Treacherous Climb of the Week: Acadia National Park

Most people, when they are interested in treacherous mountain climbing, head to the Rockies or to the canyons of Arizona, but few think to visit Maine. Acadia National Park, located off the coast of Maine on Mount Desert Island, is home to some of the most spectacular climbs in the entire United States.

What’s unique about Acadia? The view, for one thing. Many of the most treacherous climbs involve sea cliff climbing, which means that climbers are hovering above the ocean while the scale rocky, crumbly cliffs. This is quite a head rush when you consider the dangers of falling in such an environment. Plus, a backdrop of ocean creates a strange but exciting illusion as you struggle toward the top.

The Otter Cliffs, for example, are about 60 feet tall, with routes that range in difficulty from 5.7 to 5.12, and boast a beautiful view of the water. For less experienced climbers, however, there are one-, two- and three-pitch routes in South Bubble that are perfect for TRing. South Bubble is also not as populated as the Otter Cliffs on the weekends, so you might consider that when you travel.

The danger of climbing at Acadia National Park is not necessarily the pitch or the grade of the climb, both of which can be difficult, but the threat of the tide. Visitors who fail to check the tide times upon arrival or who have no respect for the cycles of the ocean can find themselves caught on cliffs with no way to descend.

If you’re going visit Acadia National Park in the summer, however, make sure to bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes for long strolls along the cliffs in the evening. The Merrell Siren Syncs are a great choice for women who enjoy walking, as these can be worn both on vacation and at home.

Acadia National Park is a great place for climbing, especially since there are so many diverse ways to get in your daily climb. Bouldering is common here and is the perfect way to warm up for longer and more difficult climbs.

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Death Defying Climbs: Mount Temple in Banff National Park

When asked to come up with a Canadian-themed sketch for the comedy series “Second City TV,” cast members Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas created Bob and Doug McKenzie, two backwoods brothers with a taste for beer and jelly doughnuts. Wearing toques on their heads and heavy winter coats, Bob and Doug would feel right at home on Mount Temple, one of the more challenging climbing destinations in the Great White North.

Located near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Mount Temple reaches a height of 11,624 feet, which means that the dangers of dehydration, altitude sickness and frostbite are very, very real. Before heading to the summit, you might want to have a hearty breakfast of Canadian-style back bacon, but leave the beer back at base camp for the celebration after the climb. also advises climbers to watch the weather conditions carefully on Mount Temple because they can change quite quickly. If you expect the route to become cold and slick, make sure to lace up a pair of Kayland Super Ice boots before starting your climb. This sturdy footwear can help you with some of the difficult parts of the climb as well as navigating the icy areas.

Just as Mount Temple attracts climbers of different skill levels, the accommodations in and around Banff National park and Lake Louise vary greatly. If you are looking to really get away from it all, bring along your tent and sleeping bags for an outdoor adventure. After heading down from the summit, however, you may want to relax at one of the mid-level or five-star resorts in the area.

Though Bob and Doug McKenzie may never climb much higher than the counter at the nearest doughnut shop, you can enjoy Canada’s natural wonders and the climbing challenges that Mount Temple has to offer. With the right attitude and equipment, you can almost be certain of having a G’day on the way to the summit.


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Death Defying Climbs: Cerro Torre

Typically, the most difficult aspect of taking on a dangerous mountain is the height. Lose your concentration or footing for just a moment, and you may find that it’s a really long way down with a very sudden (and fatal) stop at the bottom.

Reaching a height of 10,278 feet, Cerro Torre in the Patagonia region of Argentina offers the double whammy of height and extreme weather conditions, which can include snow, rain and powerful winds. reports that climbs on Cerro Torre may take as long as eight days to complete.

The unpredictable weather conditions mean that you need to dress properly before setting one foot on Cerro Torre. One recommended piece of clothing is the R1 Flash Pullover , which is made, appropriately enough, by a company called Patagonia. By itself, the R1 is good in moderate temperatures, but it also can be used as one of many layers when the temperatures start to tumble.

If the height and the weather don’t discourage you from climbing Cerro Torre, some of the local conditions might prove hazardous to your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends talking to your primary care physician to make sure you are protected against such diseases as rabies, yellow fever and typhoid before heading to Argentina.

The U.S. State Department Web site also recommends making sure your medical insurance will cover a health emergency in a foreign land. Without adequate medical or travel insurance, your climb up Cerro Torre could turn out to be extremely expensive.

Because you will be leaving the United States, you will have to get your paperwork in order, including a current passport. You can obtain a free climbing permit, but members of your party have to pay a small fee to enter Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, the National Park which serves as the home of Cerro Torre.

With bad weather and the very real possibility of disease, Patagonia’s Cerro Torre ranks quite high among the most dangerous mountains to climb. Plan carefully, dress warmly and make sure you have all your shots.


Treacherous Climb of the Week: El Capitan, Yosemite

Whenever I think of climbing, my mind always drifts to beautiful mountain peaks and long trails lined with every type of wildlife imaginable. For some climbers, however, it’s all about the vertical.

At one time, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park was considered impossible to climb and for good reason. Each of the many routes to the top of El Capitan is long and treacherous, testing both the climber’s skill and his endurance. Of course, it’s also the ultimate adrenaline rush for people who enjoy looking at the world from the face of a rock.

Made of coarse granite and soaring 3,000 feet in the air, El Capitan is considered the Everest for big-wall climbing. Although I’ve seen it in person – on vacation when I was about ten – mere pictures of this monolith are sufficient to give me goose bumps.

The routes up El Capitan vary, but the most popular and most difficult is the Nose. It was first successfully climbed in 1958, and since then climbers from all over the world have aspired to reach the summit. This route usually takes two or three days to accomplish, though a few expert climbers have conquered it in just one.

A few of the routes, including the Nose, have been free climbed, but aids are definitely recommended. Unless you have significant experience (and a need for danger), ropes should accompany your expedition in Yosemite. A few climbers who thrive on challenges have raced up the Nose and other routes on El Capitan, but this is also not for an amateur.

In order to climb El Capitan, you’ll access it from a trail in Yosemite. I recommend bringing along a light-weight and roomy pack, such as C.A.M.P. Rox , a 40-liter duffel with plenty of space.

I would also recommend becoming proficient at a few smaller big-wall climbs before attempting El Capitan. It might be exciting and adventurous, but it has also been the cause of many injuries over the years. If you have any qualms at all, go with an experienced guide who can “show you the ropes,” as they say.