25 SCC Achievements Since 1993

By Elaine Elliott

Former SCC president Julie Reed at Float the Boat. Photo courtesy of  On The Road and Off .

Former SCC president Julie Reed at Float the Boat. Photo courtesy of On The Road and Off.

Whether you’ve been a board member or you’re a new climber who just joined the coalition, we’ve all found value in what the SCC has provided to our community. From big access achievements to our favorite events like Float the Boat and Buy Your Own Boulderfield, countless memories have been shared for the sake of protecting the places we cherish.

This year the SCC commemorated 25 years of stewarding Southeast climbing. Before 2018 comes to a close, take a moment to look back at all the SCC’s victories through the years.

1. Kept Sunset Rock Open to Climbing (1993)

Sunset Park is the oldest and largest National Military Park in the United States. With an increase in climber presence in the 1990s, the National Park System almost shut down climbing within the park. The SCC was initiated due to these threats, and thus started increasing volunteer hours on the land and establishing better relationships with Park Rangers. In return, climbing continued to be allowed in this historical memorial.

2. Became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (2000)

With this title, contributions and donations can be accepted as tax-deductible for the donor. The nonprofit status also opened more doors to grant and funding opportunities.

3. Reopened Kings Bluff (2002)

The looming uncertainty of a “for sale” sign on the Kings Bluff property would have wiped this unique limestone crag off the Tennessee climbing map. Fortunately volunteers worked with the current owners to have the 9.78 acre parcel donated to the SCC.  

4. Purchased Boat Rock (2003)

With the encroaching danger of more housing developments in southwest Atlanta, the remaining Boat Rock boulders were almost bulldozed. In 2003, the SCC made its first land purchase to keep Boat Rock preserved. The Float the Boat competition started around 2010, but an even earlier event dates back to the mid 1990s as one of the first ever outdoor climbing competitions.  

Nick Yan climbing  Yellow Arete  at Boat Rock. Photo by Elaine Elliott.

Nick Yan climbing Yellow Arete at Boat Rock. Photo by Elaine Elliott.

5. Kicked Off the Triple Crown Bouldering Series (2003)

Thanks to the competition organizers, the Triple Crown helped secure legitimate access to Stone Fort. As one of the world’s first outdoor bouldering series, the competition has brought a wide range of climbers to Hound Ears, Horse Pens 40, and Stone Fort each year – including notable competitors like Jimmy Webb, Daniel Woods, Alex Puccio, Carlo Traversi, and Michaela Kiersch. Each year the Triple Crown raises between $7,000 to $15,000 for direct action causes related to Southeast climbing.

Access Fund conservation team member Andrea Hassler climbing during the Hound Ears Triple Crown event with Southeast Regional Director Zachary Lesch-Huie spotting. Photo courtesy of  On The Road and Off .

Access Fund conservation team member Andrea Hassler climbing during the Hound Ears Triple Crown event with Southeast Regional Director Zachary Lesch-Huie spotting. Photo courtesy of On The Road and Off.

6. Secured Access to Stone Fort (2004)

Previously known as Little Rock City, this boulderfield is arguably the most popular bouldering destination in the Southeast. But accessing the boulders wasn’t as easy in its early beginnings. Negotiating climbing availability with the landowner and golf course was finalized in 2004 after raising awareness and stewardship efforts through the Triple Crown.

7. Purchased Jamestown (2005)

After working out a deal with the local landowner, the SCC purchased 1,550 feet of linear cliff line on 3.14 acres to reopen Jamestown to climbers. The northeastern Alabama trad area gained traction in the 1970s, but experienced over a decade of closure before the 2005 purchase.

8. Opened Castle Rock to Climbers (2005)

Boasting tall and proud routes on an orange bluff in Jasper, Tennessee, Castle Rock remains a must-see for climbers seeking long vert climbs. The crag remains on private property, but the SCC has established a relationship with the landowners to lease the land to climbers.

SCC Stewardship Director Angie Langevin climbing  Predator  at Castle Rock. Photo by  Nathalie DuPre .

SCC Stewardship Director Angie Langevin climbing Predator at Castle Rock. Photo by Nathalie DuPre.

9. Opened More Boat Rock Boulders (2007)

The Wood’s Hill lease signed with a local landowner allowed access to some of the neighboring boulders next to the SCC’s Boat Rock land. These boulders include a vast assortment of moderates and a handful of open projects.

10. Purchased Yellow Bluff (2009)

For nearly 20 years Yellow Bluff was closed to climbers after the area had established groundbreaking ascents in the late 1980s like Alabama’s first 5.13 (Rainbow Warrior) and first 5.13d/14a (Tour de Jour). It took years of persistent negotiating from SCC volunteers and board members to finally secure the property and therefore continue a new chapter in Yellow Bluff’s climbing history.

11. Purchased Steel (2009)

Similar to Yellow Bluff, Steel was also pioneered in the 1980s but soon after closed in 1987. In 2008, the SCC caught wind that the land was for sale, and secured the $55k purchase a year later. Now the 25-acre tract includes two parking areas, a composting outhouse, and 50 routes in both the sport and traditional disciplines.

12. Purchased the Deep Creek Parking Lot (2010)

Tucked away in the shade along a scenic river, Deep Creek is an ideal sport climbing destination for warmer months. The crag and the Cumberland Trail are both on public lands, but with an influx of climbers coming to the area in the 2000s, a parking lot was necessary to include more space for public access to the cliff line. Opening Deep Creek to climbing has created a positive dialogue with the Cumberland Trail, leading to a permanent state wide climbing management plan and the opening of more crags on CT land.

