Located just up the road from its smaller neighbor, Lower West, and just off the Long Trail, Upper West is one of the most popular and largest climbing areas in and around Burlington. It was purchased by local climbing nonprofit, Crag-VT, in 2009 ensuring access for climbing in the years to come. Boasting more than 60 climbs ranging from 5.5-5.12 with heights up to 200 feet, Upper West also offers amazing views of Mount Mansfield, Camel’s Hump and the beautiful surrounding landscape. Climbers can choose trad or sport routes, but as there isn’t a real easy walk-around top roping is not prominent here. There is a nice variety of face climbs, some of the most well-known cracks in the region and an opportunity to pull a roof or two. And, to top it off, there are more than 40 boulder problems, just off the Long Trail before you hit the base of the cliff. The approach is also relatively simple, unlike many of the other larger cliffs in the Bolton area, taking about 15 minutes along a clear trail.
What Makes It Great
Upper West offers such a variety of climbs that everyone from beginners to the seasoned climber will find something they like. There’s trad and sport, cracks and roofs, and boulder problem upon boulder problem to be had. It’s really all about what you feel like climbing that day.
That being said, there are a few classic lines that cannot be overlooked. Both The Rose (5.10a) and The Thorn (5.11a), on the North End wall, are well-known for being two of the best crack climbs in the area. And then there’s the 110 foot favorite Chockstone (5.8), on the Upper Tier, which in addition to being a blast to climb, offers stellar views of the surrounding mountains and landscape. And finally, the two classic 5.7 corners on the Lower Tier, aptly named “5.7 Corner” and “5.7+ Corner” are both great left facing corner trad routes with tree belays at the top.
Who is Going to Love It
Climbers of all ability levels looking to challenge themselves or just to have a fun day on the rock will find this the perfect spot. With more than 35 climbs in the 5.10 range and under there are a lot of moderate climbs to have fun on. If you are looking for more of a challenge there are well over 20 climbs graded at 5.11 or higher. There is truly something for everyone here.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park on Bolton Notch Road just after the entrance to the Long Trail. Hike down the Long Trail, cross over Duck Brook and continue on trail for a couple hundred yards. Follow the Upper West Spur trail on the right past the Crag-VT kiosk and up to the base of the cliff. Be sure to check out www.vermontrock.com for the regions only guide book and recent climbs added at Upper West, as there are many.