Bone Mountain Rock Climbing
Rapping from the summit near Family Picnic
Perched high above the eastern side of interstate 89 is Bolton Valley's most remote cliff band, Bone Mountain.
With an approach time of roughly 1.5 hours it is no wonder this cliff sees very little traffic. Sadly, this enormous (widest/tallest in Bolton Valley) expanse of rock also has some of the very best routes AND rock Bolton Valley has to offer.
There are two cliffs on Bone Mountain. The Main Cliff and the Satellite Wall. Many of the routes require both face and crack-climbing skills, and rely on a mixture of natural gear and bolts, a common trait of most routes in Bolton Valley.
Visiting Bone Mountain is a climbing treat, and your experience will be very unique one (similar to the 82, but considerable more remote) for a day scaling rocks in Vermont. Hopefully with more lines going up and navigation getting easier the good lines will stay cleaner and this crag will gain the popularity it deserves. If you're looking for a day of adventure away from the crowds, you'll find it here. Expect to sweat on the approach and possibly get a little turned around in spots (but never dreadfully lost). However, once at the cliffs, you will understand why this is one of the best little-known crags in Vermont.
(Chris Duca on Sep 26, 2011)
Updated April 2016
There are two distinct approaches. One takes a steeper, more direct route up past Satellite Wall, the other is a bit longer but much more mellow. Relatively easy to get lost either way so plan for that your first time. From the UVM Sugar Shack:
The steeper, more direct approach. Better if Satellite Wall is your objective. Roughly 70 minutes to the main cliff if you don't get lost.
- Park at the Sugar Shack 2 miles up Bolton Valley Access road on the left.
- Hike across/up the road a hundred yards or so to the gated logging road.
- Follow this main road crossing a large bridge a few minutes in, and a second smaller bridge about 10/15 minutes in.
- Turn left after the bridge and head up steeper terrain to another split.
- Turn right at this split and continue up increasingly steep terrain.
- After 15 minutes, look for a very
steep path on your left and slog up.
- When the ground plateaus, head through an interesting slot canyon once referred to as Moose Bog.
- Continue along this contour line for 10 or so minutes passing under and around various large boulders and small chossy faces to a clearing.
- Head NNE, finding Satellite wall on your left and the Main Cliff straight ahead. Timberline Approach AKA "Bottle Cap Trail":
Easier hiking which brings you to the back of the main wall. Roughly 80 minutes though less elevation than the Sugar Shack.
"Alternatively, park at the Timberline parking lot for Bolton Valley Ski Resort, and follow the blazed (blazed with old bottle caps) "trail" all the way to the big gully/flush between the Satellite and Main Cliff."
Alas, the bottle caps
of the 90s are all but forgotten. Only a few (one maybe?) remain and they are high up in the woods and useless for navigation. Nevertheless, this approach is gaining in popularity again. Here is the skinny:
-Park at the south-most end of the large Timberline Ski Lift parking lot. Be friendly to the staff here, they seem totally amenable to climbers hiking from their lot which is awesome.
- Hike toward the logical direction of where Bone mountain would be (Southeast). There are 3 different initial paths but no matter which way you take you'll get to a hill on your right with a bridge
at the bottom.
- Cross the bridge and continue up a hill until evens out and turns left.
- At the top of the hill, look for an obvious logging road on your left with a rock cairn.
This turn is sooner than it appears on my map. It is 10 minutes from the parking lot. If after you make this turn you see ski trail signs for "C2-2
" as you are hiking up you're on the right trail although don't follow the arrows going to it.
It's just noteworthy to confirm you picked the right logging road.
- Head uphill trending ENE for at least 25 minutes. Do not cut right early on the various trails that look like they head toward Bone. You will regret it. It feels weird to be hiking trending North but it's correct.
- Along this logging road there should be a number of rock cairns along the way and a very obvious large stream crossing
about 15 minutes up. Keep going.
- When the trail really starts to trend North there will be a large boulder
up ahead. Punch up into the woods on your right on a path that is now marked with orange flagging
. Head SSE while trending uphill. In about 1 minute you should run into another obvious logging road
. At this point you are even with the cliff and your elevation gaining is more or less done.
- You simply have 30 more minutes of easy flat hiking straight south until the cliff. It's pretty obvious from here but I'll point our further landmarks.
- Intermittent orange/yellow flagging and cairns will help you over the easiest stream crossings and avoid (most) deep muddy spots.
- You essentially wander along logging roads, clearings
, and stream beds. When in doubt, stay left. On the way back, when in doubt, stay right through this section.
- After passing through a few narrows you are basically hiking along a stream for the last 10 minutes. If you hit this stream you're on the money and close to the cliff.