13. Ensured Continued Access for Sand Rock (2010)

Working alongside the Cherokee County and Cherokee Rock Village Board, the SCC established a positive relationship between climbers and the park system to safeguard the sport as a valuable resource to uphold in future park planning.

14. Became a Land Trust Alliance Member (2011)

Land Trust Membership has been established to make it easier to initiate land acquisitions for the organization. The SCC hopes to become land trust accredited by 2022, further legitimizing the coalition as a respected land trust and providing more opportunity to obtain grant funds from foundations that are currently not available without LTA accreditation. Land trust accreditation is a mark of distinction, showing that a land trust meets high standards for land conservation.

15. Hired the First Part-Time Employees (2012)

Thanks to a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation, the SCC was able to hire two part-time employees as the organization was embarking on its 20th anniversary. Anniversary membership drives grew the SCC from 350 to 700 members, which showed the growing need to have a staff manage the daily operations of the organization. Now the SCC has one full-time executive director and one part-time contracted stewardship director.

16. Purchased Hospital Boulders (2012)

Hospital Boulders has become another popular Alabama bouldering site for those looking to steer away from the Horse Pens 40 and Rocktown crowds. The springtime Sickness Comp continues to raise awareness and excitement for the newly acquired area, and a guidebook is in the process of being published in 2019.

17. Reached the 1,000 Member Mark

The SCC is the largest local climbing coalition in the nation thanks to a tremendous group of supportive members. Today, there are over 1,200 members.

18. Hired a Full-Time Executive Director (2015)

The executive director manages land acquisitions, coordinates all volunteer positions, handles finances and loan payoffs, and the day-to-day operations of the organization. Having a paid staff member has given the SCC the opportunity to work on more projects, create more programming, and build stronger relationships within the Southeast community.

19. Purchased Denny Cove (2016)

Thanks to support from over 10 funding organizations including the Access Fund, The Land Trust for Tennessee and The Conservation Fund, Denny Cove is SCC’s largest acquisition project and partnership to date. With over 150 routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.14 in a variety of styles, this crag is quickly becoming a sought after sport climbing destination for Chattanoogans and visitors.

The author climbing  Flash Fried  at Denny Cove’s Buffet Wall. Photo by Sarah Anne Perry.

The author climbing Flash Fried at Denny Cove’s Buffet Wall. Photo by Sarah Anne Perry.

20. Developed Over 2 miles of Denny Cove Trails (2016)

Within 9 weeks, 19 trail days called “Denny Days” were organized to create a trail system for the newly established Denny Cove. Hundreds of SCC volunteers supported the cause and helped make the area accessible and safe for hikers and climbers. To this day, the Access Fund and SCC continue to improve the trails, including a major restoration project at Buffet and Salad Bar walls in Fall 2018.

21. Added “Climbing” into Tennessee’s Outdoor Recreation Strategic Planning Agenda (2016)

Tennessee now includes climbing as an important outdoor recreation venture for the state’s long-term strategic planning efforts. This means areas like Foster Falls, Denny Cove, climbing areas along the Cumberland Trail, and future crags established within the park system will remain open for public climbing access.

22. Hired a Stewardship Director (2017)

As climbing was experiencing major growth in the Southeast, the SCC realized the importance of being good stewards to the land. When the coalition helps open a new area, a commitment to long-term stewardship and management of the climbing resource is provided. Thanks to grant funding from REI, the SCC hired a part-time contracted stewardship director to work on major projects at Boat Rock. This position has since grown and proved incredibly valuable with the purchase of Dogwood West and Hell’s Kitchen. The SD led over 16 trail days and spent hundreds of hours independently working on the trails at these two areas, giving the SCC the opportunity to open them to the public a short 5 months after purchase.

SCC Stewardship Director Angie Langevin discussing trail management to a group of trail day volunteers. Photo courtesy of  On The Road and Off .

SCC Stewardship Director Angie Langevin discussing trail management to a group of trail day volunteers. Photo courtesy of On The Road and Off.

23. Purchased the Hell’s Kitchen Boulders and Dogwood Boulders Access Point (2018)

The SCC and Access Fund worked together to purchase a parking lot area for the Dogwood boulders to reduce a 6 mile hike into a short walk to the first cluster of boulders. The Hell’s Kitchen boulderfield was also purchased in the same deal with the previous landowner of the two locations. Both areas are located along the Cumberland Trail, which will ultimately be connected through a series of paths that include destinations like Pep Boys and Deep Creek. Currently the areas are owned by the Access Fund with the hopes of transferring to Cumberland Trail State Parks in 2019. Access Fund and SCC are is working to raise $167,000 to cover the land purchase. Thanks to a significant grant from The Footprint Foundation, that fundraising amount is down to $85,000.

24. Lead the Trail Dayz of Summer Project (2018)

Every weekend in the summer the SCC stewardship director helped organize public trail days to create sustainable rough cut paths to the SCC’s newly acquired boulderfields. Erosion-controlled structures like drains, water bars, retaining walls, rock stairs, and check steps have been put into place at these new crags thanks to the work from the SD, Access Fund employees, and SCC volunteers.

Photo courtesy of  On The Road and Off .

Photo courtesy of On The Road and Off.

25. Raised over $500,000 since 1993

Every penny has gone toward climbing access in the form of purchases, land negotiations, and trail management. This equates to over $20,000 a year!

All these triumphs would not have been made possible if it weren’t for our strong group of volunteers and donors. Thank you so much for your help in making the SCC one of the most successful and enduring climbing coalitions in the nation! All your efforts are greatly appreciated.