Climber Attacked by Falcon in Bolton Vermont

The Anti-Climber Sign

Everyone at this point knows that it is spring time. The rain is here, destroying roads and trails, and the falcons are shutting down cliffs across the region–in some areas, cliffs they don’t typically occupy are now closed. Last weekend a climber was leading the “Chockstone,” a moderate climb at the Upper West Bolton crag in Vermont. John Dawkin and his wife were taking advantage of some of the few nice days we’ve had been having this spring. On his way up and unaware of the recent Falcon activity, he was attacked and clawed, sustaining injuries to his head. Sort of confused and dazed, Dawkin sprinted for the top of the climb rather than lower from a piece of gear placed in panic. They would have left a note to warn other climbers but had nothing to write with, so they contacted CRAG-VT. The couple live in Vermont but are from New Zealand, which they say does not have a Peregrine population. Because of the recent Peregrine activity at the Upper West Climber area, it is now closed to climbing. Signs have also been placed warning climbers that the area is closed.

This can be a good thing, as it gives climbers the chance to explore new areas. Take this time to go travel to some of the other regions and find some new climbs as it may be a while until the crag re-opens. You never know, you may find something you like…

The following notice was made to warn climbers of the closure:

“Upper Upper West” and “Upper West” in Bolton Notch are currently closed for climbing and are posted at the entrances.

“Upper Upper” is typically closed through the spring-early summer, but “Upper” has been closed in response to some reports that peregrines have been attacking climbers there. There was an incident over the weekend where a climber was hit in the head by one of the pair. The nest site has been located, which is about mid-cliff and not too far from the top. For now, the entire cliff is closed, but Margaret Fowle, Conservation Biologist with the Audubon VT, plans to work with Travis from CRAG-VT to see if there are areas they can reopen once the birds settle down, they have a sense of the timing of their nesting (ie when chicks will hatch), and leaves come out. Upper Upper west is closed, but they may be able to reopen it if they determine that there is only one pair in the area.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO CLIMBING; there are hefty fines for climbing in areas that are posted for closure.

Although the peregrine falcon population is on the upswing in New England, it is still fragile. Interference during raptor breeding periods can result in reduced reproductive success.

For New York, please visit: For New Hampshire & Maine, please check out the areas you intend to go before making plans.

Other Vermont Closures:

Mt Horrid (Goshen) – Great Cliff is closed

Rattlesnake Pt (Salisbury)

Fairlee Palisades (Fairlee)

Deer Leap (Bristol)

Hazen’s Notch (Lowell) – may not be posted yet, but will be soon

Marshfield Mt (Marshfield) – will be posted Tuesday this week – the mid cliff area will be closed (as in 2010)

Nichols Ledge (Woodbury)

Snake Mt (Addison) – area south of pond and foundation at top is closed only

We have also had a report of a pair at Wheeler Mt in Barton area and the pair at Smugglers is probably nesting but we don’t know where yet. We hope to have some portion of the notch posted by mid-late May.

We are pretty certain that there is no pair nesting at the Bolton Quarry, so there is no closure there.


Margaret Fowle
Conservation Biologist
Audubon Vermont



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