Patagonia 2016

The summit of Cerro Torre
The summit of Cerro Torre

I flew in to el Calafate on January 17th and took a taxi to my home base for the next 5 weeks in El Chalten, a tiny mountain town in southern Argentina. Pete’s plane was delayed a day, so I hung around with this year’s group of monkeys, ate food and tried to readjust to this place of drastic extremes. In a very similar fashion to the last time I landed in this town three years ago, the weather was terrific and people were flooding to the mountains with their heads filled with dreams of golden granite and cloudless skies!

Pete pulled in on the 18th around 9:30pm. As always, It was great to see him once again. Soon we were scheming and packing our bags for a mission into the Torre Valley. Our plan was to hike into the base camp Niponino – a distance of 15k traversing a lake, an endless moraine and a dirty, rapidly changing glacier. With 50lb packs and navigating a new approach we staggered in to Nipo after 7 hours of slogging! The hike gave Pete and me  a great opportunity to catch up and it felt wonderful to head into the mountains with a solid partner.


Sunrise on the Torres


We decided to continue past Niponino towards the tongue of the Glacier in hopes of shortening the approach up and over the Standhardt Col the following morning. We moved some rocks around and built a solid bivy spot for our small single wall tent. We ate some food, set the alarm for 4am and tried to get some sleep.


Our approach was N3


The west faces of the Fitzroy massif


The alarm came quickly and soon we were moving over the glacier up towards the Stanhart col. Gaining 1000m, we zigzagged around crevasses and arrived at the steeper ice and mixed terrain around 8:15am.  What lay ahead was 150m of low angle ice and mixed climbing to the col proper. We simul-climbed and moved slowly on the soft and unconsolidated snow. From the col we began to rappel 200m to the west and for the first time saw the giant clean granite walls of the Circo de los Altares.


Pete on the approach to the Standhardt Col with the west faces of the Fitzroy massif in the background




Rappelling over the Standhardt Col


Our goal was to establish a new route on the west face of Punta Philip, a subsidiary peak of Aguja Bifida. Descending to the base of this wall proved more challenging than we anticipated. It involved squirrely down climbing of dirty ice and a few awkward rappels.


Down climbing rotten ice


The west faces of the Torres on the right and our objective Punta Philip the highest point on the left.


At 1:30pm we, finally, arrived at the base of this beautiful 800m wall. We ate food and scoped some potential lines. By 3:15pm Pete was leading the first pitch and we were happy to be in our comfort zone. We moved efficiently and by 10:30pm Pete had led 8 long pitches of new terrain on the west face of Punta Philip just South of the established route Su Patagonia that was established in 1996 by a group of Sardinians.


Pete leading pitch one


Pete traversing on pitch five with the Torres in the background


Looking down half way up pitch 7. This was an amazing 60m finger crack that would go free at 5.12. For us it was still a stellar pitch at 5.11 AO!


Looking up the same pitch


Pete leading pitch 8


As the sun disappeared behind the snow capped mountains across the continental ice shelf we trundled some loose rocks and ice chunks from a small ledge and tried to clear out an area big enough for our small single wall tent. We ate mashed potatoes with cheese and were in the tent by 11pm. A very long and complex 17-hour day in the mountains.


Standing in our tent on a little ledge on top of pitch 8


The alarm went off at 6:00am. A quick oatmeal and coffee session and soon I slipped on my climbing shoes and began my lead block. I led four pitches involving some scary steep climbing with massive loose blocks, as well as some moderate terrain and clean cracks. A short wide section brought me to the top of an isolated pillar. I put a cordellete around the summit and belayed Pete up to the anchor. We discussed the option of rappelling down the tower to the East and heading back up and south to hopefully end up on an established route to the summit. The terrain looked challenging, committing and difficult to reverse. Happy with our mini-summit we snapped a few photos and began our descent. We found the Su Patagonia rappel anchors and descended using them for four rappels. The original anchors from 1996 were in rough shape, so we backed them up with cord we had brought. We left their established descent line for a more direct descent and headed down and south towards the gear we had stashed at the base of the wall. Pete did a great job leading the rappels and we were happy to touch down at 1:30pm after a pretty straight forward descent by Patagonia standards.


