Sunday, July 10, 2016

Red River Gorgeous

Roxanne Chenel on Amarillo Sunset 5.11b Photo: Shaw Tron
The Red River Gorge is possibly the number one climbing destination on the entire east-coast of North-America. I had heard of how amazing the sport climbing was in the gorge. It's crazy jug-hauls and stunning scenery!  I soon realized that the thing about climbers in Kentucky, is that they've all been there before and they'll all be back again and again. I was shocked to realize that I was one of the only climbers visiting the Red for the first time. I was a rare bread . That, for me, was a clear message that the Red River Gorge has more than anyone could ever ask for. As my partner, Roxanne, and I spent our first days in the gorge we discovered something beautiful. We discovered the orange sandstone faces covered with natural Iron-oxide bands. The Iron formed the strangest mandala-type of rock art cemented deeply into the Kentucky cliffs. Our jaws dropped. It was like climbing in a dream, we pulled our bodies up into massive hueco's that where perfectly placed at mid height, between the ground and the anchors. We swung on overhanging roofs from a bucket-jug to another. 
Vincent wanting To defy laws of tradition 5.10a

Pocketed cliffs

As we arrived in the Red River Gorge, I was sure I'd be crushing all 5.11's and 5.12's in a matter of days. I was humbled to learn that my endurance level wasn't ready at all for this level of steepness. After a two month break from climbing, I got flash pumped on the easiest looking 5.10's. It took me a while to build up the energy to start climbing what I was expecting to climb! Its hard not to get frustrated at first. This is the reason guy's like Arno Ilgner teach us to climb without ego and without any expectations including grades! I guess, this is also one of the reasons why climbers keep returning.

Cyril working The Grim Reaper 5.12
Vincent's Onsight of Another Doug Reed Route 5.11b
The other reason why climbers are drawn back to the Gorge year after year, is the rapidity of the expanding crags. The route setters are unstoppable and the crag development is far from slowing down even after all these years. To this day, there are three hefty-sized guidebooks that cover climbing in the Red River Gorge. One guide is for the North, one is for for the south and another is for a brand-new sector called Millers fork. The Irony about Miller Fork, is that only 6 months after publishing the book. Most people are saying that the topos are already seriously outdated. There is just way to much climbing to be done in one trip.

Obviously, the Red is known to be a sport climbing destination above all. But that should not take anything away from some of the incredible trad routes to be found in the area. There are heaps of amazing traditional routes you can find amongst the kingdom of bolts. I recommend the northern book for all the tradies, but you will find some 5 star cracks in the southern gorge including Miller Fork.

''The Iron formed the strangest mandala-type of rock art''
Here is a Must do tick list for trad:

-  Bedtime For Bonzo 5.6 (North)
-  Roadside Attraction 5.7 (South)
-  Cheaper than a movie 5.8 (South)
-  Arachnid  5.8 (North)
-  Autumn    5.9  (North)
-  Pall Bearer 5.9 (Miller Fork)
-  Blue Runner 5.9 (North)
-  Rock Wars 5.10 (North)
-  B3     5.11 (North)
-  Rebar 5.11 (South)

Now for the sport climbing tick-list, it is a little harder to cut everything down to a handful of climbs. I remember saying ''this is the best climb we've done yet'' after almost every climb. My tip for you is to plan on spending a day per sector and bring a good car to manage the dirt roads that lead to most of the cliffs. Most sport climbers enjoy spending time in what is called the PMRP or the Motherload and Chocolate factory sector. The road is very steep to access the parking areas, so if you don't trust your car don't go down there! But don't worry there is a lifetime's worth of other climbs to try out

Here's a few sport climbs off the tip of my tongue:

Grim reaper 5.12b (Miller Fork)
Ro Shampo 5.12a (South)
Witness the citrus 5.11c (Miller Fork)
Amarillo Sunset 5.11b (South)
Fuzzy Undercling 5.11b (North)
Mona lisa overdrive 5.11b (South)
Breakfast Burrito 5.10d (South)
K.S.B. 5.10d  (South)
A brief history of climb 5.10b (South)

Roxanne on Fuzzy Undercling 5.11b

Roxanne chilling on Mona Lisa Overdrive 5.11b

Crit on Samurai 5.12b

Now for a place to stay; the cheapest, most obvious place to stay would be Miguel's Pizza/Campground.  They make delicious pizza and offer a 2$ a night stay! It's the perfect dirtbagger option. You can also stay at Lago linda's, It's a quieter more relaxed Hideaway. It's a great place for dogs to run around and great if you also want a Shower... Showers at Miguels also exist, it's just more of an adventure! Finally, there is also the Land of arches which is similar to Lago lindas. It's in a different location, depending on the areas you would want to go to!

Roxanne Flagging the shit out of Ro Shampo 5.12a

All in all, for me Kentucky was a lot of fun. The taste of the good bourbon we had down there is one of my fondest memories. The whiskey just makes it an ideal place for climbers! Again on the plus side, the good'ol Kentucky accent wont let any traveler down. It just makes me so happy when I get to chat with the locals!

Red River Gorge! I'll be back!

Vincent Kneeshaw
Rad Climbers

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