My First Time: Rock Climbing

Trying something new can be daunting - especially when it involves a harness, some rope, and a steep rock face. But Michael Hitz of Portland has been wanting to try rock climbing for years. With guidance from Noah Kleiner (who has loads of experience with first-timers), owner of Equinox Guiding Service in Camden, Michael got to climb outdoors for the first time. Watch the video to see how it went! Huge thank you to sponsor Spectrum Healthcare Partners for their support with the My First Time series.

Climbing and Collaborating in Midcoast Maine

“You can wait, or you can start it now. The sooner you do it, the sooner it’ll be your business,” were the words of advice Noah Kleiner received from his CEI business advisor that ultimately kickstarted his business, Equinox Guiding Service, LLC.

Rock climbing Camden

Kleiner dreamed of owning a business that combined his passion for teaching kids in the outdoors and rock climbing. He met with a CEI business advisor to discuss his initial idea. As they began getting quotes and writing a business plan, the dream began to take shape into a rock climbing guiding service in Camden, Maine.

This May will be Equinox Guiding Service’s third year in operation. Kleiner Co-owns and runs the business full time and works with John Sidik seasonally. The business operates year-round, offering rock climbing in the spring, summer and fall, and ice climbing in the winter to new climbers, visitors, groups, schools and other local organizations. While most of the climbing is based in Camden, more advanced climbing trips take clients to Acadia National Park where Equinox Guiding Service obtained a climbing permit last year. Each summer, Kleiner spends a week teaching climbing at Hurricane Island foundation, an outdoor education program for students of all ages.

Owners Equinox Guiding Service

John Sidik & Noah Kleiner

As the business has grown, Kleiner remarked, “I didn’t expect the whole community to be so willing to collaborate. Mainers want to help out other Mainers.” Without that help, he wouldn’t have been able to do this full time, he explained. “We’re all working together. That’s how we’re making it work.”

See the full article here.


Ice sometimes gets a bad rap. Sure, it comes in handy to cool our lemonade and coolered snacks in the summer, but during a Maine winter, ice is spoken about in unpleasant tones.

Ice makes us fall down, after all. It coats our windshields and turns our roads into skating rinks (although, it should be said, ice on actual skating rinks is awesome).

But winter ice can be something you look forward to – seek out, even. There is that aforementioned ice skating (ice skating!). And there is also ice CLIMBING.

Much like rock climbing, ice climbing gives us regular, feet-on-the-ground humans an opportunity to scale rock faces like gravity-shirking super heroes. Put some crampons on our boots, a couple of axes in our mitts, and we can do anything!

Camden Maine Ice Climbing

Well, okay, we might not be all that graceful or great at it to start, but we can at least put in a pretty good showing, even if we’ve never climbed much of anything before.

Based out of Camden, Equinox Guiding Service offers ice climbing trips in the winter. (In warmer months, Equinox offers rock climbing trips, too. I had the pleasure of rock climbing with Noah a couple of years ago: Rock climbing in Camden with Equinox Guiding Service.)

Gearing up in the truck
Ice climbing Gearing up!
Noah Explaining how to put crampons on

Co-owned by experienced guides Noah Kleiner and John Sidik, Equinox is in the business of getting people onto the ice (or the rock, as the case may be). And while it’s true that ice climbing does feel more daunting (all those sharp objects + walls of ice = immediate fear response), it can be a really fun – and really safe – sport, even for novices with little to no climbing experience.

Ice climbing Crampons

For starters, guides like Noah know all the good ice spots, and they pay close attention to make sure the ice is safe for climbing. And ice climbing has all sorts of safety redundancies and equipment – ropes and harnesses and locking carabiners and helmets and belay devices. So you’re good there. (As with any outdoor sport, there’s always a level of risk, but climbing ice isn’t remotely as scary as it sounds when your first hear it.)

Hiking in to the climb
Hiking in!
Crampon use
Ice School

And the feeling of swinging an axe and landing into ice the first time – well, it feels very badass.

But before the axes swing, you’ve got to get geared up and find some ice.

During a recent guided ice climb with Equinox Guiding Service, we met Noah on the side of Route 52 at the Old Carriage Road trailhead at Camden Hills State Park. There we all filled out the obligatory waivers and started putting on our gear: Climbing boots, crampons, harness, helmet. (All the climbing gear is supplied. We dressed in warm winter layers – snowpants, coats, hats, gloves).

Learning the skills for Ice Climbing
Having fun

Then we hiked about a mile in – on a pretty trail that was coated in ice – to find our climbing destination for the day: The Left Cataracts.

This spot is so dang pretty. Ice spilled down from the layers of rock like a lava flow of vanilla icing oozing down a layer cake. It looked beautiful. But also meant we needed to be careful with our footing (three cheers for crampons).

Ice Climbing in camden

Noah walked us through all the equipment – how to make sure our harnesses were tight around our waists, how to properly knot the rope, how to kick our toes into the ice and keep our heels down, how to swing the axe light we mean it!

Learning Ice Climbing

While we practiced kicking and swinging, Noah set up the ropes for our climbing. Then it was time for us to give it a try.

Noah taught us how climbers should indicate they’re ready to climb, “On belay!” and how the belayer responds, “Belay on!” He showed us how to actually belay, too, keeping our eyes on the climber and our hands always on the rope, taking up slack as the climber climbs.

And we started climbing.

Looking out at Camden Hills State park
Ice Climbing Maine

For most of us, those first few swings were clumsy – they didn’t land correctly and so we swung again, bits of ice flying as the axe made contact and dug in. We kicked the front of our crampons into the ice and stepped up, swinging and kicking and climbing.

The routes Noah chose for us were beginner-friendly, not too steep except in parts near the top, so the going felt confident. Two in our group – Juliette and Holly – powered right up like they’d been ice climbing for ages. Heather and I hesitated more as we got higher up. I felt great most of the way – bold and in control – until I realized how high I was. Then I wanted down. I think that probably happens a lot with beginner ice climbers.

Maine Ice Climbing
Fit Maine Ice Climbing

We spent a few hours getting to know a few different routes here, trading off between climbing and belaying each other. Cheering each other on the whole time.

In those moments of “I want down” or “I don’t know where to go,” Noah did an excellent job of talking us through it – telling us to breathe or to move to the right or that “It’s not much farther up – you got this!”

Juliette and Holly reached the top of everything. I did not. And it didn’t matter. We all felt like ice climbing stars.

Camden Climbing
Maine Climbing
Ice CLimbing
Things to do in maine

After lunch we moved to another area not too far away, where the ice was decidedly steeper. By this point my hands were tired (apparently I’d been giving my axes a death grip – probably due to nerves) and my knees hurt because I’d unwittingly been ramming them into the ice as I climbed (ah, beginners), but I still went for it.

Again, I didn’t make the top. But others did, because they rule.

By the end of the day, we were all pleasantly drained – it was a cool and unique winter adventure where we got to challenge ourselves and maybe even surprise ourselves with how high we could go. We got to kick and swing axes in a way that felt exciting and cathartic at the same time.

And we got to look some ice in the face and tell it, “We’re not afraid of you.”

Except, you know, when it’s all over the driveway just waiting to knock us off our feet.

