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Nashville climbers - familiar with this crag?
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dingus


Jul 17, 2007, 3:24 PM
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Nashville climbers - familiar with this crag?  (North_America: United_States: Tennessee: Central)
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Three 4-bolt sport routes to the top of a 40 foot wall - do you know this place?

DMT


(This post was edited by dingus on Jul 17, 2007, 3:24 PM)


saxfiend


Jul 17, 2007, 3:39 PM
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Would that by any chance be at Short Mountain?

JL


dingus


Jul 18, 2007, 10:50 AM
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No this is limestone. Across the river from Ashland City. I was there last week, took a hike up our old trail to take a peek at my youth.



'78 or '79 I reckon. Not the high tech foot gear.

Every route now sport bolted we worked out prior to 81, and a few more that aren't bolted. Plus we did a dozen or so FAs on the main wall down stream from this little gem.

I learned a lot about climbing there in Ashland City, surprisingly. I wondered if any of our other routes have been bolted up, sorta doubt it,. I didn't have the time to check them out while I was there.

Here's my buddy Jr Bishop leading one of them on hexes and balls, circa 1980:


I was saddened to note that my tree has died and is now gone gone gone. Good thing those bolts are in now!


You have to have a taste for the ugly to love those cliffs. We didn't have Kings Bluff, etc. The closest sandstone we knew of was Stone Door, Bee Rock and Fall Creek Falls (did 3 or 4 FAs at FCF too)

DMT


dingus


Jul 20, 2007, 4:52 PM
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OK, looking for a different Tennessee photo I came across this one,



Good times. I was a kid then!

Cheers
DMT


dingus


Jul 20, 2007, 4:54 PM
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Here's the other one I found, some of the routes we did on Sydney Bluff, the name on the topo map. Thjis photo was taken from the Ashland City side of the Cumberland



DMT


dingus


Jul 20, 2007, 5:03 PM
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And at Fall Creek Falls, down streen and cross canyon from the falls proper, across from Milliken's Overlook, we did a couple simple routes on this:



Now called the Palisades I think.


Were the approx lines we did, 84 and 85 would be the years.

Here's a pic from the Zig Zag first ascent:



Sure were cool adventures bushwhacking up there. One route we called AquaMarch because we got so soaked pushing through the jungle. Another was called Tooth Ache cause Jr Bishop's tooth hurt as he led the FA.

My ole Buddy Jr. bouldering at T-Wall in the fall of 1985 - did Finger Locking Good that day.


Saw Jr last week too.



He's into TAG caving now, doesn't climb much anymore. Took us to Moses Ladder cave



And my girls got to do some honest to god caving down in Menonite country in rural Tennessee





We had a blast!


Anyway, I went up to that old cliff at Ashland City and saw the old routes we did had been sport bolted. Decent job from what I could see. Bout time!

Cheers
DMT


saxfiend


Jul 20, 2007, 5:37 PM
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Cool pictures, that crag near Ashland City looks like fun. If I'm in Nashville visiting my cousin, maybe I'll try to find it.

Regarding Fall Creek Falls -- you may already have read this, but Chris Watford in the Dixie Cragger's Atlas relates a story from someone who thought he'd discovered the Tennessee Palisades at FCF around 1996:

"To either side was beautiful rock -- we had found Mecca! . . . we looked for the most obvious line out, a prominent dihedral that led to the top. Leading, I reached a ledge about 40' from the top with a tree and spotted, to my dismay, an ancient piece of webbing about two feet up the tree and strangling it. This was probably the oldest bit of sling I'd ever seen! Oh well, so much for the first ascent."

The person quoted was Jeff Dopp, do you know him? Do you think the webbing he found was yours?

JL


dingus


Jul 20, 2007, 6:41 PM
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I hadn't seen that quote no. Don't know him. Good chance it was Jr's sling on the dead staub of a tree the day he led Toothache. We didn't have a decent rack and he ran the shit out of it above that tree. Its one of those follows where you look at your buddy in a strange new light.

So it could be ours. I left the sling on the dead tree. But I'd have to image others surely went in there too?

Cheers
DMT


subantz


Aug 14, 2009, 10:03 AM
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More pics Dingus tell us some more bed time stories please. What else did you guys do around the south?


dingus


Aug 14, 2009, 12:22 PM
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Hehe, well one day Jr and I were at Bee Rock, near Cookeville. You know the place right?

