Lyme Selectboard Votes to Cut Rockclimbing Bolts From Holt’s Ledge

  • An aerial photograph facing west shows Holt's Ledge in Lyme, N.H., with town-owned property to the south of orange fencing that runs along a Dartmouth Skiway trail. In the foreground are homes on Canaan Ledge Lane. (Tim Chow photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/28/2017 3:17:10 PM
Modified: 4/29/2017 12:35:54 AM

Lyme — The Selectboard voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt a management plan for Holt’s Ledge and will also remove bolts Lyme officials say were placed illegally on the popular climbing spot.

The town-owned portion of Holt’s Ledge will also remain posted for no trespassing until the bolts are removed and members of the Lyme Conservation Commission and officials at the Natural Heritage Bureau of the New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands complete a survey of endangered and threatened plant species in the area, the town said in an announcement on its website.

Selectboard Chairman Jay Smith said on Friday that Holt’s Ledge has long been noted among traditional climbers, but that complaints and conflicts have “rapidly grown” in recent years following the “illegal placement of bolts” that facilitated sport climbing, which relies on permanent anchors in rock.

“Having already seen an increase in activity and with all the publicity and the publishing of the sport climbing routes, it was felt that the amount of activity and number of people would be incompatible with the area,” Smith said via email. “Were this not a residential area it may have been different. This area will remain open to climbing as it has been for decades, just without the fixed bolts.”

Neighbors on nearby Canaan Ledge Lane had complained about noise from climbers and also said some were trespassing on private property. The ordinance enacting the management plan also is designed to help “monitor and protect” nesting peregrine falcons at Holt’s Ledge.

Lyme Selectwoman Sue MacKenzie said the bolts will be cut off at the face of the rock.

“They have to be cut, because the holes were drilled into the rock face and then epoxied, so to try to remove them would cause more damage,” she said.

MacKenzie also said the Selectboard sided with residents over a broader climbing community.

“We have been barraged by emails pro and con, but essentially this is now a nationally known site, and we don’t see an easy way to control it without a lot of trouble,” she said. “We have residents in the area who pay their taxes and have a certain expectation about a lifestyle, and the two are not compatible, and so we are in favor of the residents.”

People who want to climb Holt’s Ledge, she noted, “will still be able to climb there, but just not assisted.”

John Gregg can be reached at

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