El Potrero Chico

Each winter many of the ACS staff travel to Northern Mexico to climb in the sun! El potrero Chico is a sport climbing mecca located about one hour from Monterrey. This amazing climbing destination makes for the perfect winter vacation! Here are some reasons why we keep coming back year after year…..


The climbing!

2000 foot limestone fins rise out of the high desert providing thousands of amazing and easily assessable sport climbs! From mellow single pitch climbs perfect for the first time climber, to huge 20 pitch routes that are often climbed over multiple days, El Potrero has it all!  The climbing is only a five minute walk from the camp sites and guest houses.

Tufa pullin'

Tufa pullin’

The weather!

Winter in Mexico is idea for climbing! With average temps in the high 70s  during the day and 60s at night  climbers often work on their tan just as much as they work on their climbing project! Rest days are often spent in the shade of a palm tree, pool side with a fruity drink and a good book. The layout of the limestone fins makes it super easy to climb either in the sun or the shade.

Katy on Pitch 3 of her first multi-pitch

Katy on Pitch 3 of her first multi-pitch

The food!

The food in Northern Mexico is remarkably fresh and delicious! Twice  a week there is a local food market where one can buy the most amazing fruits veggies and meats for pennies!  You can buy an avocado for about 15 cents!

ACS guide Christian Waggner on pitch five of Snott Girls

ACS guide Christian Waggner on pitch five of Snott Girls

The people!

The locals are all super nice and love climbers! As a climbing mecca EL Potrero brings in climbers from all over the world. The campsites are always filled with wonderful folks who are psyched to be climbing in paradise!

Sunset over the town of Hidalgo

Sunset over the town of Hidalgo

The accommodation!

Many options are available from $4.00 a night camping to beautiful private villas. All of the options are just a few minute walk from the climbing. No car needed!

The ACS crew will be staying in a house at La Quinta Pagoda for the entire month of January and we would love to see you down there and do some amazing climbing! In addition to offering private guiding we will also be offering an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course January 3-5th with an assessment the following weekend.

Traveling to El Potrero is super easy! Fly into Monterrey and our personal driver will pick you up and take you to your house, room, or campsite. Amazing climbing, beautiful weather, delicious food, and great people! What else could you ask for in a climbing vacation! Come on down to Mexico and climb with ACS!

Here are some great links to the area:

-El Potrero information

-More general information

La Posada Campsites/rooms/houses/restaurant/yoga, etc..

 If you have any questions or would like more information give our office a call!

AMGA Single Pitch Manual!

The new American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch Manual is complete! A huge thanks to Bob Gaines and Jason D. Martin along with the many others who helped put together this amazing resource together.


Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual is the textbook for past and future participants of the American Mountain Guides Association’s Single Pitch Instructor program. It presents the most current, internationally recognized standards for technical climbing systems used in single pitch terrain. Included are chapters on effective teaching, risk management, professionalism, and rescue.

“This is a comprehensive resource for understanding the complexities of teaching in the single pitch environment. Highly recommended!” Arno Ilgner, Certified AMGA SPI and author of The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers

This beautiful book can be purchased in our office, through the AMGA’s website, or on Amazon.com.


The new Acadia rock climbing guidebook!!!!

Eli Simon on Head Arete at Great Head in Acadia, Maine.AssemblageThings changed for me this year.  For the first time in three years, I wouldn’t be going to Patagonia.  I’d be living in a house; paying rent.  I wouldn’t be rock climbing.  I’d be working.
Fortunately, I had a pretty good thing going for me.  Every once in awhile it would hit me that I wasn’t climbing in those bottom reaches of the world that I have come to love so much, but generally, I was just totally excited about what was right in front of me.  The New Hampshire winter treated me well, and I felt good being there.  I worked hard on the guidebook, sometimes staring at this computer screen until I could feel my bloodshot eyes burning in my head.  But although some of the techy moments proved trying for me, I loved working on the book.  Building topos, researching the history, writing route descriptions, and putting it all together – for me, that was all so exciting.
Now, there is a piece of it out there in the world.  The book itself is a year out, but with the help of Rakkup (recent recipients of Climbing Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award), the first edition of a digital guide for the Iphone was recently released.  This edition covers over 175 routes at Otter Cliffs, Great Head, and the South Wall and features cool tricks like GPS navigation and search filters that allow your to find the climbs and conditions that you need for a perfect day.  Plus, there is all that critical route beta that you look for in a guidebook – route description, rack information, useful photos, etc.  
Visit http://www.rakkup.com/climbing-guidebooks/ for more information.  The app comes in a 2-month or a 2-year package (hint – if you have the 2-year package, you will receive next year’s second edition for free!), and if you buy it directly from the Rakkup website, you’ll save a couple of bucks.  Oh, and for the Android users out there, know that the Rakkup guys are working hard to finish up an Android version of this thing!
Well, here in St. George, Utah, the desert sun has risen, and the race is on to get to the walls before the shade disappears.  Hanna and I head to Zion tomorrow, a place that has some of the most inspiring walls I have ever seen.  The excitement is high!
As always, please feel free to contact me at brian.grant.simmons@gmail.com.
Happy spring,
Grant Simmons
ACS guide Grant Simmons on the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!
ACS guide Grant Simmons on the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!

