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Ice Climbing in Camden

Region: Maine’s MidCoast & Islands
Activities: Ice Climbing

It seems impossible. There, hanging from a frozen waterfall, are climbers inching upwards. How did they get there? Are those people nuts?

Nope. They’re just enjoying a day of ice climbing, one of the hottest (no pun intended) forms of alpinism and one getting a lot more attention in Maine these days. The cliffs and crags of the Camden Hills, for example, have become a favored spot for this fast-growing sport.

While not as well-known as Acadia National Park as a climbing destination, the Camden Hills have long drawn alpinists for their fine crags, wonderful scenery and easy access to MidCoast communities. More recently, climbers who’ve explored Camden’s rock in warm weather have returned when the temperatures drop.

Ice climbing has grown rapidly with the creation of new, high-tech equipment. Using those tools, experts ascend frighteningly steep frozen cascades and walls of stone frosted with ice. Even beginners can enjoy kicking and clomping up less steep faces. And since the slippery pitches they ascend can be dangerous, climbers often rely on ropes and harnesses (and friends holding those ropes) in the same way as rock climbers. Besides being fun, it’s challenging to learn to ‘read the ice’ and choose the best line up faces that can change daily, depending on temperature and precipitation.

Because it’s a technical sport, training and safety are vital. New climbers should start with short, easy pitches as well good instruction. Equinox Guiding Service, based in Camden, leads climbs and teaches rock climbing in warmer months and ice climbing when it’s cold. Beginners can try an eight-hour ‘Intro to Ice Climbing’ course that leads them through the basics—using crampons (harder than it looks, trust us), ice tools and safety equipment. Essential gear is provided. Contact Equinox for information about schedules. Training and trips for intermediate and advanced climbers are also available.

Two other climbing schools—Acadia Mountain Guides of Bar Harbor and Orono and Atlantic Climbing School of Bar Harbor—also offer ice climbing in the Camden area. Check their websites for information and schedules.

Driving Distances:
From Portland: 81 miles
From Bangor: 54 miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 35 miles

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