Sunday, 26 November 2017

Welcome to The Red.

The Red River Gorge. Where to begin? Like many people I was first made aware of this place by watching the Petzl Roc Trip way back in 2007. That Youtube video blew me away and I remember watching it over and over again. All of the rock climbing worlds royalty battling it out on perfectly sculptured sandstone, busting out gravity defying moves to the ascending sound of ‘Allez, Allez’ and taking monster whippers through the air. I knew all the classics inside out. 50 Words for Pump, Thanatopsis, Omaha Beach, Black Gold. The list goes on and on.
That video was one of those that fuelled my climbing psyche as a teenager, at a time when I was just beginning to delve into the world of hard sport climbing and to know what it felt like to try your hardest.

“… the biggest holds you will ever fall off”

Ever since then this sport climbing paradise has been a distant pipe dream of mine to one day visit. So this past summer when I got a call from my good friend Mina Leslie-Wujastyk asking if I would be interested in hooking up for a 4 week trip out here in the autumn, I jumped at the chance. Plans were made, flights and accommodation booked, and guidebooks brought. This would be an opportunity not to be missed. My first trip to the USA!
Coming out here I had no firm agenda other than to just go climbing. I knew of The Red’s reputation for the pump. The type of pump that will blow your forearms to kingdom come. “The biggest holds you will ever fall off” seemed to be a theme amongst most people I spoke to who have been out here.

Thanatopsis. (8c/5.14b)

We’ve been here a week so far and I think I can safely say that this is turning into the best climbing trip I have ever been on. Ceuse 2014 will be a big one to top and that crag will always have a special place in my heart but The Red is going to seriously push it all the way.
The crags out here are phenomenal. The routes on another level and the rock like nothing I have ever seen before. The textures, friction and the whole geology of the place is simply mind bending. For me, every time I pull on, the grip and feel of the rock feels like one of those perfect gritstone days, with minty fresh, crisp conditions. Those days when everything feels like you are basically cheating. Pockets and pinches, jugs and crimpers, are all sculptured in such a way that they fit your fingers inch perfect. These sandstone walls were made for climbing, no doubt about it.

Piotr Schab goes for Pure Imagination.

Life out here is pretty simple. We wake up to glorious morning sun shining through the frosty windows of our cabin. The heater goes on. We brew up, have breakfast, pack lunch, enjoy the morning rays some more, before throwing bags and ropes in our beast of a 4x4 and driving the short distance to the crags. We climb until dark, head back to our cosy hobbit hole setup, cook dinner while all the time chatting about our day, discussing beta, and making plans for the next day. Then it’s feet up, we update our tick lists, pour through the guidebook, maybe watch a film before hitting the sack for a good nights sleep but psyched out of our minds knowing that in 8/9 hours time we’ll be repeating the whole process again.

Safe to say we are having a pretty good time out here right now.