CLIMBING IN MAINE
By: John Sidik and Noah Kleiner
“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.
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.
Left: Ryan Gibbs on the flatiron. Right: Noah Kleiner and Alden Mead juggle climbing shoes on the armadillo.
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!”
Bottom: Laura Mas Serra climbing at Great Head in Acadia National Park.
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
Above: John climbing at Clifton.Photo: Alexa Wagner
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.
Left: John Sidik on the knife edge of Katahdin. Photo: Alexa Wagner.
Right: Noah Kleiner guiding in Acadia National Park.
Asking About Possibilities
Submitted by Don Kleiner on Mon Feb 12, 2018
I saw a flock of robins today on my way down the hill and noticed that the Saint George has carved a warmer water path into Round Pond. Mot importantly the afternoon is now noticeably longer and fades into a pink early evening pastel on the hillside across the way. All signs that spring is coming and before you know it I’ll be back on the water guiding every day.
Spring is of course the season of new things and something and a new package of guided trips is currently on my radar. As you might know our son Noah started his own guide service last summer Equinox Guiding Services LLC based in Camden; they offer rock and ice climbing adventures. Noah and I are thinking about a combination trip. Fishing on Lake Megunticook in the morning with me and after a lunch on the shore of the lake an afternoon learning to rock climb with Noah.
Certainly a change from most of what Maine Outdoors offers but I am guessing something with appeal to some. At any rate we are thinking about the possibilities. I am curious is it something that you or your family might be interested in?
You can check out Maine Outdoors here.
ME Arts Education Article
By Argy Nestor
The sun is getting stronger and the days a little longer. I know how good both of those feel. Spending time in the fresh air can have a positive impact on our health. Even a short walk can make a difference. But if you want to challenge yourself and have never cross country skied or snow shoed the weather is in your favor with the temperatures on the rise.
If you really want to challenge yourself the ice is pretty good for ice climbing and in some places where the sun has melted the ice and snow, rock climbing is happening. My older son guides those interested in this type of challenge with his business Equinox Guiding Service. He takes people out so they can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and have a blast. He provides all of the equipment, instruction, and encouragement. You can have little or no knowledge and be successful. I certainly recommend guide Noah Kleiner! Tell Noah I sent you and perhaps you’ll get a discount.
You can see the whole article here.
Skiing Icland's Troll Paninsula
By John Sidik
My first ski trip to Iceland started much like most of my other trips. I woke up to Al kicking me gently, coaxing me off a pile of ski bags on the floor of the Keflavik airport. I look at it in two ways: either I’m really bad at traveling, or I’m really good at traveling poorly. Either way, I was probably the only one of us to sleep at all in the first 36 hours of our trip.
Our group consisted of two ski guides, Al and Dick; Kaj, a hardened East Coast backcountry skier; and me, a mix of all aspects, and, somehow, the trip photographer.
“Come on, rental car’s across the street,” Al said, very ambitious to get skiing. “I packed my kayak straps because no one has a rental with ski racks ...” We were on our way.
I was 7 years old the last time I was in Iceland, staying for a night in Reykjavik with my family while changing planes. Dick had been once before, but on the east side of the island. Our goal was basically to drive as far North as our little car would get us, put our skis on, and go for it.
The drive to Akureyri was simple. Dick gave some directions to follow, the expert beta from his last trip: “Ocean on the left, land on the right.” I took over driving from Akureyri to Ólafsfjörður, which took an interesting turn. The towns in Northern Iceland use these archaic-looking one-lane tunnels to get through mountains. They work on an honor system, using intermittent pull-offs to allow two way traffic. Needless to say, there’s not a lot of traffic.
We eventually figured out the tunnel system with the help of a few Icelandic road signs and a little bit of blind faith. The skies had cleared by the time we got out of the tunnel, and we decided to do what we do best: hit the BJOR KÆlIR (beer cooler) and go ski!
Our first long day of skiing brought us from our front porch right into one of the thousands of glacial valleys that make up the Troll Peninsula. We had a pretty relaxed skin into the head of the valley. Most of the peninsula’s terrain is pretty easy-access with the help of skins and ski crampons. Most valleys end in some sort of moderate ascent to gain the ridge that connects them to the next valley. It took us a few hours to gain the ridge and start looking at our ski descent. Once we gained the ridge, we noticed we really hadn’t lost much daylight; in fact, we hadn’t lost any. Figuring there was no real need for the headlamps that we usually bring, and that there were ample opportunities to melt snow or collect runoff water, we decided to ski into the next valley and take a few laps before skiing out the adjacent valley. As anticipated, this left us about 20 miles down the road (which involved a tunnel) from our house. Now, I would be lying if I said any of us actually thought hitchhiking would be easy in northern Iceland, but that was our plan, and we made quick work of it.