Things to do in a maine winter
I said yes to adventure

Ice Climbing with Equinox Guiding Service

Equinox Guiding Service offers full-day ice climbing trips all season when the conditions are good. Climbs take place at various locations in Camden and cost $110-$265 per person, depending on the number of people in your group. For groups of 10 or more, the rate is $75.
FMI: and

Learning and climbing

Rock Climbing or Ice Climbing

SO you want a sense of adventure and are looking for a challenge. Equinox Guiding Services  has partnered with the Hawthorn Inn to provide an exceptional adventure!

With this package

To redeem the package, call Equinox or Book a Trip to schedule your climb. Then book your room online at the Hawthorn Inn or call 207-236-8842 to book a room and tell them you are climbing with Equinox to receive the 10% discount.

You must book direct to receive this rate and it cannot be combined with any other offer, third party site or third party gift certificate. Some exclusions apply.

Hawthron Inn

It's nice on ice

Bill Green came ice climbing in Camden with us. Check out the Video!

Ice Climbing with The Timber Cross with a great v-log. check it out!

Ice Climbing in Camden Hills

International  Toboggan Championships

Camden Maine is well known for its celebratory take on winter. Home to the Camden Snowbowl, this tiny town has a vibrant ski community, both downhill and cross country alike. Camden Hills State Park is full of trails that provide enough outdoor entrainment for us all, and you can skate your heart out on the local lakes. To top it all off Camden hosts the International Toboggan Championships, and yes, it’s as fun as it sounds. A weekend long celebration through downtown and over to the Snowbowl itself, draws people from all over the country to try their hand at a speedy trip down the toboggan shoot on homemade sleds.    

Camden Hills  lays another take on celebrating all that winter has to offer, climbing ice. Finding trickles of frozen water that flows over the cliffs and crags of the park a group of climbers enjoy a very different kind of winter playground. Ice climbing developed in a similar way as rock climbing, it was a means to the summit of big mountains. Mountaineers developed tools and movement styles to climb frozen ice pillars that led them to summits and back down again. Over the decades, with more attention given to the sport and the design of technical ice gear, ice climbing has come along way. Combined with the  American Mountain Guide Association’s  hard work of setting up a system of education to train and mentor guides, ice climbing has almost earned the term “popular”.

Tucked into a few corners of Camden Hills lays another take on celebrating all that winter has to offer, climbing ice. Finding trickles of frozen water that flows over the cliffs and crags of the park a group of climbers enjoy a very different kind of winter playground. Ice climbing developed in a similar way as rock climbing, it was a means to the summit of big mountains.  Mountaineers developed tools and movement styles to climb frozen ice pillars that led them to summits and back down again. Over the decades, with more attention given to the sport and the design of technical ice gear, ice climbing has come along way. Combined with the American Mountain Guide Association’s hard work of setting up a system of education to train and mentor guides, ice climbing has almost earned the term “popular”.

Camden offers beginner friendly climbing with short flows of varying degree of steepness to steep overhanging curtains of icicles. No matter your climbing goals, there’s ice for everyones ability. You can work with a certified guide, who will provide not only the climbing gear but knowledge of the park to customize your adventure. Each year the routes of ice to be climbed form in different ways, depending on the amount of precipitation and temps, and each season provide a slightly new climb, new challenge.

Camden offers beginner friendly climbing with short flows of varying degree of steepness to steep overhanging curtains of icicles. No matter your climbing goals, there’s ice for everyones ability. You can work with a certified guide, who will provide not only the climbing gear but knowledge of the park to customize your adventure. Each year the routes of ice to be climbed form in different ways, depending on the amount of precipitation and temps, and each season provide a slightly new climb, new challenge.   

Ice on the coast of Maine can be a fickle thing. The Atlantic, with her ebb and flow of moisture can make for unpredictable temperatures causing the ice flows (and ski conditions) to change  with it. No matter the weather the midcoast community continues on with its’ celebrations, winter can be long if you don’t and the weathers bound to change anyhow. It’s about celebrating a sense of adventure, challenges that widen our perception, and expanding our comfort zones by getting outside. We’re grateful for a community that values making space for celebrations.  

You by no means need to be a self identified climber to try your hand at a day of guided ice climbing. Have you ever been out on a hiking trail in Maine and passed by a party with neon ropes, ice picks attached to there backpacks and mile wide grins, and wonder what they might be up too? Well, pack a thermos of your favorite hot beverage, multiple pairs of gloves and the best attitude you can muster and join us for a day of winter celebration and climbing in Camden Hills.

You by no means need to be a self identified climber to try your hand at a day of guided ice climbing. Have you ever been out on a hiking trail in Maine and passed by a party with neon ropes, ice picks attached to there backpacks and mile wide grins, and wonder what they might be up too? Well, pack a thermos of your favorite hot beverage, multiple pairs of gloves and the best attitude you can muster and join us for a day of winter celebration and climbing in Camden Hills.

Happy climbing,

Equinox Guiding Service

Take a crack at ice climbing in the Camden Hills

Aislinn Sarnacki |  BDN   Noah Rousseau, 14, of Appleton finds purchase with an ice ax while learning to ice climb with Equinox Guiding Service on Dec. 20, in Camden Hills State Park.

The ice loomed ahead in frozen waterfalls, bumpy mounds, rippling walls and tapered icicles. As the water ran over the cliffs and down the steep slope, it solidified into wild shapes that could only be conquered with ice axes, spiked boots and a sturdy rope.

“You want to find the best spot for the ice ax to go in,” Noah Kleiner said as he brushed crusty snow away to reveal the smooth surface of the wall.

It was a sunny morning in December, and Kleiner, co-owner of Equinox Guiding Service in Camden, was teaching two young men how to ice climb for the first time. They listened and watched attentively as Kleiner described the intricacies of ice and the techniques that make ice climbing a sport that is not as difficult or scary is it might seem.

“See this line right here?” Kleiner asked, pointing to a chink in the wall. “That’s a really good spot.”

Aislinn Sarnacki |  BDN   Noah Kleiner (right), owner of Equinox Guiding Service, talks to his clients about the difference between ice axes on Dec. 20, while teaching them to ice climb in Camden Hills State Park.

Swinging his ax in a smooth arc, Kleiner buried the tool’s sharp, pointed end into the ice with a deep thud. The handle of the ax — also known as an ice hammer — quivered in his gloved hand, indicating that the placement was solid. “That’s really in there,” he said, kicking his spiked boots into the wall and tugging on the ax with both hands. It didn’t budge. Only when he pulled the ax upward did it release from the ice so he could swing it once more, higher on the wall. And up he went.

Aislinn Sarnacki |  BDN   Noah Rousseau, 13, of Appleton smiles while halfway up an ice route in Camden Hills State Park on Dec. 20, while learning to ice climb with Equinox Guiding Service.

Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN

Noah Rousseau, 13, of Appleton smiles while halfway up an ice route in Camden Hills State Park on Dec. 20, while learning to ice climb with Equinox Guiding Service.

“It’s kind of like being Thor,” he said. “You’re just swinging hammers.”

‘A different form of adventure’

Aislinn Sarnacki |  BDN   Jack Main, 15, of Camden scales a wall of ice on Dec. 20, in Camden Hills State Park while learning to ice climb with Equinox Guiding Service.