Day two leading pitch 11


The top of pitch 12 was a sweet little summit. The Torres in the background


Pete in the midst of many rappells


We took our harnesses off and lounged in the sun. The entire weather window had been extremely warm and the mountains were falling apart around us. Large seracs, rockfall, and ice fall were a constant and it was unnerving to be surrounded by such massive features that seemed to be growing increasingly less stable.


getting artsy happy to be back on the ground


We made a decision not to retrace our steps back over the Standhardt col to Niponino and instead headed northwest across the Continental Ice Shelf to Paso Marconi. This route was about 50k and involved a lot of tricky down climbs, rappels and route finding.


Heading towards the Ice Cap


We waited at the base of the walls until 9:30pm and began the trek back to civilization. First we had to descend to the continental ice sheet and it turned out to once again be more complicated than we had anticipated. A lot of down climbing low angle ice led to a final bergschrund. I tied our tag line around my waist as Pete settled into a small crevasse and prepared to give me a hip belay as I down climbed with tools and crampons to its lip. The plan was to down climb the 10 foot step and then belay Pete as he down climbed low angle rock around the side.


Sunset on the Ice Cap


I got to the lip of the schrund and quickly discovered that it was severely overhanging. Feet dangling I hung from my tools and committed to a very uncomfortable lower with very cold water running into my pants. Once at the bottom I placed both pack packs at the base and Pete rigged a snow bollard to rappel off of. Pete batmaned down the tagline and we were soon alone on the continental ice sheet just as the moon was rising. A beautiful waxing gibbous illuminated the endless ice sheet enough that we did not turn on our headlamps.  It was absolutely wild to traverse this empty landscape alone and under the moon light. It was like being on a different planet. We headed first west and then north towards Paso Marconi. As the sun rose we took a 20 minute break and brewed some coffee. We had been up for 24 hours and we were still a long way from home! We marched on. Some exposed down climbing and some tricky glacier travel led us to the rolling alpine hills north of the Fitzroy Massif. We continued on slowly towards the closest road.


A few hours in to a 15 slog!


Sun is up and we are still walking


Still walking….


30 hours into this mission I encountered a few cows in the trail. I was slightly ahead of Pete and stopped to admire these beautiful animals. There was a very large mom who seemed to be pregnant and a young cow together. I banged my trekking poles together to encourage them to move off of the trail. The next thing I knew the mom had turned to me, lowered her head and charged me at full speed! I backpedaled and stumbled a bit. Turning to run, the giant, angry momma was right on top of me. I leaped behind a tree and was about a half second away from being trampled. I quickly began to yell and present myself as a big scary creature. In reality, I was a terrified, confused and overtired climber! The cow backed off and waddled into the woods. Pete, who had witnessed this madness, and I quickly moved away from this area and continued the never ending march back home. This savage cow attack seemed too strange to be real! It all happened so fast and seemed so unbelievably random. For three very long days we had been managing all sorts of risks and hazards in the mountains but a charging cow was not one I had planned for.


Almost home!


After 31.5 hours of being awake and about 15 hours of hiking over 50k we arrived at a road. We slumped our backpacks on the ground, took off our shoes and immediately laid down. I soaked my swollen and battered feet in the icy Rio de las Vueltas and closed my eyes. We rested for a short while as we waited for cars to drive by to give us a ride back to town where our little casita, real food and a hot shower awaited. We were tired, sore, stinky and hungry but extremely fulfilled and happy!


Happy feet


Sleepy Pete


We are pleased with our new route

Shelter from the cow V 5.11 A0 550m


Our route is marked by the black line.




Grand Canyon


This past November I had the opportunity to float about 300 miles of the Grand Canyon with 15 wonderful people over the course of 22 days. It was with out a doubt one of the most incredible trips I have ever been on filled with big water, perfect weather, and a lifetime worth of laughter.


I have filled countless pages in my journal writing about the canyon walls and the mighty Colorado River. These powerful and ancient features will forever be etched in my mind. Sitting here in Maine a month after our trip, what I find myself thinking about is not the towering walls and the giant rapids, but the people whom I was lucky enough to share this adventure with. 


