Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park
Frequently Asked Questions
WHERE CAN I CLIMB?
Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is based on Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park where excellent sea cliffs and vertical granite walls offer some of the best climbing and scenery in New England. We also guide regularly in Clifton (near Bangor) and in the Camden hills. Camden is conveniently located between Portland and Bar Harbor and offers excellent beginner and intermediate terrain. Clifton is Maines largest climbing area featuring vertical expanses of Lucerne granite - a rock known for its large crystalline structure. Several bluffs offer very distinctive features such as long slabs, challenging cracks, and steep tendon stretching faces! For those interested in alpine climbing, we recommend Katahdin over all other New England areas. Nothing else rivals the approach, setting and quality of routes like Armadillo and Flatiron. We also offer instruction along the Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers for those of you who are rafting or kayaking. Guided climbing is available in New Hampshire and to other areas in North and South America where access can be gained legally. Some of these include: Red Rocks in Nevada, Joshua Tree, the Tetons, the Sierra, and high altitude trips to Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico.
WHO ARE WE?
Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is owned and directed by Jon Tierney. Jon is an examined and certified American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Rock and Alpine Guide - one of about forty dually certified guides in the country who has passed a rigorous multi-day peer assessment exam, and the only one of this group who is also a paramedic. Jon has been climbing for twenty-five years and guiding since 1984. Each year AMGCS employs only guides who have shown a commitment to not only climb well but to guide and teach at a very high standard. We seek guides who have taken AMGA guide training courses and who are pursuing certification or are already certified. You can expect our guides to be professional, offer state-of-the-art instruction and be easy going and fun to be with. We believe you deserve the best and it is our goal is to provide it for you. Please see our Staff Profiles handout for more specific guide information.
WILL I BE SAFE?
Rock climbing can be dangerous. However, when compared to activities such as driving and traditional sports, studies have shown that climbing represents less risk and results in fewer injuries per participant hour. Nevertheless, climbing with a skilled guide or instructor helps to stack the odds in your favor. It is the safest way to learn the sport and will lead you toward years of enjoyable climbing.
HOW DO I KNOW IF AMGCS IS REPUTABLE?
Our school is committed to providing high quality, personalized instruction and guiding with state-of-the-art methods and to providing you with the best climbing experience possible. Our guides are veteran climbers with several years of diverse climbing experience who continue to develop their personal climbing and guiding skills. We attempt to hire only AMGA certified guides guides who have been specifically evaluated for their top roping, multi-pitch climbing or alpine climbing skills. We require all of our guides to participate in formal AMGA guide education courses that provide specific training intended to maximize competency and greatly reduce risk. All are also certified at or above the Wilderness First Responder level of medical care. Our internal training keeps everyone up on the latest techniques and current on the best local practices.
Any school can claim professional service but we believe you need more than our word of our high standards. Our school has been accredited and regularly peer reviewed since 1993 by the American Mountain Guides Association(AMGA). Accreditation is a brief review of staffing, permits, field performance and insurance. More important than accreditation is the training and experience of your personal guide who is the person tying into the other end of your rope! Surprisingly, most U.S. guides have little formal guide education and only a handful are currently certified. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School insures that each client will be guided not only by a skilled climber but by a guide who has invested a great deal of time into specialized guide training through the American Mountain Guides Association and/or the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. Aside from independant guides, very few climbing schools in New England provide this depth of professional service. The school is owned by an AMGA certified rock, ski and alpine guide (IFMGA) and has other certified guides on staff. Experience the difference that guide education can make!
WILL MY GUIDE BE CERTIFIED TO TEACH OR GUIDE ROCK CLIMBING?
Not only is our school AMGA accredited but all of our guides have been through external AMGA or PCIA training and intensive in-house training. We are proud to employ two highly skilled IFMGA guides, AMGA certified instructors and PCIA Single Pitch Instructors. We are confident that you will enjoy climbing with any of our guides.
WHERE CAN I STAY?
The most economical camping is in the National Park Service campgrounds - either Blackwoods or Seawall. Blackwoods is on a national reservation system (call 207-288-3338 for specific information) and Seawall allows a few walk-in tent campers daily. There are numerous private campgrounds in the Bar Harbor or Camden area as well as numerous hotels and bed & breakfasts. If you desire, we can make a recommendation or an arrangement for you prior to your arrival.
WHAT OTHER OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES ARE AVAILABLE?
PaddleBoard! Sea Kayak! Bicycle! Whitewater Canoe, Kayak or Raft! Hike! Backpack! We know you cant climb every day so we maintain cooperative relationships with other professional outfitters throughout Maine to help you plan for those off days.
CAN I STAGGER A LESSON?
If you register for multiple days at once you may spread them out through the season or climb on consecutive days.
WHAT IF I DECIDE TO START OUT ON MY OWN OR WITH FRIENDS?
While we do not recommend this, some people learn to climb very well on their own or with friends. Books and videos are improving each year and may provide supplemental education. If you do learn on your own, we find that climbers still benefit immensely by spending a day with a guide to fine-tune particular skills.
DO I NEED EQUIPMENT?
AMGCS provides all the climbing equipment for a lesson - shoes, harness, chalkbag, helmet and the technical gear.
DISCOUNTS ON PURCHASES?
If you are looking to purchase gear, our full service specialty retail store, Alpenglow Adventure Sports, can help you with all your mountaineering and backpacking needs. The shop is staffed by guides who can answer your questions and provide experience-based advice on gear selection. As a client you will receive a 10% discount on all future purchases.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE LESSON?
As a client you will receive a regular newsletter full of tips, information, stories, coupons for great gear deals and notices of upcoming trips to other climbing areas.
WHAT ABOUT PRICE?
For many people the bottom line is price. Think about it! You would not trust your life to an amateur physician who learned largely by trial and error, so why trust your life to an amateur guide. In New England, expect to pay $200.00 - $275.00 per day for professional private instruction with discounted rates for increasing numbers of people. The professional guide, like other professionals, is committed to providing you the best, most up-to-date service possible.
WHAT AM I WAITING FOR!
Walk-in, pick up the phone or e-mail us to make a reservation before someone else does!
A History of
Leading the way...
Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is the preeminent leader in climbing instruction and guiding in Acadia and across Maine. We specialize in designing customized experiences or training for you, your family or your group.
Directed by internationally recognized IFMGA 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.
All AMGCS instructors are certified by either the AMGA or the PCIA and all guides have been trained or certified by the AMGA.
• Since 1994 •
AMGCS is one of 30 AMGA accredited programs in the US and was one of the earliest to achieve accreditation.
AMGCS is the only climbing school in Maine to remain continuously accredited by the AMGA for eighteen years - several years longer than any other local service. We have had one or more full time AMGA certified rock instructors or rock guides on staff each year since 1994 - sixteen years more than any other local school.
• 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.
Experience the difference.
Reach your peak with Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School.