Established less than three years ago, Equinox Guiding Service is owned and operated by Kleiner and John Sidik, who both grew up in the Camden area and have diverse backgrounds in outdoor education and guiding. At first, the small business offered only rock climbing instruction and trips, but this winter, they are branching out to offer ice climbing in Camden Hills, Acadia National Park and beyond.

“It’s just something different in the winter, you know, a different form of adventure, like cross-country skiing or downhill skiing,” Kleiner said. “I think people usually figure it out pretty quickly.”

That day, his clients were Noah Rousseau, 14, of Appleton and Jack Main, 15, of Camden, who had both gone rock climbing with him before — but not ice climbing. And while the two sports have some similarities, they are actually quite different.

In rock climbing, you search a rock wall for cracks and shelves to grasp with your hands and feet, while in ice climbing, you’re reading ice and creating your own holds, wherever you want, with the sharp end of an ice ax and the metal spikes of crampons fastened to your boots.

“Maybe it’s because I had a little bit of experience with rock climbing, but I found this [ice climbing] was easier to get into, easier to pick up,” Main said after he successfully climbed up two different ice routes with Kleiner’s instruction. “It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while.”

Rousseau also enjoyed his time scaling the ice that day.

“It’s very fun,” he said. “For me, I never really liked the kind of [rock] climbs when you were just hanging on your fingertips or just the tips of your toes, and ice climbing is really not any of that.”

Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN  Noah Kleiner, owner of Equinox Guiding Service, demonstrates a wide stance while teaching beginners how to ice climb on Dec. 20 in Camden Hills State Park.

‘Anybody can climb’

Kleiner started climbing in 2006 and went on to become a licensed Maine Guide and Single Pitch Instructor, as well as an Aspirant Mountain Guide. He has worked as a guide at Atlantic Climbing School, as well as an outdoor instructor for the 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Tanglewood and Chewonki.

Sidik is also a Single Pitch Instructor, as well as a certified instructor for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. He also studied professional ski and snowboard guiding at Colorado Mountain College, and has guided for Acadia Mountain Guides.

Together, Kleiner said, they make a great team.

The biggest barrier to ice climbing is a mental one, Kleiner said. People often doubt their own abilities, and he thinks some of that stems from popular climbing films that show the more extreme, challenging and dangerous aspects of the sport, where climbers attempt to scale giant vertical walls in remote locations. But this isn’t the experience you’re signing up for with Equinox Guiding Service.

First of all, in many ice climbing films, climbers are “lead climbing,” which means they are climbing without a rope above them to catch them if they slip. Instead, they carry a rope with them and fasten it to anchors they create along the way, usually with ice screws. This means, if they fall, they’ll fall down to the last anchor they created — which can cause serious injury, especially because they’re holding sharp tools and have spikes on their feet that can easily catch on the wall on the way down.

Aislinn Sarnacki |  BDN   Jack Main, 15, of Camden works his way over the lip of a wall of ice up Dec. 20 in Camden Hills State Park while learning to ice climb with Equinox Guiding Service.

In contrast, clients of Equinox always climb with a rope fastened to an anchor at the top of the wall so that if they slip, they won’t actually fall. The rope, which is constantly being cinched by the instructor, will catch the climber instantly. This anchor at the top of the ice wall is set by the guide, who usually must lead climb to the top of the wall to place it there, unless there is a way to hike up.

“Half of my job is managing the risk and making it as safe as possible,” Kleiner said.

The other half is making sure his clients have fun.

“I tell people to just go slow and ask questions,” Kleiner said. “I’m going to give you something that’s super easy. It’s supposed to be super fun.”

‘It’s never exactly the same’

Aislinn Sarnacki |  BDN   Jack Main, 15, of Camden works his way up a wall of ice in Camden Hills State Park on Dec. 20.

With Camden as their home base, Equinox guides trips to a variety of ice walls, with beginners starting with easy, short routes that are more like ice hills than ice walls. In the Camden Hills alone, there are about five locations that they frequent, and each has multiple ice routes, with names like Everdrip and Neverdrip, Double Clutch, Dragon’s Tooth and Hot Spot.

While Kleiner is confident he can teach beginners how to ice climb on many of these routes, he stresses that ice climbing isn’t a sport for people to just pick up one day and try without proper guidance. Like rock climbing, ice climbing requires special knowledge of important safety gear, including ropes, anchors, harnesses and belay devices. Also, using proper techniques makes all the difference, and it doesn’t come naturally. For example, Kleiner suggests to swing your ice axes far less than you kick your ice cleats into the wall.

“Think of one swing for every four steps,” he said.

Aislinn Sarnacki |  BDN   Noah Rousseau, 14, of Appleton swings an ice ax to gain purchase while learning to ice climb with Equinox Guiding Service on Dec. 20 in Camden Hills State Park.

For Rousseau and Main, Kleiner selected ice routes on a flowage at the base of Megunticook Mountain known as North Cataract. That day, the temperature warmed into the 40s. That night it rained. And the next day, the ice wall was gone. Then, a few days later, when the temperature cooled once more, it started to reform.

“I think it’s also nice that it sort of changes over time,” Rousseau said. “It’s never going to be exactly the same.”

That’s just one of the many intricacies of the sport, and Kleiner is hopeful that this will encourage climbers like Rosseau and Main to return and develop their skills.

“Rock climbing is booming right now,” Kleiner said. “It’s growing every year. So I think, maybe not this year, but eventually, those folks [who are trying rock climbing] are going to want to try something different in the winter.”

If they do, he and Sidik are ready for them.

You can read the full article here.

The meditative, completely not frightening, world of ice climbing

By Kay Stephens

Posted:  Monday, December 24, 2018 - 9:30am

CAMDEN— Thanks to the Banff Film Fest, many equate ice climbing with hanging by ice picks on a treacherous overhang of frozen water.

CAMDEN— Thanks to the Banff Film Fest, many equate ice climbing with hanging by ice picks on a treacherous overhang of frozen water.

“People have described ice climbing as this really extreme sport, but really, it’s actually almost meditative,” said Noah Kleiner, owner of Equinox Guiding Service, based in Camden. “ You have to focus about where you’re using your ice picks and where you’re placing your footing each step of the way. But, it gets you moving. It’s a vertical adventure.”

As a former guide for Atlantic Climbing School, he has been climbing mountain for 13 years and guiding trips for four.

“My dad had his own outdoor guiding company for 31 years and I thought initially I would work for him, but my passion is rock and ice climbing, so rather than do a side business as an offset of his company, it just made sense to start my own.”

Kleiner asked his friend John Sidik, another outdoor instructor, to start a guiding service.

Sidik holds a Single Pitch Instructor certificate and is a certified instructor for The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education.

The other misconception about ice climbing is that it is dangerous.

Kleiner emphasizes that safety if their top priority. Trained as a Maine Guide, a Single Pitch Instructor as well as an Aspirant Mountain guide, He also has also been certified as a Wilderness First Responder.

“We always use top ropes when we ice climb or rock climb, so there’s never a chance of falling,” he said. “And the rope is rated to hold 6,000 pounds, so the client feels safe. Sometimes a little ice flies off, but we have helmets and teach people to be aware of that.”

ice climbing isn’t for hobbyists

That said, ice climbing isn’t for hobbyists.