The Grand Canyon is the most powerful landscape I have ever seen. It’s magnitude and scale are humbling. I believe that the purity of this ancient landscape enabled our party to be ourselves in a way that is harder and harder to come by in this age of push button gratification and Twitter feeds. A stripped down, unfiltered and raw version of ourselves, void of distractions, minutia and fluff.

The Canyon let us truly shine.


Below are some of my favorite photos from our journey.


Chip and Rachael making progress up stream in the beautiful Havasupai Creek.




Bass Camp! Here we spent the most amazing Thanksgiving with a giant full moon and a feast of a similar size. I laughed and smiled so much on this particular night that all the muscles in my face were sore for days after.



I saw more climbable rock in our 22 days than I had seen in my entire life. Any chance I had I would be monkeying around. It is not easy to move gracefully in a dry suit!



Our 21st day was Chip’s birthday. He began the day by hiking this ducky up stream so he could re run a fun rapid in front of our camp. As he paddled by 15 of us all mooned him and yelled happy birthday. He rocked that wizard hat all day!



More monkeying around.



Some fun bouldering in North Canyon. A few of us tried this traverse and no one was able to make it across. Zack and Dane both went for an unintentional swim with their clothes on!



Morgan smiled and giggled more than anyone I have ever met. I think it is her official language. Face paint and costumes were a big part of the trip, especially on big water days!



Two hard hittin’ pandas singing about vegetables!






Relaxing in the ducky. In total we had 5 rafts, 2 duckies, and 2 pack rafts.



Rachael in Havasupai Creek



The womb in North Canyon



Each day we would go on little adventures or hikes into side canyons. Some of the side canyons were very technical and involved lots of rappelling. The canyoneering world is cool!



This technical canyon decent involved about 900 feet of rappelling.



We scouted all of the biggest rapids. The nervous energy before dropping into some of these monsters was palpable. The boatman became laser focused and everyone was on point. It was wild!


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Redwall Cavern was one of the greatest playgrounds I have ever seen. We danced and sang and played instruments. We climbed and ran and hucked horseshoes and bocce balls. We did acroyoga and we laughed!


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This side canyon involved a few rappels. The last one into the ducky which we used as a little water taxi to shuttle everyone to the other side of this pool. Surprisingly everyone stayed dry!


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On day 19 we ran Lava Falls. This is the biggest rapid on the river and I had never seen anything like it. All 5 boats made it through right side up and we all celebrated on tequila beach just below the rapid. This was the last major rapid of our trip and having it behind us was a huge relief to the boatman. Psyche was at an all time high! This shot is of Taylor Bones who was rowing the boat that I was on. So PSYCHED!


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Classic post Lava smile!


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I found this rubber bat on tequila beach. One of many treasures I found on the river!


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More post Lava smiles!


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A wonderful man in a wonderful outfit!


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These guys aren’t having any fun!


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When the sun went down the cats and zebras would feast on bananas! pretty standard…….


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Not a bad view from camp!



blondes have the most fun…..


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Bouldering in Redwall Cavern


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The entire trip was like a wild adult summer camp!


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More side canyon goodness.


This photo was taken on day 21, our last full day on the river. As you can see, we are all very sick of each other  and no one is having any fun!


Why Acadia is so Amazing!…





A few days ago was my 31st birthday and I wanted to celebrate it by spending time with my girlfriend, Katy, and running around Acadia National Park!

I devised a multi-sport adventure that would include some of my favorite activities and thoroughly whoop our butts! What follows is a breakdown of our wonderful day!

After a big breakfast, we shouldered our backpacks loaded with food and climbing gear and biked from our home off of the Knox road to the route 3 put-in of North East Creek. Here, we had stashed Delmar.

Delmar is a heavily used 14-foot aluminum canoe that I purchased for pennies for an expedition to Newfoundland in 2008. One of the seats is made of duct tape and the entire thing is spray panted camo. It has seen better days…








Katy and I with Delmar bikes and gear in the back!


