Thursday, November 1, 2012

Maryland, Wyoming, Red Rocks,  Salt Lake City, back to Maine.

Been a busy month for us at Acadia Mountain Guides. PCIA courses and exams in Maryland, Wyoming and next week in Salt Lake City. The upcoming training in Salt Lake is part of the national AORE (Association for Outdoor Education and Recreation) Conference. We will be offering both a Single Pitch Course and an Instructor Provider course for those wishing to teach the PCIA climbing instructor courses.

This week we have been climbing and guiding in Red Rock outside of Las Vegas. Nice to get on the warm and friendly sandstone again. After some long climbs earlier in the week and a couple days of working on guide training skills we joined the masses and went sport climbing yesterday. Expected to see some costumes out there being Halloween and all. Saw some "varied" and "unusual"  techniques and outfits but no costumes.  Today we are heading out to climb either Tunnel Vision or Group Therapy - or maybe both. Great routes on Angel Food wall.  Had a great trip out here.

It was great to reconnect with Kevin Slater (and his partner Polly) a couple weeks back. I did a WFA and WFR Recert course at their newly built Mahoosuc Mountain Lodge in Grafton Notch. Kevin and I go back to the beginnings of Maine Bound in the early eighties. They run Mahoosuc Guide Service offering traditional dogsled trips, winter skills, canoe tripping and traditional bush skills courses. Check them out.  A great spot for wilderness med courses with superb hospitality so were looking to do more in the future.

Next week at the AORE conference I will be presenting three workshops - one on spinal injury in the backcountry, a second on Learning Process, and a third entitled "Are We Safe? 
Particularly interested to hear people' opinions on the nuances of the question of "are we safe" with respect to outdoor instructional programs. Feel free to comment, send an email or call.

Gotta get out to the rock. Later.  Jon T.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Little Adventure Climbing

It's been such a busy late summer that we really have not had time to post.

Just finished teaching a PCIA Climbing Wall Instructor Course for Princeton University this past week.  Always a great group of students there and this year we didn't get washed out by a hurricane.  It's so great to see schools and universities investing in their students.

Well the last couple days have been re-invigorating and quite fun. Dick Chasse and I set out to find and climb a bunch of routes in Acadia that are not in any guidebooks and are a bit off the beaten path.
We began with some routes done by Butch and Jean K. - two climbers, who for the last 20+ years have been quietly exploring and putting up random traditional climbing routes throughout Acadia without much fanfare. Most of these routes require a little bushwacking to reach and a little wandering around to find the right line. None are in any current guidebooks.

We first explored a couple moderate routes named And She Even Kept Her Clothes On (5.7) and I'm the Man, You the Mam (5.6). The two routes cross each other and the latter finishes up some fine face and crack climbing. We followed this with a beautiful but strenuous 5.9 corner called Smirk This on the East Face of Champlain Mountain. Our fourth route of the day, The Patron Mezcal Connection began with some awkward bouldery moves which gave way to some nice crack and face climbing. All of these routes were roughly 25m each - so nice single pitch lines with tree rappels.

In the afternoon we headed over to nose around the Beehive.

After looking around a bit more and not finding the area we thought I spotted a nice corner line that looked like it was in need of a climber. It turned out to be a reasonably nice 5.6-7 line which I think we will call Broken Glass. We also did a couple 5.5 lines on some of the lower walls.

Yesterday we went back armed with wide crack protection and put up a nice 8 - 12" wide offwidth in the 5.7 range on the East Face (tentative name Luebbenize It - named for my friend Craig Luebben who invented to Big Bro to protect wide cracks and who was killed in an icefall accident a couple years back in the Cascades.  We also did a sweet little 5.8 corner with a small overlap similar to Bartleby on the Central Slabs. The route then continues up through some geologically tender blocks to a tree ledge. Looking for a name if you have any ideas.

The third and fourth routes of the day turned out a little harder than we thought. We started on a nice face but the protection was pretty sketch and the moves in the solid 5.10 range so we left it for the future. A bolt would be nice - so might write up a park request to add a bolt. Then we turned our energy toward a 30' hand and finger crack on a slightly overhanging wall. Awkward jams and funky body tension were needed to get through the beastly thing - it was thankfully short.  A possible name for this one may be Shortcake Jam, 5.10+.

We ended the day with a couple routes off the Pricipice Trail.  All in all a great change of pace from the usual guiding days and a great reminder of this is why we climb.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wedding Bells

Yesterday my clients Patrick and Eri joined me for a full day of climbing in Acadia National Park. We decided to start off at the South Wall and finish up at Otter Cliffs. Just before we left the shop, Patrick told of his intention to propose to Eri on one of the climbs that day. I suggested the top of the Story of O, a classic three pitch route with beautiful vistas. We set off. Near the top of Story of O I suggested to Patrick that he should wait until the end of the day, to have a nice cap stone to what was shaping up to be great day of climbing. He agreed. We climbed several more pitches at the South Wall and Central Slabs before heading off to Otter Cliffs. At some point during the day Eri told me she really liked climbs with stemming. I knew what climb we should end on, and would make a great stage for Patrick to propose, The Great Chimney. After a couple of classic routes at Otter, it was time to set Patrick's plan into motion. Eri rappelled down into the chimney, Patrick collected himself, and within minutes Eri was almost at the top. Patrick lowered a small bag with the ring just bellow the top of the climb. Eri was comfortably stemming on the last moves of the climb and opened the bag. Patrick proposed, Eri said yes, thus concluding an awesome day of climbing with an unforgettable top out. It was a first for me in my guiding career and I felt honored to be a part of such a special moment in two peoples lives.