“You definitely want to be with someone who knows what they’re doing when you come out to ice climb for the first time,” he said. “It’s not something you buy the equipment for and just try to mess around with.”

It’s an easy half hour hike up to what the locals call the Route 52 waterfalls from the old Carriage Road trail head. The snow is lightly packed and it’s a completely different atmosphere in the winter, much quieter. No sound of birds or wildlife, just the sound of wind in the trees and boots crunching snow.

“Ice climbing is just a different way to experience the outdoors in winter, to enjoy the surrounding area,” he said.

In Camden alone, Kleiner and Sidik can take people around to five different ice climbing areas.

“The majority of what we do is provide beginner ice climbing,” he said. “We like getting people out to challenge themselves. We’re not hiking in or out for two hours; we’re not doing this crazy overhang climbing. And it’s not like rock climbing where you’re wedging your foot into a rock edge to move your body weight up; you’re swinging these ice picks into the ice and using your boot crampons to wedge in, so it’s like stepping on a stair and walking up.

The equipment is simple. You wear special boots with crampons attached. The spikes at the toe of the boot dig into the ice so it feels like standing on an invisible shelf. The ice picks are your “hands” and just as you would imagine, you spike them one at a time into ice for leverage.

Where we go is a beginner’s climb of only about 25 feet of ice. The Cataracts are considered a WI2, which means water ice with a grade of 2. Water ice refers to ice that still has water flowing underneath.

“The hardest ice climb around here is a Water Ice 5 that sometimes forms. We’ve been lucky enough this fall to have the ice come in pretty early, which has been nice,” he said.

Easygoing with a patient demeanor, Kleiner said he reads people fairly well who are new to the sport.

“Some people take right to it; some struggle,” he said. “I just try to help them with little pointers. A lot of my approach comes from my outdoor ed background and I worked in Wilderness Therapy for a while. I realize that ice climbing can seem scary to some people, so I try to reassure them with little tips and tricks along the way.”

Kleiner said the company has really taken off since the previous year and already they have two large groups booked for January.

You can read the full article here.

Lincoln Academy Outing Club

The Lincoln Academy Outing Club went rock climbing at Maiden’s Cliff in Camden on November 28 with Equinox Guiding Services. The group was guided by the company’s owner, Noah Kleiner, who instructed the students and provided them with helmets and climbing harnesses for the expedition. Pictured above from left are LA Outing Club members Jarrett Gulden, Braxton Farrin, Sam Russ, Jojo Martin, and Maddy Archer, and Equinox Guiding Services owner and guide Noah Kleiner. Not pictured: Outing Club co-advisors Bryan Manahan and Alison Welch.

You can read the full article here.

Adventure in Maine Mid Coast and Islands // Vlog #91

From Jack Stolz YouTube channel

Huge thanks to Midcoast Maine and Island for sending Sarah and I on yet another awesome excursion! We had so much fun. Please check out all the link below so you can do the things we did! Maine's Midcoast & Islands


Chase's Daily

Colonal Gables

Equinox Guiding Service

Lincolnville General Store

Rock Climbing in Camden, Maine

I LOVE to do things that scare me. As you know by following this blog, I love to hike. One of my favorite parts of hiking is scrambling over boulders, so I assumed rock climbing would come naturally, but I was so wrong. So, when my friend Noah from Equinox Guide Service in Camden, Maine invited me out for a day on the slab, I was totally stoked.

I LOVE to do things that scare me. As you know by following this blog, I love to hike. One of my favorite parts of hiking is scrambling over boulders, so I assumed rock climbing would come naturally, but I was so wrong. So, when my friend Noah from  Equinox Guide Service  in Camden, Maine invited me out for a day on the slab, I was totally stoked.

My first experience with rock climbing was with Maine Yoga Adventures, shout out to our girl Holly who coordinates those trips. We went climbing in Acadia National Park with Acadia Mountain Guides, and I quickly found out that rock climbing was not as easy as I anticipated, and I knew a one on one lesson would be in my future. The group setting wasn’t really my jam, yet – I need a lot of attention, hands-on, one on one instruction, especially while I am learning a sport where I could REALLY hurt myself. I knew immediately that I wanted to continue this challenge, and my next step was to hire a guide. I had connected with Noah Kleiner on IG earlier this year, and we’d been planning a trip for months. It was the perfect early fall day when we both had clear schedules and we decided to meet up in Camden, Maine, about an hour and 20 minutes from Bangor, Maine.

I had connected with Noah Kleiner on IG earlier this year, and we’d been planning a trip for months. It was the perfect early fall day when we both had clear schedules and we decided to meet up in  Camden, Maine , about an hour and 20 minutes from Bangor, Maine.

About my guide, Noah Kleiner

Noah Kleiner started climbing in 2006. He fell in love with climbing and went on to become a licensed Maine Guide and Single Pitch Instructor as well as an Aspirant Moutain guide. Noah has been working for three summer seasons as a guide for Atlantic Climbing School. He is a passionate traditional climber and fortunate enough to have had climbing adventures across the country. Remembering all the while, that “the best climber is the one having the most fun”!

Noah is an extremely patient guide. He walked me through EVERYTHING, giving me all of the information that I needed to know about HOW IT WORKS. That was like the most important thing for me. I need to know all of the info. He helped me understand everything, all of the tools, all of the movements, and what I needed to know to not die. It was incredible!

EVERYTHING Maine Rock Climbing

The Climb

Noah took me up a few pitches up to get me used to the movements. (Pitch – Each section of a climb between stops at belay stations is called a pitch. The leader ascends the pitch, placing gear and stopping to anchor themselves to the belay station.) I was feeling pretty great after my instructions from Noah. I even made the claim to be “fearless” so we decided to head up the rock slab.

Maine Climbing

Noah went up first and set the ropes up so he could belay me. He showed me where to put my feet (even though he’s like a foot taller than me) and marked the arm and footholds with chalk for me. When I lost my confidence on a pretty challenging slab, he helped me take a break, lean back, and get my bearings again. Noah began to pull me up a bit when I was starting to get exhausted. Noah – you’re a top-notch climbing instructor!

I couldn’t tell you how far up we went, but I know that Noah was going to take me up further if I was willing. I thought I could pull it off, but my legs were shaking, and I didn’t feel safe. We bailed about 10 feet above the resting spot you see above, and watched as Noah lowered himself down. I can tell you that I was not afraid of rappelling down this time! In fact, I enjoyed it. And I look forward to doing it again soon!

Camden Climbing

If you’d like more information about hiring Noah and his team to give you a beginner rock climbing lesson, you can contact them directly here – I highly recommend it!

beginner rock climbing lesson

A day Out with Northwoods aerial

Recently we had a drone come out and film some of what it looks like to climb with us! Check out North woods website and Instagram for more info about this great program.

Maine Media Workshops Video Shoot

We recently went out with Maine Media Workshops to Rock Climb in Camden Maine. We ended up with this playful video about climbing! Check it out.

