. We made good time up the route trying to free climb as much  as possible. The Nose is like a giant obstacle course linking sections of cracks with wild swings across the granite. We moved efficiently up the wall and made it to the summit 16 hours after we began. Climbing the Nose in a day had always been a dream of mine and it felt great to finally make it happen. We descended the East ledges in the Dark and slept back at the base of the route. It was an amazing day of climbing with one of my best friends!

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Pete leading the great roof on the Nose!

 

The next two days we rested and enjoyed life with out a harness on.  After this much needed rest we geared up for one more climb before we left the Valley. We climbed the Silent Line on the Gold Wall. This is a spectacular line up a sea of golden granite. Lots and lots of very physical crack climbing leads to an amazing view of one of Yosemite’s most beautiful water falls and a great view of the West face of El Capitan. We had tons of fun climbing and made it back to our car before dark.  We were lucky to not have been eaten by bears! We saw tons of fresh bear sign!

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The view from a wild chimney on the Gold Wall.
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The west face of El Capitan

 

We drove East over Tioga Pass and bivied in the desert near a hot spring. The next day was a long haul to St. George Utah. St. George has an abundance of great sport climbing. It felt nice to climb in a more relaxed setting.

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Pete in St. George.

 

We are now in Zion National Park. Zion is incredibly beautiful and I am excited to explore some more of it’s classic climbs!

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Tomorrows objective!

 

Overall October has been perfect! Amazing climbing with great people! I’m excited to see what November will bring……..

 

 

 

     

A new Guidebook to Acadia!!!

Grant Simmons enjoying a sunrise from the top of the Acadia classic Wafer Step.

Grant Simmons enjoying a sunrise from the top of the Acadia classic Wafer Step.

 

Somewhere there is an old ACS ad that reads, “Climb with the locals.  We wrote the book.”  Well, that ad can be renewed because we are writing it again!

In 2002, former Atlantic Climbing School owner Jeff Butterfield, along with Jason Huckaby, published a comprehensive guidebook to the climbing here in Acadia, a guidebook that still stands as the go-to for information on climbing in the park.  However, that book has been out of print for a couple of years now, leaving a void in easily accessible information for those who do not already own a copy.

Writing a guidebook has always been a dream of mine.  There is just something about those books that has always seemed to me a reflection of the author’s love of a place, a love that I have always admired and related to because it was deeper than the climbing itself.  There is an intimate knowledge of the area, not just the moves of the individual climbs, but the entire cliff, the entire mountain.

Admittedly, there are others who know this place better.  There are locals who have been climbing here for years, locals who are so honed in on every crystal of granite on the hardest climbs that they can carry on a conversation about how easy it is while casually making their ways towards to anchor above.  I have shared my enthusiasm for this project with these folks and they have encouraged me to go forth with it. 

I feel connected to this place; that intimate knowledge has been growing in me for the last two years, and I am excited to continue to foster it through this project.  Things that I do not yet know, I am excited to learn in the process.  There will be adventures to obscure cliffs and climbs, conversations with the pioneers of the island’s climbing, and of course, more of those moments that floor you while climbing here in the park.

The goal of this project is to take this knowledge and passion and put it to paper, providing a resource for both the visiting and the local climber and sharing with them my love of this area and the climbing that it holds.

I definitely have a lot to learn in the process, so feel free to share any input you may have with me.  I’m also looking for photos to be considered for the book, so if you have any amazing shots, please send them to me for review!

Happy fall!

Grant Simmons

Brian.grant.simmons@gmail.com

July 2013 A wild end to the bird cam sessions!

I am lucky enough to be part of a large Phenology project that the National park service is running. My job has been to install and monitor a few different bird cams in various locations. One of these cameras has been at a Guillemots nest. It has been absolutely amazing to watch this site go from just a pile of rocks about six weeks ago, to a cozy little home for two little babies and two loving parents. The photos below will tell an amazing story with a wild ending…….

 

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On the fourth of July all was well in this little family………… Who knew what was going to happen that night, long after the fireworks had ended……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An American mink (Neovison vison) snuck in to the nest and ate everyone except one of the adults. Minks are amazing predators and probably could either hear or smell the babies. Minks eat duck, fish, muskrats and yes, even adorable baby guillemots!

For me looking at these photos was an emotional roller coaster. I was so happy to finally see the babies and the feeding habits of the adults, and then just like that, they were gone. I will miss them all. WSBC0111

A parting shot of the sneaky little mink as he disappears into the night.

 

The saddest part of this tragic story is the following morning momma (or dad) came back with some fresh breakfast to find the nest empty. (SO SAD!)

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24 hours after the massacre the mink returned for an unknown reason.

 

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Momma (or dad) cries alone in the corner!

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I am sorry if this story bummed you out. It’s very sad but it is, also, the way things work in the wild. I feel lucky to have captured this footage and I am amazed at how everything is so connected and raw in the natural world.  I leave you with this……………

Happy Puppy

 

-Eli Simon

June 2013 “Climbing in Acadia is AWESOME” a word from Matt Ritter

“Climbing in Acadia is AWESOME!!”  My name is Matt Ritter and I live “Upwest” in New Hampshire.