Once we arrived at the creek we loaded the bikes and our packs on to our red neck watercraft and began the beautiful paddle to the other end of the creek. After a few miles of perfect conditions the creek turned into a swamp and soon we were dragging Delmar through the muck and mud. By the time we reached the Crooked Road we were covered in slime, scratches, bug bites and mud. In a futile attempt to make a graceful exit of the canoe I managed to violently flip the entire rig and go for a swim! After bailing out Delmar and dragging her to the road we were met by our good friend and ACS guide Dane Sterba. We loaded the Canoe onto his car and arranged to meet him later in the mission!


Delmar freighted down w bikes


At first the creek was like this!…


Soon it looked like this!


Katy all smiles waist deep in the muck!


Here is where I flipped the canoe and began the biking.


For the next leg of the adventure we biked to the South Wall (Precipice), which is my favorite climbing area on the island. Along the way we stopped at a yard sale and found some great treasures! (I love yard sales) I am not much of a biker and this soggy 12-mile trek on a rental bike was probably the hardest part of the day for me! Katy however, is a terrific biker and left me in the dust!



Katy and I before she left me in the dust!


Katy enjoying pitch 2 of Story of O


We stashed our bikes in the woods and hiked up to the base of the wall. We climbed the three-pitch classic Story of O and had a delicious lunch on the top! After some well deserved calories and some amazing views we rappelled back to the ground and were soon back on the bikes!



Katy nearing the top of the climb


The view from our elevated lunch spot!


We biked a few miles down the Park Loop Road to the Bee Hive Trail Head. Once again we stashed the bikes and did a quick trail run up and around the Beehive.

Back on the bikes we continued down the coast to Otter Cliffs. Here we once a gain met Dane. We gave him the bikes and he gave us back Delmar. We hiked Delmar down to Otter Cliffs and lowered her down the 60-foot face! This was quite the spectacle and certainly turned some heads. We did a little bit of climbing on some of the classics routes before throwing on our life jackets and hitting the high seas in Delmar!


Delmar about to descend!


Getting ready to rappell down to the girls…


Katy cruising Yellow Wall at Otter Cliffs. Delmar below


We very carefully and slowly paddled north heading towards Great Head. We had an exciting landing on the rocky and rugged coast and stashed Delmar in the woods. We ran around the peninsula and arrived at the 100+ foot sea cliff. As per usual there was no one at the cliff and we casually climbed the 2-pitch classic Full Sail and quickly boogied back to the Canoe. We stashed our gear and ran down to Sand Beach. Here, we met Dane and we all ran screaming into the frigid ocean! It was a perfect ending to an amazing day! Well, I guess it wasn’t the end. We portaged Delmar and all of our stuff to the Great head parking lot and loaded everything into Dane’s car. We drove home, and arrived to a party! About 20 of our best friends were already at the house with tons of great food, drinks, and energy! We were pooped, but super psyched to spend the few remaining hours of daylight hanging and laughing with great friends!



Katy and I happy to be on dry land! Otter cliffs the point of land in the back left.


Katy, Delmar and the DTS (Duct Tape Seat)


Running to Great Head!


Great Head


Katy on pitch 2 of Full Sail


Psyched! the tiny boat in the background is actually a massive cruise ship!


Few places on the planet offer as much world-class recreational activities in such a small area. Sprinkle in great weather and some of the best people on the planet and you have a true paradise! I love this island so much and I am so very happy to call this place my home! A huge thanks to Dane for the logistical support and to Hanna for running the office, and to everyone else who helped make this past birthday the best one yet! And of course, a huge thanks to Katy for being so wonderful and for sharing this very special day with me!

Continuing Education

 I am super psyched to say that everyone of our guides have returned to Acadia for another year of guiding! I am certain that our 21st season will be the best year yet! 

Atlantic Climbing School Staff

Today five ACS guides are heading over to New Hampshire to take part in the ten day American Mountain Guides Association Rock Guide Course. This is an advanced guiding course that focuses on moving efficiently in a multi-pitch setting with multiple clients. The guides will certainly learn a ton and refine their skills in risk-management, industry standards, route finding, technical skills, terrain assessment, rescue scenarios, and client care. The course is being taught by two amazing instructors Alain Comeau and Art Mooney.newhireslarge

I am so happy to see such a great group of guides dedicated to continuing education, professionalism, and to ACS. We are all very excited for another great season and look forward to sharing the joys of climbing in Maine with all of you!

