Miles, Bryan, Hannah, Mike, and I decided to check out the Red River Gorge (RRG) in Kentucky for a week of climbing! We coordinated our trip to include Rocktoberfest.
Rocktoberfest is an annual fundraiser for the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition (RRGCC). Held October 9-11, 2015 in Slade, KY, Rocktoberfest included a showing of the 2015 Reel Rock Tour, a climbing competition at the Miller Fork Recreational Preserve, vendors, and climbing clinics.
After an 8 hour drive, Miles, Bryan, and I arrived at the Natural Bridge Campground around 3:30 pm. The RRGCC volunteers were still getting organized and trying to figure out the parking, camping, and registration processes. We set up our tents in the rain and Miles and Bryan threw a frisbee in the soggy open field.
Once Hannah and Mike arrived we walked around the vendor booths. Most of the companies donated products and the proceeds were donated back to the RRGCC. We watched a preview of “Ascending India: Bringing Rock Climbing Home.” This documentary is about Sujay Kawale who was born in India, discovered rocking climbing in the US, and wants to bring awareness of rock climbing back to India and also features the RRG. Reel Rock 10 was a collection of short films and had us laughing at Alex Honnold’s humor and white knuckling at the high ball bouldering.
Evin and Danielle joined us late Friday night so it was a nice surprise to wake up next to their tricked out dirtbag van. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and hash browns, the seven of us headed to The Gallery in the PMRP. We got a late start but there were still some routes open for us to try.
We climbed DaVinci’s Left Ear (5.10b), 27 Years of Climbing (5.8), and Murano (5.10b). Bryan and Evin also tried Clair Obscur (5.11a) which they mistakenly thought was a 5.10. They got pretty far, but Bryan couldn’t quite get past the last bolt to the anchors. The rock up there looked totally featureless. Rather than bailing and leaving behind a sacrificial carabiner, another pair of climbers volunteered to get our gear down and try finishing the climb. Despite looking stronger than Bryan and Evin, these two couldn’t get to the anchor either and were forced to bail near the top. One of the duo had snagged a leaver ‘biner earlier in the day and used it on this route: easy come, easy go.
After a day of climbing we headed back to the campsite. Rocktoberfest was in full swing with the crate stacking competition, live music, and food trucks. Evin and Miles participated in the water balloon launch where they chucked balloons using a sling across the pond and tried to hit targets. Evin got lucky and won a sweet chalk bag from So Ill.
The Solid Rock Climbers for Christ cooked a pancake and sausage breakfast early Sunday morning before the clinics. Miles, Bryan, Hannah, and I signed up for the Introduction to Traditional Climbing. The class was held at Solar Collector in the PMRP and taught by Shingo Ohkawa. Shingo is an awesome instructor and made everything as simple as possible. He reiterated that the course was not nearly enough time to learn everything about trad climbing but simply an overview of the principles and tools. We all learned a lot about how to place gear, and Shingo gave us the confidence to explore trad climbing in the future.
We had to say goodbye to Evin and Danielle after our clinic as they needed to return to work for the week. After our goodbyes we headed over to the Land of the Arches Campground to set up our base camp for the next week.
Overall I had a great time at Rocktoberfest. Everyone was friendly and nerding out about climbing.