The All Mountain Team (sponsored by
The North Face) is a group of athlete ambassadors who exemplify Rock/Creek’s passion for adventure, challenge and the outdoor community. They’re ultra runners, whitewater kayakers, trail builders, big wall climbers, conservationists, volunteers and more. Ambassador John Dorough has been a major player in developing Chattanooga’s climbing access, and his ongoing work has shaped our thriving local climbing scene.
- Activities: Rock climbing, running, and getting on the water with his two kids
- Favorite local climbing: Sequatchie Valley
- Essential gear: Petal GRIGRI belay device and Ultra Lone Peak trail runners
- Greatest achievements: Big wall climbing in Yosemite and Zion National Parks
In 1999, John Dorough moved to Chattanooga seeking outdoor access. In the 20 years since, he’s made immeasurable contributions toward improving and protecting that access for everyone.
Driven by a love of rock climbing, Dorough was a key member of the group that created the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, a nonprofit that preserves climbing areas across the region. Recently, the SCC has opened local climbing areas including Dogwood, Hells Kitchen and Denny Cove.
“A lot of our success has been based on our core group of rock climbers going out and exploring these amazing areas, and developing relationships with the landowners, whether public or private,” Dorough says. “When the time is right and those relationships are established, we bring in the support and activism of the SCC and the Access Fund to do the proper paperwork and close the deals.”
Dorough’s pursuit of climbing access has also led him to work on the Cumberland Trail, a 300-mile linear state park that will span Tennessee. A section of the trail provides access to Deep Creek, a crag that Dorough and his friends hoped to develop. The park service struck them a deal: The climbers could develop Deep Creek in exchange for help building bridges along that piece of the Cumberland Trail. Since then, Deep Creek has been opened to the public and Dorough has helped install four bridges along the trail.
“My mom has wondered for years why my brother and I are so in love with the outdoors. After she and my dad moved to Chattanooga, she fell hook, line and sinker into hiking. That’s special for me,” Dorough says. “So when I look at a place where we want to build a bridge and wonder if we really need one there, I think of my mom and her crew needing bridge access across that ravine. We don’t want to create a barrier for anyone.”