Bouldering in Chattanooga’s Backyard

Andrew Kornylak
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Stone Fort is one of the most popular and frequently visited boulder fields in the Chattanooga vicinity, offering a large cluster of easily accessible sandstone boulders in a concentrated area. Also known as Little Rock City, or LRC, to most local climbers, this boulder field is as convenient as it gets. Located on top of Mowbray Mountain and a short drive from downtown Chattanooga, Stone Fort has the amenities that many other areas lack: ample parking, restrooms, food, drinks, brushes and chalk for sale, and even a warm club house to warm up in on brisk winter days.

Stone Fort is one of the four locations for the Triple Crown Bouldering Series that takes place in the southeast each fall. It is, in fact, all thanks to the hard work of a few dedicated climbers and the Southeastern Climbers’ Coalition that bouldering is even possible here, and it all started with the Triple Crown competition. There was already an annual competition in place at Hound Ears in North Carolina at the time, and organizers wanted to make it a three part competition, also including Horse Pens 40 in Alabama. The land owner was eventually convinced to allow climber access and to call the boulder field the Stone Fort.

Sofia Bunger

Since then, twelve years have passed and people from all over the world have enjoyed climbing here. As most climbers know, access to areas like Stone Fort should not be taken lightly. All users are responsible for the area to remain in good condition and good standing with the owners by keeping noise to a minimum, being mindful of others and not leaving any trash behind.

The prime seasons for Stone Fort are fall, winter and spring, though you can certainly climb during the summer months if you’re willing to deal with scorching temps, humidity, and slick rock. The area is easy to navigate with visible trails and paths and boulders as far as the eye can see. A guide book by Andy Wellman is available at any rock gym or Rock/Creek store in town and is simply called Stone Fort Bouldering.

Being one of the more popular areas for locals as well as visitors, it can get busy at times, but the atmosphere is generally good and climbers are usually willing to help you out with a pad and a spot on your high-ball project.

A few Chattanooga locals had this to say about their favorite boulder problem or most memorable send of some Stone Fort classics:

Sofia Bunger

Super Mario Extension – V6
A two-star rated problem that starts on Super Mario (V4) and moves straight up on sidepulls into a long move to the top out. “I had just sent Super Mario two weeks before and was frustrated that I couldn’t get the extension. I felt it was more a mental battle rather than a physical one once I finally got it.” -Lyndsey K., Assistant Manager at High Point, 2+ years climbing.

Robbing the Tooth Fairy – V9
A popular two-star problem that traverses from a sit-start to the right and eventually squeezes between a rock and a tree and finishes on Tooth Fairy (V7). “I love the features on it. Starting on a cool overhanging arête, the problem has some big moves and some compression moves. It’s what I’m working on this season.” -Antonio B., Server at Easy Bistro and Main Street Meats, 3.5 years climbing.

Red House Extension – V8
Starting on Red House (V7), this two-star tacks on two moves straight up from the pocket holds then moves into a lunge and finishes on a shelf out right to a mantle. “It blends the best moves of four problems that are all classic in their own right. Red House extension is a ‘must-do’ at LRC. Soft for the grade? Maybe. Classic? Definitely.” – Adam B., Barista and Assistant Manager at Pasha Coffee & Tea, 10 years climbing.

Stone Fort is not just for the experienced climber as the area also offers a vast amount of problems graded below V6 and is a great place to get started if you have never bouldered in the outdoors before. For the beginner or even experienced climber who wants a more hands-on professional learning experience, guiding services are available by Lisa Rands and Wills Young, through the High Point Climbing School.

Here’s just a handful of the three star rated, and unique problems, that you don’t want to miss on your visit to Stone Fort, from beginner to intermediate.

V0 – Spare
V0 – Spare
V1 – Incredarete
V1 – The Crescent
V1 – Brian’s Brain
V2 – Graham Crackers
V2 – Pancake Mantle
V3 – The Ribcage
V3 – Mystery Machine
V4 – Dragon Lady
V4 – Super Mario
V4 – Big Much
V5 – Diesel Power
V5 – The Sternum
V5 – White Trash

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