6 Pieces of News to Launch You Into Spring

Bolton Dome and Lone Rock Point Are Back!

For the first time since 1990, Vermont climbers  have access to the 43 established climbing routes at Bolton Dome in Bolton. The Climbing Resource Access Group of Vermont (CRAG-VT) purchased the 48-acre property that contains the dome in summer 2017 with the help of a $358,750 Climbing Conservation Loan from the Access Fund, the largest Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan in the national organization’s history.

In fall 2018, climber access to the crag, which was known as Trailer Park Crag in the ’70s and ’80s, was put on hold until the organization could get permitting and raise funds to build an onsite parking lot.

In February 2019, CRAG-VT president Kris Fiore announced that the organization has opened the dome, with plans to build a parking area as funds allow. Climbers are asked to park at the Smilie School on Route 2 or at the Bolton Quarry, but not on Champ Lane, the closest road to the crag.

“Whether its experienced climbers scaling 5.13 or kids climbing their first 5.3, this cliff has both to offer and we can’t wait to see climbers enjoying it this spring and for countless years to come,” wrote Fiore on CRAG-VT’s Facebook page.

Travis Peckam announced a revision to his Vermont climbing guide book Tough Schist. Routes are now available on the app version of the book in Rakkup.
Burlington’s Lone Rock Point will also be open to climbers in 2019, following a successful pilot season in 2018. The cliff, which is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, was opened to climbers in fall 2017. CRAG-VT secured access to the cliff through a special use agreement with the Diocese that required climbers sign in at a kiosk and asked that they make a $5 donation for a permit. No more than eight climbers can use the area at a time. —Abagael Giles

A Year for the Records?

In 1954, scientists began recording the snow depths on a measurement stake near the ridgeline of Mt. Mansfield. Since then, there have been only ten years when the snow depth has reached 9 feet or higher and this year could set a record. In November, the stake recorded a record depth for that month, a feat that was repeated in January. As March came in like a lion, the snow was rapidly approaching the 9-foot mark.

The graph  above shows typical snow depth over the course of the season (shades of gray represent the median snow depth, as well as that for 50% and 80% of seasons) with the five seasons that exceeded 10 feet in color. The current year is pink. We are right on the heels of the record season, 1968-69. That year, snow accumulated to 149 inches on April 2—that’s 12 feet, 5 inches, if you check your multiplication tables.

It’s already been a record-breaking winter for snow, when you look at individual months. Could the snow depth on Vermont’s highest peak break the maximum depth ever recorded? It sure looks possible. Kristian Omland

Snow sports enthusiasts should be aware that snow usually peaks at the stake in late March or early April. The inset shows date of maximum depth, which happens occasionally in February, occasionally after Tax Day, but 80 percent to the time falls between March 3 and April 17. Winter is far from over.

Kristian Omland.

Will Burlington Get E-Bikes and Scooters?

If all goes as planned visitors and residents of Burlington, Winooski and South Burlington could have access to a fleet of 200 e-bikes and 200 e-scooters by early summer 2019.
If a proposal currently being weighed by the three towns is approved, the scooters and e-bikes will be supplied by the Gotcha Group, a North Carolina company that creates ridesharing services in cities across the country. The company has proposed offering rentals by the minute, as well as year- and month-long subscriptions at various rates.

Last April, The Gotcha Group planted 105 pedal bikes around Burlington with financial support from the city, sponsors like Ben and Jerry’s and Seventh Generation and local institutions, including UVM Medical Center and Champlain College. The Gotcha Group brought the bikes to Burlington for a sponsorship fee of $200,000.

Nicole Losch, Senior Planner for the City of Burlington, says the city would like to make e-bikes available to residents “for the majority of the upcoming summer months.” E-bikes are an easy sell to city councilors and residents—they help people who might otherwise not be comfortable or able to pedal a bike get up Burlington’s big hills and the added speed can make users feel more comfortable cycling in traffic. Bringing electric scooters, on the other hand, will require some research and potentially new legislation.

“There is a lot of concern from the public and from decisionmakers about how scooters would be parked and if they would cause clutter on sidewalks or if people will ride them in places where we have said they are not allowed,” says Losch.

For more information about meetings and the project, visit burlingtonvt.gov/DPW/Transportation/ETransportation. —A.G.

Looking for Snowshoes? Head to the Library.

There’s something new you can now check out your local library.

Through funding from the Vermont Department of Health’s 3-4-50 initiative and RiseVT, 47 public libraries across the state are now letting community members check out free snowshoes, with sizes

Starting this winter, you may be able to grab a pair of snowshoes when you check out a book from your local library. Photo courtesy Smugglers’ Notch Resort

available for adults and children. RiseVT is a publicly funded community initiative to help more Vermonters get the resources they need to live a healthy lifestyle. They provide classes, organize community exercise and sports events and have compiled a comprehensive list of libraries that offer free snowshoes. Expect to see them organizing events in each of Vermont’s 14 counties by the end of 2019.

Check out RiseVT.org for a comprehensive list of libraries that offer snowshoes across the state, an events calendar and recommendations for local trail systems where you can snowshoe. —A.G.

Earn Your B.S. on the Slopes

Starting this fall, Castleton University students will be able to complete an accelerated, three-year Bachelor of Science degree in Resort Hospitality Management through a combination of traditional classes and working paid positions at Killington and Pico Mountains. The new program replaces a prior one established in 2001 by Green Mountain College called the Killington School of Resort Management, which announced in late January that it will close at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

The program will be housed in a new College of Business at Castleton University. When operated by Green Mountain College, the program reported a 99 percent employment rate for its graduates, 35 of whom currently work at Killington Mountain Resort. —A.G.

Prospect Mountain Preserved for Posterity

As of February 28, Woodford’s Prospect Mountain is protected from development under a conservation easement from the Vermont Land Trust.

The mountain has over 30K of groomed cross-country ski trails, a large network of snowshoe trails

Prospect Mountain first opened to skiers in the late 1930s. Today, it’s the highest-elevation cross country ski area in Vermont. Photo courtesy Prospect Mountain Association

and maintained alpine touring trails, relics from its early days as a T-bar- and rope tow-served ski area. Lift access continued through the 1990s.

In 2018, the Prospect Mountain Association, a nonprofit formed by a group of conservation-minded locals, purchased the cross-country ski area from owners Steve Whitham and Andrea Amadeo. Whitham and Amadeo had operated it as a cross-country ski business since the 1990s, when they purchased the property to save it from foreclosure. They built the business with the intent to hand it over to the community.

Today, the mountain is the home of Williams’ College’s NCAA Division I cross country ski team. Funds for the transition came from donations, Williams College and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

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