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Climbing @ Acadia and high tides.
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By Chris D.
Jul 2, 2012
I just had a question for anyone who has ever climbed at Otter Cliffs and the surrounding area in Acadia NP.

We're looking to make our first trip this week and low tide looks to be landing at night.

Has anyone had experience climbing it at high tide, is it a must rap down situation, or is there a place to stand down there at high tide? If you're belaying from the top is there a good place for a redirect or will I be hanging off the edge belaying from my harness loop?

I'm just curious, I like being somewhat familiar with what's going on in new places.

Also is night climbing allowed? Because the moon is near full and I think that might make for an incredible experience!

TIA!
-Chris

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By nhclimber
From Newmarket, NH
Jul 2, 2012
Screaming Yellow Zonkers
It's been a while since I climbed at otter cliffs. But, I remember being able to rig an anchor and belay off it while sitting out facing the water and looking down. I did set up a couple typical tr set ups near the stack. And i may have done a hanging style belay on a couple routes to keep communication easy.

I'm sure you know but an autoblock or gri-gri style belay device is really the ticket in this type of set up. And besides going leading, belaying off your harness is a pain in the ass. Hope it helps.

Check out the precipice (you'll never want to go elsewhere) and I recently heard good thing about south bubble.

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Jul 2, 2012
Topo - Cliffs in Green

Belaying from the top is quite cush... they have beautiful stainless steel staple anchors which can hold several ropes at once. Really nice place for a belayer. I belay directly off the anchors. At high tide you'll pretty much have to lower the climber just above the water and then they start trying not to get wet. At mid tide or whenever the ledge is mostly dry you can both rap down and lead belay if you wish. If low tide is at night then then it will also be that way in the morning. Also check out Great Head.

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By coldatom
From Cambridge, MA
Jul 2, 2012
Jurassic Park
Chris D. wrote:
low tide looks to be landing at night.


Low tide comes through TWICE a day. So, on Saturday 7/7, low tide will be at 8:10 am and again at 8:31 pm.
Tide Chart

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By coldatom
From Cambridge, MA
Jul 2, 2012
Jurassic Park
Morgan Patterson wrote:
Belaying from the top is quite cush... they have beautiful stainless steel staple anchors which can hold several ropes at once.


Last I checked (7/4/2011) the ONLY fixed anchors are on the 3-4 climbs furthest to the north on Otter. You need to build anchors with trad gear for ALL the other climbs. Anchoring off of trees is not allowed, and impractical since there are none close to the cliff edge. The climbs near the fixed anchors are the exception. There are trees nearby, but they were getting trashed, and that's why the anchors were put in.

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Jul 2, 2012
Rumney
We climbed nearly all the routes along the water's edge at Otter when there a few years ago. Had zero issues building belays/anchors, and not once had a problem with the tide interfering with climbing.

The climbs on the far end (climber's right) have the bolted loops for easy anchor access. The remaining climbs can be easily TR'd with 3+ point anchors using gear.

Definitely do the chimney, it's the only chimney I've climbed I actually liked.

The quality at Otter is good, but the Precipice is even better (plus multipitch). There's a good guide (Acadia: A Climber's Guide, Jeff Butterfield) that's out of print and growing scarce. I had to borrow a friend's and scan a copy. If you desperately need a guide I'd rather share what I have then have you do without. Just message me.

I would not call Acadia a destination for climbers, but it can certainly keep you busy and most of what was there was decent quality (or better).

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By JChepes
From Chocorua, NH
Jul 2, 2012
Acadia is one of the most beautiful climbing destinations on the east coast. It should be on every climbers list. I've been only once and did not even get over to the precipice so i patiently wait to return. South bubble was a blast and otter was amazing. Camden, it's neighbor, is quite fun also and worth checking out.

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By Travis Dustin
From Hollis, NH
Jul 2, 2012
Lost in the Sun pitch 2
Good thread! I am going in two weeks and was wondering the same info. More beta the better. Keep it coming!!

