An Adult Conversation About the Future of the Red River Gorge

I have just come back from a 2 week trip to the Red.

Let me first start off by saying, I was there alone, and was unable to find a steady partner.

It seemed like whenever I found someone to climb with, the next day they were nowhere to be found. Miguel’s looked like a refugee camp for people who don’t shower, and I suspect the people I had climbed with had fallen into the crevasse formed by greasy pizza boxes, forever trapped and touching the void. Regardless, I was still able to find a group here and there, and on days when I was solo, I would scope out potential routes, or traverse the base of popular crags. Some of these traverses ended up being quite challenging boulder problems.

The first week, I went to the areas that were recommended to me. This includes, The Chocolate Factory, The Motherlode, Bruise Brothers, Drive-By, and The Zoo. The latter pretty much sums up these crags. Some routes literally had line ups. I half expected to see Mocha Lattes being handed out to those first in line, otherwise, why were they waiting? I don’t know about you, but to me, rock climbing is supposed to be a way to get away from it all. I was baffled that in an area with almost limitless rock, people would queue up for what I can only imagine are sand-bagged and polished routes. Routes like, Breakfast Burrito were spitting people off like they were flavourless wads of gum. Take one look at this route, and you can tell it’s mid 5.11, and yet receives a grade of 5.10c. This is the story of the Red.

And then, I took a chance.

I drove northwards. I left the muddy hordes of Miguel’s behind, and trekked into unfamiliar territory. Crags in the Northern Gorge, Lower Gorge, and Middle Gorge were my ‘New World’. I spent hours exploring, scouting lines, finding rock formations jutting into the sky. These areas are known to house mostly traditional climbs, meaning no fixed protection was allowed. From the descriptions, I was expecting golden horseshoes of stone, split every 10 or 15 feet by perfect gleaming cracks. What I discovered, was horrifying.

Sure, areas like Dip Wall, Indian Creek Crag, and Long Wall had beautiful crack climbs. But what I also found was hundreds, if not, thousands of blank faces, just begging for sport routes to pock mark their faces. I was shocked! There is a whole untapped market for first ascents, in what I call, the New Red River Gorge, or ‘New’ for short. Why are these walls left to the elements? Why is there not outrage over the lack of development? Why do people settle for line ups in the south, when the New could double, or triple the amount of routes available to climb? What does the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition even do? Is this an entity controlled by corporate interests (oil companies) to keep people out of the New Red River Gorge?

I say enough is enough. For those of you still sipping to kool-aid, and happy with the status quo, feel free to stay in your pizza box prisons forever. For the rest of us, let this be a call to arms! Grab your drills, bring you chainsaws, and lets blast Big Willie Style from our boom boxes and get jiggy with bolting some routes!

Who’s with me?!?




42 thoughts on “An Adult Conversation About the Future of the Red River Gorge

  1. “The New Red River Gorge” is too long for a good crag name. We should eliminate confusion by just calling this new area “The New River Gorge.”

    What do you think?


    • That is brilliant Wes! Let’s call it indeed the “New River Gorge” so that all the “new”bies stay away from the old “New”.


  2. Bolting ban on NFS land, which houses most of those crags. You’re not some magical prospector finding hidden gold while the ignorant masses sit contently in line for polished ex-classics. There’s not more sport climbing at those crags because there can’t be more sport climbing there.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Your idea that the RRGCC “does nothing” is wrong. Instead of fighting the NFS, they have purchased thousands of acres of land to develop into climbing areas.
        At the same time maintaining the relationship with the NFS, so we are ready when the time comes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Overrule the ban? So you basically want a volunteer group of a dozen individuals to overthrow the federal government so that you don’t have to wait in line to rock climb when you choose to come to an extremely popular climbing destination during one of the peak months.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ^he’s one of the most active people looking to establish more sustainable sport climbing in the RRG.

