CRAG-VT buys Bolton Dome

On Sept. 25, a local member-supported rock climbing group known as CRAG-VT, signed a purchase agreement for what was once the heart of Vermont rock climbing, The Bolton Dome.

Formerly known as the Trailer Park Crag, The Bolton Dome is Bolton’s tallest cliff, but has been closed to climbers since 1993 due to conflict between the land owner and rock climbers. Now, thanks to the ongoing efforts of CRAG-VT and other members of the climbing community to promote responsible land usage and positive relationships, rock climbers will once again get the chance to climb this Vermont classic.

“The cliff boasts great trad, including a classic 5.10 crack, a jaw-dropping highball boulder with established lines up to V9 with a 5.13 crack on it, and room for a slew of new routes as the cliff was closed before modern bolting.” said Kris Fiore, CRAG-VT’s Vice President, in a post on Mountain Project about the recent purchase.

CRAG-VT was founded in 1999 by a group of local climbers who were concerned about the potential loss of access to areas around the state due to mismanagement of properties and sour relationships between land owners and climbers. In an effort to fix these issues, CRAG-VT was born. Since then the group has been dedicated to land conservation and stewardship, fostering community relationships, and promoting responsible climbing practices.

The purchase of the cliff is one large step in The Bolton Dome Project, but now the real work begins. When the landowners approached CRAG-VT in the spring with an offer of sale, it was far too much money to raise in a short amount of time. Thankfully, the Access Fund was able to grant a $350,000 loan to the group.

The Access Fund is a climbing advocacy group that was formed in 1991 in response to the access problems that climbers all around the country were experiencing. Along with the growth of the sport climbing movement came issues of overcrowding, environmental damage, and ethical conflict within the climbing community. Land managers and property owners felt overwhelmed, and this lead to the closure of many climbing areas. In 1985, the American Alpine Club responded by forming an Access Committee to confront and resolve these closures.

By 1991, the Access Fund had become a permanent organization, and now they fight threats against our nations climbing areas by providing representation in Washington D.C. while regulations and laws for public land use are being made. They teach and promote proper land use to minimize degradation of climbing environments. And as in the case of The Bolton Dome, they provide monetary support to those attempting to purchase and preserve climbing areas.

In order to pay back that loan, the property will be subdivided, keeping the actual cliff protected for climbers, but reselling the rest of the property. It is expected that the resale of the property will cover most of the loan, but many other costs will pop up along the way. CRAG-VT estimates another $100,000 will need to be raised to cover legal fees, applications, surveying, and closing costs.

Monetary costs are definitely the largest obstacle facing CRAG-VT, and yet there are still many other things that need to be done before this area can be opened up to the climbing public. Development efforts such as clearing trail, cleaning routes, and constructing driveways and parking lots will soon be underway. Volunteer will be needed for many different jobs, and any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

To make a donation, visit the project’s Go Fund Me page at To dedicate some volunteer time, or explore other ways to help, go to