You’re out at a bar in Chattanooga, TN, and someone walks in with chalk all over their pants, sweat stains under their arms, and blood oozing from their fingertips. The thing is, this isn’t abnormal around these parts. If you didn’t already know, climbing is a big deal here.
According to Climbing Magazine, Chattanooga is the South’s climbing capitol. Although not quite the grandeur of some better-known 2,000 foot tall multi-pitch beasts out West, Chattanooga is still revered for its world-class rock quality and routes. And because climbing spots are within such close proximity to Chattanooga’s downtown, access to the sport is among the best in the world.
With a myriad of bouldering, trad, and sport options—all with varied difficulty levels— dotting the region, Chattanooga should most definitely be added to any climber’s must-visit list.
Located just outside of Chattanooga, in Soddy Daisy, Leda is one of Chattanooga’s favorite weekday, post-work stops. While strenuous hiking is normally required to reach a climbing route’s trail, the walk in to Leda is no longer than five minutes from your car. With numerous easy routes and several difficult climbs, Leda is great for beginners and experts alike.
Tennessee Wall, a.k.a “T-Wall”
Chattanooga’s best known climbing bluff, T-Wall, was first discovered in 1984 by local climbers and has lived up to its hype ever since. With over 600 recorded trad routes spread out over two miles of sandstone cliffs, T-Wall is a place that truly knows no bounds. (Trad is a form of lead climbing that requires the climber to place all safety equipment on his or her own, rather than clipping in to already bolted gear.)
Located less than 10 miles from downtown Chattanooga, T-Wall offers a range of difficulty trad, ranging from 5.5s to 5.13s. Because most routes require you to climb up a T-shaped dihedral before topping out at an overhanging roof, T-Wall is nicknamed appropriately. Also featuring diverse cracks and aretes, T-Wall keeps things interesting and never seems to get old. Although probably not ideal for first-timers (unless with a partner who can set up top rope), various climbing-focused magazines have dubbed T-Wall among the United States’ best climbing crags.
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Published by Southern Living on April 21, 2016: Written by Olivia Harlow