Acadia Rock Climbing

by Noah Kleiner and John Sidik 


Acadia National Park Climbing

My alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. I crawl out of bed and into my clothes. The day ahead is just  starting but the anticipation keeps me headed for the door. Twenty minutes later we arrive at Otter Cliff with the sound of the bell buoy near “spindle rock”. It is known for hitting ships centuries ago know and has become the ominous sound of Otter Cliff. At the bottom of wonder-wall I look out over the sea as the sun starts to peak over the horizon. I chalk up my hands and start to climb, the salt air fills my lungs and I relax. 


Rock climb Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park arguably has some of the best climbing in the Northeast. The geology of the area has made some amazing places to climb. The quality of the rock superb; from ocean cliffs to steep crack climbs. Acadia National Park spans 49,000 acres of southern Maine on Mount Desert Island, the sixth largest island in the contiguous United States. The guidebook, Rock Climbs of Acadia by Grant Simmons, can be found in the local shop Cadillac Mountain Sports. 


There are about 7 different climbing areas on the island all offering different types of climbing. From beautiful grant cracks to some ocean climbing. It really has it all. Here’s some of the more popular areas and a quick  overview of the popular routes. 


Otter Cliff

Probably the most visited climbing area in the state of Maine. It has over 70 routes with a relatively short 60’ cliff which provides climbers with an extraordinary view of Sand Beach, the Atlantic Ocean and Great Head. The standard climbing here has steep face routes with horizontal cracks that break up the cliff. The routes are close together and allow the user to create there own adventure over the sea. 

Photo by  Dylan Drinkwater



The Precipice

Located about a mile inland, this cliff has it all. From 200’ multi-pitch crack climbs to top rope slab routes. It has some of the most classic climbing in New England. With high quality granite rock that has dihedrals and aeries, crack and sharp crips. The perfect time to visit this cliff is September and October where the friction is best and your not baking on the wall. Amazing climbing and even more spectacular views of the surrounding ocean and mountains. 


Great Head

Like Otter this cliff offers ocean views and even more wildlife viewing. I once saw a whale off the coast as we climbed the classic Full Sail (5.7). The crowds tend not to be as prevalent as Otter and the quality of rock climbing is higher. Known for the islands hardest climbs and for epic adventures above the crashing swells below. Check it out if your interested in beating the crowds but expect to be challenged on this interesting  rock face. 


South Bubble

Photo by  Dylan Drinkwater

This used to be a more adventures hiking trail that cut the cliff in half. Some of the old rebar and mettle are still stuck in the rock face. The climbing is mostly slab climbing with little holds and less gear. That being said, there are some really fun multi-pitch climbs here such as Morviana and Gargoyle. Hard to find parking late in the day but is a gorges climbing destination in peak fall season. Cap the climb off with tea and a popover at the Jordan Pond House with a great view of your climb. 


There are a two other crags I should mention here. Eagle Crag, with the classic Statocastor and Canada Cliffs with some hard sport climbing. Both of these places are low on the crowds and provide the adventurous folks to find something to their taste. Over all the climbing in Acadia National Park has grown as the climbing community has. With more folks getting into the sport it has grown with it. Climbing in Acadia has It all and is one of the most beautiful places to climb in North America. The quality of rock is far from none and is a must hit for any budding climber.  About the Authors


Noah Kleiner John Sidik and Lauren Cote Rock Climbing


John and Noah run a small guiding service in Camden called Equinox Guiding Service. Collectively, the company has climbed and skied all over the world, and continues to search for the next place to share with its clients.

A Day out with Equinox Guiding Service

From Brian Threlkeld via Back 40

We pulled into Camden and met Noah at a local coffee shop. After a quick introduction and discussion about the day, we headed to the cliff. Watching Noah pull plastic bins full of rock climbing shoes, harnesses, helmets and ropes ignited the sense of excitement we had come for. We could see the granite wall we were going to be climbing from the parking lot, and once our packs were loaded up we were on our way.


Arriving at the base of the cliff, Noah explained the hazards of climbing and what we might encounter. We donned helmets, tied into the rope, got a quick lesson in using the gear and watched Noah as he gracefully made his way up the wall, just using his hands and feet to ascend.

When the rope went tight and we heard Noah was safe above, we got ready for our own climb. Dipping hands into the bag of chalk to keep fingers dry, we each started finding small edges and pockets in the rock for grips. Small move here, small move there, we each found our path to Noah. As the exposure under our feet grew, and the ground dropped further away, our reality set in. Here we were, hanging from our finger tips with just a skinny rope protecting us from gravity’s force. As Noah shouted down words of advice and encouragement we found our focus (and courage) and closed in on the big ledge half way up the cliff.

Camden Climbing

Noah Kleiner giving some climbing pointers while providing a belay. (Photo: Brian Threlkeld)

We high fived on the ledge and looked up to see what the rest of the climb had in store. At this point we were above the trees and could really take in the view of our surroundings. Rolling hills, shimmering lakes and the light dancing off Atlantic Ocean a couple miles away really gave us a moment to appreciate our surroundings and get a new perspective on our position.

Noah set off again for the top of the wall and was soon telling us it was safe for us to climb. As we neared the end of the route we shared a laugh and a smile in appreciation of our achievement and Noah’s talent in getting two new climbers up a two hundred foot cliff.

Camden climbing

The team celebrating at the top of the second pitch. (Photo: Brian Threlkeld)

With another high five and better views, we prepared to reverse course and descend the cliff by rappelling down. We clipped our ropes into the rappel devices and slowly walked backwards down the cliff in a controlled slide down the rope. Back on terra firma we rejoiced and celebrated our successful climb. Noah had taken us from flat ground to vertical terrain and back again all while feeling safe the entire time and most importantly, having fun.

As we walked back to the parking lot to go our separate ways, we laughed as we looked back over our shoulders and felt great about the day and happy with our decision to find Equinox Guides through Back40 Adventures. Quality fun in a beautiful setting in Maine—it just doesn’t get any better!

Photos and text by Brian Threlkeld (Threlkeld Outdoor). Video by Cold House Media. Thanks to Back 40 for a great day.

Long Weekend Getaways: Charming New England Towns you can Drive to From Boston


Long Weekend Getaway Camden Maine

Camden, Maine

Distance from Boston: 3 hours 20 minutes

Often overshadowed by nearby Bar Harbor, Camden is a haven for outdoorsy travelers. Sure, visitors can spend an afternoon wandering up and down Main Street, stopping to admire the views of Camden Harbor or peruse the boutique shops (be prepared to spend too much on unexpected finds at Josephine on Elm Street). But to make the drive — just over three hours — worthwhile, travelers should really take advantage of the destination’s ample outdoor activities.

What to do: Explore Camden Hills State Park on the 30-mile trail network. One of our favorites is the moderate trail up to Ocean Lookout for an uninterrupted view of the town and harbor. If you’re interested in something more, well, vertical, have Equinox Guiding Service bring you out for an afternoon of rock climbing. For a more relaxed option, take a cruise along Maine’s rocky coastline on the Penobscot Bay, or head out to Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery to sample their house blends, made with 10 grape varieties grown on site.

Where to stay: Camden has a mix of lodging options, mostly small bed and breakfasts and inns. But 16 Bay View is Camden’s bold new luxury hotel, housed in a 100-year-old industrial brick building that once operated as a car dealership. For a more intimate stay, book a room at the Camden Harbour Inn, with rooms and suites that boast (as its name implies) exceptional views of the water. 

