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?!?