SCC Working To Make Sunset Rock Climbing More Accessible

  • Friday, February 25, 2022
  • McKenzie Malone
Caleb Timmerman
Caleb Timmerman

A local non-profit organization is working alongside the National Parks Service (NPS) to make climbing at one of Chattanooga’s outdoor hotspots more accessible. The Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC), formed in 1993, has presented the NPS with a fixed hardware proposal for Sunset Rock that would allow for new bolted anchors to be placed at the top of certain routes.

           
For decades, Sunset Rock, officially titled Sunset Park, has been a haven for local climbers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

While it’s widely known for its hikes and overlook into the Chattanooga Valley, climbers take a different approach to recreating in this space. They find a home on its sandstone walls, scaling the faces by using pieces of equipment to protect their climb. These pieces of equipment work with the features in the rock by fitting into slots or cracks, and are removed in a process called “cleaning” when the climber is done. This leaves minimal impact to the rock because of its temporary nature, but there are times that call for leaving permanent protection in the rock itself.


One of these times is when anchoring at the top of a climb occurs. The anchor is what climbers trust to lower themselves to the ground, and what they’re using to belay, or suspend, other climbers. It’s literally a lifeline.


While the NPS is the governing body that oversees day-to-day care of the park, the SCC continues to operate as a consultant organization that oversees climbing hardware and its maintenance. Caleb Timmerman, the SCC’s Marketing Director, spoke enthusiastically about the climbing community’s dedication to putting boots on the ground to keep up with what their user group requires. He also pointed out these anchors provide not just safety, but also ways to protect natural resources.


Approval for fixed hardware proposals looks at more than just benefit to climbers. It takes into account the impact not having anchors installed has on the environment around the cliffs. Trees with fragile root systems fall victim to erosion when anchors have to be built above the cliff line, and are also put at risk when climbers resort to using them as support for an anchor system. The options climbers are left with when bolts aren’t present, and they have to get down from their climb, are to either rappel off the tree or to hike down around the top of the cliff.


“One use, or one instance of someone hiking around the edge of a cliff, does nothing from a statistics point of view or from an erosion point of view,” Timmerman said - “When you magnify that by 100-fold, over the course of a year even, you will start to see pretty serious impact of erosion.”


The SCC is hoping to see the completion of anchor installation by the end of this year. Working with a task force of trusted and experienced volunteers, it is prioritizing quality over efficiency. Timmerman, with a wide grin, was proud to note how the Chattanooga climbing community has stepped up to help their organizations small team of three with the task. A community so focused on stewardship is one that, in his words, understands “in order to maintain the quality of that climbing area, we all have to step up to do our part.”

 

Outdoors
Free Entrance To Point Park Aug. 4 To Celebrate Anniversary Of The Great American Outdoors Act
  • 7/19/2024

Point Park, atop Lookout Mountain, part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, is waiving the entrance fee on Sunday, Aug. 4 to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Great American ... more

25,000 Pound Milestone Reached At Chickamauga Lake Cleanup
25,000 Pound Milestone Reached At Chickamauga Lake Cleanup
  • 7/19/2024

It’s been four years now that Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful has hosted the Chickamauga Lake Cleanup presented by iSustain, and because of iSustain Recycling’s sponsorship, those cleanups ... more

Mill Line Trail Dedicated With Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Mill Line Trail Dedicated With Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
  • 7/17/2024

The idea for the Mill Line Trail was brewing for 20 years, so waiting a few extra months for a ribbon cutting probably didn't seem too long to those who worked to make it a reality. The trail ... more