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By Nick K
From Somerville, MA
Jul 2, 2012
I too have a trip planned out this way, (though not till August) and would appreciate some beta.

I've heard some interesting things about protecting routes at Otter Cliffs, so 1: are things protectable?

2: do people really get annoyed at you for NOT TR'ing lines there? (I was told that people get pissy because placing gear takes too long, but that makes absolutely no sense to me when you've got large groups flocking around top ropes).

3: how salty do your ropes and pro get / any idea if this degrades them extra fast in the long run?

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Jul 3, 2012
Rumney
chippa wrote:
Acadia is one of the most beautiful climbing destinations on the east coast. It should be on every climbers list.


Staring at the ocean aint my thing. For that I feel Cape Cod had more wildlife overall and the beaches were awesome.

Having also been to the West Coast, I was equally unimpressed with the Route 1 corridor oceanside views south of San Fran.

There's people who die for these "vacations". I thank god I rock climb, and head inland to better cliffs. ;)

I'll never go back to Acadia again. There's tons of comparable climbing elsewhere in the northeast, and it's a long drive for almost everyone. Otter cliffs was the most unique climbing experience they had to offer. It was a crag with okay single pitch routes, but was almost always crowded (we even got early starts). My home crag has more, higher quality, single pitch climbing. It just doesn't have the ocean at its feet. How many stars does that really add again?

When I factored everything in, that experience wasn't worth the expense in time/effort to experience it. Sorry if this doesn't match the profile the tourism board insists on promoting. IMO it's sad Acadia is the only National park in the northeast, but it does say a lot about the lack of breathtaking places in the northeast overall. Head West, then you'll know what jaw-dropping truly is.

Sorry for the OT rant. Figured if someone's going to blindly promote, I'm going to give the counterpoint.

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Jul 3, 2012
Rumney
Nick K wrote:
I too have a trip planned out this way, (though not till August) and would appreciate some beta. I've heard some interesting things about protecting routes at Otter Cliffs, so 1: are things protectable? 2: do people really get annoyed at you for NOT TR'ing lines there? (I was told that people get pissy because placing gear takes too long, but that makes absolutely no sense to me when you've got large groups flocking around top ropes). 3: how salty do your ropes and pro get / any idea if this degrades them extra fast in the long run?


Yes, most routes are g-ish. The Butterfield guide gives the routes protection ratings fwiw. Without a decent guide book I'd advise you to TR them first though and give them a good look.

The rock at the Pricipice is slightly better for trad, and is mostly trad lines.

No one gave us any attitude the entire time we were climbing there (I think we did 3 days of climbing at Otter, pretty much climbed it out by the end of the second day, bored repeating climbs on day three). If they do, it's nothing you're likely doing. There's usually a guided group or two there, so that's a con IMO.

You won't be there long enough for salt to have any effect on the gear.

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By Miike
From MA/CT border
Jul 3, 2012
my foot
coldatom wrote:
Last I checked (7/4/2011) the ONLY fixed anchors are on the 3-4 climbs furthest to the north on Otter. You need to build anchors with trad gear for ALL the other climbs. Anchoring off of trees is not allowed, and impractical since there are none close to the cliff edge. The climbs near the fixed anchors are the exception. There are trees nearby, but they were getting trashed, and that's why the anchors were put in.


trees getting trashed by top ropers? NO WAY! Trees LOVE top ropers in CT, thats what they grow for. putting evil metal into the rock is BAD!

and yeah, I only remember the stainless anchors on that side myself, the rest were trad anchors.

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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Jul 3, 2012
On Waimea, 5.10d
Gotta agree with Kevin on this one.

If Otter Cliff wasn't by the ocean, if it was inland in the Adirondacks for example, it would receive minimal attention. There are some OK lines. I remember a nice 10 called Guillotine, I think. Precipice is much better and recommended.

