Red River Gorge, Kentucky, USA

Storyheader_RRG10 days in the Red with traveling climbers and guides, Peta Barrett and Scott Hailstone.

What do you do when you get to one of the most popular sport climbing locations on the east coast of the US, you have only 10 days and the forecast is pending week long thunderstorms? Answer = Climb till your forearms explode, which isn’t very long at the Red as we soon discovered.

Losing only one day to the rain, “Team Thunder from Downunder”, as our host Lillian has dubbed us, punched out 9 days of 5 star route climbing that had us simultaneous blessing lucky stars to be here and cursing the limitations of our mortal bodies.

One look at the Motherlode crag on the second day on and we were hooked, 20 to 40 metre monster routes, many fully permadrawed and cutting back away on perfect 45 degree roofs, often just one bucket jug after another. This place has to be truly seen to be believed.

The Red is a sea of sandstone pocket pulling. Some pockets are mono digit and some heucos are big enough to climb up into and have a sitdown rest. The whole trip seems a blur of odd shaped jug hauling interspersed with moments defined by sudden inexplicable forearm shutdowns mid route. Often this was proceeded quickly by unexpected “oh no!” whippers or alternatively, quite a bit of rolling up into a fetal position, jammed up inside heucos just trying to “get some back!”.

The social scene could be described as “a bit of a circus” sometimes edging toward the “zoo” end of the spectrum with the occasional busy crag and odd line up for a route but we found an early start policy often got us a step ahead on the pack.


Scott and Lillian admire the almost entirely permadrawed sport mecca called the Motherlode, RRG


Peta finds a moment of Zen enroute in a monster hueco rest on Super Pinch (5.10d/20), Solar Collector
A not entirely untypical alien head shaped pocket at the Red 
Peta on the “hyper mega classic” route, Crown of Thorns (5.11c/22), Brightside, RRG
Lillian pulling the last few moves on her send of Dog Bites & Fist Fights (5.12d/27), Brightside, RRG
Peta on another “hyper mega classic” route, Far from God (5.12b/25), Shady Grove, RRG
Scott going for the crimpy crux moves on Hellraiser (5.12c/26), Purgatory, RRG
Lillian getting reacquainted with some tough moves on her project route, Paradise Lost (5.13a/28)
Scott on his triumphant last day, last route of the trip onsite of yet another “hyper mega classic” RRG 45 degree roof route, Twinkie (5.12a/24), Phantasia Wall, RRG.

Peta and Scott are Pinnacle Sports overseas climbing guides for the upcoming Kalymnos (September 2014) and China (Oct/Nov/Dec 2014) climbing trips. There are still places available on all these trips so you want more information, check out the links below and email Pinnacle:

More info on Pinnacle Sports overseas climbing holidays:

Greek Islands: Kalymnos (7 – 19 Sep, 2014)

China: Getu (24 Oct – 2 Nov, 2014)

China: Yangshuo (7 – 16 Nov and 24 Nov – 3 Dec, 2014)