Tones of red, yellow and green, glowing through the misty air of Kentucky, The Red is pretty. Red River Gorge only came into my radar in 2008 when Petzl hosted their famous Rock Trip in this sandstone heaven. I remember the images of lush colourful forests and rock with weird formations, like orange and yellow moulded plasticine producing some weird surfaces to climb on. Since then, The Red has been on my top list of places to check out, and its amazing climbing keeps cropping up in my radar. Some people get inspired by different aspects of climbing, some of my friends dream of Yosemite and Magic Woods, I dreamt of places like the Red and Indian Creek. However, it's not easy to find people psyched for a trip stateside and invest the money for a two-week trip. I've been trying for the last 3 years or so, and I only managed this Autumn to get out here. There's something exciting about travelling to USA, it's always a bit of culture shock, specially if you travel to middle or south states.
Two weeks is enough to sample some of the best sport climbing in the world in Red River Gorge. It's easy to access, easy to arrange accommodation with plenty of choices for different budgets and everyone loves a bit of real Americana, which there's plenty of in the Kentucky country. In our two weeks we have focused in visiting the classic crags, Motherload, Purgatory, Solarium, Shady Crag, Bob Marley Crag, Bronnaugh Wall, Midnight Surf, all offering mind-blowing climbing. Climbing in this rock feels like holding the most weird holds covered in sand paper, the grip is amazing and it takes a while to read the "organic-ness" of the shapes of the holds. It's a great feeling to be going for a hold and exploring all sides to decide in which way you are going to get a grip on it. Another attribute to the Red is that every crag is different, from vertical "plate" crimps fest and swiss-cheese pockets walls, to letter-box slot jug-hauls and hand-rails ladders, it's all here. The rock is solid, contrary to what your eyes predict, and all surrounded by beautifully coloured forests.
I've been looking forward to this trip for a long time. I've been very dedicated to my training so I could do well here. But 5 weeks before heading out I caught some weird chest infection that turned really nasty. I lost most of my fitness and I had to start from scratch when I got to the Red. That forced me to start by ticking all the classic mid-grades and experience the climbing without any expectations. By the end of the first week I build sufficient fitness to start trying a bit harder and managed to send a 7c and a onsight a couple of 7b+'s. So after the 17 days climbing it feels we have barely scratched the surface of the place. The Red has left a lasting impression on us, we all have vouched to come back as soon as next year.