Bolton Dome and a taste of Vermont Green Schist

It looks like we’re heading into the weather-dodging phase of our trip, with a 3-day wide band of rain passing through. Our intended next stop in The Dacks looked particularly soggy, but after much scouring of weather and navigation apps we came up with a cunning detour through Vermont. This had a number of benefits: the drive could incorporate the Lake Champlain Scenic Byway, which links a number of islands down the centre of the lake, via bridges and causeways; we’d end up at the charming Little River State Park (one of the few public campgrounds still open); and in between we could notch up a few routes on a day that would have been a washout in The Dacks, and also put a tick in the box: “Climbed in Vermont”.The byway was indeed Scenic, and we were soon arriving in Bolton, just east of Burlington, and perhaps the epicentre of Vermont climbing, with hundreds of routes recorded in the recently published Tough Schist guidebook. There’s clearly a highly active local climbing community, keen to establish Vermont appropriately in the local pecking order, alongside the better known venues of Rumney, Adirondacks, Gunks etc. The rock is predominantly Green Schist and there are a bunch of areas to choose from. We went for Bolton Dome, at least in part because we were impressed with the story of how the locals, in the guise of Crag-VT had recently negotiated the purchase and reopening of this historic venue after it being out-of-bounds for 20 years. It’s also a very handy 5mins walk from the parking lot they also negotiated… in a slightly urban spot behind a car repair shop and trailer park, and overlooking the Interstate (you can’t have everything!)It’s a sizeable lump of rock, up to 200ft high, with a mix of established trad routes up crack lines, interspersed with more recent sports routes, in something of a state of flux as 20 years of neglect are shaken off.We did Batmobile, 5.8, with a slightly awkward trad first half to a bolted finish:I got suckered by the great route name into trying The Awsomest, 11d, only to find that I wasn’t awesome enough, so lowered my sights a little for a couple of sports routes on The Railyard Wall:Wet Dream, 10c… and Turk Turk McGurk, 10d, which were both very crimpy but well bolted work-outsSuccess there prompted an effort on another trickier line with a great name: Release the Hens, a very well bolted 11c taking an obvious weakness up the left side of the striking dish feature which marks out Crime Scene Wall.Closer to onsighting this one, but still no cigar.Further right again, perhaps the classic of the crag is Mount Crushmore, a 2-pitch 10c. There was a team in situ, so we’ll have to make a return tripOnwards to the handily situated Little River State Park (about 10 minutes up the road) and another warm Vermont welcome (they have such friendly park staff!) Another pretty spot, despite the gloomy weather… eerie night-scape on the lake… and a very welcome fire, with potatoes baking away merrily.

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