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Jul 3, 2012
Topo - Cliffs in Green
Kevin Heckeler wrote:
I'll never go back to Acadia again. There's tons of comparable climbing elsewhere in the northeast, and it's a long drive for almost everyone. Otter cliffs was the most unique climbing experience they had to offer. It was a crag with okay single pitch routes, but was almost always crowded (we even got early starts). My home crag has more, higher quality, single pitch climbing. It just doesn't have the ocean at its feet. How many stars does that really add again?


Kevin - I can understand ur frustration if you just hit Otter Rocks on your trip to Acadia but I think you have dramatically underestimated what Acadia has to offer. Did you climb on the below cliff? What else in the NorthEast let alone the rest of the country is like this monster? It's the largest sea cliff on the east coast of the US and is nothing but burl and britches soiling scary monster swell. There is nothing tame, ordinary or home crag about it... There are caves that have massive roofs with 50 foot overhangs... There are amazing climbs all over acadia it just takes a bit of an adventurous spirit. And willingness to step off the beaten path of tourists.



And ya staples were def only on the right side... sorry for the confusions.. few cams and some nuts and you can setup every climb easily.

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By Dom
Administrator
From New Brunswick Canada
Jul 3, 2012
Moby dick 5.11-
It doesn't seem right that you spent so much time at such a low quality crag (Otter) and then you bash all of the climbing at Acadia Kevin from New York. I think Precipice offers wonderful climbing on immaculate granite and is definitely worth it. Sure it's not huge, but I'll agree (like others have said) that it is some of the best trad climbing the NorthEast has to offer.

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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Jul 3, 2012
That's like spending a day at Peterskill and then saying you don't care for the Gunks.

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By wivanoff
Jul 3, 2012
High Exposure
Chris D. wrote:
Has anyone had experience climbing it at high tide, is it a must rap down situation, or is there a place to stand down there at high tide?


We go there every year. The base is accessible from about "half" tide to dead low to "half" tide. You DO have to rap down.
Here's some pix. A lot are taken from the base of the cliff at dead low tide and should give a good overview of the cliff.

flickr.com/gp/cliff-hanger/af3...
flickr.com/gp/cliff-hanger/p80...

We've never had a problem with anchors. There's plenty of places for gear anchors, where needed, and lots of blocks that can be threaded or tied off. The guides there seem to use a length of 10mm static rope to tie off blocks.

We've also never seen attitude from others when we were leading routes there. So far, we thought people were pretty accommodating about sharing routes.


If you're belaying from the top is there a good place for a redirect or will I be hanging off the edge belaying from my harness loop?


Both. You can redirect off any anchor, right?

Also, check out the Precipice (Old Town and Birch Aid!!) and South Bubbles. I think I have some pix but I'd have to find those.

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By Nick K
From Somerville, MA
Jul 3, 2012
Thanks for the beta folks. Honestly, even just from looking at route listings on this site, Otter Cliffs is only remarkable for being on the coast.

Precipice looks like fun though. I've got the pocket guide on the way, haven't been able to find a copy of the Butterfield guide yet though.

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By Chris D.
Jul 3, 2012
This is all great information, thank you all so much!

Yes I had forgotten tide comes twice a day.

Truth be told I wasn't planning on bringing a rack, but it seems like a must. I will also be going with a group of strict top-ropers, so trad/multipitch won't be possible this time around and will need to stick to pure top roping sections which unfortunately makes the precipice obsolete this time around...Boo.

I agree and am planning on doing much more in addition to climbing. A few months ago we did the gunks and that was a pure climbing trip, lots of fun - would you say the popularity is the same at Acadia as it is at the Gunks? I didn't mind the wait times there.

I do have the Butterfield guide book and it's probably the best I've seen. I'm accustomed to seeing PDF maps with no indicators so this guide book will definitely help.

Maybe I'll see a few people there?

