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Rock Climbing at Acadia National Park

I spent almost four months in 1999 working on the first edition of my book Rock Climbing New England, a select guide to 20 or so areas scattered around the Northeast's six states that was published by Falcon Guides the following year.

I had a blast climbing all over superb crags and areas like Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges, Cannon Cliff, Rumney, Crow Hill, Quincy Quarries, Wheeler Mountain, and the cliffs at Acadia National Park on the Maine coast.

Acadia, a crown jewel in the National Park system, is a crossroads where wooded mountains meet the restless Atlantic Ocean at a dramatic interface between cliff and surf. Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard at 1,530 feet, is the place where the rising sun first gilds the United States. Its rugged topography was sculpted and polished by great glaciers, some as thick as 9,000 feet, with the last one retreating a mere 15,000 years ago.

Climbers come to Acadia National Park and the Maine coast not just for "lobstah" and slaw but also for climbing on one of the few sea cliffs on the Atlantic coast. Otter Cliff, composed of compact granite, stretches for 500 feet on the coastline near Otter Point. The 50- to 60-foot-high cliff, cleaved by cracks, corners, and aretes, offers stellar climbing above lapping waves and mostly moderate routes with crimps, layaways, and occasional hand jams.

I spent a week that August at Acadia with Martha Morris, tenting at Blackwoods Campground, hiking trails through damp woods, and climbing on sunny cliffs at the Bubbles, The Precipice's South Wall, and, of course, Otter Cliff.

Of course, I never let fun times get in the way of serious book research like making topos, creating route descriptions, measuring pitch and trail lengths, or shooting action photographs. The serious work of an author never ends...

I shot this photograph of Martha, belayed by Eric Morin, pulling down on Razor Crack on the far left side of Otter Cliff. Unfortunately, the airy route, one of the cliff's best climbs, toppled into the storm surge on a dark night in 2008 along with Black Crack and Riptide.

A photo from this shoot was on the cover of that first edition of Rock Climbing New England as well as on page 230 in the current second edition, so the route, in a sense, still has life on bookshelves and gear closets.

Photo below: Eric Morin belays Martha Morris on Razor Crack on a bluebird day at Acadia National Park. Photograph © Stewart M. Green


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