Katahdin Winter Ascent

The remote location and arctic environment of Katahdin make this one of the most rewarding winter alpine ascents in New England. Reaching the summit of Katahdin at any time of year is an accomplishment but in the winter it holds just a little more magic and a lot less people. Our climb begins with a half-day snowshoe or ski into the base of the mountain to a winter camp where basic winter camping skills and relevant mountaineering skills are taught and reviewed. We start the climb early the next morning and return in time to travel back to trailhead by early evening. This trip is physically demanding but requires no previous winter climbing or camping experience. The trip will be led by Registered Maine Guides who are, more importantly, experienced winter mountaineering guides who are also trained in avalanche assessment and wilderness medicine.


$400.00 (Open Enrollment Courses Only) 

Private trip rates vary depending on group size and objective. Inquire or call 207 288 8186 for more information.

Open Enrollment Course Dates

Dec 31, 2023-Jan 1, 2024

Jan 13-14, 2024
Jan 27-28, 2024
Feb 10-11, 2024
Feb 24-25, 2024
Mar 9-10, 2024

Have a group, club, or organization or interested in a private trip? Contact us to learn more about trips by private arrangement.

You can only see what is below by climbing above!
Enjoying a summit moment.
DSC08852 copy
The great objective.

Specific Info

Be one of the few who reach the top of “The Great One” in winter. This trip is for winter enthusiasts who are seeking the challenge of Katahdin in winter. Katahdin is New England’s most challenging winter ascent. You can expect the same weather as Mount Washington – cold temperatures, strong winds, frequent snowfall, and low visibility make Katahdin a serious but extremely rewarding endeavor.

Day 1  
  • Meet at 9:00 am at Acadia Mountain Guides / Alpenglow Adventure Sports office at 92 Main St. in Orono.
  • Go over equipment, boot fitting, pack gear and leave for Abol Bridge.
  • Snowshoe or ski to Abol Campground – 5.5 miles. We will boot-pack, snowshoe or ski to reach the campground. Participant who have backcountry / off trail ski touring experience may use skis if approved by the guide.
  • Relax in camp with options to learn basic skills.
  • Review ascent plan. Dinner and sleep.

Day 2   Up early for hearty breakfast and a 7:00 am departure for summit.

Approximately 8 hours (weather permitting) will be allotted to ascent. In most conditions, this is ample time to reach the summit.

Descend back to camp for soup and drink, pack and begin the snowshoe or ski back to Abol Bridge. 

The primary objective of this trip is to attempt to reach the summit of Katahdin. Along the way guides will share tidbits of their mountain wisdom on a variety of topics largely dependent on the needs of the day. Likely subjects include:

  • Preparing and dressing for extreme cold
  • Personal gear preparation and packing. Towing a sled.
  • Key navigation and route planning skills
  • Preventing / caring for hypothermia and frostbite
  • Pacing, travel techniques – use of crampons, ice axe
  • Basics of interpreting weather
  • Principles of winter camping

Participants must be capable of hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing 12 miles in a single day over variable terrain, with elevation gain of +~3,940 feet, -~4,680 feet carrying a 30 pound pack.

Participants must also possess appropriate clothing to stay warm and dry on cold and windy winter days while both moving and stationary.

Meet at 9:00 am at Acadia Mountain Guides / Alpenglow Adventure Sports office at 92 Main St. in Orono.
Here we will go over equipment, boot fitting, pack gear and leave for Abol Bridge.

Personal Equipment 

Any gear you may need can be purchased ahead of the course from our gear store – Alpenglow Adventure Sports – where you get a 20% off purchases made prior to the course and up to a week later as well as a 15% discount off MSRP for life!!!  Purchases may be made in-store or online. Alpenglow will also price match any in-stock inventory if you find a better deal on the web for the same item. Simply send a link when you are ready to order to shop@alpenglowgear.com.


Please dress in layers and it is very important that you pack as lightly and compactly as possible.

Footwear – Double mountaineering boots

Wicking Base Layer – recommended materials: Wool, Meco, Capilene, etc. not cotton
  • Sock liners and/or vapor barrier sock liner gloves
  • Heavy wool or synthetic insulating socks
  • Extra liner gloves
  • Long sleeve base layer shirts
  • Long underwear

 Insulating Layer – recommended material: any type of fleece such as Polartec or wool, not cotton.

  • Winter hat covering your whole head
  • Balaclava – full-face covering
  • Medium weight jacket/vest
  • Extra insulating socks
  • Warm mittens with waterproof shell over mitts
  • Extra inner mittens
  • Warm ski like gloves
  • Insulating pants with side zip or good quality softshell pants ideally with an integrated gaiter
  • Down or synthetic fill booties for use in camp (optional)

Shell Layer – recommended materials: waterproof/breathable fabric such as Gore-tex, eVent, etc.

  • Ski goggles or sunglasses with side protection
  • Expedition weight hooded jacket (down or synthetic)
  • Waterproof / breathable shell to large enough to cover Expedition jacket
  • Shell pants (full-length side zips useful for venting)
  • Gaiters (if no built-in pant gaiter)


PERSONAL EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST if you need rental gear be sure to reserve it well in advance!

