The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been named one of the best outdoor schools in the Blue Ridge because of its excellent climbing opportunities.
The list, composed by Blue Ridge Outdoors, cited the new 44-foot indoor climbing wall in the campus' newly finished Aquatic Recreation Center as a major reason for the selection.
In addition to the indoor wall, several world-class climbing destinations, including Foster Falls, which is considered one of the premier climbing locations in the Southeast; Walnut Wall; Tennessee Wall; and the Obed are all located relatively close to the campus.
Jennifer Poe, a UTC sophomore and newly selected vice president of the climbing team, said she visited Chattanooga because of its climbing opportunities even before she came to school here.
"It is definitely the best in my opinion, considering the quality of the climbing and the community of the people," she said. "It is one of the best places to come climb with the quality and also just the variety of routes available to climb."
Chuck Cantrell, associate vice chancellor of university relations, said the university has always prided itself on the outdoor recreation opportunities offered.
“I think we have students attracted to our campus because of the outdoor opportunities,” he said. “If you think about it, you are only in class so much of the time, and at some point, you want to get out there and have some fun and have these experiences. We are just in a great location to attract these students.”
Poe said although the Obed, which is approximately an hour from campus, is her favorite place to climb in the area, the local outdoor offerings did factor into her decision to attend UTC.
UTC also offers other outdoor recreational opportunities for students, such as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for rent, Cantrell said.
“Our students and recreation staff are just very plugged into outdoor recreation here in Chattanooga,” he said. “We've always had students who are very active.”