What to eat and drink: Located in the Camden Harbour Inn, travelers should reserve a table on the porch of Natalie’s Restaurant. If oysters are what you’re after, head over to 18 Central Oyster Bar and Grill, in nearby Rockport, for a platter of their local or “away” raw oysters.

Go check out our listing on Family’s Day Out.

explore Maine rock climbing

explore Maine rock climbing

If you are in search of a multifaceted way to get out and explore Maine, rock climbing just might be it, and Equinox Guiding Service enthusiastically awaits the opportunity to host your next adventure. Having battled a lifelong fear of heights, I was both excited and apprehensive to engage in this challenging, yet gripping activity. A friend however once described me as, “Fearless in the pursuit of adventure,” and thus here I found myself, overlooking the breathtaking landscape of Camden, Maine from the side of a 100 foot cliff, that I had just climbed…. And that I now had to rappel.

The beauty found within rock climbing is all encompassing, both internal and external. The ability to strategize your next move in order to successfully scale a rock/cliff that once seemed impossible is both mentally and physically rewarding. This sport allows for a beautiful combination, exercising both mind and body, with tremendous focus on the breath and unavoidable affirmations in every step.

Barrett’s Cove Cliff

Noah Kleiner and John Sidik founded Equinox Guiding Service two years ago. Noah fell in love with the sport thirteen years prior during college orientation, and has never looked back – Simply up and down. Holding a Single Pitch Instructor Certification from the American Mountain Guides Association, Noah brings a range of expertise and encouragement to the guiding process.

The experience was comfortable and motivational from beginning to end. Upon arriving, we were fitted with form fitting climbing shoes, helmets, and harnesses. Following a short hike, we arrived at Barrett’s Cove Cliff, Old Spice Slab, and Charlottes Crack. Noah took the time to walk us through the array of gear, accompanied by: Name, explanation of function and purpose, as well as demonstrations of use and strength, instilling further trust and comfort. Honoring my anxiety of heights, we were able to begin with a smaller climb. Noah offered continuous advice and guidance pertaining to safe and efficient climbing practice, while simultaneously allowing us the freedom to find our own path, creating the perfect balance.

beautiful Maine landscape

Photo Provided by Equinox Guiding Service

If you’ve ever wondered why photographs of rock climbing appear as the backsplash to so many inspirational quotes, experiencing this sport first hand will provide that clarification. Any fear that I may have had was soon overcome by persistence and determination to reach my final destination. I was engaged in an ongoing evaluation, scanning the surface supporting me and strategizing the next foot and/or hand placement in order to collaboratively support my body in a shared goal of both mental and physical mutuality. I felt my anxiety dissipate, giving way to self-challenge and ultimately triumph. Supplying one final heave, I found myself standing atop a cliff that gave way to an entirely new perspective, made up of miles upon miles of beautiful Maine landscape – Sweat, smiles, and success.

If you haven’t already, get out there. Equinox Guiding Service offers 200 foot climbs in Camden, with a current capacity of groups of up to ten people. The passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm that this company shares is contagious, and if I can do it – You can. And I can promise you this, you can’t beat the view. 

“I love challenging climbers in a way that helps them grow as people. I also love teaching and working with different folks from different backgrounds. I love that climbing is an individual sport; Your only competing with yourself.” 

Noah Kleiner, Owner, Equinox Guiding Service

Check out the full article here. 

Maine Woman Magazine

Maine Climbing

Thrill seekers:
Rock Climbing with Equinox

Spice up your summer with a challenge. Maybe you’ve done some indoor rock climbing but never tried an outdoor climb. Or maybe it’s your first time climbing anything. Equinox Guiding Service offers half-day adventures (for those who want to just get a taste of the activity) to full-day adventures on the rock in and around Camden Hills State Park. Beginners are welcome and all equipment for the climb is provided. For those with more experience who want to hone their skills in setting up a top rope, or maybe develop skills to build their own anchors, Equinox Guiding Service offers adventures for all levels.

Full article at Maine Woman Magazine.

Things to do in Camden Maine

New Maine website is the Airbnb for outdoor adventures

A new Maine-based business, Back40, is connecting adventure seekers with guides through a website that makes searching, booking and reviewing outdoor experiences easy.

“We hope to reach a new market,” said Back40 founder and CEO Henry Gilbert of Portland. “Obviously there are plenty of people going on guided trips already, but there are a lot of digitally connected urban adventurers that don’t even know these experiences are here.”

Launched in April, the website — — offers a variety of guided outdoor experiences, from rock climbing excursions to lighthouse tours.

“This isn’t for the adventure enthusiast necessarily,” Gilbert said. “It’s for the adventure dabbler.”

Essentially an adventure marketplace, Back40 is much like the popular rental websites and, where people can search and book homes and rooms for rent, then leave reviews.

“It’s a proven model that works,” said Gilbert.

Applying to become a Back40 guide or “host” is free, but hosts will not be accepted if they don’t have certain credentials.

 Back40 co-founders Tom Ryan (from left) and Henry Gilbert, both of Portland, launched their website back40adventures in April of 2018.

Courtesy of Back40

In Maine, if a person guides certain outdoor activities and accepts money for that service, then by law, that person must be a registered Maine guide, a designation that can only be earned through rigorous testing. To obtain the license, one must pass a written exam on state hunting, fishing and recreation laws, as well as be able to identify local wildlife, navigate by map and compass and much more. The applicant must also pass an oral exam that tests how they perform certain outdoor skills and respond to emergency scenarios.

Activities that require a Maine guide license (if being paid to lead that activity) include hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling, using an all-terrain vehicle or camping at a primitive camping area.

In addition, certain activities — such as whitewater rafting — require additional licensing.

So if Back40 hosts plan to offer any of those activities, they must provide a copy of their up-to-date Maine guide license and any other required licenses or certificates.

“Having such a rigid guide program actually is really helpful for us getting started. Being so small right now, it does a lot of the vetting for us,” said Gilbert. “If they’re a registered guide, we know they’ve already met these criteria.”

That being said, there are certain outdoor activities in which these Maine regulations do not apply. Activities that people can lead without being a registered guide include — but are not limited to — hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and skiing.

Once a person is accepted as a host, they can post trips for free. Back40 only receives money when hosts are successful in booking trips; then Back40 receives an 8 to 10 percent commission.

“I think it’s great,” said Noah Kleiner, co-owner of Equinox Guiding Service in Camden. “They’re going to make money and we’re going to make money. Being able to collaborate with another small business and work together in getting our names out there is really great.”

Equinox Guiding Service, a team of two registered rock and ice climbing guides, has been in operation for about a year. They joined Back40 because they saw it as an easy marketing tool, one that would take some of the computer work off their hands while they spent more time outdoors, doing what they love.

You can read the rest of the Article here


Camden Climbing



By: John Sidik and Noah Kleiner

“Click, Click, Click.” The sound of the gates shutting on my carabiners fills the brisk morning air as I stand at the base of a steep wall of schist. It’s 8 a.m. on a Sunday, and no one else is around.

“Click, Click, Chirp.” A few songbirds join in as I finish hanging my quick draws from my harness and begin to tie into the end of a dark-green-patterned climbing rope. The small town of Camden, Maine, rests a few miles to the east.

