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NEW PARKING LOT! SUNBOWL OPEN
The aptly named Sunbowl is located in sleepy Sunderland, MA. Although the rock quality is fairly poor and the number of routes modest, the moderate grades, temperate micro-climate and easy access make this one of Western Massachusetts’s most popular crags for novice leaders or those seeking a quick workout.
As the name suggests, this southwest facing, wind-sheltered craglett is toasty on even cold winter afternoons – providing the sun is shining. However, ample tree cover offers shade in steamy summer days as well. The wall – approximately 35 feet tall and 150 feet long – is comprised of Mount Toby conglomerate and offers a maze of cobbles and pockets. Two slabby wings and a steep, central wall yield fewer than a dozen, well-protected sport routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.11. A long, V2 traverse offers a pumpy workout.
From RT 116, turn onto North Silver Lane, then onto Reservoir Road. Continue on Reservoir Rd. when the pavement ends, until you come to a water tower. Park near the water tower. Please, DO NOT BLOCK GATES OR ACCESS TO THE TOWER!
Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.
Walk up the road about 20 yards, turning right into the woods on an ATV trail that crosses the stream. Continue up the hill. Before it starts to go steeply down, turn left at a fork going uphill again with short cliffs on the left. At the height of land, at a cairn, turn right onto a foot path in the woods. Follow the meandering trial using cairns to navigate, until the Sunbowl appears on your left.
The best way by far to set up climbs is to lead them, but the top can be accessed by a trail around on the far left end. Be extremely careful when traversing the top: the unstable footing and steep slope make leading much safer than setting a top rope.
Aside from Mormon and Farley, no other Western Mass crag has suffered more during the frequent visits of a certain bolt chopper than the Sunbowl in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Thankfully, the roughly textured Mount Toby conglomerate hides these scars better than our beloved granitic gneiss. Local climbers cleaned up most of the damage and replaced all of the anchors. Although this is always difficult work, the porous and alarmingly soft nature of this rock made this task even more challenging. These climbers opted for the security of glue-in anchors at the top of most of the climbs, but each climber should evaluate the soundness of each bolt for him or herself before clipping.