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By Chris Duca
From Havertown, PA
Jul 3, 2012
Finishing up Elusive Dream at the King Wall.  Adir...
Similar to several other areas in the country, Acadia exhibits it's own unique climbing experience. It's sad that some can jump to conclusions so quickly about an area based on one experience at a limited number of crags. Otter Cliffs, the Precipice, Great Head, and Canada Cliff offer high quality climbing within a stone's throw to the road and onlookers, much like the Gunks. In short, I feel like Acadia climbing is worthwhile destination!

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Jul 3, 2012
Topo - Cliffs in Green
Chris D. wrote:
I will also be going with a group of strict top-ropers, so trad/multipitch won't be possible this time around and will need to stick to pure top roping sections which unfortunately makes the precipice obsolete this time around...Boo.


Otter and Great Head are both great for setting up top ropes... or at least lowering the climbers down and then having them climb back up to you at the belay. I would also make sure that your climbers are proficient using prusik loops or ascenders to climb the rope if they can't climb the route. Morning Glory is an amazing 5.8.

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By JChepes
From Chocorua, NH
Jul 3, 2012
Kevin I'll never go back to Acadia Heckler. Pretty harsh dude but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This would be a prime example why New Englanders will never get along or agree with New Yorkers:>

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Jul 4, 2012
Rumney
I didn't say it was crap, I simply pointed out that the travel for most people to get there isn't worth it. People like me fly 3,000 miles to climb in Yosemite. THAT's an example of a true destination climbing area. Red Rocks, Red River, Eldo, Squamish... heck, even Rumney because of it's unique mostly sport climbing -- all of these are examples of destination climbing areas.

For a majority of climbers (look at a map, most humans on the planet live 3+ hours from Acadia) there's better or comparable climbing much closer to home, sans the ocean. So unless you're into seeing the ocean, just go elsewhere.

When I looked at my wallet and reflect on the vacation, in hindsight I choose to spend that money going elsewhere next time. No crime in that. And my posts are clarifications why (so if anyone's on the fence, maybe this will help them choose what I feel is the wiser path).

I also would not compare Acadia to the Gunks. Apples to Oranges. The Gunks are a HUGE climbing area with respect to number of climbs, multi-pitch routes, etc. I certainly wasn't comparing it to the Gunks. Actually, I've taken a few mini-vacations to the Gunks because it was cheaper than going elsewhere. The Gunks literally have ten times as many routes, and half of them are very high quality. That's a poor comparison for Acadia if that was the point.

My $0.02

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Jul 4, 2012
Rumney
Morgan Patterson wrote:
Kevin - I can understand ur frustration if you just hit Otter Rocks on your trip to Acadia but I think you have dramatically underestimated what Acadia has to offer. Did you climb on the below cliff? What else in the NorthEast let alone the rest of the country is like this monster? It's the largest sea cliff on the east coast of the US and is nothing but burl and britches soiling scary monster swell. There is nothing tame, ordinary or home crag about it... There are caves that have massive roofs with 50 foot overhangs... There are amazing climbs all over acadia it just takes a bit of an adventurous spirit. And willingness to step off the beaten path of tourists.


Afraid this either missed our radar, or we weren't climbing hard enough to tackle those climbs. We have a couple dozen walls (not including the Gunks) within a 2 hour drive from us with similar features and height. We managed to do a few other things while in Acadia (the only few other things to do). It was a rehab trip for my recovering partner, so settling with just TR'ing was fine.

Repeating my point, remove the ocean and there's better/comparable climbing elsehwere in the Northeast. It's silly people are even arguing otherwise. Just an example of how blindly we get attached to a belief and/or place. As long as you're happy, cool. The more people who climb in Acadia means fewer people climbing where I am. :-D

That said, Acadia is the bomb!! ALL of you should go there for the rest of the summer!!!!

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By Eric Engberg
Jul 4, 2012
Nothing of interest at Acadia. Move along.

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By JChepes
From Chocorua, NH
Jul 4, 2012
You can keep your Gunks and I will keep my Acadia! I've only been to NY once and that my friend was the last.

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