Rock Climbing Adventure Camps in Camden, Maine.

This summer ACS will be offering two weeks of our Rock Climbing Adventure Camps! Come join us as we climb and explore the Camden Hills!

SPI assessment at Otter Cliffs

Maine Youth Adventure Camp (For ages 9-13)

2014 dates: Monday, June 30th - Friday, July 4th

This climbing and adventure day camp is perfect for kids who are new to rock climbing and want to learn the basics of the sport in a fun, rewarding and social setting. This camp is a great way for kids to build confidence, meet other adventurous kids, and experience the Camden Hills like never before.  Each day the campers will go on a new adventure, whether it is rappelling Barrett’s coves 200 foot face, rock climbing on Maidens cliff, or traversing the breathtaking Camden hills.

For young adventurous kids there is no better way to experience a summer in Maine! Campers will learn the basics of  rock climbing on real rock in an outdoor setting under the direct supervision of Certified AMGA guides. Topics covered will include climbing movement, belaying, rappelling, and risk management. In addition to these climbing-specific skills the campers will learn about leadership, teamwork, geology, Leave No Trace practices, and natural history of the Maine woods. All Atlantic Climbing School’s guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association and are trained in wilderness first aid.

Key Points

Location: Camden, Maine

-Five days of rock climbing, Hiking, and adventure in the outdoors!

-For ages 9-13

-No experience needed

-All equipment is included

- All campers should be dropped off at the Barrett’s Cove Picnic area at 8:00am. And picked up at the same location at 4:00pm each day

Cost: $425.00

For more information or to make a reservation give us a call at (207) 288.2521.


Camden Climbing Camp (for ages 14-17), 

-2014 dates:  Monday, July 7th- Friday July 11th 

 The Camden Climbing Camp is designed for kids who want to take their climbing to the next level. This camp will provide the focused instruction required to master the fundamentals of the sport.  The diversity of terrain that Camden has to offer makes it a perfect location for climbers of all ages and experience levels. Each day the campers will have lots of hands-on experience climbing in an outdoor setting under the direct supervision of  AMGA certified guides. Topics covered will include: climbing movement, equipment, belaying, knots, anchors and rappelling. In addition to these climbing-specific skills the campers will learn about leadership, geology, Leave No Trace practices, and natural history of the Maine woods.  All Atlantic Climbing School’s guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association and are trained in wilderness first aid. 

 Key points:

-Location: Camden, Maine

-Five days of rock climbing and instruction in the Camden Hills

-For ages 13-17

-No experience needed 

-All equipment is included

-  All campers should be dropped off at the Barrett’s Cove Picnic area at 8:00am. And picked up at the same location at 4:00pm each day

- Cost: $425.00 

For more information or to make a reservation give us a call at (207) 288.2521.


    Our Guides: 

The core of our climbing school, or of any business, is its staff. At ACS our staff are expert climbers, dedicated teachers, and talented and friendly guides. As trained professionals, our guides are masters of matching a client’s needs with our local terrain in order to create courses that consistently exceed our client’s expectations. All of our staff are certified by the  American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) for the terrain on which they guide, and we are proud to be the only guide service in Maine to have this distinction.

At ACS, we pride ourselves on our sterling reputation. With 19 years of  exceptional service, we strive every day to continue to be Maine’s premier climbing school.

