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Top twelve tips for climbing at Red River Gorge (RRG) Kentucky (Read 3431 times)

shark

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Ive been arranging to go back to RRG in October and just remembered that I jotted down a (hopefully) useful list last time I was there for those who are first timers or weighing up going. 

1.   Believe the hype Ė it is deservedly a top international venue

2.   Grade range is excellent for anyone climbing between 6a and 8c+. Not many 9a's though.  :boohoo:

3.   Whilst there are slabs and vertical walls available, most of the climbing, even on mid grade routes, is very physical and pumpy up overhanging walls on generally good holds. Train for your trip accordingly

4.   Routes are typically no more than 25m so a 60m rope and 10 draws will usually suffice

5.   The optimal season is short Ė 6 weeks from start of October to mid-November. Donít even think about a Summer visit - it is unbearably hot and humid

6.   Take a clip stick. First bolt is usually at 12 feet presumably to prevent swinging into trees when stripping routes. However, plenty of branches around to fashion homemade clip sticks if you canít fit one in your luggage.

7.   There is a lot of rock developed and even more undeveloped or even looked at. It will take several visits to get round all the crags and begin to start running out of options.   

8.   Despite the abundance of climbing during high season the crags can get crowded especially at weekends Ė plan your rest days accordingly

9.   Weather can vary dramatically day to day. However, the long term forecast is very accurate so again, plan your rest days accordingly

10.   Grades are stiffer than Spain with soft touches greatly outnumbered by sandbags. The Mountainproject.com database can help guide you to the former and avoid the latter.

11.   Like a view? Forget it at RRG. You canít see the wood for the trees. However, the leaves are real purty in the Fall

12.   Hire a 4WD or at least a vehicle with decent ground clearance as some of the approaches are rutted and steep

abarro81

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4.   Routes are typically no more than 25m so a 60m rope and 10 draws will usually suffice

5.   The optimal season is short Ė 6 weeks from start of October to mid-November. Donít even think about a Summer visit - it is unbearably hot and humid

10.   Grades are stiffer than Spain with soft touches greatly outnumbered by sandbags. The Mountainproject.com database can help guide you to the former and avoid the latter.

Would agree with most of that post, but...
4. Don't follow Simon's advice if you climb >=8a, as you'll want to climb in the Madness Cave

5. I reckon early Oct is maybe too early - if I were going back I wouldn't go until late Oct

10. I don't think this is true

tim palmer

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I thought the grades were pretty soft too

Paul B

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10.   Grades are stiffer than Spain with soft touches greatly outnumbered by sandbags. The Mountainproject.com database can help guide you to the former and avoid the latter.

Don't agree with this at all and I don't think it's the widely held perception of the place either?  :worms:

12.   Hire a 4WD or at least a vehicle with decent ground clearance as some of the approaches are rutted and steep

Or be prepared to walk further. People do get away with hiring Honda Fits and I kept seeing a mini from New York in some fairly bold spots! It's worth noting that you may get charged by your hire company for cleaning if say, you return your vehicle with a significant amount of mud on its roof  :tumble:

4.   Routes are typically no more than 25m so a 60m rope and 10 draws will usually suffice

I've loaned my guides to a few friends who are visiting early season so I can't check but I'd also think that the longer stuff in Miller Fork would require more than that.

jwi

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When I went there in mid November 2008 there were a lot of in-situ draws on routes, even on 7s, and they were invariably in shockingly bad state. I mostly just clipped my own draws under the fixed draws. And the grades were whack on the low sevens. And it was really cold. Below freezing during night. I imagine it is warmer there nowadays in November.

ferret

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13) Car break-ins are common in some areas.
14) Miguel's can turn into a spring break like noisy hell hole full of the most irritating people to ever climb rocks

abarro81

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14) Miguel's can turn into a spring break like noisy hell hole full of the most irritating people to ever climb rocks

Yeah, screw staying at Miguel's!

When I went there in mid November 2008 there were a lot of in-situ draws on routes, even on 7s, and they were invariably in shockingly bad state.

They're mostly now steel perma-draws to avoid/minimise this issue

Stabbsy

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4.   Routes are typically no more than 25m so a 60m rope and 10 draws will usually suffice

5.   The optimal season is short Ė 6 weeks from start of October to mid-November. Donít even think about a Summer visit - it is unbearably hot and humid

10.   Grades are stiffer than Spain with soft touches greatly outnumbered by sandbags. The Mountainproject.com database can help guide you to the former and avoid the latter.

Would agree with most of that post, but...
4. Don't follow Simon's advice if you climb >=8a, as you'll want to climb in the Madness Cave

5. I reckon early Oct is maybe too early - if I were going back I wouldn't go until late Oct

10. I don't think this is true

What Barrows said apart from the October bit - both my trips were early October and conditions were fine. We did stuff up to 7c+ so the holds rarely got that small though.

