Triple Crown Bouldering Series

Triple Crown Bouldering Series
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In honor of Triple Crown Climbing Competition and the end of RiverRocks, we talked to Chad Wykle, co-founder of the competition and Southeastern Climbers' Coalition board member since 2003.

Wykle describes the SCC as a homegrown grassroots non-profit dating all the way back to 1993 when a group of climbers banded together to mediate with the National Parks Service about ongoing access issues at Lookout Mountain's Sunset Rock. The SCC had positive results from the start and went on to sponsor cleanups and trail days at public climbing areas all over the southeast. Since then, the SCC has worked diligently with public land managers to preserve access at Tennessee Wall, Foster Falls, Deep Creek, Moss Rock and many more other locations.

Triple Crown Bouldering Series

Without the SCC, Triple Crown wouldn’t have happened. Wykle and Jim Horton, a North Carolina climber, met and began climbing together in the early 90's. Horton started a Hound Ears climbing competition in 1994 after climbers lost access to Howard's Knob, a coveted local Boone, NC bouldering area. The competition was spawned with hopes of some day recovering access. Wykle started competing at the Hound Ears Competition and volunteering for the event.

Around this same time, climbing activist Adam Henry was living in Alabama experiencing many of the same difficulties with access. He had created a similar event at the wildly popular Horse Pens 40 bouldering area in Steele, Alabama. Horse Pens 40 is also located on private property, and Adam had created a strong relationship with the Schultz family who owned and still own the property.

Almost immediately, both competitions developed a huge cult following and a strong core group of volunteers that continue to pour their passion into the events. Additionally, since climbing access issues were rife in the early 1990s in Western North Carolina as well as in Alabama, it was only natural that the Horse Pens-40 event became an access platform for all of the southeast.

Triple Crown Bouldering Series

Wykle, Horton, and Henry began talking about a series and in the early 2000s, with the support of Rock/Creek they put together three events that in the beginning included Hound Ears, Horse Pens-40 and Rocktown , another famed sandstone boulder field in North Georgia. Initially the land managers for the area were in full support, but they backed out. The fallback plan was to use Sand Rock (another climbing/bouldering area in Alabama). But the three organizers wanted something different, and in February of 2003, on a lark and with Horton's prodding, Wykle went to talk with the Montlake Golf Club about the idea of having the third event at a well-known (but closed to climbing) destination called Little Rock City . At the time, legal climbing access to LRC was a dream shared by many climbers. After initial talks with management at the clubhouse, the owner of the property (Henry Luken) reached out. He liked the idea of the competition and also wanted to create a way to 'open' the area to climbing throughout the year. Horton, Henry, and Wykle were blown away. Wykle calls it “a paradigm shift of sorts for climbing access and relationships between the climbing community and landowner/managers.”

The event came together later that year and the Triple Crown Bouldering Series was born in the Fall of 2003. And Wykle became an SCC board member later that year. Now, 12 years into the Triple Crown, the event continues to support the efforts of the the Southeastern Climbers' Coalition, the Carolina Climber's Coalition, the Access Fund, and the American Alpine Club.

Carlo Nasisse

Wykle describes the southeast as having “a wealth of rock located on private and different types of public property all with differing rules in regard to recreation.” While much of this land has historically been off limits to climbing, “the SCC and Triple Crown volunteers have worked closely with public land managers and private landowners for years. Excellent relationships have been developed and climbing is now welcome in many of our state parks as well as many privately owned crags and boulder fields.”

Additionally, the Triple Crown and SCC have teamed up to actually purchase several fantastic climbing areas. Boat Rock, Steele Crag, and Hospital Boulders are just a few examples of climber owned and managed properties. The Triple Crown exists to support the efforts of the SCC and other regional outdoor non-profit organizations. pint nights and trail days also provide the platform for the climbing community to get together for a fun and worthy cause and simply to talk climbing. It's old fashioned and grassroots, but it works. The success of such efforts is evident after a quick survey of the SCC’s projects. Money to fund the projects comes from people donating directly to specific projects. “There's nothing like knowing that donated money, or donated volunteer time has supported a 'direct action cause,' such as a completed trail finished bridge built kiosk, or even a land purchase. “When you can make projects very specific with clear/permanent outcomes people naturally want to support them,” Wykle adds.

Triple Crown Bouldering Series

While Wykle emphazises the importance of community non-profit organizations that work together for a common goal, he also notes that a supportive national entity such as the Access Fund rounds out the community.

Wykle and his Triple Crown co-organizers are proud that they have had the opportunity to work closely with so many great non-profit organizations in an effort to develop and maintain access to our outdoor resources. Their hope is that this event will continue to be a conduit through which great organizations like the Access Fund, the Southeastern Climbers' Coalition, Carolina Climbers' Coalition, Friends of Cumberland Trail, Wild Trails and others come together to support all of our outdoor resources. “Hikers, trail runners, climbers, mountain bikers, backpackers, and general outdoor enthusiasts are recreating in many of the same areas (on the same trails). Together we have a larger voice and a greater opportunity to make positive impacts for all of us.”

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