Rock climbing becoming more popular and easier to learn in greater Chattanooga area

Rock climbing becoming more popular and easier to learn in greater Chattanooga area

August 15th, 2013 by Jim Tanner in Life Entertainment

Grant Hulsey begins to practice his climb for an upcoming bouldering competition at Stone Fort Bouldering at Montlake Golf Course in Soddy-Daisy. Hulsey, 11, finished among the Top 10 nationally in his class last year.

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE

For more tips that will help you find the best things to do in the Chattanooga region, pick up a copy of Glimpse, a travel guide that will be inserted into your newspaper on Aug. 30. Glimpse covers the hottest activities and best-kept secrets in nearly 100 cities across Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina and will be accessible online from TimesFreePress.com.

Has anyone ever told you that you drive them up the wall? If they're into rock climbing, perhaps they meant it as a compliment.

The Chattanooga climbing community has grown in recent years and, with the mountainous terrain throughout the area, there are plenty of climbing options for expert climbers and newcomers to the sport.

Climbing gyms offer a safer way to learn the sport before moving outside to some of the more challenging climbs on local mountains.

ADVENTURE TIME

The Adventure Guild (www.theadventureguild.com) offers a variety of services for outdoor adventures, such as caving, rope courses and climbing instruction. Novice climbers can start on the Walnut Wall in Coolidge Park on the Tennessee River and move up to natural climbs throughout the area.

• For $55 per person, groups as small as six can plan a group climbing outing. Adventure Guild guides will take your group out for a team-building event that won't soon be forgotten.

• Private climbing instruction is available to help beginners progress to more challenging climbs.

• In addition to climbing, The Adventure Guild also offers instruction and guided caving and paddling trips.

Source: The Adventure Guild

CLIMBING OPTIONS

• The Great Smokey Mountains National Park runs through East Tennessee along the North Carolina border and offers lots of climbing options. Whether you're looking for a day trip or perhaps several days of climbing, there's something to suit everyone. The Chimney Tops trail is a fairly easy task, but it could be a good start for those interested in seeing if rock climbing is for you. The trailhead is on Newfound Gap road about seven miles from the park's Sugarlands Visitor Center. See hikinginthesmokys.com/chimney/htm for more info.

• At the Obed River near Wartburg, Tenn., carved steep cliffs in the local sandstone are perfect for climbing. Many of the climbs are challenging, but the area offers more than 350 climbs along the river as it runs along the Cumberland Plateau. For directions and more info, see www.nps.gov/obed.

• In Alabama, Little River Canyon is a preserve run by the National Park Service. The area is on Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne, Ala., and offers lots of of climbing options for experienced climbers. For directions and info, check out the NPS website at www.nps.gov/liri.

• Tallulah Gorge in North Georgia has lots of difficult climbing options, but only 20 climbing permits are permitted each day to preserve the area. The Tallulah Gorge State Park Interpretive Center (www.gastateparks.org/TallulahGorge) is where the trail begins and where climbers must register.

CLIMBING PRESERVATION

The Southeastern Climbers Coalition is a regional organization whose mission is to "preserve climbing areas for present and future generations to enjoy." The nonprofit group works to protect climbing sites and make them available to more climbers.

• The group works with national, state and local governments and public land managers to preserve access on public lands and negotiate access to climbing sites on private land.

• In addition to maintaining access to climbing sites, the SCC also has purchased climbing locations throughout the Southeast. Castle Rock near Chattanooga is one of the sites owned and maintained by the Southeastern Climbers Coalition Land Trust.

• On the SCC website is a list of climbing sites with directions and important information about each climb.

• The group also organizes work days to maintain access trials and keep climbing sites clean for everyone.

Source: www.seclimbers.org

BLOCK PARTY

The River City Co. is banking on climbers to help bring new life to the site once occupied by the Bijou Theater downtown. The Block is slated to open in October, and it will feature retail space, public art and 6,800 square feet of climbing surface.

• Among the businesses at The Block are Rock/Creek Outfitters and High Point Climbing and Fitness to serve experienced and novice climbers.

• A 12,000-square-foot glass facade will give the building and parking garage a look to reflect the climbing theme of the facility.

• The project is expected to cost about $5 million.

• Urban Rocks Gym (urbanrocksgym.com) and the Tennessee Bouldering Authority (tbagym.com) also offer climbing walls and instruction in Chattanooga.

Source: River City Co., Times Free Press