Why Choose ACS?


- For 23 years ACS has specialized in small, custom rock and ice climbing courses for individuals, couples, families, and groups. With our focused curriculum, at ACS we orchestrate climbing courses that routinely exceed our client’s expectations.

- We are one of the top rated activities in Bar Harbor on Tripadvisor with over 200 excellent reviews!

-We have zero new staff members! 100% of our guides are returning from last year and most of them have been guiding with ACS for four or five years.

- ACS is one of just 30 programs in the US to be accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).  The AMGA is the only internationally recognized training organization for rock climbing guides and instructors in the US.

All of our staff are certified by the AMGA as either Rock Guides, Rock Instructors, or Single Pitch Instructors and we are proud to be the only guide service in Maine to have this distinction.

-All of our guides are certified in wilderness medicine. Many well above the industry standard. Several of our guides are WEMT's

-ACS owner Eli Simon is the only AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course Provider in the state of Maine. In this capacity Eli has trained and certified hundreds of rock climbing guides in Maine and across the US including many of our competitors.

-All of our staff are full time professional guides, we do not have interns.

-We run a significantly smaller operation than our competitor. With our small family style company we can put all of our energy in to what we do best!

-We have Joined forces with Trees for the Future and for every climber that joins us for a climb we will plant one tree in Africa. Trees for the Future is improving the livelihoods of impoverished farmers by revitalizing degraded lands.  Since 1989, with our experience in planting over 128 million trees all over the world, we have demonstrated the transformative power of trees in helping people break out of the poverty trap while also addressing the global environment. Today, our work in East and West Africa is helping to build a world where people can leave a legacy of opportunity through sustainable practices and productive lands for future generations.

- ACS was named "Best of Maine" by Down East Magazine.

-ACS was featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and on Slate.com

- At ACS, we pride ourselves on our sterling reputation. With 23 years of outstanding performance, we strive every day to continue to be Maine’s premier climbing school.

 - The ACS curriculum is extensive but focused — refined from more than thirty years of climbing and guiding experience. We consider each client unique, with a special combination of experience, skills, age, and fitness. For this reason the content of all of our courses can be personalized to meet the specific goals or needs of each client. That is also why ACS client-to-guide ratios remain small. We feel strongly that these factors are vital to helping us consistently deliver a quality course for every client.

In fun, in professional commitment, in everything we do — at Atlantic Climbing School, WE CLIMB HIGHER.


What is The American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA)

The American Mountain Guides Association provides Accreditation, training and the only nationally and internationally recognized certifications in the USA for Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering Guides and is recognized worldwide as the highest American standard of training and certification in these disciplines.

The AMGA was founded in 1979 and is based in Boulder, Colorado. The AMGA is the sole US representative of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA).

What is AMGA Accreditation?

 AMGA representatives grant AMGA Accreditation to companies who meet or exceed the high operational standards required by the American Mountain Guides Association during an extensive program and business review of their operations. This review looks at the Guide Service as a whole, looking in detail at its risk management procedures and protocols, insurance, permits, guides training and certification. AMGA Accreditation also looks at the Guide Services standing in the community, relationships with local land managers, clients and employees. 

What is AMGA Certification?

The American Mountain Guides Association offers a series of training course and exams designed to certify guides and climbing instructors to the highly respected standards of our organization. Through these courses you can achieve professional AMGA Certification within the disciplines of: Alpine Guide, Rock Guide, Rock Instructor, Ski Mountaineering Guide, Climbing Wall Instructor, and Single Pitch Instructor. Dedicated to protecting the public interest in all of these areas, the AMGA is the only internationally recognized professional association of trained and certified Guides and Climbing Instructors in the United States.

The AMGA offers three levels of certification in the rock discipline:

“AMGA Single Pitch Instructor”, “AMGA Rock Instructor” and “AMGA Rock Guide.”

AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor

The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program is the only nationally and internationally recognized single pitch climbing instructor certification program. In 2009 the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program was recognized for meeting the “training standards” of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) and was granted the prestigious title of “Approved Association.” No other organization in the United States offering training in single pitch terrain can make that claim. 

This is the certification for climbing instructors who teach on single pitch rock climbing areas. There are prerequisites that the Instructor must meet before enrolling for the three day course, and to successfully gain the certification must pass the ongoing evaluations and final separate two day certification exam at a later date.

AMGA Certified Rock Instructor

This is the certification to guide on multi-pitch routes up to “grade III” in length (up to 6-10 pitches, or 400-1000ft long in rough terms). There are many prerequisites before the guide can enroll on the AMGA Rock Instructor Course, such as years of climbing experience, amount, grade, and length of climbs. After the course Guides must then gain more experience and meet the AMGA’s prerequisites before presenting themselves for the intensive 6 day AMGA Rock Instructor Exam.

AMGA Certified Rock Guide

This certification is for guides wishing to guide routes that are extremely long and complex in nature.  After the gaining the AMGA Rock Instructor Certification or completing the Rock Instructor Course, Guides must take the AMGA Advanced Rock Guides Course, continue their personal training and meet the AMGA’s prerequisites before presenting themselves for the 6 day AMGA Rock Guide Certification Exam.