April 12, 2002

This past weekend Katie and I headed south to Kentucky to go rock climbing with some friends from the climbing gym. Well, I take that back... I went to go climbing and Katie went to enjoy the outdoors, birdwatch, and possibly hike around a bit.

We left Columbus Friday night around 5:45 with a car full of gear. This was right before the time change so it was a dark four hour drive. We arrived at Miguel's Pizza, the pizza-shop/campground where Red River Gorge climbers camp and hang out in the evenings, and set up our tent by headlamp. We wrapped ourselves in our down sleeping bags for a cozy night of sleep: it was supposed to drop below freezing.   Miguels camping at Miguels Katie & Ann
Tucker Leading Josh Leading David starting creep show   Frost on our tents the next morning supported the prediction of Weather.com. We ate a backpacker's breakfast and headed to a wall in the RRG called Phantasia. Tucker lead a route called Creep Show (5.10d) and Josh lead a route called Creature Feature (5.9+). David, Mike, and I climbed Creep Show. Ann, Mike, David, and I climbed Creature Feature.

A climb is named by the first person to climb it, hence the interesting names for some climbs. A climb is also given rating after multiple climbers have climbed it and a consensus as to the climbs difficulty is established. The easiest climbs at the RRG are rated about 5.6, the most difficult are rated 5.14. For 5.9 and under, a + or - further indicates difficulty. For 5.10 and above, an a,b,c,d further indicates difficulty.

  Aaron on Creep Show Aaron back on the ground David on Creature Feature
As I mentioned earlier it was rather cold when we got up in the morning. We wore multiple layers top and bottom to the wall. Fortunately, Phantasia received a lot of morning sun so the rock had started to warm up a bit. We decreased the number of layers we were wearing throughout the day. It probably reached 60 degrees Saturday.
Aaron pulling roof on Creature Feature Erin on St. Alfonso's Mike & Ann   We hiked down the road a bit to another part of Phantasia where Rob, Nick, Erin, Carrie, Eric and Carrie (a 2nd Carrie) had been climbing. Rob had put up a crack route called "St. Alfonso's" (5.7). I really wanted to climb this route but the group had decided to move to another wall before the day got later.
To get to the areas we were climbing, we had to drive back some winding Kentucky roads and we had to pass through Nada Tunnel. It's nothing more than a one lane hole through a big rock. David said that it used to be a train tunnel.
We continued our day of climbing at Left Flank. We parked in a parking lot and hiked about 15 minutes up a steep trail to the base of the wall. Eric and Josh led several climbs here. I did Mr. Bungle (5.8+), an unnamed climb that is supposed to be a 5.10 and Brother Stair (5.9).   Nada Tunnel Katie, Miriam & Eli Aaron on Mr. Bungle
We hiked back down to the car and headed back to Miguels for some pizza! The pizza was pretty good after an active day outdoors. Sleeping was even better. We bundled in for another cold night. The next morning, we awoke to more frost on the tent. Katie and I were up early so we drove down the road about a mile to check out Natural Bridge State Park.
Josh gearing up Josh leading American Crack Carrier belaying Eric on Route 48   We headed out to American Wall for some trad climbing before heading home. When trad climbing you place mechanical pieces of protection in cracks and other rock features to clip the rope into as you climb, as opposed to sport climbing where somebody else has already installed bolts into the rock face on climbs and you clip into these bolts. Trad climbing is obviously riskier because you are relying on revmovable pieces of gear to catch and hold a fall.
Josh led a route called American Crack (5.4) and Eric led a route called Route 48 (5.5). Trad climbs are generally rated lower than sport climbs, but the mental affect and effort required to place protection can make the climb seem more difficult. I climbed American Crack on top-rope before we headed back to Ohio.   Aaron on American Crack
It was a great weekend and we look forward to doing it again soon. Perhaps I'll get Katie up there on the end of a rope... she says that she may give it a try next time.