Carolina Mountain Club

South Beyond 6000 Challenge (SB6K)

The South Beyond 6000 (SB6K) is an organized program for encouraging hikers to  climb the forty 6000 foot peaks in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The privilege of belonging is earned and can only be shared among those who have pushed onward and upward on foot to the tops of these peaks. The Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club started this program after they had studied similar concepts used in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Adirondack Mountains in New York.

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.

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.

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.

SB6K PEAK REGIONS

Black Mountains

Craggies

Great Balsams

Plott Balsams

Roan Highlands

Smokies

Google Map of Peaks

RULES

1. The true summit of each mountain must be reached.

2. Climb all 40 peaks by routes involving hiking at least 5 miles with an ascent of at least 500 feet.  In many cases, roads come close to the summits, and the return trip may be made by auto.  However, where descent by trail is specified, return trip must be made on foot.

3. For alternate routes other than those in the hike data base, send a description to one of the committee members for approval. This is to assure that the hike meets South Beyond 6000 standards and to compile a list of new routes for others to follow in the future. When you describe a route, please give as much detail as possible

4. In the application, the applicant must include a copy of the ascent record, their name exactly as they wish it on the certificate, and the date of the last qualifying hike.

5. The application should be mailed to the appropriate SB6K program administrator (CMC or TEHCC)

8. After approval by the committee, the successful participant is awarded the South Beyond 6000 patch and a certificate recognizing their achievement.  

SB6K CHECKLIST

SB6K Ascent Record in PDF

SB6K RECOGNITION

List of SB6K Completers

Carolina Mountain Club: CMC awards SB6K patches and certificates at its annual meeting.  CMC will also mail the certificate and patch to those who cannot attend the annual meeting.  If the applicant, if not a member of the CMC, must also include a Membership Form and a check for a year’s dues. If the applicant is already a member of the CMC there is no charge for the patch and certificate.

Mail application to:

Peter Barr

Attn: CMC/SB6K

35 Mountain Site Lane

Asheville, NC 28803

 

Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club: TEHCC awards SB6K patches and certificates at its biannual meetings.  TEHCC will also mail the patches and certificates to those who cannot attend one of the meetings. If applying to the TEHCC, the applicant must also include a check for $10.00 to cover the costs of the certificate, patch, and postage.

TEHCC SB6K web page

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Table of Contents:

  1. How can I talk to someone who has hiked the SB6K to help me plan or to answer questions?
  2. How do I get my recognition, certificate and patch?
  3. Do all of the peaks have trails to the summit?
  4. Are the summits clearly marked?
  5. Can a GPS help?
  6. Can I take my dog?
  7. Can I ride my horse or ATV rather than hike the program peaks?
  8. Can I do all of the peaks during day hikes?
  9. Do I need to submit my materials to CMC and TEHCC?
  10. I don't have a computer. Where can I obtain a copy of the SB6K information and guide?
  11. What are some good techniques to use in ascending the trailless summits?

1.  How can I talk to someone who has hiked the SB6K

            Yes. Start with SB6K committee members in the contact list.

2. Do all of the peaks have trails to the summit?

            No. About 1/3 have no discernable trail to the summit.

4. Are the summits clearly marked?

            Only a few. Each one is different. Some have plaques, or benchmarks and several have nothing to designate the summit.

5. Can a GPS help?

            A GPS can be a very useful tool, when used in conjunction with maps and other standard navigational equipment. We have incorporated many GPS routes already into our presentation here on the internet for your downloading pleasure. In the near future our goal is to have a complete GPS loaded site to include topos, profiles and downloadable GPS routes.

6. Can I take my dog?

              Yes and no.  No you cannot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yes you can on the Blue Ridge Parkway as long as he/she is on a leash.

7. Can I ride my horse or ATV rather than hike the program peaks?

            No.  I can’t believe you would even ask that question!

8. Can I do all of the peaks during day hikes?

            You can do most of them during day hikes, however, unless you are willing or able to hike and climb upwards to 20-30 miles in one day you will might want to spend the night in the NE Smokies.

9.  Do I need to submit my materials to CMC and TEHCC?

            If you are a member of CMC or TEHCC, send your ascent record to the club you are a member of.  If you are not a member and do not aspire to become a member of either club, then you may choose either club to send your ascent record and payment to. Note:  The ascent record and payment have to go to the same club.

10. What are some good techniques to use in ascending the trail less summits?

  1. It's easy to get disoriented coming down from the top, so flag on the way up, remove your flagging as you come down.
  2. Take your time. Most accidents in bushwhacking result from being in a hurry.
  3. You can see further and have less trouble with vegetation during the winter months.

CONTACT

For questions regarding the SB6K Challenge, please contact Peter Barr at pjbarr@gmail.com.