Stone Fort

Ashley on an unnamed V1 in the Jungle Gym Area

It is hard to believe that you are about to enter one of the South’s best boulder fields – and the second leg of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series – as you pull into Montlake Golf Course in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.  There is a certain weirdness about pulling into the country club for a day of bouldering…and it gets even more bizarre when you notice there are as many people carrying crash pads as there are people carrying golf clubs.

Ashley on the Dragon Traverse, V0

The golf course is incredibly welcoming of climbers (although, despite what you may have heard, there is still segregation in the South and climbers have to park in a special part of the parking lot).  On arrival and before heading out to climb, you must enter the golf course’s pro shop, sign in, and pay three dollars to use their boulders for the day.  On the days we visited, the pro shop attendant was kind enough to let us use their restrooms and fill our water bottles in their snack shack as well.  It is also evident that climbers frequent the pro shop for stuff other than a day pass, as they stock chalk, stickers, guidebooks, ice cream, and cold drinks (including beer) in addition to the items golfers may need.

Tim on Spacegrass, V2
I have always considered golf a wealthy person’s pastime, and I typically lump all climbers into the dirt bag category.  It should come as no surprise that you would not need the separated parking lots to distinguish a climbers car from a golfers.  However, the two groups seemed to coexist well together as every golfer we met was incredibly polite and hospitable to us.  One memorable exchange with a golfer on his way in from completing a round as Ashley and I were on our way out to climb went like this:  Him, “You guys going to climb those rocks in the woods?”  Us, “Yes.”  Him, “I’m sorry, I think I may have dented a few of them on you today.”     

Ashley on Uncle Punchy, V1

After going through the formalitites of signing in, you slip past the eighteenth green and enter the woods. The surreal part for me was that moments after slipping into the woods, I would forget about the close proximity of the golf course.  More often than not, the golf course would be no more than twenty feet away but I never heard the golfers or other sounds associated with the daily operations of a golf course (mowers, carts, etc.).  It was a truly unique experience feeling as if you are in the wilderness with civilization so close.  The benefit of being so close to the golf course was that it was easy to sneak back to “civilazation” to use the bathroom, grab something to eat, or relax and take a mid afternoon nap.

Tim on Dice, V2

While paying for bouldering is a somewhat foreign idea to those of us in the Northeast, I assure you it is money well spent.  The amount of bouldering contained at Stone Fort is huge.  Ashley and I climbed three full days there and did not even make it to all the areas.  In addition to the massive number of problems, the problems are also very, diverse offering something for everyone.  There is easy stuff, hard stuff, tall stuff, short stuff, stuff close to the car, and stuff far from the car.  The large majority of the problems are of an excellent quality and there are very few contrived problems.  Our only complaint was the lack of a closer campground. 

A beautiful fall day in the Main Area