October 19th, 2020
Ice Climbing in Maine
Climb some frozen water!
With the coming of sub-freezing temperatures, picturesque waterfalls and natural mountain water seeps become beautifully sculpted walls of ice. Scattered throughout the Maine mountains, these ever changing frozen ice flows have become a winter playground for hundreds of ice climbers.
Ice climbers come in all different shapes and sizes. Men, women, boys and girls.– all can do it! Once the domain of mountaineers training for big alpine peaks or an off-season activity for rock climbers, ice climbing has grown into a sport unto itself. For many action oriented people it is a great source of human powered winter adventure and exercise enhanced by the everchanging world of frozen water.
The origins of ice climbing date back to the medieval alpine shepherds who moved herds across high mountain passes. These early mountaineers chopped long series of steps using a long ice axe fashioned by combining a shepherd’s staff with a woodcutter’s axe and wore nailed boots for traction.
Mountain guide Jon Tierney believes that anyone who likes being outside in winter and has a reasonable degree of fitness can be successful climbing ice. “The learning curve for ice climbing is easier than rock climbing because you can put your crampons and ice axes almost anywhere” Tierney says. Jon has been guiding and teaching ice climbing since the eighties. He has even taken clients to western China to tackle first ascents of difficult ice climbs and mountain peaks. Jon is one of 80 fully certified international mountain guides working in the US (IFMGA) and the only one residing in Maine.
If you are interested in learning to ice climb, instruction is essential. Hiring a professional guide is the surest and fastest way of learning to ice climb safely. Jon’s school, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School offers daily instruction in Acadia National Park, Camden Hills, and the Sugarloaf and Sunday River regions as well as over the border in the White Mountains. The school is fully accredited by the AMGA to provide rock, ice, mountaineering or backcountry skiing instruction or guiding. Start swinging those ice tools today!