Matt Ritter Atlantic Climbing School

I came “Downeast” for the Summer climbing season and to work with the well-reputed Atlantic Climbing School. I am relatively new to Acadia and have fallen in love with the landscape, lifestyle, and of course the rocks! I have been climbing for 13 years and have been a full time mountain guide for the past 6 years.

I have had the privilege of spending countless days with great people on chilly ice climbs, steep mountainsides, and inspiring rock formations. One of these awesome guiding experiences happened last summer when I visited Maine to climb with a group of great friends and guests of the guide service I work for back home. We climbed on Mt. Katahdin and also gave Bar Harbor a visit; I was highly impressed with what I saw. Otter Cliffs is a truly spectacular climbing venue. Having climbed in a vast number of similarly special locations around the Northeast and countrywide, I still find myself enthralled by the beauty and amazing power of the ocean lapping or crashing against the cliff side. I will accuse myself of being a mountain bum, so looking off into the vast sea is mesmerizing and inspiring.

Also inspiring was what else I saw at Otter Cliffs on that first visit. I witnessed a slew of orange shirts ( the ACS uniform) at the top of Otter Cliffs talking to and coaching their climbers on the steep precipices. These guides were doing an amazing job! They were excited and oozed with passion. They radiated with confidence and knowledge of the climbs. I said to myself, “Wow, I would like to spend the Summer here,” and HERE I AM!

Some ACS air-time at guide training!

Some ACS air-time at guide training!

 

Matt studied Adventure Education at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire where he realized his desire to be an educator. Matt is an  American Mountain Guides Association Certified Rock Instructor,  Certified Wilderness First Responder and an AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course graduate.

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Memorial Day Specials!!

Rock Climbing at Otter Cliffs

 

Over Memorial Day Weekend (May 25-27) ACS will be offering two special courses. The first is an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course and the second is a three-day “Beyond the Basics” Course.

 The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course is a three day intensive course for experienced climbers who want to get into the world of guiding or become more confident with there personal climbing and top rope management. Details on the course and its prerequisites can be found HERE.

 ACS is offering a 15% discount on this three-day course making it the cheapest AMGA SPI Course in the US. Give our office a call for more details and for registration.

 ACS will also be offering a “Beyond the Basics” Course. This course is designed for climbers who are looking to become more confident in a top rope setting.  This course will cover in detail: Belaying and rappelling techniques, anchor building, top managed and bottom managed top rope set ups, haul systems, assistance skills, rope management and problem solving skills.

 The cost of this three-day course is $325.00. Spaces are limited. Call today to make a reservation and to receive the pre-course materials.

Make a reservation today!

207.288.2521

April 2013 Four ACS Guides climb Cerro Fitzroy!

Eli at the base of Cerro Fitzroy

ACS owner Eli Simon at the base of Cerro Fitzroy

 

If alpinists are moths then Cerro Fitzroy is the flame. Year after year hundreds of climbers from all around the world fly to Argentine Patagonia to spend time in these beautiful mountains, and if the weather cooperates get a chance to climb Cerro Fitzroy.

In last five years four ACS guides have reached the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!!!!

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Pete Fasoldt and Eli Simon on the Summit of Cerro Fitzroy in 2008

 

ACS guide Grant Simmons on the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!

 

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ACS guide Joel Enrico on the Care Bare Traverse with Fitzroy’s north face in the background.

 

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The Afanassieff (#17) is the line ACS Guide Grant Simmons climbed over three days. This monster of a route is 1,600 meters long and is one of the biggest routes in Patagonia!

 

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This massive traverse is the route ACS guide Joel Enrico took to reach the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!

 

Below is some information about Cerro Fitzroy  taken from Pataclimb.com

General Introduction

Long before the ascent of any these impressive peaks was envisioned and the western explorers discovered this land, the king of this land was the wind, who shared its kingdom with the original inhabitants of this land, the Tehuelches. They referred to this mountain as “Chaltel” or “Chaltén” meaning smoking mountain, a name no doubt inspired by the clouds that so often trail from the summit. Unfortunately the western newcomers had their heads too full of heroes to celebrate and appreciate the poetry of the original Tehuelche name.

It was Francisco Pascasio “Perito” Moreno that renamed the peak after Robert Fitz Roy, an English astronomer and sailor (1805-1865), who was partly responsible for the first accurate mapping of the intricate watersheds and shorelines of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. On his second trip to Patagonia in 1834, together with Charles Darwin, Fitz Roy set out to explore the Río Santa Cruz in hopes of reaching the Andes, but after sailing 140 miles up river they were forced to turn around, resigning themselves to a very distant sight of the snow covered mountains. (1)

Of the mountain he later christened as Cerro Fitz Roy Moreno writes: “Los Tehuelches me han mencionado varias veces y con terror supersticioso, esta ‘montaña humenate’. Es el ‘Chalten’ que vomita humo y cenizas y que hace temblar la tierra…” He later on explains his reasons for renaming the peak “Cerro Fitz Roy”: “…como el nombre de ‘Chalten’ que le dan los indios lo aplican ellos también a otras montañas, me permito llamarle ‘Fitz Roy’, como una muestra de gratitud que los argentinos debemos a la memoria del sabio y enérgico almirante inglés…” The reasoning seems in accordance to the principles of the early explores, who felt they were discovering a land that had in fact been inhabited for almost 12.000 years. (2)

The clouds that so often trail the summit tricked everyone, from the Tehuelches to Moreno, into thinking the peak was a volcano. It was not until 1899 that German naturalist Rodolfo Hauthal visited the area and clearly established that the peak was in fact granite.

