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:
- 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!
- 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.
- OBED CLIMBING MANAGEMENT PLAN:
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:
the planning and development of the CMP
- Allow fixed anchors
- Provide information boards
- Include a climber representative to be present and involved during
- 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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.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 AT THE OBED
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
For more information,contact:
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
Obed River Final Climbing Management Plan