Anyway it was winter/spring and brisk. We were top roping the headwall routes.

Some dude walked up. Didn't talk to us, he had his own gig going on. He rigged a rope, dropped down the headwall and proceeded to do self balayed TRs, up and down, up and down.

"Who is that feller?"

We wanted to know. Eventually he worked his way over to us and we offered him a top rope. He proceeded to do laps on our route too, up and down.

Turns out he was from Nashville, had moved out of state for college, spend a gig working for oil companies in Wyoming during the heyday of the oil boom there, and when than ran out he came back to TTn.

I think he'd been back a just a few weeks when we ran into him. He'd made his mark already, in Fremont Canyon in partcular.

Dingus and Jr.? Meet Arno Ilgner. I think that was winter 84/spring 85. He and Rob Robinson found T Wall that same spring. By the time Arno introduced me to it the following spring, they had 50 or more routes there.

Say... I have a better tale and its already written.

Ever heard of Underground City???

I'll go fetch it and post it here.

Haven't seen Arno since I left TN, 23 years ago.

DMT


dingus


Aug 14, 2009, 12:24 PM
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I told this story back on the wreck – but I get all my lies confused sometimes so maybe some of the details will be different haha.

I grew up in rural Tennessee some 40 miles west of Nashville. The Cumberland Plateau is an interesting geological feature... it’s composed of both limestone and sandstone layers.

The sandstone dominates the eastern rim of the Cumberland and accounts for some famous southern rock - Suck Creek, Tennessee Wall, Sunset Rock, Rock City, etc,

The rim itself is sorta like a terlit seat around the sink that is Nashville. Because Tennessee is traditionally divided into east, middle and west, many of us refer to Nashville and environs as Middle Earth.

Limestone dominates the western rim of the plateau. It’s in the east too but not as visible as the sandstone. The western rim lacks the sandstone cap completely. This limestone layer is vast and accounts for the justified fame of TAG amoungst cavers (Tennessee Alabama Georgia). It stretches well into Kentucky and also accounts for Mammoth Caverns one of the largest cave systems in the world.

So... where I grew up limestone was in abundance.



That's me when I was a kid circa earlyish 80s. This is not U.C. but nearby at Sydney Bluff in Ashland City on the banks of the Cumberland river. Another former quarry face. We climbed the sh#t out of that little face and bouldered all the probs. There are now 3 4-bolt sport routes on this wall, superimposed on our 30 year old free solos. I could not care less about that.

In the early to mid 1800s forges were built to make iron, utilizing the lime as part of the process.

Grant invaded middle Tennessee in the Civil War of course and a big part of the initial push from Clarksville south to Nashville was to capture this region of iron production. The little town of Cumberland Furnace in my county is a perfect example.

So a goodly portion of the Civil War was fought within 50 miles of my home, places like Shiloh Church. And some of it was fought over the little towns quite close to where I lived. Pretty cool growing up with all that shite… confederate means something quite different to me than *just* racism and crackers. Me and my high school bros all had confederate underdog pride and it had nothing at all to do with racism really. Just poor boy’s pride is all.

ANYWAY, limestone. So there was this quarry. I have no idea who made it or why. But the limestone at this quarry was quite good and they apparently quarried it for a long time.

A nice 80-foot or so dead vertical face where me and my old buddy Jr. Bishop did some of our first climbing and it was certainly where I did my first 5.10.

The limestone there is in 2 layers and apparently the lower was the one they were after. Rather than remove the top of the hill they quarried back into the ground, creating tunnels. Big ones, with 12-15 foot ceilings. You could and we DID drive our cars back in there, on occasion a dozen or more cars.

The cliffs have several openings, some of them partially caved in but others not so much.

When I first became aware of this place in 1972, unbelievably, some dude had tried to make an amusement park out of it. We'd laugh at the notion today - just the liability alone would be staggering.

Maybe the same summer you were soloing Salathe Wall?

He paved a big parking lot in front of the place and opened a small shop and the most outlaw bar imaginable..... a place where even the marginals felt uncomfortable. An outlaw biker bar – my sister’s first husband and his brothers (Glazer clan) hung out there.

The ‘developer’ called this place Underground City and its where I basically learned to climb.

