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Climbing in the Red River Gorge - Kentucky

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

The Red River Gorge in Kentucky is well-known as one of the premier climbing locations in the United States.  With dozens of crags and well over a thousand named routes, you could easily climb for years and never get to everything.  Further, there is a good solid mix of bolted sport routes and traditional routes to choose from.  On any given day in the Gorge, you can run into climbers from all over the country and beyond.


What kind of climbing can you expect?  Most routes in the Gorge are short and can be done in a single pitch with a 60 meter rope.  Also, the Gorge has  a reputation for inverted (steeply in some cases) routes that will burn your forearms in a hurry.  With that said, there are plenty of walls that are vertical or less, so it's easy to find something for everyone.  Due to the relatively high climbing traffic in the summer, some of the more popular routes can get pretty busy, especially for sport routes, so be prepared to be flexible in your planning and remember that there's no shortage of alternate routes to climb.


What's the weather like?  In the middle of the summer, Kentucky gets hot and unbelievably humid, but it's possible to climb all year round.  Because there are so many inverted routes, it is even possible to climb in the rain without getting wet with a bit of knowledge of the area.  Please note that if you're camping in the Gorge itself, it is illegal to camp near the cliffs or under any overhangs.


What about wildlife?  There has been exactly one bear mauling that I'm aware of in the past year, and it was of a hiker and he apparently got too close to the bear but ended up with only minor injuries.  There are also copperheads and rattlesnakes in Kentucky, but both will leave you alone if you pay attention.  Normal common sense rules apply: stay away from the animals and you'll be fine.


After a good day of climbing, there is only one place to go for food: Miguel's Pizza.  Miguel's is a family owned and run place that has really cheap camping and fantastic pizza.  They also cater to climbers so, if you really need it, you can pick up shoes, harnesses, rope, or just about any other gear that you need on the spot.  Miguel's is not open year round, so if you're planning on visiting in the late fall or winter, you will need to make other plans.


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