Otter Cliffs Yields Climbing for all Ability Levels by Stephen Vose
Looking through my iPhoto album, I ran across several photos of a climb done with family and friends on Mt. Desert Island a few years ago. As I remember, the day was glorious with a cool sea breeze that beat back the oppressive summer heat and kept temperature in the mid 70s. We also had timed the climb to take place in mid July well after the initial hatching of “Maine's state bird” the blackfly.
Otter Cliff is located a few miles down route three just outside of the town of Bar Harbor. Just look for the Otter Cliff road on the left, park, cross the road, go left and follow the path. It is typically quite busy with guides teaching summer tourists how to rock climb so if you plan to check it out get there early. The area contains many routes that will challenge a wide variety of ability levels. Individuals who wish to try climbing for the first time should note that all routes are climbable via a top rope system that allows for minimum exposure and a high comfort level. Top roping in this situation, means that you will be lowered down the cliff face and then be able to climb back up to the top with tension in the rope at all times. A fall will constitute a drop of less than a foot. Novice climbers should note that several of the simpler routes (Wonder Wall area) have permanent anchor points that will greatly aid in the set-up of their safety systems. More difficult routes will require intermediate and advanced climbers to set anchors and the challenges range from a slippery 5.8 (Razor Flake) to a sinister 5.11+ (Riptide). Our climbs that day in order included: “In the Grove”, “Easy Corner”, “Great Chimney”, “Overhanging Corner” and “Razor Flake”.
If you decide to go, you will enjoy a great day of climbing and will also be treated to the most spectacular scenery you can imagine. Feel free to post a comment if you have additional questions, comments or want to inquire about other climbs in the immediate area. Take care and climb safe.