Getting high on rock climbing at Clifton Crags

Posted June 21, 2013, at 5:32 a.m.

CLIFTON, Maine — Jimmy Haller’s grunts echoed across the granite crags at Eagle Bluff. “Watch me,” he yelled down to his belayer.

While pinching the wall with his left hand, in a split second Haller unclipped a quick draw — two carabiners attached together with a piece of nylon webbing — from his harness and clipped into an anchor on “Wheaties,” a difficult route located just below “Breakfast of Champions” on the long stretch of cliff.

“Climbing gives you a chance to not worry about anything else,” said Haller, a third-year University of Maine engineering student and rock climber. “All of that other [expletive] — money, grades — doesn’t matter anymore.“

Workers at Maine Bound, the University of Maine’s adventure center, and UMaine students fought their fear of heights as well as swarms of black flies to enjoy a recent day out doing what they love — rock climbing.

Located about 15 miles east of Bangor, Clifton Crags encompasses hundreds of climbs on several area rocks.

Jared Garfield, a local climber and Maine Bound climbing trip leader, often leads outings to the area.

“There’s a healthy mix of both sport climbing and [traditional] climbing out here.” said Garfield. “It’s awesome to have it in our backyard.”

While locked into an anchor more than 100 feet high on Highlander, a moderate route on the northernmost edge of Eagle Bluff, Garfield looked over his shoulder toward Cedar Swamp Pond.

“I get to the top and there’s such a feeling of accomplishment and it’s like, can you really beat this view?” he asked.