June 22, 2018
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Learn to climb with Acadia Mountain Guides

By Sheila Grant, Special to the BDN

Visitors looking for adventure, exercise and spectacular views may want to consider rock climbing or hiking with Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School this summer.

The school offers a full spectrum of climbing courses, from leisurely beginner experience through professional instructor certification training. While the “home base” is in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, and Acadia National Park is the site of many climbs, guided experiences also are offered in the Camden and Clifton areas.

All equipment is provided in the program. However, for those who wish to purchase outdoor equipment, the school has a store where clients can save 15 percent on any purchases.

“Some people want to experience climbing, but don’t want to learn a whole lot about it,” said Elisabeth Dean, operations manager.

Those who would like to learn or hone climbing skills can spend time learning about climbing systems and practicing skills.

Clients are not typically grouped with each other either; “we’ll get you or your group climbing at one site all by yourself to focus on your goals,” Dean said.

The Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School offers an experience that comes with a longstanding history of excellence. Started in 1993, the school has been accredited continuously by the American Mountain Guides Association and has offered professionally certified guides to the public.

Acadia Mountain Guides was founded by and is owned by Jon Tierney, who in 2006 became the first guide in Maine to achieve the coveted international mountain guides license from the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations. In addition to providing fun climbs for visitors, the school offers wilderness medicine and avalanche classes.

“We’re awesome for beginners,” Dean said. “Our guides are certified with the Professional Climbing Instructors’ Association or the AMGA, and in wilderness medicine. If someone is struggling on the rocks, they know how to get a person up or down fast. You will be at greater risk driving to the cliff than you are climbing the cliff.”

Worst-case scenarios are unlikely, however. The school’s marketing materials include a photograph of a woman dangling from a cliff. “Don’t let the photo scare you,” advised Dean.

“Anyone of any age can climb,” she said. “If you can climb stairs or a ladder, you can climb. When I first looked at that photo I said, ‘No way!’ Today I will do that same climb, but that has taken me a few years. I’m terrified of heights, but I just don’t look down. This is really an experience that anyone can do. When I travel I want to take away memories and pictures. This is a neat experience to be able to look back on and say, ‘I did that.’ And it provides some neat opportunities for photos.”

The school also offers day-long and overnight Summer Youth Camps for children age 6 to 8, 9 to 12 and 13 to 18. Young students learn the basic technical skills of rock climbing, such as knots, belaying, rappelling and anchoring, and the fundamentals of climbing movement. Campers also learn outdoor skills, including camping know-how, cooking and water treatment.

Leave No Trace practices are taught, which are vital in Maine where private landowners provide public access to large tracts of land. Campers also learn leadership skills and gain insight into the forests and natural history of the region.

For information, call 888-232-9559 or visit acadiamountainguides.com.

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