Otter Cliffs – Acadia National Park

Acadia is pretty much the only National Park in the North East (certainly the only one on our itinerary) and covers much of Mount Desert Island on the coast of Maine. There’s a fair bit of climbing here, which we plan to explore over the next few days, starting with Otter Cliffs. This spot was recommended by a friendly local we met in The Gunks: “You gotta go to Otter Cliffs – it’s crazy, you just rap down to the water and there you are; climbing straight out of the Atlantic Ocean!”

It’s certainly a pretty spot and the rock is an excellent red granite

… but it’s only about 60ft high, and a few hundred metres wide, and the predominant ethic is to top rope the routes. Gogarth it ain’t!

However, it’s a fun place to while away a Sunday afternoon (and we weren’t alone with that plan – it was rammed!)

We did a few routes on the detached pinnacle “The Sea Stack” of which Rock Lobster, 5.9 climbing to the right of the chimney in the shot below, was probably the best (and certainly trickiest)

Here’s Helen rapping in…

… and here’s a visiting climber from Missouri (that’s almost as far as we’ve come!) on the crux.

It led me to ponder why there isn’t more seacliff climbing in the States? Is it because…

A) by some geological quirk (subduction maybe? he says in complete ignorance – geologists please chip in… ) there are fewer seacliffs, even though there must be 5x the coastline.

B) there are seacliffs, but nobody climbs on them.

C) there’s loads of seacliff climbing, but I just haven’t heard of it.

Answers on a postcard (or comment!)

3 responses to “Otter Cliffs – Acadia National Park

  1. I don’t think they’re are many sea cliffs of any size. Certainly the east coast geology is very old and eroded, largely glacial in the north and the 60 ft youve found is as big aff I’ve seen. Maybe bigger cliffs in Canada?. The gulf is pretty much all sand as far aff i know. There are some cliffs on the Pacific coast, but never seen anything like south wales or even Dorset 🙂

    • That’s what I was wondering – you might have El Cap, The Diamond, The Black and a thousand other amazing crags, but I’d have to think twice about swapping any of them for Gogarth 😉

  2. I work up in Acadia in the summertime and I have been told it has to do with water temperature (cold currents make their way down to Maine and then warms up as it gets more south) among a few other factors. Yes, east coast is old and therefore subject to erosion and should be mostly sand beaches. The colder water of the north holds more oxygen in its structure and therefore, there is less free oxygen to break down shells and other things to produce sand and further erosion of the cliffs. You can see up north too there are pretty significant sea cliffs in colder waters (Baffin…). Acadia itself is also one of the few pure granite swaths on the east coast and therefore a bit harder to erode. Is this the correct explanation?? I’m not sure but its what I’ve been told

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