  •  Lunch Snacks
  • Personal lightweight Sol style bivvy sac or heavy-duty plastic bag
  • Headlamp with spare batteries
  • Unbreakable bowl, insulated cup, & spoon
  • Personal toiletries, sunscreen, & lip balm
  • 2 Insulated, wide-mouthed, water bottles or thermos
  • Large, sturdy pack approximately 40L (rentals available) your pack should be capable of fitting your personal gear in addition to any rental items such as sleeping bags, they are bulky!
  • 2-4 nylon stuff sacks to sort and organize gear
  • Day pack approximately 30 – 35L capacity (rental available)
  • -20-degree sleeping bag (rental available)
  • EVA 1/2” foam full-length ground pad (rental available)
  • EVA 1/4” foam pad 3/4 length or ThermaRest ground pad (rental available)
  • Snowshoes in good condition (provided if necessary). Touring skis with guide approval
  • Adjustable Ski poles (optional, provided if needed)
  • Mountaineering ice axe (provided if needed)
  • Crampons  (provided if needed)
  • Climbing helmet (provided if needed)
  • Avalanche equipment (provided if needed)

Pre-trip Preparation and Resources

Fitness is important on this trip. We recommend a regular routine of walking, running or cross country skiing in weeks leading up to the trip. Even better if you can do these activities with a light pack.

Recommended text: 

NOLS Winter Camping. John Gookin. 2005 or similar book.

Getting There:
Meet at 92 Maine St. in Orono, ME. Located just off of Interstate 95. If you are traveling on I-95, take exit 191 (Kelley Road). Go east on Kelley Road (right turn if coming from Bangor or left turn if coming from the north). Go approximately 1 mile to a T intersection with red light. Turn left and go approximately 1 mile. Alpenglow Adventure Sports is at 92 Main St. – a large green house/building. If you pass the fire station, you have gone too far.

After reviewing gear, we will travel to Abol Bridge, west of Millinocket, ME.


  • We will eat well. A hearty dinner is provided on day 1 along with breakfast on day 2. We will provide electrolytic drinks, cocoa, and tea. 
  • You are responsible for lunch snacks (eaten in the ascent) 
  • Please let us know if you have any food allergies or requests. We will do our best to accommodate various food requests and preferences.
  • We will be staying in three sided open lean-tos.

Can the mountain be climbed in a single day?
Yes, but only by an extremely fit team with a very early alpine start. This is about a 20 mile round trip day in winter conditions and we do not recommend it for most people. The two day trip is a significant challenge for most people.

Can we get snowmobiled in to Abol Campground? This service is available for an extra fee on privately arranged ascents. It is not available on open enrollment trips. Early morning snowmobile access does open the possibility of a one day ascent for private parties. 

Staying Connected: Cell service is not usually available in this area – especially at camp. You will probably be able to send a picture from above tree line depending on your carrier, AT&T has service on the Tableland.

Emergency Communications: AMG guides carry cell phones, VHF radios, and InReach devices. We have direct communication with park rangers if needed for an emergency.

Medical Care: While all AMG guides are certified Wilderness First Responders or above. Our Katahdin guides also carry injectable medications to treat pain and anxiety associated with traumatic injuries.


What medications do the guides carry?  In addition to a well stocked medical kit and the following
medications are carried:

Aspirin (cardiac and pain)
Acetaminophen (pain and fever)
Ibuprofen (pain, inflammation)

Epinephrine (anaphylaxis)
Ketamine (severe pain and sedation)

Transexamic Acid (severe internal hemorrhage control)
Lidocaine 1% (anesthetic for wound cleaning)

Opthalmic antibiotic
Immodium (diarrhea), Bismuth Salicylate, Zofran (GI upset)

Nasal decongestant


What if a group member is unable make the ascent? All participants should understand that this is group trip – essentially a mini open enrollment expedition. We want to afford each participant the opportunity to reach the summit. However, if a person(s) is unable to continue it will be the guide’s decision as to how to proceed with regard to the rest of the group. Per our commercial use agreement with Baxter State Park our options are:

  1. Entire group turns around. This is more likely if there is a single guide on the trip.
  2. Client(s) is left in safe place for maximum of 90 minutes and group returns to descend together. This is only an option in reasonable weather and when close to summit and communication can be maintained.
  3. Client(s) descends with second guide while remainder of group continues toward summit. No more than five clients should be with a single guide.
  4. Client(s) returns on own to camp and MUST WAIT at camp until group returns. This should only be utilized if well below tree line, trail is easily followed and each party has communication option.
  5. If a client decides at the campground that they don’t want to attempt the climb it will be the guide’s decision as to whether client should or should not  return to trailhead on their own.
Trip Leader: All overnight trip leaders in Baxter State Park are required by the state of Maine to be Registered Maine Guides. AMG guides are also trained in wilderness medicine, avalanche safety and technical mountaineering skills – skills that are not addressed in the Maine Guide program.


