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Obed River TN

Climbers get religion with Brother John at Obed River.

Brad McLeod on Latex Lover at Tieranny Wall.

Mike Freischlag cranks at Lilly Bridge.

Obed River TN

The Obed Wild and Scenic River:
You don't have to drive to the New River for weeks worth of world class climbing. The Obed offers endless top quality sandstone climbing of all grades, both sport and trad. To fully enjoy the area you need either a guidebook or a person with you who knows the area. Access is as easy as a couple hundred yards (Lily Bluff) and no worse than a pleasant 25 minute hike (without elevation gains like T Wall!!) Camping is an issue in flux; it is best to check with the Park Service at the Visitors Center in Wartburg to see what the current status of things is.

Some odds and ends:

  1. Obed Bouldering: The trail from the parking lot for the overlook (up the hill from Lily bridge) to the Lily boulder field is finished! Please park at the top and walk down rather than parking on the road on the way up, or even worse, in the pull off near the boulders. The bouldering is world class and has seen more than one write-up in the mags. Check it out!
  2. SCC OBED Contingent: A drive is on to expand membership and involvement of Obed area climbers in both The Access Fund and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. With the excellent organization of the SCC, it makes sense to join with them so we can all speak with a unified strong voice. Why should you care? Over the past years the SCC and/or The Access Fund have been involved in negotiations to maintain access at the Obed, Black Mountain, Cherokee Bluff and other areas. Recently, the AF donated $5000 to help in the purchase of Black Mountain, and provided support for the 2000 and 2001 Adopt-A-Crag Obed events. "Caring for the Clear" was awarded best event of the year for 2000 by the AF. The NPS is in the process of developing a Climbing Management Plan for The Obed and climber activism is more critical now than ever before; read on.
    Latest word is that the draft climbing management plan will be out in a few months, consisting of an environmental assessment and a preferred plan. A period will be set for public comment and consideration; it is critical that climbers respond during this period. More information will be provided by email and on the SCC website as soon as it is available. This will include a copy of the draft or directions to a site containing it, plus info on how to go about responding. In earlier comments, climbers have made the following points:
    • Allow fixed anchors
    • Provide information boards
    • Include a climber representative to be present and involved during
    the planning and development of the CMP
    • Recognize the climbing community as a valid user group
    • Recognize the climbing community's commitment to a wonderful resource.
    • Recognize the positive economic impact of the climbing community
    • Tap the informative resources of the Access Fund for additional climber/land management solutions and input
  4. What can you do? Please consider doing the following;

    Join both the SCC and AF. Spend all your money on gear and see how far you have to go to use it! Email your name, etc. to Frank Harvey, Access Fund's Obed Area Regional Coordinator at faharvey@aol.com.This information will be used solely to maintain a climber network in the Obed area and not for any commercial purposes. If you do nothing else, at least do this. Make plans to take part in any cleanup/work efforts.

Climbing has a long history at the Obed, even predating the Scenic River designation. It a history of early bold ascents, and more recently of world class sport routes and incredible bouldering. With the rapid increase in climbing's popularity here and throughout the country, we find ourselves at a critical point where the future of climbing in the OWSR depends on the efforts of all climbers to address the access and impact issues we raise by our use of this exceptional natural resource.

In meetings with landowners, the National Park Service and others through the years, climbers have established a reputation as a user group that will "step up to the plate", doing what needs to be done to preserve and protect the Obed for climbers and others as well. Trail maintenance efforts, funding and establishment of a parking area, and the 2000 and 2001 Access Fund Adopt-A-Crag events are just a few concrete examples of what we have done. The NPS is in the process of formulating a Climbing Management Plan, establishing rules and guidelines for climbing in the OWSR. This plan will be the result of many meetings, public forums and hard work, including extensive input from climbers and other interested parties, as well as ongoing and future studies to determine climbing's compatibility with preservation of the Obed's unique ecological resources and wilderness nature. Once in place it will be obviously important that climbers support and abide by the Plan. Until, as well as after, that plan is in place, we as climbers should keep in mind the following thoughts and acts.

Despite all our efforts, it is clear that climbing has had negative effects on the OWSR. This is perhaps most obvious along the Lilly Wall where soil compaction and plant life damage are undeniable. Any use of the OWSR has impact and climbers are by no means responsible for all the impact in this or other areas, but we as a user group must accept responsibility for our actions and deal with them, or suffer the consequences of ignoring them! The vast majority of the Clear Creek area now being climbed is owned not by the NPS but by The Nature Conservancy. It is clearly within their power to ban all climbing on this land. Through past meetings,climber efforts and the Conservancy's willingness to work with the climbing community, that has not occurred. It is up to us to see that itdoes not in the future.

Dos and Don'ts

  • DO stay on established trails
  • DO use existing fire rings, or better still a stove.
  • DO pack out any trash you find
  • DO park appropriately
  • DO lock your vehicle and put valuables out of site
  • DO be aware and considerate of landowners and local citizens
  • DO patronize local businesses
  • DO encourage other climbers to follow these guidelines
  • DO note and follow any posted information, closures, etc.
  • DO get involved in access issues; become active, and join the Access Fund.

    Get involved in completing land acquisition for the OWSR. Work for increased funding for the OWSR and join other groups such as The Nature Conservancy and Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning.

  • DO practice "Leave No Trace" use. If you do not know what this is go to www.int.org and learn!! Any time you go in the wilds this should be fundamental.
  • DON'T establish new routes: many folks are not aware that new routes are prohibited by rules established in2000! If this concerns you get involved or be quiet! The Climbing Management Plan will address new routes and other climber concerns;please await that plan.
  • DON'T top out on routes
  • DON'T sling trees or vegetation
  • DON'T chip or glue a route
  • DON'T use any more chalk than needed and don't leave spills
  • DON'T damage any plants
  • DON'T leave fixed ropes or slings (excluding fixed roof slings) If climbing matters to you, be aware. Be kind to the earth, other users and owners. Set an example for all climbers by how you climb and by how you contribute to responsible climbing when you are not hanging onto rock!
For more information,contact:
Frank Harvey
Access Fund Regional Coordinator
2005 Palmer Drive
Lenoir City, TN 37772

The Eastern Tennessee Climbers Coalition has formed to help address local access climbing issues in the Obed River area and parts of Eastern Tennessee. If you are interested in helping out with the cause please email Rick Bost: RICKBOST@aol.com. The ETCC has been working on repairing anchors, trail days and liason with the National Park Service as they work to solve access issues withing the area.

Directions to the Obed: From Knoxville, take I-40 West to Harriman. From Harriman, follow US 27 North to Wartburg, Tennessee. From Wartburg, take Highway 62 to Lancing. From the railroad crossing in Lancing, proceed for three miles and take a left on Ridge Road. Turn left on Ridge Road and follow it to the park. Lilly Bridge climbing area is found above the bridge area. The trail into Clear Creek starts from the climbers parking lot which is on the right off Doc Howard road, which turns left off Ridge Road just as it drops into the gorge. This lot is on private property owned by Dawson Howard. He graciously allows climbers to park there; please consider leaving a dollar a person in the donation box at the trailhead, and if you see him say hi, he's a cool guy!

Topos and more info available in the Dixie Cragger's Atlas by Chris Watford. Copies of his book are available callwild@atlanta.com

Obed River Final Climbing Management Plan

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Published on: 2006-03-14 (14350 reads)
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