On Short Notice…

This afternoon, as I battled my way through Bar Harbor traffic/construction (which only seems to intensify as the years go on) I was ripped from my rage-filled daze by a phone call from our General Manager/Guide, Ian.  He explained to me that someone had just arrived on the island and within minutes of finding a place to park decided to go rock climbing for the first time in his life. 

“Do you want to work this afternoon?” Ian asked me.

Would I like to be on the edge of a cliff, dangling over the ocean or stuck in Bar Harbor traffic?  I would hope the decision for most people would be easy…

An hour later and I am shaking hands with Tristan.  From Michigan, he had just arrived on the island after a short stay in Portland, ME.  We quickly got through the legal mumbo-jumbo, gathered up some gear and were in the car on our way into the park.

This time of year the park is a little slow so we had the whole one-way road to ourselves.  We drove to Otter Cliff parking lot without any hassles, and we were geared up and ready to climb in a matter of minutes.  As is common in Acadia, visitors like to look at people carrying ropes and wearing helmets as a little strange.  However, once you start rappelling over a cliffs edge their confusion turns to wonderment.  Tristan had a mixed crowd as he made is way over to the edge of the rock and began his first ever rappel!  As a guide you start to develop a sense for when people are really uncomfortable, so when I informed Tristan as to what rappelling was and how he was going to be leaning backwards over the cliff all I could do was smile and tell him not to worry because I was holding onto the rope.  Sometimes you just have to trust your guide.

After making it to the bottom of the cliff Tristan and I warmed up on a few climbs.  The goal was to familiarize him with the equipment and processes involved with climbing.

Tristan took to rock climbing like it was second nature.  Sometimes all you need is a person telling you that you're doing the right thing and just keep going.  Pretty soon we moved to rappelling over the ocean so Tristan could experience what it was like to climb with the sea splashing below you.

Tristan on his way up at South Otter Cliffs
Tristan was doing so well for his first time we decided to climb up and out of South Otter Cliffs and head over to the main event, Otter Cliffs.
Otter Cliffs is the iconic seaside cliff of Acadia National Park.  Climbers from all over the world have come to Bar Harbor just to climb here.
Tristan and I had to whole cliff to ourselves.  We chose to climb a route called IN THE GROOVE.  This is a great climb that starts from a big scoop inside the wall, and follows a crack between the main rock face and a huge flake sticking out from it.  It is definitely one of my favorites.
Tristan once again was climbing like he had been doing it for years.  Needing no guidance from me he found his way up with no problem.
Sadly, we decided to end our day there.  Tristan and his wife had one more day to spend in Acadia and I didn't want to make him too tired so he could enjoy the park tomorrow.
A good tip for Otter Cliffs for anyone thinking about traveling there this summer:
Learn to create a system that allows you to belay from the anchor rather then your waist.  If you have experience climbing multi-pitch routes this type of belay set-up can be easy.  If not, it can look a little wacky.  Here is an example:
Belaying with a Gri-Gri directly off the master point can save you a ton of grief!  If you have never seen this or done it, feel free to stop into the Acadia Mountain Guides shop at 228 Main St. in Bar Harbor, ME.  Any of our staff would be happy to explain this system.  And if that isn't enough help think about hiring a guide to take you out for the day.  Acadia Mountain Guides offers half and full day trips all summer long!  Give us a call at 207 288 8186.
Thanks again to Tristan for a great time out on the rocks today!
Ande Kahora

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