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Metro Atlanta Climbing
Posted on Friday, March 19
by Robert

Climbing News
Your stuck in bumper to bumper Atlanta traffic. A tractor trailer has jack knifed on GA 400 loaded full of chicken manure, jumping the median and taking out both lanes. Traffic is backed up for miles. Your mired in hell.

But luckily you have your shoes and chalk pad and a small sketch pad in the back seat. So you pull your car to the edge of the interstate, run down the grass hill, jump the fence and cruise along the Chattahoochee River. On your way you find dark, steep, granite overhangs next to the cool and tranquil waters.

Recent destruction of boulders across the street from Boat Rock. Photo by Wes Powell.
Bouldering in Atlanta? It's out there, you just have look. Although the ATL is not on any traveling climbers/boulderers radar screen, the intown locals at least have a few areas tucked away to keep them busy on an afternoon boulder session. Recently there have been several new areas discovered, so there is hope for those that venture out. If you find yourself inside the Metro, don't despair as there is some natural rock (and a huge list of gyms) to keep you in shape.

Mike Frieschlag on Bobs Arete at Boat Rock. Photo by Brad McLeod
Jason Young on the Sundrop boulder at Island Ford along the Chattahoochee River. Photo by Cooper Roberts

"The Boat" is the hub for intown bouldering with a recent purchase of 7.8-acres of boulders by The Southeastern Climbers Coalition www.seclimbers.org. This is the first stop on the intown ATL tour. Large granite boulders with a healthy texture make for lots of smearing, crimping and palming up aretes and blank walls like the "Paint Can", "Lost Digits" and "Dishes".

This area is one of the most threatened crags in the nation as bulldozers have destroyed boulders across the street from Boat Rock and currently the area around the lake is under fire. The SCC is working to try and save additional land along with halting the destruction of more boulders.

Boat Rock Directions:
From downtown Atlanta go west on Interstate 20 past the junction of I-285 and I-20 to Fulton Industrial Boulevard and take exit 49 going south. Go southwest on Fulton Industrial Boulevard for 4.5 miles and at the second traffic light after the Quick Trip gas station, make a left on to Boat Rock Road. Drive 1.1 miles and take a right on a small asphalt driveway into a small 6 car gravel parking lot across from The Summitt at Cascade Subdivision. There is a small wooden sign marking the lot as "Boat Rock Preserve" 1221 Boat Rock Road. There is a small kiosk with info on the area. The boulders are up the hill and along the ridgeline with another large cluster near and around the lake.

Island Ford
Located next to the Chattahoochee River, this satellite area is a series of overhangs and one good boulder with lots of features. It is a small area, so unless you are stuck intown on the north side, dont bother. To get there, drive north on GA 400 and get off on the Northridge Road exit. Take a left at the light, go across the bridge and take an immediate right on to Dunwoody Place. Go about a mile and turn on Roberts Drive. Go over the bridge and take a right into the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area on Island Ford Parkway. Follow the road all the way to the 2nd parking lot on the left. Park, pay $2.00 (honor system) and walk down the hill and walk left on the trail so that the river is on your right. Warning, be sure to check the e. coli levels sign before swimming, ha. Many a times during the year their is an e. coli warning sign. Once on the main trail, if you take a left at the first major creek on an obvious but smaller trail, it will lead you to the first boulder where there is a cool v5 out the roof called "Power Nap". This is the only boulder that you cannot see from the main trail. Continue down the main trail for a few minutes and you will come up on a huge roof on the left. On the left side of the roof there is a v9ish probelm called "Urban Bum". Continue down the trail and you will pass another huge roof, this one has no problems on it. Continue further to get to the sundrop boulder, cool eliminates and dynos abound this boulder, there is one hard line straight out the middle. There is another mini looking mandala boulder way uphill with a project and a good moderate, but its kinda hard to find. Info courtesy of Coop Roberts.

Dixie Boulders
This place is near the Dixie Highway in south Atlanta. Located southeast of the Dixie Highway and the intersection of I-75, the area is wedged in between a swamp and the right-of-way of the interstate. The best texture intown and some great boulders. A small area but some pretty good problems. Located on private land, so if asked to leave, please do so immediately.

Allen Brook
This small urban crag located in the town of Roswell, a northern suburb of Atlanta. This area is popular with top-ropers and rappellers. If you see guys rappelling down "aussie" style beware. The last group made the evening news when they jumped off head first and kept on going. It was all caught on video, but no serious injuries. From Atlanta, take I-85 North out of the city. Stay in the right-hand lane and exit off onto Highway 400 North, following signs for Roswell. (This is a $.50 tollroad). Follow Highway 400 to the Northridge exit (exit #6). This exit loops around and deadends into Roswell Road (State Route 9). Turn right and drive approximately two miles, crossing the Chattahoochee River. Look for a gravel driveway on the right about 300 yards past the river, across from an apartment complex. Turn in and park at a gate. The trail to the cliff leads down through the back lawn of Allenbrook Mansion. Scamper down and left to reach the base. Directions courtesy of the Dixie Craggers Atlas by Chris Watford callwild@earthlink.net

To get there from I-75 North, exit off Windy Hill Road and bear hard right onto Interstate North Parkway. Cross Powers Ferry Road and continue one mile to the Recreation Area entrance on the left, just before the Chattahoochee River. After parking, follow the gravel running trail for about 200 yards to where it makes a jog to the right. A faint trail leads up and left into the woods, in the vicinity of a pair of steel pullup bars. The cliff and the handcrack should be obvious.

This small, obscure cliff is also in the Chattahoochee River National Park, downstream from The Palisades. To get there, follow Highway 41 (Cobb Parkway) south from I-285. Just after crossing the river, park at a small pulloff on the left. Follow a faint trail up into the woods, to the top of the rock. Access to the base is down and to the left.

Recent info is that the rangers do not want anyone climbing in the park. There are some boulders within the park; but the area is technically closed. Proceed with caution.

The Zipper is located in the Chattahoochee River National Park, off of I-285, north of Atlanta. Essentially a large, tilted boulder split by perfect handcrack, the Zipper is a popular place to practice the art of clean aid climbing.

These river cliffs lie on the east bank of the Chattahoochee River, just below Powers Ferry Landing. To get there from I-285 East, exit off Powers Ferry Road and turn right. Turn right again onto Powers Ferry Road/Akers Mill Road, which parrallels the interstate. Just before the river, turn left into the office complex behind Ray's On The River restaurant. There is a security guard there that has asked many climbers to leave. The area is on private land, so if asked to leave, please do so immediately. Pull to the back parking lot, by the boat ramp. The trail begins at Frog Boulder, and continues downstream to the cliffs. There are several good face and short crack climbs. This is the home of the Marietta Mangler, which Chris Sierzant established after many years of work. There are also many other projects and problems to include Motion Denied V7ish? and Anthrax V7ish.

There is also a nice cliff across the river, on the western bank, that is accessed from the back parking lot of the Riverbend apartment complex. Pull to the back and park by the tennis courts. A well-worn trail leads along the river for about 500 yards to the cliff. It is possible to scramble up and around the left side to access the top. There are a few old belay bolts below the rim.

Material provided, with permission, from Chris Watford's Dixie Cragger's Atlas, a climbers guide to Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.

List of Metro Atlanta Gyms
Atlanta Rocks (Buckhead and Doraville) www.atlantarocks.com
Escalade www.escaladegym.com
Wallcrawlers www.wallcrawlersgym.com
YMCA (Alpharetta and Midtown)
GA Tech
GA State
Univ. of Georgia
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