The bar was pretty big. He built a whole building back there in that cave and it had a dance floor and a stage and a kitchen. By the time I was old enough to drive it had been out of business for a few years. Vandals, drunks stoners and the occasional rappeller/climber , would hang out there.

Some of us covered all 4 categories at once, haha.

We once had a mid-winter party deep in the bowels of the cave as a snowstorm raged outside. We drove 8 or 9 cars maybe a hundreds yards inside, circled the wagons and had a HUGE bonfire in the middle. Flames shot all the way up to the ceiling and spread out like some Dante's Inferno.

The smoke we created that night permanently stained the ceiling of the caverns black. Damn that was a wild event, totally outlaw. I walked outside about midnight and the smoke coming out of those caves was an awe inspiring sight, in some horror story kind a way. Dr. Sh#t was back there with his Mind Blower amplified stereo system and he was cranking out a couple of hundred watts of southern rock.

No sane person would have walked back there that night. Demons from hell. ZZ Top Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers at ear shattering decibels. We were jumping through the flames afore it was all done haha. Billy Black and Jr Bishop just slept back there that night. I eventually went home.

We had so many adventures in there. Half the cavern was filled with water and you could (and we did) canoe in the gloom. It was very Gollum and we totally expected to find orcs in there.

So we established some 10 routes out on the face.



This is the only photo I have handy. Its The Original Route. I first aided the crux, then Jr and I figured out a way to dyno past the bulge. As we got better the dyno became static and eventually we dispatched with the rope. In this pic is Steve Byrnes (in cowboy boots and a jean 'suit' haha), me just above him, framer hammer in my holster, and Jr. Bishop belaying me up his lead. 1976 I reckon.

And inside the entrances of the caves we did many boulder problems. You could climb in there summer or winter, regardless of weather, but the rock was perpetually slimy from lime dust and dampness and we had to clean routes of gunk to keep our shoes dry.

One particularly large hall was maybe 40 feet tall. Tall enough the roof eventually collapsed and a hole to the sun came into being. In the back of that hall was a mined out platform way up off the floor - we called it the Balcony. And it was a right of passage for any of my climbing partners (I use that term loosely) to boulder the little 5.7 route we had to get up there (just one 5.7 move about half way up, enough to scare the bejeezus out of us kids haha).

We'd sit in the gloom up on the platform and smoke dope and talk about all the great climbs we were going to do someday.

Got busted by the cops there twice, once by Sheriff Doyle Wall who caught us all skipping school, half drunk and way stoned, at 10 am on a school day. Got meself in a bit O trouble that day, I did. Got out too, by telling the Sheriff the truth (yes Sheriff, I DID smoke dope this morning - he was impressed with my courage and let us all go and sent us back to school but of course the school found out anyway).

I guess our swan song for Underground City came one night just before I went off to the military. Billy and Jr. had willingly signed up for a 4-day send off drunken binge with me and day-3 had us driving Billy's F100 up over the berm one last time. The bridge over the creek by then was getting f*#king scary and you had to be drunk to risk it.

So we went back into the old Underground City Bar, this had to be 1979. Billy was f*#king around with his lighter after lighting up a FatBob and he held it up to some rotting material that I think had at one point been wall paper.

It lit afire. It went out pretty quick but Billy had a firebug streak and he lit it again, on a dare from Jr. Then he got that mean drunkeness thing going and he let the old rotting wood of the stage. Shortly there after Underground City was dying in a final blaze.

Keep in mind this bar was a hundred feet BACK INSIDE THE CAVE. It had 4 walls and 2 doors. The front door opened to the front of the cave. There was light out there.

There was a back door out through the old kitchen and that door exited on the backside of the building, deeper inside the cave. It was the Dark Side.

The room quickly filled with smoke, like duh. After a few minutes of watching Hell spread we scampered out the front door.

Billy Black (who is regularly in touch with me by email to this day) was a bit of a darer, not much of a doer. He wouldn't climb with us even though he liked caving and kayaking.

"Jr.," he said in that southern drawl of his, "I DARE you to run through that motherf*#ker and come out the back side." He said this slowly, southern mannerisms.


Jr. Bishop at T-Wall in Nov. 1985. I left TN permanently some two months later.

"No f*#king way." was the response. This went back and forth a time or two and I said,

"I'll do it," and I ran into the burning building inside the cave.