The quiet peaceful scene unfolds as I start to climb – but not like in the climbing movies where the guitar solo keys in as the camera zooms out to show the overhanging cliff above. Cut out the crowds and the chaos, and this is what you’re left with. This is climbing in Maine.

Katahdin Climbing Map

- John

You can’t describe Maine’s rock climbing with one word. It’s unlike any other place you have ever been. From the alpine granite of Katahdin to the small sport climbing crags and everywhere in between, Maine has it all.

The most memorable experiences have been messing around in the woods with friends, trying to find that hidden crag someone mentioned in passing; or the early morning sunrise over the ocean as we climb on Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park.

- Noah

Living here has offered such a great chance to explore a vast state filled with climbing potential. It’s been quite a ride getting to where we are, and even more exciting to share what we’ve found along the way.

Left: Ryan Gibbs on the flatiron. Right: Noah Kleiner and Alden Mead juggle climbing shoes on the armadillo.

Left: Ryan Gibbs on the flatiron. Right: Noah Kleiner and Alden Mead juggle climbing shoes on the armadillo.


Katadin Rock Climbing

Alpine climbing doesn’t always come to mind when you think of Maine, but Katahdin offers some of the best alpine routes in the country. The Armadillo and the Flatiron, two of the mountain’s classics, are a must for any trad climber looking to explore here.

Katadin Flat Iron

Getting above tree line and looking out over the rolling green hills of Northern Maine is second to none. With no access other than by foot, the basins of Katahdin are some of the most remote places to climb in the Northeast.

As anyone from New England will tell you, the weather can be atrocious in the mountains. You’ll need plenty of experience, and even more warm layers, if you choose to tackle Katahdin. But, with a little diligence and the right skill set, Katahdin’s alpine routes can bring adventures that you’ll remember for years to come.

Rock Climbing Acadia National Park


The sea cliffs of coastal Maine are an awe-inspiring sight, and even more of a thrill to climb. The North Atlantic Ocean stretches for miles behind you as the cliffs of Acadia rise from the breaking waves beneath your feet. From the steep routes of Otter Cliffs and Great Head to the pink granite of The Precipice, Acadia has hundreds of quality routes. The island even holds routes established and climbed by such professionals as Lynn Hill and Alex Honnold.

Miles upon miles of beautiful hiking trails and via ferrata style routes traverse the island, as well.

“It’s hard to describe such a place that makes you feel the exposure of the Atlantic Ocean and the thrill of climbing!”

Otter Cliffs Acadia National Park


Bottom: Laura Mas Serra climbing at Great Head in Acadia National Park.

- Noah


Camden Rock Climbing



Camden, our hometown, has everything from multi-pitch routes on Barrett’s Cove Cliff and Ocean Lookout, to rugged overhung sport climbing at the Rampart, and technical-face climbing at the Verticals. The climbing in Camden has been established by locals with no incentive but to reach the top and share it with others. Hours and hours have been spent unearthing and developing the area’s bouldering. Endless miles have been hiked (much of them in circles) in search of new routes. Often, bolt hangers were moved from one route to another to save on budget, and every once in a while you find yourself leaving lower-offs at the anchors to make things a little easier for the next climber.

With dozens of cliffs, crags, and boulders throughout the Camden Hills, there’s never a dull moment. Go climb the classics, or do as we do and set out to explore. If one word were to describe Camden, it would be adventure!

Left: Alexa Wagner explores in one of Camden’s more hidden spots; a 20-foot- deep chasm near the Rampart.


Above: John climbing at Clifton.Photo:  Alexa Wagner

Above: John climbing at Clifton.Photo: Alexa Wagner


Maine is a big state; we’ve lived here most of our lives and are still looking for the next thing to climb. There are more climbing areas than we have time to describe, all within a day’s drive. Western Maine has Shagg Crag, known for its challenging overhung sport climbing. Bradbury State Park has its infamous bouldering, and there are plenty of small crags all over the state that have yet to be found. So, pack your bags, grab your ropes and come join us!


John Sidik on the knife edge of Katahdin. Photo:  Alexa Wagner.

John Sidik on the knife edge of Katahdin. Photo: Alexa Wagner.


John and Noah run a small guiding service in Camden called Equinox Guiding Service. Collectively, the company has climbed and skied all over the world, and continues to search for the next place to share with its clients.

Noah Kleiner guiding in Acadia National Park.

Noah Kleiner guiding in Acadia National Park.

See full Blog post here.

Asking About Possibilities

Submitted by Don Kleiner on Mon Feb 12, 2018

Camden Climbing

I saw a flock of robins today on my way down the hill and noticed that the Saint George has carved a warmer water path into Round Pond. Mot importantly the afternoon is now noticeably longer and fades into a pink early evening pastel on the hillside across the way. All signs that spring is coming and before you know it I’ll be back on the water guiding every day.

Spring is of course the season of new things and something and a new package of guided trips is currently on my radar. As you might know our son Noah started his own guide service last summer Equinox Guiding Services LLC based in Camden; they offer rock and ice climbing adventures. Noah and I are thinking about a combination trip. Fishing on Lake Megunticook in the morning with me and after a lunch on the shore of the lake an afternoon learning to rock climb with Noah.

Certainly a change from most of what Maine Outdoors offers but I am guessing something with appeal to some. At any rate we are thinking about the possibilities. I am curious is it something that you or your family might be interested in?

You can check out Maine Outdoors here

ME Arts Education Article

By Argy Nestor


Camden Climbing

The sun is getting stronger and the days a little longer. I know how good both of those feel. Spending time in the fresh air can have a positive impact on our health. Even a short walk can make a difference. But if you want to challenge yourself and have never cross country skied or snow shoed the weather is in your favor with the temperatures on the rise.

If you really want to challenge yourself the ice is pretty good for ice climbing and in some places where the sun has melted the ice and snow, rock climbing is happening. My older son guides those interested in this type of challenge with his business Equinox Guiding Service. He takes   people out so they can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and have a blast. He provides all of the equipment, instruction, and encouragement. You can have little or no knowledge and be successful. I certainly recommend guide Noah Kleiner! Tell Noah I sent you and perhaps you’ll get a discount.

You can see the whole article here.

Maine Climbing

Skiing Icland's Troll Paninsula

By John Sidik

My first ski trip to Iceland started much like most of my other trips. I woke up to Al kicking me gently, coaxing me off a pile of ski bags on the floor of the Keflavik airport. I look at it in two ways: either I’m really bad at traveling, or I’m really good at traveling poorly. Either way, I was probably the only one of us to sleep at all in the first 36 hours of our trip.

Our group consisted of two ski guides, Al and Dick; Kaj, a hardened East Coast backcountry skier; and me, a mix of all aspects, and, somehow, the trip photographer.

“Come on, rental car’s across the street,” Al said, very ambitious to get skiing. “I packed my kayak straps because no one has a rental with ski racks ...” We were on our way. 

I was 7 years old the last time I was in Iceland, staying for a night in Reykjavik with my family while changing planes. Dick had been once before, but on the east side of the island. Our goal was basically to drive as far North as our little car would get us, put our skis on, and go for it.

