The first recorded technical ascent of Wheeler Mountain was done in 1947 by members of both the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and the Harvard Mountaineering Club (HMC). James C. Maxwell and John C. Hurd Jr., tackled the left side of the huge, detached block near the center of the cliff, placing two pitons en route and topping out in about three hours.
Shortly after their first ascent (later that same day in fact), a second variation, The Metropolitan, was established by HMC members Graham Matthews, W. Lawrence Miner Jr., and Andrew Griscom. This second route received its name when an unnamed member of the party took a 120-foot fall while down-climbing the route, crashing shaken but amazingly unharmed on the ground below. The “rough and rapid transit” down the slab reminded the first ascentionists of the Boston Metropolitan Transit Authority (now called “The T”) which was also known to give its passengers an unpleasantly rough ride.
Despite its early discovery by the HMC and the AMC, the 400-foot granite dome of Wheeler Mountain remained almost entirely off the climbing map for nearly 50 years. In that time, various parties visited the cliff and a few routes were done, perhaps most notably the first ascent and first free ascent of The Great Corner in the 1980s. But, on a relative scale, nothing happened until the 1990s when Randy Garcia and the first generation of Wheeler regulars began exploring new lines. Over the past two decades steady development of the cliff has resulted in scores of excellent new routes.
Mount Hor was also first climbed in the 1940s, with early climbers describing the cliff as a “practice area” for beginners. However easy those first routes may have been, the modern lines on the cliff are hardly for beginners, offering some of the longest, hardest, and most sustained multi-pitch outings in the Kingdom.
Bald Hill, another granite gem hiding in the woods, has also shown itself to local climbers in the past few years. While only recently developed, its relatively steep and featured rock may become popular in the future with those ambitious enough to tackle the long approach.
For detailed route descriptions check out the Tough Schist guidebook or the corresponding Rakkup App at www.vermontrock.com