        I don’t know where you’re from, but you come in with a lot of complaints and a I’ll save the world attitude that is just going to make things more difficult. There is already enough of a battle going on with the NFS to keep access to the sport climbs that are already there.

        Besides, there are new areas being developed all over the gorge as we speak. Instead of whining because you want to climb somewhere other than the popular crags, maybe buy some of the developers a beer and see if they will let you get on some of the new routes going up.


      • Trying to wrap my head around what “sustainable sport climbing” is… Fixed steel draws?


  3. The RRGCC is working for the betterment of the Red as whole, which is and has been dealing with “being loved too much” for quite some time. They know what they are doing.

    You took a 2 week trip there and decided to put your two cents in on something you know very little about.

    Thanks for writing a little boy whiny blog post, now please shut up and step aside so you can let the adults not screw up our access to such a great climbing area.


  4. “Let me first start off by saying, I was there alone, and was unable to find a steady partner.

    It seemed like whenever I found someone to climb with, the next day they were nowhere to be found.”

    They probably read your blog page, and realized what a BIG Troll you are


  5. “Let me first start off by saying, I was there alone, and was unable to find a steady partner.

    It seemed like whenever I found someone to climb with, the next day they were nowhere to be found.”

    They probably read your Blog page and figured out what a BIG Troll you are!!!


  6. YESSSS!!!! Return to form in fine fine fashion. Not that the last few weren’t worthwhile- and they can’t all be gems. But woooo hoooo! Adds smiles to my day.
    keep ’em coming


  7. I find this to be an insightful assessment of the state of climbing. I eagerly await Wes’ adult conversation about the latest, greatest climbing idea to come along since the invention of Hand-Jammies; namely – leash bolts at the base of routes. A leash bolt is a bolt at ground level of a route with a really long, like 10′, chain perma-draw attached to it so the truly cool senders can leash their dogs to the base of the route. This would allow the dog to protect everything within a 10′ radius of the bottom of the climb from other not-so-cool, dogless wanna-be senders. Come on Wes, we need your wisdom.


  8. Wes, I remember you. The word is that while you were ok as a climbing partner, you had such horrific body odor that it was torture being around you. I mean when I saw you looking for a partner again after climbing with you, I jumped into the nearest car headed out and escaped. Sorry to be so brutally honest.


  9. Hey thanks for the uplifting discription of miguels. If you come by our place just come up to the front counter and let us no your solo….. We hook people up all the time. I agree that the attention on the gorge has been lost. But maybe that’s a good thing… A place for us to escape to….. Trust me the most untapped rock is in the red river gorge. Good luck


    • > come up to the front counter and let us no your solo

      Why shouldn’t he solo? He has as much right to solo as anyone else. Especially since he couldn’t get a partner 😦


  10. As hristian climber I dont appreciate your disregard for others feelings, you probably sit back there chuckling away but all your doing is lying and causing trouble. I hope you grow up! BTW have you ever wondered why you cant find partners? God bless now quit your mess kiddo.


  11. I’ve done some climbing in this NEW area you’ve discovered. It was lots of fun and I found no need for bolts. Get yourself some of those cammy things and go have fun.


  12. I’m feeling inspired, thank you! Just ordered my first drill to put up some routes and it should be in by this weekend. I’ve got some lines picked out near my local crag that should be nice additions if things go well. Any advise for a first time route developer?


  13. To tell the truth, I’m a little conflicted that you broadcast this online Wes.

    I just “sneak” into these areas, bolt during on off hours, and GPS the climbs for a few select friends. If you go, just be sure to camo the bolts and anchors VERY WELL!

    Oh, and I don’t bring asshole friends who won’t leave the fucking dogs at home. Dogs tear up the base of the crag and leave behind too much “evidence” that climbers have been in the area.

    Thanks for keepin’ it real Wes!…Fred Becky never asked permission to bolt his routes!!!


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  15. Just stay home, there are enough chodes coming to the gorge already, we’d be fine without another. Pretty evident why you were having trouble finding a partner.


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