Updated May 2016
The Sugar Shack approach is from more faded memories but the Timberline Approach should be pretty much spot on.
Peregrine Falcon Cosure
With more climbers visiting Bone Mountain the state has taken a closer look at the Peregrine Falcon nesting. This is actually a benefit for climbers as the entire cliff used to close but we now have partial closures in effect.
The last few years nesting sites have been on the buttress to the right of Solstice Slab as well as atop the Moose Bones routes. Expect from Solstice Slab to Moose Bones to be closed. Anything left of Solstice Slab or right of Moose Bones seems to give the raptors enough room to be happy but as always use good judgement.
Climbing Season For the Bolton Area area.
Weather station 7.3 miles from here
40 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',14],['2 Stars',17],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Bone Mountain
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Bone Mountain
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Bone Mountain:
Featured Route For Bone Mountain
Compound Fracture 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a VT
: Bolton Area
: ... : B. Middle Cliff Routes
A wild and exposed journey up the obvious seam/crack system. While there are hollow spots, the rock is generally much better than it looks from below. Begin as for Flippin' the Bird, breaking right into the seam at 20ft. Half way up the seam, move right over two foot ledges. Load up on small gear under the roof (fixed white tricam) then make a wild and committing move around the corner and into the wide, flaring crack. Continue up the crack with good exposure and good feet, m...[more] Browse More Classics in VT
BETA PHOTO: The Main Wall and Left End 1. New Englander? 5.9 ...
Kris and Dylan almost there, sugar shack approach....
By Ryan A. Williams
From: Burlington, VT
Sep 26, 2011
Is this the cliff band I have seen looking North off of the ridge of Camel's Hump?
By Chris Duca
From: Havertown, PA
Sep 27, 2011
If you are looking North in the general direction of Bolton Ski Resort, then "yes", this is the cliff line.
By Derek Doucet
Sep 30, 2011
Paul Hansen, Dave Furman, Travis Peckham and I did a few fun routes at the Satellite Crag years ago (maybe 02' or so?). At the left end of the crag is a nice blunt arete with a few bolts which is reached by starting up a short, easy handcrack (this crack is also the start of a Mark Poulin route called "North Corner"). This is "Capybara Love", 5.9+. Just right of and below this is a steep face that shares the "Capybara Love" anchors. This is "Capybara Lust", 5.11.
At the far right end of the cliff is an obvious, very steep blade-like arete. This is "Chainsaw Reaction", 5.12, mentioned in Chris's description of the cliff. He's correct that it awaits a lead ascent. The reason is that it really needs another bolt and double ropes to make it a reasonable lead. At present, the rope runs directly over the very sharp, rope slicing edge of the arete at the crux, which is disconcerting to say the least. An additional bolt on the other side of the arete, which could be clipped with a second rope, would be a huge improvement. If I recall correctly, Dave intended to add this bolt, but life intruded, and he never got back up there to do so. In any case, it's an incredible feature, and climbs well.
By Conor Mark
From: Old Fort, NC
Jul 15, 2014
We found the approach to be ~45min-1hour, and with minimal bush wacking (though there is some walking around the base of the cliff). Don't deviate from the main logging road (ignore all side roads). It took us ~30min. to reach the short plank bridge where the approach follows the road up and left. Up to the plank bridge, the road has many pvc pipes laying in thankyoumam's.
From: Burlington, Vermont
Nov 2, 2014
I thought everyone would appreciate some info on the approach. I don't know when this was last updated but the approach isn't quite as daunting as what is described here. Maybe it has cleaned up.
Basically, stay on the main logging road until a stone cairn at which point you take a left up a steep section. After the steep section is the slot canyon and from there it's pretty obvious to the cliff...
I took a GPS tracker and made some KML/KMZ files that I'd love to share with anyone who would like them. They include photographs of each turn/split in the trail.
The KML File for Google Earth
The KMZ File for Google Earth
For those who'd like the route with no pictures here is a link to the trail mapped out on Google Maps... Trail to Bone Mountain,,
This ends at the clearing about 5 minutes from the base of the cliff. The tracker mapped out 2.12 miles and it took just over an hour with decent trail conditions.
By Conor Mark
From: Old Fort, NC
Aug 6, 2016
Except for the beginning of June, we have been able to find running water at the very end of the bottle cap trail, just downhill and climber's left of the left end of the Main Cliff. Bring a small length of tubing, or small pvc pipe to achieve ~gallon/minute flow (as of 8/16). The small stream in the clearing between the North Cliff and Main Wall was flowing enough to fill up as of 8/16. In the spring and fall, these streams are considerably bigger and more reliable. We reckon it's ok as is, but we've been treating it regardless.