Sunday, 24 December 2017

Cabbage, Bengal and Sandstone

After a week of reflection and relaxation back at home, all in the wake of some chaotic travel scenes, I am still dreaming of that golden Kentucky sandstone. That pocketed, perfectly shaped rock, full of colours, streaks of black, orange, and golden yellow. Vast curving, steep walls, formed over millions of years by the beautiful Red River that carves its way through the gorge. A place we lived and breathed for a month of our lives and called home.


Everything about this place is simplicity at its finest and so well set up. There are literally thousands of routes here with huge new crags being discovered all the time. Routes up and down the grading scale, featuring all types of climbing styles and for all level of abilities. You are guaranteed to have a good time here. Full stop.
From our base at Lago Linda’s in the southern region, you are never more than a 10-20 minute drive down the road to the various sectors. If you are stuck for partners then Miguels Pizza is the place to be. A true climbers hub. No trip to The Red is complete without a visit to see Miguel and to sample some of his world famous pizza. This guy has been selling his mouth watering dough for 30 odd years and the famous yellow sign is recongised in climbing circles throughout the world. Who could forget a place that offers over 50 different pizza toppings!?!?

Fellow Brit Jerome Mowat on potentially one of the best 7c+'s out there.
'Death By Chocolate'

Access for popular areas has been secured by the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition. A non-profit organisation dedicated to securing and protecting open, public access to rock climbing in the Red River Gorge.
Since 2004 these guys have purchased over a 1000 acres of land in Lee County, Kentucky, enabling free access to hundreds of world class crags for climbers and all future generations to fully enjoy.

We are dedicated to securing and protecting open, public access to rock climbing in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky and promoting conservation of the environment on the lands where we climb.
Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition

Every morning I would wake with a huge sense of excitement to go climbing. Whether this was a day that we would be checking out a new area or returning to one the ‘usual’ spots. The Motherlode, Drive By, Gold Coast, Bob Marley, The Chocolate Factory. All world class crags harbouring routes as good as anywhere on the planet, with each crag hidden within an almost enchanted forest. Trails and tiny paths lead through the secluded woods, all in various directions with small wooden signposts pointing the way through the leaves and tree roots to each sector. Suddenly you will turn a corner, swing under a tree branch and be greeted with towering waves of bullet hard sandstone, glistening in the southern sunshine and under a blanket blue sky. Enough adjectives there for you…

Black Gold (8a+)

Scanning over my tick list for the month I can honestly say that each route scribbled down was a undeniable gem and an utter pleasure to climb. Not a single bad route among them and impossible to pick a favourite.
This place is without a doubt somewhere I would happily return to year after year.
I cannot say for sure when I might be returning to the Deep South of Kentucky, only that I know I will be back. Hopefully sometime in the near future so we can once more do battle with those steep walls and tackle the famous Red River pump!

'50 Words for Pump' (8c+/5.14c) 

Having such a solid and supportive climbing partner on a trip like this is crucial and I’m really grateful to Mina for asking me in the first place but mainly for putting up with me for a month and making our trip so thoroughly enjoyable and one of the best I have ever been on.

Here she is on a true Red classic. Golden Boy (8a/5.13b) 

US climber Claire Buhrfeind takes down 'Southern Smoke' (8c+)

Big thanks also to everyone else we met along the way who all contributed to making our trip so memorable. The scene is incredibly vibrant, friendly and seriously strong too with everyone reading from the same page. Everybody is here to have a good time and go rock climbing.
Wake up, climb, eat, sleep, repeat. Life is really that simple.
A special shoutout to local strong guy Dru Mack who offered his guidance, knowledge and hospitality throughout our stay. Cheers bro and you are welcome here anytime. You know where we are!

I would like to think I’ve had a pretty big and successful year from both a climbing and work perspective, however right now it’s time for Christmas and some much needed quiet time, before we begin hatching plans for 2018…