How You Can Improve Climbing Access at Tallulah Gorge
This article originally appeared on Climbing
Tallulah Gorge is a premier traditional climbing destination in Georgia. The exceptional, river-sculpted canyon in Northeast Georgia has been a mainstay for climbers and outdoor recreationalists in the region for decades. With a long and storied climbing history, and more than 75 routes ranging from moderate multi-pitch classics to challenging single-pitch trad climbs, the gorge is a dream come true for climbers seeking adventurous routes in an unparalleled natural setting.
Tallulah Gorge is the only state park in Georgia that allows rock climbing, and it is managed by Georgia State Parks. The Tallulah river, and its upstream dams, is regulated in coordination with Georgia Power. The dam release schedule, which is governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), heavily influences access and recreation in the gorge. Despite being a permitted form of recreation, the park has no formal policy that guides how climbing is managed. This leaves all decisions related to climbing to the discretion of park managers, which has led to inconsistencies and unnecessary challenges for climbers and park staff on the ground.
Climbing access is only available through a permit, and those permits are extremely limited, unpredictable, and highly restricted. For example, zero climbing permits were issued from January 1 to March 1 of this year, and with aesthetic and whitewater releases scheduled on almost all weekends in April and May, a weekend climber will likely not be able to climb in the gorge until May 27th. While the park’s reasons for the lack of permits vary, the bottom line is that this small window of available dates during the prime climbing season, combined with the inconsistent permit approval process, makes accessing Tallulah Gorge extremely challenging for the average climber.
Over the past 30 years, Access Fund has partnered with Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) and the local climbing…