Camden Climbing

The drive to Akureyri was simple. Dick gave some directions to follow, the expert beta from his last trip: “Ocean on the left, land on the right.” I took over driving from Akureyri to Ólafsfjörður, which took an interesting turn. The towns in Northern Iceland use these archaic-looking one-lane tunnels to get through mountains. They work on an honor system, using intermittent pull-offs to allow two way traffic. Needless to say, there’s not a lot of traffic.

We eventually figured out the tunnel system with the help of a few Icelandic road signs and a little bit of blind faith. The skies had cleared by the time we got out of the tunnel, and we decided to do what we do best: hit the BJOR KÆlIR (beer cooler) and go ski!

Our first long day of skiing brought us from our front porch right into one of the thousands of glacial valleys that make up the Troll Peninsula. We had a pretty relaxed skin into the head of the valley. Most of the peninsula’s terrain is pretty easy-access with the help of skins and ski crampons. Most valleys end in some sort of moderate ascent to gain the ridge that connects them to the next valley. It took us a few hours to gain the ridge and start looking at our ski descent. Once we gained the ridge, we noticed we really hadn’t lost much daylight; in fact, we hadn’t lost any. Figuring there was no real need for the headlamps that we usually bring, and that there were ample opportunities to melt snow or collect runoff water, we decided to ski into the next valley and take a few laps before skiing out the adjacent valley. As anticipated, this left us about 20 miles down the road (which involved a tunnel) from our house. Now, I would be lying if I said any of us actually thought hitchhiking would be easy in northern Iceland, but that was our plan, and we made quick work of it.


We saw another group of skiers exiting the valley and met up with them to chat. They were “Man, it just does not get dark here,” Al exclaimed as I said good morning on our fourth day. I’d spent summers fishing in Alaska, so the midnight sun was nothing new to me. But this was different. This was full daylight, straight through the night. The night before didn’t have a freeze, so we decided to take the day off from skiing and do a little exploring. We drove back through the tunnels and past Akureyri to Skútustaðahreppur to check out some waterfalls and the volcanic landscape and to hop in one of the larger hot springs. The hot springs were a little pricey, but after spending three days in a little car with three other dudes, I was not about to pass it up. We had arranged for a heli drop on our fifth day in hopes of getting a better view into some of the deeper terrain. Our instructions were minimal: “Drop us on something that’ll ski well.” It was another warm day with a lot of loose, wet snow. We had been working our way around a lot of loose wet avalanche problems, but by this point it was basically second nature to predict and avoid them. We were dropped on top of a large plateau that overlooked Ólafsfjörður and the surrounding mountain range. We took a few minutes to look around at what we had been skiing for the last four days, and what looked to be enough terrain to hold a lifetime of first descents. We had a nice mellow 3000’ line that dropped us right back on the road, and we rode back to the house to grab another quick ski tour before packing up to move to Siglufjörður. The Siglufjörður ski area consists of four short Poma lifts that you link to get into the head of the town’s glacial valley. The terrain surrounding the ski area is immense, consisting of high peaks, ridge lines, and couloirs that cater to any ability level. I was quite convinced that I could have skied out of the resort for the entire week and not crossed tracks once. And to top it off, the lift ticket was around $18 US. 

As the week wrapped up, we scrounged through the last of our food, mixing hot chocolate mix with the pancake mix to make it last as long as we could — again, really bad at travel, or really good at traveling poorly... I said goodbye to our space-age shower, equipped with 100 buttons, a radio and I’m pretty sure some kind of teleportation device that drops you on top of your favorite peak right as the corn alarm is going off, and packed my bags to head back to the airport. Although the trip was over, I was excited to get a week of rest before it was time to pack up again and head west for the summer climbing season. 

Camden climbing

Interview With Fit Maine

By Shannon Bryan

“Trust your feet,” Noah called out from above.

If I’d looked up, I’d see his helmeted head peeking out over a rock ledge, his hands on a long lime green rope that fed through a belay device at his waist. The other end of that rope was attached me, and I was clinging to a rock face, 70 or so feet off the ground and nervous as all get-out.

I couldn’t look up. Or move. My legs shook under me (and I don’t mean some slight little tremor, I mean SHOOK. Wildly, as though they were possessed. It would have been comical if I wasn’t seriously contemplating the reality that I might end up living the rest of my days clutching this spot on the rock).

“Trust your feet,” Noah said in his easy-going way. “You’ve got this.”


Camden climbing

Climbing Charlotte’s Crack in Camden with Equinox Guiding Service I was nervous as all get-out at some points, but also having a grand time. Photo by Noah Kleiner

Trusting my feet meant ignoring my natural tendency to trip, slip and stumble. It meant trusting my climbing shoes, which are made specifically for the sport and feature a sticky rubber sole that sticks to the rock with impressive tenacity. It meant trusting that Noah knew his stuff (he does) and that if he thought I could climb this rock, then, well, he was probably right.

“Are you breathing?” Noah asked. It was a question he asked a few times already – a reminder to breathe, clam down, relax. (He also asked, “Are you smiling?” It’s both a reminder that you’re here doing something that’s really thrilling and fun, and also, something happens physiologically when you smile. Your body follows suit and you chill out a bit.)

Camden Climbing

I took a deep breathe and let it out slowly. Then I placed my foot on what seemed like the smallest rocky nub, shifted my weight and stood up on it. My hand padded around the rock, seeking something to grab. My fingers cinched on a hold. I placed my other foot and stood again. And just like that, I made my way up.

 To see rest of article please visit Fit Maine


Rock Climbing With Midcoast Today!

We got to spend some time with Midcoast today shooting a little video about what we do. Check it out!

Camden Climbing

By Kim Lincoln
August 03, 2017

Camden Climbing

CAMDEN — Realizing there is a niche for rock climbing in the Camden Hills area, two local men have turned their love for the outdoors into a new guide service.

This summer, John Sidik, of Camden, and Noah Kleiner, of Lincolnville, opened Equinox Guiding Service. The business currently focuses mainly on climbing trips, but the two plan to include other guided outings, such as hikes, snowshoeing, navigation skills and team-building events.

Sidik, who grew up in Lincolnville, studied professional ski and snowboard guiding in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Following school, Sidik said, he ended up moving home during the summer and spends the winter in New Hampshire subcontracting with various companies to teach avalanche education.

Kleiner, who grew up in Union, went to the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and spent some time following college doing bike tours in various places around the country, including Vermont, New York City and Fort Collins, Colo. Kleiner now works for Atlantic Climbing School in Acadia.

Camden Climbing

"Most guides go 10 different directions all at once," Sidik joked of their varied guiding experiences, but he noted that right now it's mostly rock climbing, which is both men's passion.

After the two realized the Midcoast would be a great place for such a business, they decided to open Equinox Guiding Service. Both are professionally trained guides, each holding a Single Pitch Instructor certificate, and Kleiner also is a Registered Maine Guide and Rock Guide.

This summer, Sidik ran a two-day climbing camp for children ages 8 and older, during which they climbed Barrett's Cliff, located off Route 52, and climbing in a spot off the carriage trail, where the children rappelled down into a cave to put all the skills they had learned to the test.

Sidik said anytime they do a trip or camp that involves a large group of children, parents are always invited along to chaperone and join in the fun.

The climbing services are tailored to the customer's needs and welcome climbers of any level — from those who want to brush up on their skills to those simply looking for a fun outing with their family.