Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Kentucky Reunion

Kentucky is the home of bluegrass, bourbon, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Red River Gorge. Friends of ours from Oregon, Jamaica and Dave, moved to Lexington last fall. They invited us and a bunch of other friends over to hang out in Lexington and climb at the Red, which is an hour's drive away from their house.

I left Tampere Tuesday night at 3am and arrived at the Cincinnati airport 23 hour later. Max, Dave, and Mike picked me up from the airport. The drive from Cincinnati to Lexington is two hours.

20 hours of traveling in. I foresee rain for Kentucky.

The first three days were very wet. The weather over the past couple of weeks had been atypical for the region: temps were below zero and it snowed a bunch. Melting snow coupled with fog and rain made sure that it was a challenge to find dry climbs.

Hello, I bet it will be too wet to climb today! Pic: Max
On our way to the Zoo. Dave is making his way over the river.
Lunch break at the Zoo. It is wet. Let's go play Settlers.

Our numbers grew every day and by Friday night we were finally at full capacity. T, Max, and Mike had come from Oregon and Cedar from Colorado. Angel and Eddy drove in from Maryland. I came from Finland.

In Lexington we went big on Graeter's ice cream, challah, Settlers of Cataan and other games, fried chicken, and doughnuts.

Indie's Fried Chicken.

Spalding's has the best doughnuts in Lexington. Cash only!
The world's biggest peanut butter factory is in Lexington. No tours. :(

After three days the weather finally got better. It is worth traveling here from Finland if you enjoy climbing on steep, pocketed sandstone. For me, the style of climbing feels friendly and easy to adapt to. In general, the climbs are steep and relatively short (20-30 meters) so a 60m rope will do. There are excellent climbs from 5.6 to 5.14.

The Red is divided into the South and the North and we have only climbed in the South. Many of the climbing areas are privately owned. Having a local guiding us around is very helpful. Thank you Dave! Even though the Red is called a gorge, it is not very gorgy. (totally unlike Owen's for example) The cliffs are hidden among the trees so navigating is sometimes difficult.

Cedar (green shorts) is climbing the classic Oompa (5.10a) at the Chocolate Factory.
Max on Wonkaholic (5.10a) and Mike on Naked (5.12a) at the Chocolate Factory.
Angel on Wonkaholic (10a) and Cedar on Hip to the Jive (11b).
Tarp is my best friend.
Angel taking a rest on Snozzberries (12a). The sun is out!

Max sent snozzberries and Angel and I toproped. We both fell and had to bojoink*. Bojoinking is sweet! Just pull on the rope and let go. If the climb is steep and you can't get back on - bojoink!

Lovely Angel and possessed Eddy at the Chocolate Factory.
Max climbing EGBG (10a).
EGBG (10a). It is crazy good!
The view from the top of EGBG every climb.
Mike sending Icebreaker (12a) at the Chocolate Factory.

The Solar collector has a great concentration of short, pocketed climbs in the 10a-12b range. Almost every route has a hueco somewhere along the route so you get a no hands rest. When Solar collector gets too hot and crowded, move on to the Brightside and hop on one of the best 11s ever, Smoking on Kesha (11c). The last two shots are from Muir valley.

Dave showing off his stick clip at the Solar Collector.
Mike warming up on the Supafly (12a) at the Solar Collector.
Eddy and Kaya want my brownie.
Mike fell off from the last holds of the Blowing Loadz (12d) at the Brightside.
Dave working on Blowing Loadz (12d) at the Brightside.
Jamaica is warming up on Hey There Fancy Pants (10c) at the Bruise Brother's wall in the Muir Valley.
Mike cruising Psyberpunk (11c) at the Inner Sanctum in Muir Valley.

We stopped by at Miguel's for Pizza one night. The camping and facilities are great if only it wasn't the spring break season.

Ale8, cookies, and Pizza at Miguel's.
T is psyched! Miguel's sells Pizza by the slice too.

Life is good in Kentucky!

 * editors note: Emma, this is hilarious. But you do know it is really boink, right? Boink, boinking, boinker, boinked.

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