The popular Crag climbing area at Ijams, closed since last September, will reopen tomorrow as a result of an agreement between the nature center and the City of Knoxville, which owns the property. Ijams, which had managed the Crag for the city, closed it abruptly last year after the non-profit’s insurance carrier refused to insure the entire park because of concerns about liability from accidents when climbers scaled the cliff face without guidance.
The local “Quarry Boys” volunteer group of climbers had set the climbing routes and cleared the area for public use, and many were angered by the closure. Ijams had managed the Crag for the city through a long-term lease that required liability coverage.
Ijams director Amber Parker, who took over the job in February, and before that interim director Bo Thompson, had been negotiating with the city on the solution for several months. The city put out a press release saying that it will take over management and liability for the Crag temporarily while parties work on a long-term solution. “The city of Knoxville really got on board and we all worked together to push it through in time for spring,” Parker says.
Parker says a long-term solution might take until after a strategic planning process she hopes to begin for Ijams in the fall, which would eventually produce a five- to seven-year plan for the nature center — but the long-term solution might also be to stick with this approach.
Located in the Ross Marble section of Ijams just off the Burnett Ridge Trail, the Crag is Knoxville’s only major outdoor rock climbing area, with solid rock and moderate grades.
Parker says free climbers — those not climbing under the guidance of a guided program — will be asked to sign a waiver that can be picked up at The Crag and left in a box on site. The city will manage the waivers, she said.
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