What to Bring:

Clothing & Footwear: 
Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows freedom of movement. Jeans are not recommended; in warm weather, shorts are best. Dress for the weather conditions but plan ahead for abrupt changes; layers are ideal so that you may easily adapt to changing conditions. Footwear needs to be sturdy: tennis, running or hiking shoes are best. Please, no sandals - the approach to some of our climbing sites requires hiking over rocky, uneven terrain.

Personal Items: 
Bring plenty of water and a few light snacks and a big lunchSunscreen and sunglasses are highly advisable since there is very little shade on the side of a cliff (it is best to put sunscreen on before you leave so you can wash your hands). A small day pack is necessary to carry your personal items as well as the gear we will provide – we do have packs available if you do not have your own. Don’t forget a camera – even the disposable kind – you won’t believe the great shots you and your guide will get! Please arrive prepared so that none of your course time is spent locating/purchasing these personal items.


What we Supply: 

Atlantic Climbing School provides each participant with a pair of climbing shoes, a harness and a helmet. Chalk bags and day packs are also available. ACS also provides all course equipment including ropes, technical hardware, and a first aid kit.


Drop Off and Pick up:

 All campers should be dropped off at the Barrett’s Cove Picnic area at 8:00am. And picked up at the same location at 4:00pm each day.



A day on Mt. Washington

Mount Washington at 6,288 feet is known for its horrendous weather. Last Sunday was no exception, but that didn’t keep Wendy, Manoj, and myself from having an awesome time on a mountain the natives called Agiocochook, or “Home of the Great Spirit.” The summit forecast called for negative temperatures and winds well above 100 miles per hour. The resulting -55 wind chill will freeze uncovered skin instantly. Although we were unable to summit in such conditions, we enjoyed the plethora of new snow on the 2.5 miles up to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut as we practiced crampon technique and moving efficiently in the mountains. Winds from the NW were were mostly behind us for the ascent and right in our faces for the descent back to treeline. It was definitely a day for goggles and face masks! Thanks Wendy and Manoj for being great climbing partners and wonderful company! Y’all crushed! Here are a few great photos from our trip.

-Matt Ritter: ACS Guide

wash 4




wash 6

New Winter Programs!

Skiing cadillac auto rd hairpin ice

When the snow starts to fly and ice begins to form at our favorite vertical playgrounds, it is time to trade in the rock climbing shoes and chalk bags for crampons and ices axes. Winter is here and the climbing season has just begun! New England is THE place to be for this magical time of year! Don’t hibernate this season, come on out and join The Atlantic Climbing School to see what Old Man Winter has to offer.

We offer private customized courses in ice climbing, mountaineering,snowshoeing and cross country skiing for everyone from an absolute beginner, to experienced outdoor enthusiasts looking to take their skills to the next level. From the granite mountains that rise from the frigid seas of Acadia, to the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington, let our experienced guides make your winter a little more adventurous and FUN!  

snow shoeing cadillac south ridge

Learn more about:





Are programs are available in the following locations:

-Mt. Washington Valley, NH

-North Conway, NH

-Acadia National Park, ME

-Camden, ME

-Rumney, NH

-Grafton Notch, ME

-Mt Kineo, ME

-Baxter Sate Park (Mt. Katahdin) ME

- Make a reservation today!

Rocktober ( a climbers favorite month)

For most climbers the month of October is the time to drop everything and hit the road. The temperature cools down allowing for better friction and ideal climbing  conditions. The days are still long enough for big objectives and the scenery is amazing with the changing of the season.  

This October I was lucky enough to travel to some of the best climbing destinations in the country with some great friends. What follows is a brief synopsis of my Rocktober!

As the guiding season slowed down (Park Closure)  I packed up the Sea Stack Slider (my Nissan Versa) and headed to the New River George with three of my favorite climbing buddies. Our plan was simple, we were going to climb as much as we could in this amazing area for just over two weeks.

Steep climbing at the New River George

 The New river George is a world class climbing area located in Appalachian Mountains of West Virgina.  The New is also white water rafting mecca offering boaters a chance to paddle the biggest white water sections in the east. Stunning sandstone cliffs line the New and the Gauley rivers and stretch for miles in every direction. There is enough climbing in this area to last 100 lifetimes! The climbing is varied with an abundance of both traditional and sport climbs.  We did tons of amazing routes and were also lucky enough to raft the upper Gauley River which hosts five super rugged class V sections.
 I would highly recommend this area to everyone! The people in West Virginia were super nice and the climbing was phenomenal!


