Free Climber Killed in 100-Foot Fall

CragBrains | ClimbingClimbing
south arch, Tennessee,
South Arch. Credit: National Recreation Trails Database

A 34-year old Columbia, Tennessee resident died from injuries sustained by a 100-foot fall while free-climbing with a friend in the vicinity of Twin Arches in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on August 8, 2021.

The body was recovered with assistance from local emergency responders as well as staff from Obed Wild & Scenic River and then transported to Big South Fork Medical Center in Oneida, Tennessee.

Additional information regarding the deceased man will be released after family notifications have been made.

Visitors are reminded that all types of climbing are prohibited in areas of the park that are highly sensitive to activities, such as climbing. Superintendent’s Compendium – Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service) (

Rocks at the park can be too loose or soft for rock climbing, and bolting new routes is prohibited. The Twin Arches are made up of the North Arch and South Arch.

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, commonly known as Big South Fork, preserves the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries in northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky. Big South Fork encompasses 125,000 acres of land with hundreds of miles of cliffs.

Within it are reminders of the time when the area was subjected to logging and mining expansion. The community of No Business was located by No Business Creek in Tennessee; first settled in 1796, it had been abandoned by late 1960. In addition, the former mining community of Blue Heron, Kentucky is preserved and interpreted via signage.

The Big South Fork region contains one of the highest concentrations of natural bridges in the eastern United States and the area is located in parts of Scott, Fentress, Pickett, and Morgan counties in Tennessee, and McCreary County in Kentucky. Charit Creek Lodge is a wilderness lodge, accessible by trail, located within the park.

The Big South Fork was also legally designated a Kentucky Wild River by the Kentucky General Assembly through the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves’ Wild Rivers Program.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee

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