We saw another group of skiers exiting the valley and met up with them to chat. They were “Man, it just does not get dark here,” Al exclaimed as I said good morning on our fourth day. I’d spent summers fishing in Alaska, so the midnight sun was nothing new to me. But this was different. This was full daylight, straight through the night. The night before didn’t have a freeze, so we decided to take the day off from skiing and do a little exploring. We drove back through the tunnels and past Akureyri to Skútustaðahreppur to check out some waterfalls and the volcanic landscape and to hop in one of the larger hot springs. The hot springs were a little pricey, but after spending three days in a little car with three other dudes, I was not about to pass it up. We had arranged for a heli drop on our fifth day in hopes of getting a better view into some of the deeper terrain. Our instructions were minimal: “Drop us on something that’ll ski well.” It was another warm day with a lot of loose, wet snow. We had been working our way around a lot of loose wet avalanche problems, but by this point it was basically second nature to predict and avoid them. We were dropped on top of a large plateau that overlooked Ólafsfjörður and the surrounding mountain range. We took a few minutes to look around at what we had been skiing for the last four days, and what looked to be enough terrain to hold a lifetime of first descents. We had a nice mellow 3000’ line that dropped us right back on the road, and we rode back to the house to grab another quick ski tour before packing up to move to Siglufjörður. The Siglufjörður ski area consists of four short Poma lifts that you link to get into the head of the town’s glacial valley. The terrain surrounding the ski area is immense, consisting of high peaks, ridge lines, and couloirs that cater to any ability level. I was quite convinced that I could have skied out of the resort for the entire week and not crossed tracks once. And to top it off, the lift ticket was around $18 US.
As the week wrapped up, we scrounged through the last of our food, mixing hot chocolate mix with the pancake mix to make it last as long as we could — again, really bad at travel, or really good at traveling poorly... I said goodbye to our space-age shower, equipped with 100 buttons, a radio and I’m pretty sure some kind of teleportation device that drops you on top of your favorite peak right as the corn alarm is going off, and packed my bags to head back to the airport. Although the trip was over, I was excited to get a week of rest before it was time to pack up again and head west for the summer climbing season.
Interview With Fit Maine
By Shannon Bryan
“Trust your feet,” Noah called out from above.
If I’d looked up, I’d see his helmeted head peeking out over a rock ledge, his hands on a long lime green rope that fed through a belay device at his waist. The other end of that rope was attached me, and I was clinging to a rock face, 70 or so feet off the ground and nervous as all get-out.
I couldn’t look up. Or move. My legs shook under me (and I don’t mean some slight little tremor, I mean SHOOK. Wildly, as though they were possessed. It would have been comical if I wasn’t seriously contemplating the reality that I might end up living the rest of my days clutching this spot on the rock).
“Trust your feet,” Noah said in his easy-going way. “You’ve got this.”
Climbing Charlotte’s Crack in Camden with Equinox Guiding Service I was nervous as all get-out at some points, but also having a grand time. Photo by Noah Kleiner
Trusting my feet meant ignoring my natural tendency to trip, slip and stumble. It meant trusting my climbing shoes, which are made specifically for the sport and feature a sticky rubber sole that sticks to the rock with impressive tenacity. It meant trusting that Noah knew his stuff (he does) and that if he thought I could climb this rock, then, well, he was probably right.
“Are you breathing?” Noah asked. It was a question he asked a few times already – a reminder to breathe, clam down, relax. (He also asked, “Are you smiling?” It’s both a reminder that you’re here doing something that’s really thrilling and fun, and also, something happens physiologically when you smile. Your body follows suit and you chill out a bit.)
I took a deep breathe and let it out slowly. Then I placed my foot on what seemed like the smallest rocky nub, shifted my weight and stood up on it. My hand padded around the rock, seeking something to grab. My fingers cinched on a hold. I placed my other foot and stood again. And just like that, I made my way up.
To see rest of article please visit Fit Maine
By Kim Lincoln
August 03, 2017
CAMDEN — Realizing there is a niche for rock climbing in the Camden Hills area, two local men have turned their love for the outdoors into a new guide service.
This summer, John Sidik, of Camden, and Noah Kleiner, of Lincolnville, opened Equinox Guiding Service. The business currently focuses mainly on climbing trips, but the two plan to include other guided outings, such as hikes, snowshoeing, navigation skills and team-building events.
Sidik, who grew up in Lincolnville, studied professional ski and snowboard guiding in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Following school, Sidik said, he ended up moving home during the summer and spends the winter in New Hampshire subcontracting with various companies to teach avalanche education.
Kleiner, who grew up in Union, went to the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and spent some time following college doing bike tours in various places around the country, including Vermont, New York City and Fort Collins, Colo. Kleiner now works for Atlantic Climbing School in Acadia.
"Most guides go 10 different directions all at once," Sidik joked of their varied guiding experiences, but he noted that right now it's mostly rock climbing, which is both men's passion.
After the two realized the Midcoast would be a great place for such a business, they decided to open Equinox Guiding Service. Both are professionally trained guides, each holding a Single Pitch Instructor certificate, and Kleiner also is a Registered Maine Guide and Rock Guide.
This summer, Sidik ran a two-day climbing camp for children ages 8 and older, during which they climbed Barrett's Cliff, located off Route 52, and climbing in a spot off the carriage trail, where the children rappelled down into a cave to put all the skills they had learned to the test.
Sidik said anytime they do a trip or camp that involves a large group of children, parents are always invited along to chaperone and join in the fun.
The climbing services are tailored to the customer's needs and welcome climbers of any level — from those who want to brush up on their skills to those simply looking for a fun outing with their family.