This ravishing peak epitomizes the beauty of Patagonia; Carlos Comesaña, responsible for the second ascent of the peak wrote: “As if the Pampa, tired of meekness, were kicking up its heels to shake off its century old pace, the fantastic pyramid of Fitz Roy rears up and pierces the sky under glimmering sun or fleecy storm clouds. This ideal of all mountains casts a spell on the climber and is worthy of his greatest efforts.”

From a climbing perspective this stunning peak is best described in the words of American Doug Tompkins, who after a successful ascent in 1968 commented “Fitz Roy was the peak to climb, the terrible Cerro Torre one to have climbed”. This short description of the very diverse character of the mountains in this area still holds true today. Fitz Roy provides some of the most enjoyable and high quality climbing to be found anywhere in the mountains. Its steep golden walls offer clean and mostly ice-free rock, perfect for free climbing, without the added difficulties of the snow mushrooms that cap the Cerro Torre group.

Each of Fitz Roy’s many flanks is particular in a different way; its east face is a big-wall like feature, while it’s north and west faces offer excellent alpine free climbing opportunities and its southeastern side, being it’s shortest, is it’s most popular. The best rock Fitz Roy has to offer is in it’s east and north face, particularly in it’s north pillar.

About 90% of the ascents of this peak have been accomplished by either of its two “normal” routes, the Franco-Argentine and the Californian. Only recently has there been an increased interest in the more obscure, longer and more difficult lines, many of which are still unrepeated. The future holds a vast repertoire of adventures, with countless unclimbed lines and alpine style ascents to be enjoyed.

Climbing history

The first serious attempt to climb the mountain was by three distinguished Italian mountain guides, Ettore Castiglioni, Giovanni “Titta” Gilberti and Leo Dubosc. They were part of an expedition led by Count Aldo Bonacossa. In early 1937 they reached the saddle just south of La Silla, since then referred as “La Brecha de los Italianos”. They had intended to attempt the southwest buttress, the line that much later become the “Californian” route. It was there where they had thought they would find lesser technical difficulties, but they were unable to continue past “La Brecha” because they did not have crampons, having left them somewhere in the couloir leading up top it. (3)

After an early visit to get to know the area in 1947, Argentine resident of Austrian origin Hans Zechner made two serious attempts to climb Fitz Roy, in 1948 and 1949, by the southwest and west faces. Aware of Bonacossa’s team failure on the south face, he decided to try via the opposite side, in hopes of finding a more reasonable route to the summit. It was Zechner who first envisioned the possibility of climbing what would later become the “Supercanaleta”.

In 1948 Zechner attempted the SW face (heading up the Poincenot couloir) and the west face (up “Hombre sentado” from the Torre valley) with Mario Bertone and Nestor Gianolini but they were forced to retreat by falling debris and later on due to lack of bivouac equipment. (4)

In 1949 Zechner returned with Rodolfo Dangl, Roberto Matzi and Agustine “Guzzi” Lantschner. Although they all lived in Argentina they all had been born in the Alps and were well versed in the art of climbing. Unfortunately the first impression marked the rest of the expedition: “…fantastic, grandiose, but much more difficult than we had imagined…”. They made three different attempts from the southwest and west face, reaching the top of the Hombre Sentado ridge twice. In hopes of getting a better look at the possibilty of climbing what would later become known as the “Supercanaleta” they made the first ascent of Cerro Pollone. As the writer Saint Loup pointed out, “this last expedition from Zechner departed with a great handicap, they intended to make a film. However, alpinism does not allow contradictory objectives, and therefore they returned home with a great film.” Saint Loup copntinues, “…Zechner est venu par amour, et revenu avec persévérance, persuadé que cette escalade justifiait les plus grandes sacrifices.” (5)

In the year 1950 the salesian priest Alberto Maria De Agostini, with the guide G. Gambaro made an attempt to climb Fitz Roy. Apparently they were forced to give up the idea due to bad weather. “It is unclear if De Agostini, an experienced explorer, had underestimated the difficulties of the mountain, or if he had overestimated the abilities of his guide, who was not known in the Italian mountaineering circles.” (6)

Rock climbing in Acadia National Park

For those who have never rock climbed in Acadia National Park below are some of the best pictures we have gathered from twenty years of guiding and climbing in the area. I hope these photos convey the beauty and uniqueness of these amazing climbing  areas. These photos show climbing and guiding at Great Head, the Precipice, the South Bubble, and Otter Cliffs. These are the four most popular climbing areas in Acadia and host some of the best routes in the country. From 5.3 to 5.13 Acadia National Park is a climbers paradise.