Friday, November 12

A Beauty

This week in Kentucky marks the longest amount of time I've spent at a single climbing area away from the Front Range. It's been a real pleasure getting to know the climbing here in the Red River Gorge. I've learned my way around quite well and I seldom carry a guide book now. The quality here is truly amazing and even as I've dipped into the world of 3-star climbs I remain highly impressed.

One three star climb with five star aesthetics that I'd been hoping to try was 'Sugar Magnolia' 13d at Bob Marley. Early last week we went to this cliff on a warmer day, so I eagerly jumped on this climb before it went into the sun. A long first move spit me off, unfortunately ruining my onsight - I lowered to the ground (like 3 feet) and then went to the chains. A super cool route, reminiscent of Smith Rock, that tackles a thin face to an interesting arete top out. Totally under-appreciated, and in my opinion, over graded. Let's say 13c, but to be fair, there are 12c face climbs at Smith Rock that are harder.

Next we moved over to the Drive By so I could have a go at Kevin Wilkinson's brand new 'Angry Birds' 13c, a long pitch with distinct boulder problems and a significant pump. I managed an onsight on this rad new edition and finished the day with an onsight of Mike Doyle's thuggy route, 'Beer Belly' 13a.
"you're gonna wanna hold on"
The following day we went to check out some new crags with perhaps the only true Red River local, Kentucky Joe. His understated warnings that we would need four wheel drive resulted in us tackling a class 4 jeep trail in a stock Wrangler. It was exciting to say the least. I also laid eyes on perhaps one of the best looking unbolted crags in the country. Access is everything around here unfortunately. Sigh. The remainder of the rest day was spent touring the Maker's Mark distillery and sessioning Whole Foods. SOLID.
every bottle is hand dipped
new crag: see that little person down there? MEGA
SAMPLES. Bret Johnston photo

The next day I set out to do a traditional route that had caught my eye called 'All That Glitters' 12c, at the Gallery. I remembered from last year that my experience on the trad routes here in the Red was quite different than that of the sport climbs. Let's just say that they are NOT SOFT. I definitely had my game-face on for my onsight of this magnificent climb.

With a waning number of quality hard routes remaining, and the end of my stay here now in sight, I've switched my focus back to my original goal here in the Red: to open new climbs.

The Gold Coast is likely one of the most impressive cliffs I've ever climbed on, and to think that decade old projects exists there was enough to inspire a solid stick clipping effort. What I found was an amazing line of barely there holds and some serious hope for what could be a free climb. The line actually combines two very closely bolted old projects. I decided to move a bolt to prevent rope drag and encourage the emergence of what I think is one free climb between the two bolted projects. I cleaned up the route, chalked up some holds and hung my quickdraws.. loosing sleep last night about whether or not the moves would all go.
Today I finally got to try the rig and I could not be more psyched! After some investigation and creative thinking I managed all the moves on this beast. Second try I put together some promising links, but the heat kept me from giving it a third try. The movement is incredible - powerful moves, deadpoints, sequence specific, foot work.. MONOS! and thrilling run outs. It's literally a dream route, on my favorite wall at the Red. I can not wait to put the pieces together.