By: John Sidik and Noah Kleiner of Equinox Guide Service
“Click, Click, Click.” The sound of the gates shutting on my carabiners fills the brisk morning air as I stand at the base of a steep wall of schist. It’s 8 a.m. on a Sunday, and no one else is around.
“Click, Click, Chirp.” A few songbirds join in as I finish hanging my quick draws from my harness and begin to tie into the end of a dark-green-patterned climbing rope. The small town of Camden, Maine, rests a few miles to the east.
The quiet peaceful scene unfolds as I start to climb – but not like in the climbing movies where the guitar solo keys in as the camera zooms out to show the overhanging cliff above. Cut out the crowds and the chaos, and this is what you’re left with. This is climbing in Maine. – John
You can’t describe Maine’s rock climbing with one word. It’s unlike any other place you have ever been. From the alpine granite of Katahdin to the small sport climbing crags and everywhere in between, Maine has it all.
The most memorable experiences have been messing around in the woods with friends, trying to find that hidden crag someone mentioned in passing; or the early morning sunrise over the ocean as we climb on Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park.
Living here has offered such a great chance to explore a vast state filled with climbing potential. It’s been quite a ride getting to where we are, and even more exciting to share what we’ve found along the way.
Alpine climbing doesn’t always come to mind when you think of Maine, but Katahdin offers some of the best alpine routes in the country. The Armadillo and the Flatiron, two of the mountain’s classics, are a must for any trad climber looking to explore here.
Getting above tree line and looking out over the rolling green hills of Northern Maine is second to none. With no access other than by foot, the basins of Katahdin are some of the most remote places to climb in the Northeast.
As anyone from New England will tell you, the weather can be atrocious in the mountains. You’ll need plenty of experience, and even more warm layers, if you choose to tackle Katahdin. But, with a little diligence and the right skill set, Katahdin’s alpine routes can bring adventures that you’ll remember for years to come.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
The sea cliffs of coastal Maine are an awe-inspiring sight, and even more of a thrill to climb. The North Atlantic Ocean stretches for miles behind you as the cliffs of Acadia rise from the breaking waves beneath your feet. From the steep routes of Otter Cliffs and Great Head to the pink granite of The Precipice, Acadia has hundreds of quality routes. The island even holds routes established and climbed by such professionals as Lynn Hill and Alex Honnold.
Miles upon miles of beautiful hiking trails and via ferrata style routes traverse the island, as well.
“It’s hard to describe such a place that makes you feel the exposure of the Atlantic Ocean and the thrill of climbing!” – Noah
Camden, our hometown, has everything from multi-pitch routes on Barrett’s Cove Cliff and Ocean Lookout, to rugged overhung sport climbing at the Rampart, and technical-face climbing at the Verticals. The climbing in Camden has been established by locals with no incentive but to reach the top and share it with others. Hours and hours have been spent unearthing and developing the area’s bouldering. Endless miles have been hiked (much of them in circles) in search of new routes. Often, bolt hangers were moved from one route to another to save on budget, and every once in a while you find yourself leaving lower-offs at the anchors to make things a little easier for the next climber.
With dozens of cliffs, crags, and boulders throughout the Camden Hills, there’s never a dull moment. Go climb the classics, or do as we do and set out to explore. If one word were to describe Camden, it would be adventure!
Left: Alexa Wagner explores in one of Camden’s more hidden spots; a 20-foot deep chasm near the Rampart.
Maine is a big state; we’ve lived here most of our lives and are still looking for the next thing to climb. There are more climbing areas than we have time to describe, all within a day’s drive. Western Maine has Shagg Crag, known for its challenging overhung sport climbing. Bradbury State Park has its infamous bouldering, and there are plenty of small crags all over the state that have yet to be found. So, pack your bags, grab your ropes and come join us!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
John and Noah run a small guiding service in Camden called Equinox Guiding Service. Collectively, the company has climbed and skied all over the world, and continues to search for the next place to share with its clients. To book a trip with them, call (207) 619-3957