Course Descriptions>Rock Climbing

Private and Semi-Private Rock Climbing Instruction & Guiding
Available by appointment daily

Acadia Mountain Guides can easily tailor a rock climbing lesson to meet your specific goals. If you are seeking to find out what rock climbing is all about, we recommend a half or a full day exposure to climbing. This is ideal for people of all ages whether they be individuals, couples, families or organized groups.

If you are a climber seeking to advance your skills, Acadia Mountain Guides can help you build confidence and competence in a multitude of advanced skills such as anchoring, direct belayed top roping, redirect belayed top roping, anchoring concepts and subtleties, establishing a functional master point, sport climbing, lead climbing, seconding (following) a lead climb, aid climbing, rope-solo techniques, basic to - way out there - self rescue skills, or professionally recognized guide training courses. Choose as many days as you wish and design a curriculum with an Acadia Mountain Guide to best fit your needs.

Are you an experience climber in need of a partner? Team up with an Acadia Mountain Guide to sample the classic routes of popular New England climbing areas such as Acadia National Park, Clifton, Camden or one of New Hampshire's many great rock climbing areas (North Conway, Cannon). If you have a little more time take an extended vacation with us to rock climb in Quebec, Rocky Mountain National Park (CO), Red Rock Canyon (Las Vegas), Joshua Tree National Park (CA), or a host of other destinations around the globe.

To make a reservation or find out more call 1-888-232-9559 or email

Family Climbing
Available by appointment daily

One of our most popular summer programs. Rock climbing is an excellent choice for parents looking for a family experience that almost everyone can participate in. We welcome all ages of climbers. For complete details see...

To make a reservation or find out more call 1-888-232-9559 or email

Organized Group Climbing
Available by appointment daily

Scout groups, camp groups, church groups, school groups, etc. Join one of the hundreds of organizations that have chosen Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School to provide a a day of fun and skills on the rocks. The spectacular coast of Maine is the perfect location to bring a group and adventure activities abound. Rock climb one day then sea kayak, bike, hike, or play mini-golf - Acadia National Park and the nearby town of Bar Harbor offers a full selection of activities for groups to choose from.

Acadia Mountain Guides are among the best in the country at facilitating a climbing experience for small groups. We believe in fully involving the participants as much as possible - climbing, rappelling, belaying and often feature cool closure activities such as a tyrolean rope traverse over the Atlantic if desired. Participants will get much more than an "exposure to climbing" and will not spend their day waiting around to climb (unless they want to). We have seen how many other climbing schools do it and we guarantee you will have an active, superb and safe as possible group experience climbing with us. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School led the way in developing the American Mountain Guides Association national standard course curriculum and certification exam - the AMGA Top Rope Climbing Instructor and Site Manager Course, which focuses on teaching experienced climbers state of the art technical and educational methods for teaching climbing to individuals and groups.

Group programs are available in Acadia National Park, Clifton (near Bangor), Camden, in the Kennebec River and Penobscot River areas (works well when combined with a rafting trip or a hike up Katahdin), Moosehead Lake region, central New Hampshire and the White Mountains (North Conway, Franconia Notch, Pinkham Notch, Rumney).

To make a reservation or find out more call 1-888-232-9559 or email

Introduction to Rock Climbing

Available in half and full day lengths by private arrangement

A safe, positive and enjoyable introduction to rock climbing. This course acquaints you with the art of climbing movement and provides you with a basic foundation of skills and knowledge that you can build upon. You will learn the safety systems of knots, belaying and rappelling along with climbing techniques. Subsequent days elaborate upon belaying and rappelling subtleties. Classes are taught on suitable terrain where success is assured. Maximum ratio of six students and one instructor with maximum course size of ten.

  • How Climbing Works
  • Harness and Knots
  • Rappelling basics (descending a rock face)
  • Body Position and movement, hand and foot holds
  • Basic equipment
  • Belaying basics (how climbers protect each other)
  • Securing to an anchor
  • Challenging yet accomplishable climbs

Intermediate Rock Climbing - Placing Gear and Building Anchors -

Placing Gear and Building Anchors Our intermediate program is the beginning of the rest of your climbing career. We typically begin with a climb and rappel of a multi-pitch route to evaluate your ability and understanding of climbing principles. After reviewing any necessary basics, we will progress to creating safe natural and artificial anchors with a particular focus on setting up simple yet "bombproof" top rope climbs using the rope, runners and/or cordellettes. We will focus on the concepts of anchor stability, directionality, effectiveness, redundancy, equalization, and extension. You will practice building top rope climbing systems and then climbing on them after critique from your guide. Throughout the weekend we will examine more intricacies of equipment use, practice placing and cleaning chocks and camming devices, and learn the basics of self-rescue related to top rope climbing.

  • Evaluative climb and rappel, basics review
  • Natural Anchor Selection
  • Learn to Evaluate "SERENE" concepts
  • Top Rope stance Management
  • Traditional vs. redirected top rope belays
  • Personal problem solving & critique
  • Additional belays such as Munter and body belay
  • Creating anchor systems with cordellettes/ runners
  • Additional rappelling skills
  • More challenging climbs

Available anytime by private arrangement

Women's Introduction to Rock Climbing

Similar in content to our standard introductory course, this is instructed by women and specifically intended for women. This fun and productive introductory climbing course focuses on climbing movement and provides you with a core set of rope management skills that you can later build upon. The course is ideal for first time climbers who have climbed primarily in the gym and who are ready to move on to outdoor rock climbing.