Being weird in the New River George.


My next stop was Yosemite National Park! Yosemite is the epicenter of climbing in the US and with out a doubt my favorite climbing destination in the world! Whether you are a climber or not this is an area everyone should visit at some point. My favorite times to visit are in early May when the dogwood trees are in bloom, and in the fall when the crowds thin out.

I was climbing in Yosemite with my buddy Pete who used to run ACS with me. Pete now lives in CA and works as a vegetable farmer on a vineyard.

We arrived in the Valley at around 2:00am and got a few hours of sleep beneath the stars. It was super cold on the valley floor and I slept in three pairs of pants and two down jackets! The next morning we climbed Serenity-Sons which is by far the best free climb I have ever climbed in the Valley! That night we met up with some friends (three of which are ACS guides) in the meadow at the base of El Capitan. We had a few beers and watched the headlights up on El Cap start to blink on. Pete and I wanted to climb the Nose the following day. The Nose is the most famous rock climb in the world. It rises over 3000 feet from the valley floor and  begs to be climbed. In 2007 Pete and I climbed the Nose over three and a half days. Our goal was to now climb the route in under 24 hours.

We slept at the base of the route and started climbing at 6:00am just before the sun rose.  We had one 70m rope, five cliff bars each and one gallon of water. We were PSYCHED!

The best way to climb such a huge route is to break up the climb in to sections. This way there are fewer transitions between the lead climbers and each climber can settle in to his role (leading or jugging) for a longer period of time. We made good time up the route trying to free climb as much  as possible. The Nose is like a giant obstacle course linking sections of cracks with wild swings across the granite. We moved efficiently up the wall and made it to the summit 16 hours after we began. Climbing the Nose in a day had always been a dream of mine and it felt great to finally make it happen. We descended the East ledges in the Dark and slept back at the base of the route. It was an amazing day of climbing with one of my best friends!


Pete leading the great roof on the Nose!


The next two days we rested and enjoyed life with out a harness on.  After this much needed rest we geared up for one more climb before we left the Valley. We climbed the Silent Line on the Gold Wall. This is a spectacular line up a sea of golden granite. Lots and lots of very physical crack climbing leads to an amazing view of one of Yosemite’s most beautiful water falls and a great view of the West face of El Capitan. We had tons of fun climbing and made it back to our car before dark.  We were lucky to not have been eaten by bears! We saw tons of fresh bear sign!

The view from a wild chimney on the Gold Wall.

The west face of El Capitan


We drove East over Tioga Pass and bivied in the desert near a hot spring. The next day was a long haul to St. George Utah. St. George has an abundance of great sport climbing. It felt nice to climb in a more relaxed setting.


Pete in St. George.


We are now in Zion National Park. Zion is incredibly beautiful and I am excited to explore some more of it’s classic climbs!



Tomorrows objective!


Overall October has been perfect! Amazing climbing with great people! I’m excited to see what November will bring……..





A new Guidebook to Acadia!!!

Grant Simmons enjoying a sunrise from the top of the Acadia classic Wafer Step.

Grant Simmons enjoying a sunrise from the top of the Acadia classic Wafer Step.


Somewhere there is an old ACS ad that reads, “Climb with the locals.  We wrote the book.”  Well, that ad can be renewed because we are writing it again!

In 2002, former Atlantic Climbing School owner Jeff Butterfield, along with Jason Huckaby, published a comprehensive guidebook to the climbing here in Acadia, a guidebook that still stands as the go-to for information on climbing in the park.  However, that book has been out of print for a couple of years now, leaving a void in easily accessible information for those who do not already own a copy.

Writing a guidebook has always been a dream of mine.  There is just something about those books that has always seemed to me a reflection of the author’s love of a place, a love that I have always admired and related to because it was deeper than the climbing itself.  There is an intimate knowledge of the area, not just the moves of the individual climbs, but the entire cliff, the entire mountain.

Admittedly, there are others who know this place better.  There are locals who have been climbing here for years, locals who are so honed in on every crystal of granite on the hardest climbs that they can carry on a conversation about how easy it is while casually making their ways towards to anchor above.  I have shared my enthusiasm for this project with these folks and they have encouraged me to go forth with it. 