General Info

Enjoying the outdoors necessitates a certain degree of risk-taking. You are participating in this trip and entering the winter backcountry environment at your own risk.  You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While such accidents are rare, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. Our guides draw upon solid guide education coupled with extensive experience to manage significant hazards inherent to mountain travel.  Some of the hazards that can lead to injury or death associated with this trip include but are not limited to extreme weather, demanding physical travel, avalanche, vehicle transportation and falls or collisions while skiing or snowboarding. Please be sure that you are fully aware of such risks. It is our goal to interpret the environmental, situational and group variables and to make educated decisions to minimize dangers to you while at the same time providing an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to minimize various hazards through the application of good judgment gained from a foundation of education and experience. On this course we ask that you ski or ride with good control at all time.

Self-reliance in the face of adversity is expected on the part of the wilderness traveler entering the wilderness. Rescue is not automatic. For all practical purposes, our party is alone and must depend upon our own resources for self-rescue and be equipped for an extended emergency. Cellular phones and radios should not be relied upon in an emergency.  

Finally, this is a group trip and good expedition behavior is critical. Participants are asked to stay with the group until everyone has safely exited the backcountry.

Baxter State Park Rescue: “Although it is the policy of Baxter State Park to attempt to assist those in need, a rescue effort on the mountain or in the park backcountry should not be expected.  Search and rescue operations are conducted on a discretionary basis. The level and urgency of the response is determined by field personnel based on their evaluation of the situation. A rescue will be initiated only when necessary and when within the reasonable technical ability of available personnel and provides rescuers with a reasonable margin of safety. A helicopter rescue is risky and will only be used when medical or technical demands warrant it. Rescue is not automatic. For all practical purposes, a party is alone and must depend upon its own resources for self-rescue and be equipped for an extended emergency.”

Full payment is required for registration. Registration deadline is 14 days before the start of trip in order to allow time to send in reservations to Baxter State Park by BSP deadline.

When you book a course with Acadia Mountain Guides, you agree to our cancellation policy. Please realize that if your travel does not go according to plan in any way and for any reason, we are unable to provide credits or refunds outside of what is described below. We strongly recommend that you purchase trip insurance to protect your activity purchase against unforeseeable circumstances, which include but are not limited to:

  • The anticipation of Inclement Weather
  • Flight and Travel Delays and Conditions
  • Personal or work schedule changes
  • Injury or illness of self or family member
If you cancel more than 21 days in advance, you may put the deposit toward a future course or receive a refund of 75% of your deposit. Cancellations made within twenty-one (21) days of the program forfeit the full tuition rate. Alternatively, if you find a replacement, you will receive a 100% refund. A full refund will be given if Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School must cancel the course.

Inclement travel weather is to be expected at this time of year. Snow is what we want. Please adjust your travel plans to accommodate weather and travel conditions.

Tipping is never expected but always greatly appreciated. Like many in service industries, instructors and guides supplement their income with tips generated from satisfied clients.

Of course our goal is to reach the summit.  We will make every reasonable effort to reach the summit, however, extreme weather, avalanche conditions, inadequate personal fitness, difficult terrain, or park weather / travel closures may make it impossible to achieve our desired summit.

A minimum of three (3) participants are needed to run this program and there is a maximum of 5 per guide with a maximum of ten (10) clients total. The decision to run the program will be made at three weeks prior to the start date. In the case of low registration, you will have the options of joining another trip, receiving a refund or possibly paying an additional amount to allow the trip to run with low numbers.

Are you part of a college organization, ski club, etc.? We are happy to schedule a customized course for organizations, small groups, and individuals through New England and Eastern Canada. Of course, if you would like to schedule a course or trip in Iceland, Colorado, or Japan, etc. we would be very pleased to work with you.

Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is accredited through the American Mountain Guide Association and the Professional Climbing Instructor Association. Acadia Mountain Guides actively supports furthering their guide’s development throughout their career. That means
our guides are constantly taking steps to progress their skills and will provide you with an exceptional experience. AMG is also a proponent of helping clients reach their goals, whether its having an epic day in the mountains or gaining skills to get into other terrain, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School can get you there!

A History of
Leading the way…

Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is the preeminent frontrunner in climbing instruction and guiding in Acadia and across Maine. Since 1994 we have specialized in designing customized experiences or training for you, your family, your group or company.


• Since 1994 •

AMGCS is one of 32 AMGA accredited programs in the US and was one of the earliest to pursue and achieve accreditation. AMGCS is the only climbing school in Maine to remain continuously AMGA accredited. We have had one or more AMGA rock guides on staff each year since 1994.

Owned by internationally recognized IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide Jon Tierney who has been climbing in Acadia since 1982. Jon has over 30 years of local and worldwide experience. The IFMGA requires full AMGA certification as a rock, alpine and ski mountaineering guide.

PCIA Accredited

• Since 2007 •

AMGCS has the distinction of also being accredited to the highest standards of the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. The PCIA requires all staff to be individually trained and certified.

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Become a client of Acadia Mountain Guides and receive a permanent 15% off MSRP on purchases in our stores or at AlpenglowGear.com.

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Gear Rental Program

AMGCS also rents outdoor equipment for your convenience. All clients receive 25% off rental equipment for use on our courses.
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