  • Learn and practice body position and movement skills, use of various hand and foot holds
  • receive up to date information on basic equipment such as ropes, carabiners, harnesses, belay tools, and climbing shoes
  • learn the use of the harness and basic knots
  • gain confidence rappelling (descending a rock face) and backing up rappels
  • Personal problem solving & critique
  • practice the principles of belaying (how climbers protect each other) including the most up to date methods, communication, and anchor attachment
  • be shown modern belaying subtleties when belaying from the top of the cliff that are not yet available in the climbing manuals.
  • meet other women who are active outdoor enthusiasts

Available by private arrangement

Learning to Lead Sport Climbs

For the intermediate climber seeking to start climbing from the ground up or the person who has started to lead but wishes to fill in any gaps. After an evaluative climb, we will spend time selecting, placing and evaluating nut and cam placements on aid and while climbing. Between pitches we will practice and evaluate belay and stance set-up considerations and continually look at route selection and risk management. At the end of the day you will be better prepared to take the sharp end of the rope.

Available anytime by private arrangement

Learning to Lead Traditional Climbs

For the intermediate climber seeking to start climbing from the ground up or the person who has started to lead but wishes to fill in any gaps. After an evaluative climb, we will spend time selecting, placing and evaluating nut and cam placements on aid and while climbing. Between pitches we will practice and evaluate belay and stance set-up considerations and continually look at route selection and risk management. At the end of the day you will be better prepared to take the sharp end of the rope.

  • Route selection, protection and resting
  • Anchoring with the climbing rope
  • Basic Aid Climbing
  • Directional belay anchors
  • Fine points of chocks and cams
  • Running protection & directionals

Available anytime by private arrangement

Leading Adair By the Sea, Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park

Partner and Self Rescue Course (aka Rope Skills All Climbers Should Know)

No climber should be without the knowledge and ability to handle an emergency using only personal climbing gear. This course is about awareness and prevention as much as it is about reaction to a problem. Instruction is available at all skill levels and may include rappel and belay problem-solving, belay escapes, ascending, medical concerns, lead climber and second rescues from multi-pitch routes, raisings and counterbalance systems. You may register for one or two days.

  • Preventive thinking
  • Rappel problem solving
  • Various improvised ascending methods
  • Medical considerations / needs
  • Lead climber rescue on singel / multi-pitches
  • Hauling and assisted hoist systems
  • Backing up rappels and belays
  • Various belay escapes
  • Knot passes
  • Tandem rappelling
  • Second rescue on single/multi-pitches
  • Counterbalance systems

Recommended length: 1- 2 days, also available daily by private arrangement

Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

Grab your shoes and harness and join the spring climbing pilgrimage to the desert southwest. This year we head to the golden domes of Joshua Tree National Park in sunny southern California - home to the greatest concentration of rock climbs of any single place in the world. Climbers of all abilities are welcome on this trip. You can hone your crack climbing skills or balance up steep open faces.! Learn about gear placement, anchoring, lead climbing or partner rescue. This trip is ideal for anyone who has basic climbing or gym climbing experience. You can camp among the rocky outcrops within walking distance of climbing and bouldering or take a room in nearby town of Twentynine Palms. There are many other activities such as hikes, a nearby volcano (really), natural history programs or the town of Joshua Tree to occupy the unlikely rainy day or down time.

Rock Climbing Anchors and Protection Course

A focused look at the details of creating strong and reliable anchor systems using natural and / or artificial gear.
  • Using bolts and pitons
  • Passive and active cams
  • Subtleties of chock placements
  • personal problem solving & critique

Available anytime by private arrangement

Three Day Rock Climbing Intensive Course
Open enrollment courses over select holiday weekends
Available anytime by private arrangement with a group of 3 or more

Learn to set up your own climbs in only three days. This course is for the person who is seeking a rapid immersion into rock climbing skills. The course begins with basic skills such as rope handling, equipment information, belaying and rappelling then progresses into anchor construction with natural and artificial anchors with a focus on top rope climbing. Participants will spend a portion of the course learning about different climbing skills including face and crack climbing. The course will also address preventing and resolving common problems that sometimes happen to climbers. A great emphasis will be placed on developing a good decision-making framework and learning to critique the effectiveness and safety of systems built by others. 


2 - 3 Day Top Rope Set Up & Site Evaluation Course
-Available anytime by private arrangement

This two - three day course is designed to be a great primer for those wishing to become self-sufficient in top rope climbing or for potential climbing instructors who want a head start on a PCIA or AMGA climbing instructor course. The course addresses universal anchoring principles like redundancy, angles, extension and equalization; securing to trees, rocks and bolts; placing climbing protection such as cams, stoppers, hexes, tri-cams and Bigbros; personal risk management, and how to set up and use both top and bottom belays. You will have lots of time to practice and to receive feedback from instructors who have used and thought a lot about manydifferent top rope systems.

The course stresses simple, effective methods that will get you more time on the rock and less time scratching your head setting up. Acadia National Park's sea cliffs are renown for their great top roping, making this area one of the most spectacular places to learn to top rope in the U.S. Maximum number of participants is 6.

Note: We receive dozens of requests from people who want to learn to teach climbing to others. However, one can not achieve a level of proficiency in top rope climbing in a couple days that is adequate for teaching others to climb unless one has solid climbing skills already. Experienced climbers seeking to teach climbing should enroll in the AMGA Top Rope Site Manager Course.

available anytime by private arrangement

Custom Rock Climbing and Private Arrangement Guiding

All of the climbing programs we offer may be booked by private arrangement. In some cases the dates that we have scheduled a course may be inconvienent. We are flexible so let us know what you would like to do. If you are interested in setting up a day of climbing or course of instruction for a group please give us a call.

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.



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