Wood FT

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1.   Believe the hype Ė it is deservedly a top international venue

What's the draw to climb here over European crags? What's its USP as it were?
« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 05:33:32 pm by Wood FT »

Paul B

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There's absolutely tonnes of stuff to go at. The climbers just keep buying more land (Miller Fork for instance).

IMO the climbing isn't overly complex so you can move fast (the bolt spacing suddenly starts to make sense) and the movement is just really fun, often dynamic. You won't get a scale for things like Witness the Citrus (5.11 something?) until you stand underneath it. Also, there are F7a ish things that you'll stand underneath thinking there's no way it goes at that grade as it's far too steep / long but it actually does.

There are really strong lines throughout the grades. Does anyone remember the Bendecrete dyno start jugs? Well, I can point you at a F6b which has sandstone versions all the way.

The sandstone often gets less featured just at the last bolt so the routes tend to have heartbreaker finishes. This might break you  :chair:

Elsewhere on here I compiled a ticklist (with help from others such as Snr Barros). I've meant to update it since my last visit but haven't managed as of yet (see above comments about guides).

teestub

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1.   Believe the hype Ė it is deservedly a top international venue

What's the draw to climb here over European crags? What's its USP as it were?

Even as a boulderer Iím super keen to visit at some point, mainly because:
- it looks flipping amazing
- itís made of sandstone, and overhanging sandstone at that
- itís in Kentucky, so could easily be linked up with southern sandstone bouldering
- bourbon

You could probably get a container ship to Virginia then cycle there.

Wood FT

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1.   Believe the hype Ė it is deservedly a top international venue

What's the draw to climb here over European crags? What's its USP as it were?

You could probably get a container ship to Virginia then cycle there.

 ;D

spidermonkey09

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Thought I would add a few thoughts of my own having just had an amazing trip to RRG.

To echo some of Simon's points, a 60m rope would cover the vast majority of stuff except the Madness cave, and a 70m would be ample. Don't bother with an 80. I took 14 draws and the 'compact' beta stick is next to useless as its too short to reach the first bolt on most routes.

Some more specific stuff:

- we stayed in a cabin at Lago Lindas. This was great and quite cheap for a couple. There are bigger ones available for groups. Wild horses couldn't make me stay at Miguels based on how manic it was when we went for a pizza and Linda's is perfectly situated 10 mins from the Chocolate Factory/Motherlode, so if you're planning on spending a lot of time there its a no brainer.

- we rented a 2WD and just about got away with it due to the dry weather before we went. It was an automatic with an 'L' gear which worked wonders on the Motherlode hill in particular. It was also fine getting in and out of Coal Bank Hollow. However, the road down to Miller Fork was hardcore and basically constituted offroading. Getting out took me a couple of attempts to navigate a particularly deep set of ruts and once I'd got through a people carrier behind was wheelspinning. When I go back I will rent a 4WD for an easier life. If you do go with a 2WD you can walk further to most crags which would work fine; parking is now $10 at the top of the lode hill. Personally I wouldn't go down to Miller again with a 2WD!

- I thought grades were about right in the 7s but all over the place in the 6s, namely the 5.10s. I did 10a's I thought were 6b+ when the tables suggest they should be 6a. There was still plenty for my partner to do in the 6s but there are some definite sandbags about. Muir Valley is good for moderates but they exist all over the gorge. I would recommend it as a destination for a mixed ability group.

- the single most effective training you can do is foot on campusing. I did a fair bit before I went and felt really fit after a few days of tuning up. I was only onsighting in the 12s so pulled on nothing really hard but managed to climb 13 days straight so must have been worth something! Connected to this, if you don't overdo it early on you can pick crags to hit different bits of your hand and climb lots of days in a row.

- we went in November and it was really cold; -6 a few mornings. Its not humid though so definitely manageable if you dress accordingly. Agree the forecast was very accurate. I would go again in November despite the risk of cold as it was largely quiet and I found the American crag scenes often extremely tiresome. Conditions were absolutely perfect on the rock once warmed up.

-the new guide 'the Red' was excellent and purchasable from Lindas and Miguels.

- if you do end up at a busy crag it seemed a bit territorial so be prepared to either stand your ground or just go elsewhere if you prefer an easy life! The norms that exist at UK/European crags (namely acceptance that you don't own a route by climbing on it and other people might like a go) seemed less normal. This was especially true at lower grade venues unfortunately; comparatively 'harder' crags were absolutely fine and very welcoming.

I'll add anything else as I think of it!

 

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