I feel connected to this place; that intimate knowledge has been growing in me for the last two years, and I am excited to continue to foster it through this project.  Things that I do not yet know, I am excited to learn in the process.  There will be adventures to obscure cliffs and climbs, conversations with the pioneers of the island’s climbing, and of course, more of those moments that floor you while climbing here in the park.

The goal of this project is to take this knowledge and passion and put it to paper, providing a resource for both the visiting and the local climber and sharing with them my love of this area and the climbing that it holds.

I definitely have a lot to learn in the process, so feel free to share any input you may have with me.  I’m also looking for photos to be considered for the book, so if you have any amazing shots, please send them to me for review!

Happy fall!

Grant Simmons


July 2013 A wild end to the bird cam sessions!

I am lucky enough to be part of a large Phenology project that the National park service is running. My job has been to install and monitor a few different bird cams in various locations. One of these cameras has been at a Guillemots nest. It has been absolutely amazing to watch this site go from just a pile of rocks about six weeks ago, to a cozy little home for two little babies and two loving parents. The photos below will tell an amazing story with a wild ending…….



guillamontt birdcam ACS BirdcamACS  WSBC0013 WSBC0028 WSBC0049 WSBC0064 WSBC0069 WSBC0083 WSBC0087

On the fourth of July all was well in this little family………… Who knew what was going to happen that night, long after the fireworks had ended……














An American mink (Neovison vison) snuck in to the nest and ate everyone except one of the adults. Minks are amazing predators and probably could either hear or smell the babies. Minks eat duck, fish, muskrats and yes, even adorable baby guillemots!

For me looking at these photos was an emotional roller coaster. I was so happy to finally see the babies and the feeding habits of the adults, and then just like that, they were gone. I will miss them all. WSBC0111

A parting shot of the sneaky little mink as he disappears into the night.


The saddest part of this tragic story is the following morning momma (or dad) came back with some fresh breakfast to find the nest empty. (SO SAD!)



24 hours after the massacre the mink returned for an unknown reason.




Momma (or dad) cries alone in the corner!



I am sorry if this story bummed you out. It’s very sad but it is, also, the way things work in the wild. I feel lucky to have captured this footage and I am amazed at how everything is so connected and raw in the natural world.  I leave you with this……………

Happy Puppy


-Eli Simon

June 2013 “Climbing in Acadia is AWESOME” a word from Matt Ritter

“Climbing in Acadia is AWESOME!!”  My name is Matt Ritter and I live “Upwest” in New Hampshire.

Matt Ritter Atlantic Climbing School

I came “Downeast” for the Summer climbing season and to work with the well-reputed Atlantic Climbing School. I am relatively new to Acadia and have fallen in love with the landscape, lifestyle, and of course the rocks! I have been climbing for 13 years and have been a full time mountain guide for the past 6 years.

I have had the privilege of spending countless days with great people on chilly ice climbs, steep mountainsides, and inspiring rock formations. One of these awesome guiding experiences happened last summer when I visited Maine to climb with a group of great friends and guests of the guide service I work for back home. We climbed on Mt. Katahdin and also gave Bar Harbor a visit; I was highly impressed with what I saw. Otter Cliffs is a truly spectacular climbing venue. Having climbed in a vast number of similarly special locations around the Northeast and countrywide, I still find myself enthralled by the beauty and amazing power of the ocean lapping or crashing against the cliff side. I will accuse myself of being a mountain bum, so looking off into the vast sea is mesmerizing and inspiring.

Also inspiring was what else I saw at Otter Cliffs on that first visit. I witnessed a slew of orange shirts ( the ACS uniform) at the top of Otter Cliffs talking to and coaching their climbers on the steep precipices. These guides were doing an amazing job! They were excited and oozed with passion. They radiated with confidence and knowledge of the climbs. I said to myself, “Wow, I would like to spend the Summer here,” and HERE I AM!

Some ACS air-time at guide training!

Some ACS air-time at guide training!


Matt studied Adventure Education at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire where he realized his desire to be an educator. Matt is an  American Mountain Guides Association Certified Rock Instructor,  Certified Wilderness First Responder and an AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course graduate.