SB6K Introduction

South Beyond 6000 (SB6K) Details  

History and Introduction

In 1968 Hugh Thompson of the Tennessee Eastman Recreation Club Hiking Club (now Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club) began work on a challenge program involving the high peaks in the southern Appalachians. He enlisted the aid of A.L. Edney and Leroy Fox from Knoxville and John Davis and Ed Dunn of the Carolina Mountain Club in selecting peaks and routes.

The first South Beyond 6000 Handbook was issued on January 1, 1997. The formal sponsors of the program have always been the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club and the Carolina Mountain Club.

There are over 60 summits in the area above 6000 feet, but only 40 were selected by the criteria for the South Beyond 6000. The criteria for selecting peaks are

  1. The summit elevation is above 6000 feet above sea level.
  2. There is a drop of 200 or more feet to a saddle between one peak and another qualifying peak or, there is a distance between the peaks of .75 miles.

The 40 peaks are contained within 6 ranges: the Smokies, Plotts, Balsams, Craggies, Blacks, and Roans.  The southwestern most peak is Clingmans Dome in the Smokies, while the northernmost is Grassy Ridge in the Roans.  All 40 are in North Carolina or on the North Carolina-Tennessee border except Mt. Le Conte, which is within Tennessee.

The hike routes listed for climbing the peaks are at best a guide or reference for individuals wishing to participate in South Beyond 6000.  Each peak should be a separate and independent conquest, but since a number of these peaks are in a series with a trail running along the crest, approved multiple hike routes have been listed for many.  Write-ups for different areas vary considerably in style. 

Our thanks go to Leroy Fox, SMHC; Hugh Chase, SMHC and CMC; and the authors of 100 Favorite Hikes for the write-ups; to Agatha McClellan for the design of the logo depicting South Beyond 6000; and to Frank Huffaker for the artistic arrangement of the maps.  A special thanks to Hugh Thompson, TEHCC, who was the driving force to initiate South Beyond 6000. The committee is grateful to Ron Tagliapietra of Greenville, SC, for his collection of data.  A special commendation goes to Dr. Ed Dunn of Asheville, NC, who has provided leadership to the SB6K program since its inception.

When South Beyond 6000 was first organized, most of the mountains over 6000 feet were pristine spruce-fir forested summits.  In the past twenty years, however, the wooly aphid blight and pollution from acid rain have killed the boreal zone trees, opening the canopy to wind and deadfalls along with thick briar patches.  The peakbagger confronts a thick and difficult vegetation to struggle through to obscure and often almost invisible summits, only guessing where the true summit lies.  Knowledge of map and compass, long sleeve shirts and long pants, and gloves are a must.

In recent years many hikers have used ribbons or flagging to mark their routes, leaving the ribbons behind.  South Beyond 6000 advocates the ethics of no-trace hiking.  When you climb these peaks, leave no trace and please remove any flagging that you may have used.  Climbing these peaks should be an adventure and challenge to future hikers.

In some cases the routes cross private property.  Hikers are responsible for getting permission from the owners.

Abbreviations used in the SB6K information include:

            Rd = Road
            Cl = Climb
            Tr = Trail
            BRP = Blue Ridge Parkway
            AT = Appalachian Trail

Many of the peaks in the SB6K program are accessed by using the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP).  Since the Parkway is frequently closed by sections in bad weather, especially in the winter months, hikers should check with the Park Service (828-298-0398) for Parkway closures.  Park regulations should be adhered to when using the Parkway. 

The sponsors of the SB6K program are not liable for any personal injuries, illness, property damage, or loss of any kind sustained by any person who climbs the South Beyond 6000 peaks.  Each person assumes responsibility for his/her own welfare.

We do not envision anyone who is a true hiker and lover of the out-of-doors driving his Jeep or Honda or riding his horse to the top of these peaks and claiming he has climbed them.  This is not a club of people who have visited the summits of these mountains, but a collection of hikers who have reached them the hard way on foot.  Since we depend on an honor system, some individuals may yet take the journey by car or by fancy in order to earn their patch.  We hope their Beans or Wolverines will perpetually rub ever-larger blisters and that their pack straps will always break at the most inopportune times.