The stage was completely engulfed by this time, the flames spreading out on the ceiling like our earlier bon fire deeper inside.

The smoke line was maybe halfway down the walls. I wasn't in any real danger, just scampered out the back door and brailled my way along the wall till I got back to the light.

I guess my foolishness was contagious because all 3 of us went the next time.

And two more times after that. By then there was only 3 or 4 feet of clean air at the bottom of the room and it was getting quite hot. Had to hold our breath all the way through or risk some serious smoke inhalation. I won that game of chicken that day. I was the last man inside Underground City and it scared the sh#t out of me. The rock in the ceiling was making funny noises so we fled before the cops caught us.

So I was there and partially responsible for the torching of Underground City.

I have some old pics at home of the cave entrance - I'll try to remember to post one or two when I get back from this trip. It was truly a place of madness and wonder and I know to this day how blessed I was to be a country boy there, in that day and age and to have the run of it.

I lost my blue suede RRs there too, left them on the roof of the car one day and drove off. Didn't even miss em for a few days so they were lost forever damnit.

Last time I drove by there the bridge had collapsed and a high chain link fence and lots of no trespass signs discouraged a slightly more responsible Dingus from taking a closer look but I reckon I got in a good 10 years of The Sh#t at U.C.

I loved that place. We had some seriously stupid boulder problems and Jr and I soloed the easy face routes on the main cliff like they were hikes.

So you can see why your thread title caught my attention - I literally and truly learned to climb at Underground City. My first rappel ever, my first top ropes, my first bonafide leads (all FAs all done in total isolation I didn't even meet a real climber till I was 18 or so)

I remember Jaco puking white beans all over the parking lot after over indulging in cheap Red White and Blue beer and then getting dizzy watching Jr and I bounce rap the cliff, then giggling with white bean puke breath and shouting drunkenly,

"I'm an ALL AMERICAN... my eyes are red, white and BLUE!"

Crazy f*#ker, he's dead now.

But last trip home, two summers ago now, Jr and Billy and I hooked up. Jr took me and the girls caving with his boy Cody, then we hung out with Billy at the Bishop clan homestead (seriously, those southern irish rednecks are clannly and all the Bishops live within sight of each other’s houses). Jr.'s dad Carl was there too.

I worked as a framer for Carl, for two summers in high school. I learned cabinetry from my Pop and house framing (by hand, no pneumatic nothing for our crew, hammer and nail, son) from Carl. He's in his 70s now and he smiled at me, now a dude in his 40s with a family of his own and said fondly,

"We drove a lotta nails, didn't we boy!?"

We sure did Carl, we sure did. Drove a lotta f*#king nails.

I take a little Underground City up every muthafuggin climb I do. I never woulda imagined, had you told me back then, that I would later move to California, consider it my home and subsequently do literally hundreds of routes there. Life sure is a strange and wonderful trip.

DMT


(This post was edited by dingus on Aug 14, 2009, 12:28 PM)


subantz


Aug 14, 2009, 1:45 PM
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Nice Dingus I enjoyed the reading. I created a whole in time thanks, Tons. Oh yea and stay away from matches.


guangzhou


Dec 29, 2010, 9:55 PM
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Re: Nashville climbers - familiar with this crag? [In reply to]
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Dingus,

Excellent stuff. I live in CLarksville for a few years. The south East is full of climbing, climbing potential, and characters.

Looks like we both learned to climb with the same hair, cloths, and shoes. Fires were great shoes, I still have mine somewhere.


Saden


Nov 9, 2011, 6:32 PM
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I read that this wall has been bolted. Is this wall still public accessible? From looking around the only thing I could figure out is that maybe be off the cumberland in McGregor park???

I currently climb at kings bluff in Clarksville but I would enjoy going somewhere else that's similarly distanced from me.


kingsbluff


Feb 9, 2014, 3:53 PM
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Re: [dingus] Nashville climbers - familiar with this crag? [In reply to]
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Sad to say that "Underground City" is no more. It actually operated as a family restaurant and mini amusement park in the 50's and 60's before it's conversion to a heroine den in the 70's.

The place was abandoned until about 2009 when a local contractor bought it. I personally blasted the main entrance with about 20,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate.

The limestone aggregate mining continues on and in a few more years the whole hill will be leveled and they will begin sinking a hole where the entrance used to be.


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