Band of Gypsies

Eli Simon on the first ascent of Band of Gypsies


A few years ago I was rappelling from the top of the route Sea Gypsy at the South Wall.  The rappel line descends through a beautiful pink headwall at the highest part of the cliff. As I lowered myself towards the next rappel anchor I carefully inspected a series of very tiny crimps that seemed to appear every four or five feet. It looked as if it might be possible to connect the dots and climb up this relatively blank face. It would certainly be a very tenuous climb, but it looked like it might be possible.

A few weeks ago, I once again found myself at the top rappel anchor with my good buddy and former ACS guide Nate Miller. He lowered me to the base of the wall and I tried, with out a lot of luck, to scratch and claw my way up the blank face on a top-rope. Slowly but surely we were able to piece together larger and larger sections of the climb. We visited this pitch on three more occasions over the course of a few weeks, and just a few days ago we were finally able to top-rope the entire pitch with out falling.


The Fixe hardware!


I submitted a proposal to the Acadia Climbing Advisory Group to add five bolts to this beautiful face. These bolts would provide protection in the areas where there were no options for traditions gear. My proposal was accepted and soon I had a Special Use Permit from the park to equip the route.

Nate Miller tightening a bolt


This morning was amazingly gorgeous. The sun shined on the head-wall and a cool breeze kept us a perfect temperature. It was an ideal day to be climbing, the type of day that makes me so unbelievably happy to call this island my home!

Nate plugging in a cam on the 2nd ascent of Band of Gypsies


 Once Nate and I were certain of the exact location for each bolt we bolted the line and each gave the pitch a good try on lead. I was able to huff and puff and claw my way to the chains but Nate fell on the last move!

 Establishing this new route with Nate has been such a wonderful process filled with lots of chalk, laughs, and sore fingertips! Our new route Band of Gypsies is a fantastic addition to one of the most amazing crags in the entire world!

Nate and Eli drillin'

All smiles at the South Wall!

The new Acadia guidebook is available!!!!

Eli Simon on Head Arete at Great Head in Acadia, Maine.It’s finally here!  The new guidebook – Rock Climbs of Acadia – is now available!


Written and published by ACS guide, Grant Simmons, this new guide provides descriptions for nearly 300 routes and 15 different climbing areas.  All of the classic climbs are there, plus many great lines that you’ve never heard of.  Detailed information will keep you climbing and beautiful photography will keep you inspired.


For more information, or to purchase a copy, visit  Guidebooks will also be available in a number of locally owned outdoors shops in the New England area.

Yoga for guides

Yoga for GuidesBy Richard Parker:  ACS Guide, AMGA Rock Instructor & Certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor

A big part of managing life as a professional guide is staying healthy (mind, body, and spirit) to meet the demands of the work. Keeping the body flexible, balanced, and strong is generally not too tough for those in their 20’s. As folks move into their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, having an excellent program for strength and flexibility, injury prevention, and recovery becomes increasingly more critical. Yoga is a great way to keep you biologically young for decades, as well as help with stress reduction and with cultivating serenity, acceptance, and kindness.

Yoga…small “y”…large “Y”: Most people think of yoga (small “y”) as a series of postures (known as asanas) linked with breath that increase flexibility and strength and aid in managing stress. Yoga (capital “Y”) is an ancient system with ethics, breathing disciplines, and meditation techniques designed to advance one’s spiritual journey. Within the practice of Yoga, asanas play an important but secondary role. This post focuses on the physical practice and its specific benefits for guides. A subsequent article will expand to include discussion of breath work, meditation, and other possible benefits of Yoga.

Guiding produces specific and repeated motions that can lead to imbalance, injury, and reduction in the range of motion (ROM). Shortened hamstrings and restricted hips from repeated stepping upward (climbing, skinning, and approaching), drooping and rounded shoulders and rounded upper back from carrying heavy loads, painful elbows, wrists, and fingers from too much crimping, moving rope, and hanging on to ice axes while placing screws, strained necks from looking down (or up) and coaching while belaying, tweaky lower backs from leaning forward in skiing and sliding into poor posture as the long day of work extends…this is just a start to a list that I am certain many of us could easily add to.

