The Red River Gorge

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The Red River Gorge. Camp 4 Distilled. Different scene you say? Not really. Lots and lots of climbable rock, weekend climbers, and dirtbags. Yes, permanent dirtbags outside the valley. Distilled because there's just one campfire, just one kitchen area, and just one tv and games room. At the Red, you really do meet everyone, and you really can't just hold court over your own little posse on one site. People try of course :)

Miguel's is the place to be. And just like camp4, it can suck your will to climb. It's fairly easy to get into the campfire routine, and in early november, with sub freezing temps over night, and drizzle during the day, it's a pretty good routine to be in.

Full of Kentucky peculiarities. Drinking Ale-8-one. (pronounced variously, "Ale Eight" "A late one" "got another pop?" This is non-alcoholic mind you. Most of Kentucky, including this part of the Red, is dry. So no alcohol sales in county, and hazy laws about bringing alcohol in. There's the "Beer Trailer" up the road. (That's it's real name) Bud, bud light, mgd, miller lite, busch, natty lite. High Prices, and a $2 charge added to credit transactions.

Dry doesn't seem to affect the locals though. This is where I saw full on, 100% stereotypical mountain hicks. Sitting on the steps of a tiny broken down caravan, empty tinnies all over the grass, stray cats everywhere, garbage, drinking fresh tinnies, at about 8am. Lots and lots of people living in trailers large and small, in varying states of repair. Miguel even told us a story one morning about a guy coming in to ask if Miguel minded him picking up some of the road kill out the front of Miguel's place. He explained to Miguel all the processes involved in turning the roadkill into stews soups and so forth.

Everyone here was extremely friendly. I had multiple offers to go climbing the next day, and I hadn't even asked yet! The camping was cheap, at $2/night, plus $1 for a shower token. (six minutes) There's a large undercover cooking and eating area, with tables, overhead fluourescent lights, and a great big sink. There's a variety of old seats/logs around the fire place, and wood turns up magically. Apparently some of the dirtbags cut it during the day.

If only they had a guidebook. Miguel's has a guide that you can read in the shop, but the last guide is out of print. It seems the guidebook author died last year, which may explain the situation.

So, how is the climbing? After all, that's why I was there right? Well it was ok. I'd go there again, but I wouldn't make it a destination of the US. I think I'd like to see more of the crags though. Climbed at the Fortress on the first day, but didn't get on any of the classics there. What we did was ok, but largely damp, muddy, dusty, blah blah blah. Some very nice moves in the middle of it all, but nothing mind blowing. Scenery is a lot like the blueies. Heavily vegetated valleys, with scarps of sandstone of varying sizes everywhere. Only the roads go around the bottom, instead of along the top :)

There really was some nice looking lines around the place, but I didn't get on any of them, and the lines I did weren't as good as they had looked, so.....

Day 2. Day 1 had been trad, and I wasn't in the heartland of modern american sport climbing (none of this smith rock cradle of sport) so I wanted to clip some damn bolts damnit. Went to Roadside. Climbed some steep pockets. Didn't feel quite strong enough to lead what I tried, considering even after three attempts on toprope I hadn't been able to get it clean. :) And it was only 10a! I guess I wasn't really in climbing shape.

I'd picked out a couple of more moderate, less steep (aka, overhanging) routes I wanted to try, but then it rained. Back to the overhangs. Climbed a bit on the gentler stuff in the afternoon, but still no real success. Got stumped by a 9? This area had more than a few new routes, and I'd been told that they were "all under 10"

More rain forecast, and feeling quite weak, and without much prospects of getting partners out to the more esoteric crags, I left. The weekend had come and gone, so the dirtbags were still around, some of them here till Thanksgiving, still another two weeks away, but the warriors had all gone back to homes and jobs, and I couldn't climb nearly as hard as the dirtbags. Lovely people though. They were all very cool to hang out with. Just that I had to go and climb harder stuff. Which is fine sometimes, but I don't feel like spending each and every day dangling my way up 11s and up.

Mook following American Crack

Autumn at the Red

Mook's first lead

Mook's first lead

Climb the crack between the moss

Jared on Jersey Connection

Jared on Jersey Connection

Shannon attacked by raging ladie beetles (Jersey Connection)