Dick Chasse

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Early Summer Happenings

Wow. It’s been a busy spring and early summer here at Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School. To catch you up, below is a quick rundown on a few things we have been up to amid all the daily guiding.We hope to see you on the rock soon.

Untamed NE Adventure Race.
Untamed NE racer rappels into the night.
280' Tyrolean rope traverse. What a pump!
In mid June we were part of the Untamed New England Adventure Race. The race spanned 3 + days and was held in the Forks area of Maine. It featured well over 200 miles of running, mountain biking, paddling, orienteering and mountain skills. Untamed NE was a qualifying race for the world championships to be held in France later this year and was one of only two races taking place in the US. The race was won by the current world champions – Team Thule from Sweden. Kudos to all the athletes who crossed the starting line.

We orchestrated a mountain skills segment as part of the race. Participants started the segment with a rappel into the Dead River then paddled, ferried, floated or otherwise survived to the opposite shore where the ascended a cliff then ran to a tyrolean than spanned almost 300’ across the river. It was quite a challenge for all involved. Great fun and we look forward to doing it again.  Thanks to Sterling Rope for providing financial support to this event.  

AMGCS Sponsors Acadia Climbing Rendezvous
Dozens of climbers joined us in late May for three days of climbing, clinics, movies, speakers and volunteer service. 12 participants took part in a 3 day Rock Climbing Intensive while others took part in bouldering tours, anchor clinics, women's clinics, etc. Demo shoes were available from La Sportiva and Evolv. On Saturday night, speaker Janet Bergman Wilkinson showed slides and spoke of recent climbs and on Sunday guests watched the Reel Rock Film series. The event wrapped up with an Access Fund Adopt-A-Crag clean-up project in Acadia National Park.  Many thanks to La Sportiva, Evolv, Metolius and Sterling for helping to sponsor the event. 

Caltrans Scaler Course
Scalers in training.
Spent five days at sunny Donner Summit teaching a course for the CA Department of Transportation. The participants ranged for geotechnical engineers to laborers and were the CALTRANS trainers who train their crews to keep the highways open and safe from rockfall, etc. They are the crews that scale off loose rock, put up nets, blow stuff up, etc. A unique field that combines mountaineering skills with industrial rescue skills.  This was the second course for them in three years. They are psyched on the customized curriculum and through the PCIA (Professional Climbing Instructors Association) we hope to develop a standard curriculum that can be adopted by other states and internationally. 

2012 Guides
All of our guide staff this year are returning veterans from the past season. We spent much of early June refreshing and tweaking skills to keep everyone sharp out there and up to date on the latest and greatest ways to do things.

2012 Interns
We also welcomed seven new interns to Acadia Mountain Guides who spent all of June in training in preparation for leading some of our summer camps. Our interns are selected from university outdoor program leaders and this year we had over 60 applicants.

PCIA course continue to be strong.
This spring we instructed a Single Pitch course in Maryland along with two in Maine for a total 18 participants. In addition, we offered a Climbing Wall Instructor course too.   

AMG guides assist in two rescues.
Jon brings in Lifeflight 1 for a landing on the rocky coast.
Jon, Dick and Wesley joined park rescue personnel and MDI Search and Rescue volunteers to treat and evacuate a solo climber who had fallen while climbing unroped.  Jon coordinated the patient medical care and the landing zone set-up for Lifeflight to set down while Wesley and Dick assisted with the technical rigging. Jon is also a flight paramedic for Lifeflight. Earlier in the day, AMG guides also assisted in the evacuation of a climber who had a minor injury but could not be gotten down by their partner due to inexperience. You'll be happy to know that in over 40,000 guiding days, AMGCS has not had a serious accident or injury.

AMGCS is reaccredited by the AMGA.
The climbing school was re-accredited by the AMGA this spring.  We have been a long-standing believer in the benefits of accreditation and have been accredited every year since opening in 1993 – long before it became a public expectation of a climbing school. AMGCS is also accredited by the Professional Climbing Instructors Association making us the only dually accredited local climbing service.

Blind Climber climbs with AMGCS this week 

Ellie Weihenmayer on the seastack. Otter Cliffs.

IFMGA gude Jon Tierney climbs with Erik Weihenmayer on Rock Lobster, 5.9 at Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park

Jon guided and climbed with Eric and Ellie Weihenmayer earlier this week. Erik is blind adventurer and motivational speaker. Despite losing his vision at the age of 13, Erik has become one of the most celebrated and accomplished adventurers in the world. Re-defining what it means to be blind, Erik has opened up the eyes and minds of people around the world. In 2001, Erik became the only blind climber in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2008, he completed his quest to climb the Seven Summits – the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. Since then, he continues to inspire others through actions and deeds. Among many other accomplishments. He has climbed the Nose of El Capitan and competed in the Primal Quest adventure race. A number of guides came out to join us. It was super inspirational and great learning for all of us to watch as Erik climbed some of the harder routes at Otter Cliff.  Here is a link to his website