I have yet to meet someone who said, “it sure would be great if I could be more tight!” As we teach our clients every time we guide, efficient movement and technique is crucial in technical terrain, and flexibility is a key to this. We are all looking for flexibility because flexible muscles are strong, resilient, and provide our joints with a full ROM, and, yes, tight muscles are the opposite: weak, vulnerable, and limit the ROM. Stretching while breathing mindfully not only lengthens muscles and makes them supple, it is also helps muscles recover from stress by increasing blood flow. A key to asana practice is not to force muscles to lengthen, not to use one muscle group against another but to relax, breathe, and allow the muscles to open. Attempts to push generally lead to injury or stagnation.

By stretching specific muscle groups in a systematic and balanced way, a regular asana practice can effectively help avoid or diminish the effects of repeated stress and imbalance. I look for heart opening poses and back bends to address tight shoulders and lumbar compression, hip openers like lunges and pigeon pose to address tight hamstrings, psoas, hip flexors, quadriceps, and calves, arch stretches for stressed feet, chaturangas (low push up) and hand/arm balances to add some pushing to counter the pulling that dominates climbing and moving rope, inversions to help the legs flush out toxins and allow for easy lymphatic fluid return, core exercises to strengthen the muscles that support all motion and especially the lower back, and very careful attention to the neck to address “belayer’s neck”. I also add balancing poses to bolster this key skill and exercise the proprioceptive (body awareness) sense of feet, ankles and legs, etc.

American Mountain Guide and Instructor Pool member Art Mooney has been a proponent of Yoga for many years: “My practice of yoga began over ten years ago. At that time I found myself feeling sore, overall stiffness, and injured at times. I needed flexibility and thought yoga would help. Yoga was originally intended to increase my overall flexibility which would reduce injuries. Since then I have found a consistent practice of yoga offers many other benefits. Flexibility is certainly one big benefit, but I also noticed my focus, power, breathing, and alignment all improved. With all these yoga benefits I am much more in tune with my physical body and I have taken climbing/guiding movements to a higher level. As a working mountain guide, yoga helps me wind down from a tough day or multiple days at work. The practice of centering and leaving all the guiding work and business behind is truly the way to clear and refresh the mind. After a yoga practice I feel refreshed and ready for another day in the mountains.”

What is the best way to get started? Find a certified and experienced teacher, and my bias would be to look for a teacher with an athletic background who understands the physical demands of your work. Take your time in finding a teacher and a style that suits you. It is important to learn the basics from a teacher to avoid injury, and injuries come easily to beginners, especially when one brings a competitive attitude and one chooses an aggressive style of asana practice. Once you have learned how to safely and effectively practice, it can be time to shift more to a home practice, which saves money, makes it easier to squeeze in a practice, and you can be guided specifically by what you need as opposed to what a teacher is offering on a given day. To see true gains in flexibility, try to commit to at least 2-3 sessions a week (daily is best), even if these sessions are at home (or while camping!) with a book or a video for 10-20 minutes at a time.

Noted Yoga teacher Erich Shiffman said, “Yoga creates symmetry through your whole body, making you strong and flexible in a balanced way. It also teaches you to balance the mental impulse to push, control, and be assertive with the complementary impulse to yield, surrender and be passive.” Try to avoid thinking of asana practice as a time to gain strength, and focus on the flexibility, balancing, and recovery benefits. This does not mean that there are not some opportunities to enhance strength through asanas, but specifically work on strength for climbing elsewhere.

Thanks to Richard Parker for this piece introducing the benefits of yoga for professional guides. A climbing guide since 1977, Richard is a certified Rock Instructor and certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher. In the next installment look for discussion of the benefits beyond the physical and for specifics about breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation. In addition, I will provide guidance on how to build your own, balanced asana practice to do at home. In the meantime consider using the transition between the fall and winter to get started by taking some classes and establishing a regular routine. Feel free to be in touch if I can be of any help:

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


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 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
Happy spring,
Grant Simmons
ACS guide Grant Simmons on the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!
ACS guide Grant Simmons on the summit of Cerro Fitzroy!