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Rock Climbing

Chattanooga is known nationwide for the miles of hard sandstone bluffs that hug our mountains. Experienced climbers will find a multitude of crags and boulders that range in difficulty from challenging to impossible.

Most of the climbing areas around Chattanooga require a minimum of the following essential climbing gear: harness, dynamic or static climbing rope, carabiners, helmet, webbing and hardware for sport and traditional or “TRAD” climbs.

A “TRAD” Climbing Rack.

Bouldering at area fields like the Stone Fort (“Little Rock City”) or Rocktown requires the least amount of equipment but even beginner climbers should always have a spotter and a crash pad.

If you are new to climbing, the place to start is one of the region’s climbing gyms or guide services, listed below.

Experienced climbers can look to the Southeast Climbers Coalition or Roots Rated for further information on permits and access to our outdoor climbing areas.

Types of Climbing

Bouldering (Beginner to Advanced)

Short, powerful climbs or moves on free standing rocks from 10 – 40′ high. Climbers solve “problems,” rated for level of difficulty, in order to top out on each climb.

Top Rope (Beginner to Intermediate)

Free climber is belayed with a safety rope set at the top of the climbing route. This is the type of climbing that you’ll often experience at an indoor gym.

Sport Climbing (Intermediate to Advanced)

Climbers clip their safety ropes to anchors that are preset in the rock to mark specific routes.

Traditional “TRAD” (Advanced)

The climber determines where and how to place temporary anchors along a rock face. Safety rope is clipped into anchors as the climber ascends.

Sport climbing at Foster Falls

Climbing Rating | Yosemite Decimal System (YDS)

Class 1Walking with a low chance of injury.

Class 2Simple scrambling, with the possibility of occasional use of the hands. Little potential danger is encountered.

Class 3Scrambling with increased exposure to falls. A rope can be carried but is usually not required. Falls are not always fatal.

Class 4Simple climbing, with exposure to falls. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.

Class 5: Technical free climbing involving rope, belaying, and other protective hardware for safety. Un-roped falls can result in severe injury or death. 5.1 (easiest) to 5.14 (most difficult). 

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