This is our second trip of Red River Gorge climbing. The common name called by climbers is “The Red”. This time we took advantage of the three-day weekend for Memorial Day. The first trip was on Labor day weekend. We flew and stayed at Linda Largo’s Cabin in a campsite sharing bathrooms with campers. Curious about our first trip to the Red? Visit Climbing At Red River Gorge – My Personal Experience to find out more.
Climbing and Driving Rambo
This time we drove. According to the GPS, it would take us 12 hours to drive straight non-stop from Maitland, Florida. In reality, it took us about 13½ hours with small pit stops for gas and food. This time we stayed at Air B and B home. We shared with 4 other people and we split the accommodation costs. It was reasonable. The flight was about $100 for a round trip per person with no layover. This was a great price. Considering it cost us about $215 per person for our first trip. For my family, my husband, son, and I have climbing equipment so we decided to drive while the other 4 climbers flew.
We had a fantastic time once again. We learned so much more about where to climb this time around. We climbed for 3 days. We did a climbing Rambo trip. This is where we drove straight through Thursday night leaving Maitland around 5:30 pm and arriving at destination around 7 am the next day. We met up with friends and climbed all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then leave for home Sunday evening.
Where Did We Climb?
On our first day, we climbed at a crag called Bruise Brothers in Muir Valley. Muir Valley is a Disney World of climbing. The directions to each location are clearly marked. Even the routes were labeled with a name and the rating. When we arrived, as we were getting ready to set up, it started to pour. Oh my goodness! The rain was pouring down hard like a waterfall. However, we were very lucky. We were under an overhang so we were totally dry and protected from the rain. Quite contrary to believe that we would not be able to climb, that was the best day climbing. We were able to set up 10 routes. We climbed a nice range of difficulty from 5.7 up to 5.10d. For my own record, here are the routes that we climbed:
- Tomthievery (aka The Sultan Returns) rated 5.8. This was a trad route.
- Bee’s Business rated 5.8. This was a sport route.
- Stay off the Radio Jeff! Rated 5.9+ was a sport route.
- Sweet Jane rated 5.8- was sport route.
- A-Beano rated 5.8- was a sport route.
- Immodium AD rated 5.7 was a trad route. I climbed my first trad with no assistance. WAHOO!!!
- Return of Manimal rated 5.10d was a fun sport route. I top roped this route. It was a long route and a very satisfying climb. I flashed it. It was so much fun. Zephyr led and set up this route.
- Put the Best Foot Forward rated 5.8 was trad and sport route. Chris trad this route. He had a fun time. I topped rope it.
- Trundling Kentucky rated 5.8 and a sport route.
- CH4 rated 5.7 and a sport route.
For our second day, we figured since it was Memorial Day weekend it was going to be more crowded at Muir Valley. We decided to check out PMRP (Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve). This is a huge area and different from Muir Valley. You will need to have a 4×4 car to drive to a certain destination. However, there is a location owned by Miguel where we can park to avoid the rough roads and then hike down. Our group parked their rental car at that spot. We all pile into the Roda’s Subaru Outback to go 4×4 down the rough road. It was quite an experience. We came upon a huge mogul area where a normal car will easily be stuck. Going down was not too bad. Once we were at the bottom, we looked up and thought “hmm, I hope we are going to be able to get back up.” We quickly brushed the negative thought aside and head off to climbing.
We picked the Shire and the Volunteer Wall in PMRP because our books mentioned that it would be a great place to climb even when it rains. We didn’t have too much problem finding the destination. The Shire was really nice. It has a little cave where we hung out to keep warm. Believe it or not, the weather was cloudy and was between the 50s and 60s. Whereas the week before, it was in the 80s so not everyone was prepared.
We set up and climbed a total of 7 routes between the Shire and the Volunteer wall, not as much as the first day. We were a little tired. Here were the routes:
At the Shire, we climbed Pee-Wee rated at 5.7, Audie rated at 5.8, Mirando Rayne rated at 5.9, and Bulldozer 5.10a. We then moved to Volunteer Wall which was nearby. We climbed Swap Meet rated 5.6, Family Tradition rated 5.10, and Darwin Loves You rated 5.9+.
The driving back up the moguls was scary. We didn’t know if we were going to make it. We all got out of the car and hiked up. Only the driver drove up with some guidance. We were concerned that the bottom of the car would be damaged from the moguls. However, the Subaru shined through and through. It got up with no problems. It was an end of a perfect day.
For Sunday on our third climbing day, everyone was running low on stamina. Climbing in Orlando, Florida gym was not great for endurance. We were at Chica Bonita Wall in the PMRP area. This time we didn’t have as a strenuous drive as Saturday. We started with Mary Pop-Parazzi rated 5.5 (Christina did her first lead and set anchor), Brolo El Cunado rated 5.8, Rat Jerky rated 5.9+ (a corner climb with the chimney), My Way or the Highway rated 5.9 (80 feet tall and fun lead), Raindancer rated 5.10a (short climb with boulder start), and Rinse and Repeat rated 5.7 (Chris trad and cleaned). We head off around 1:30 pm. It was a little earlier so everyone can clean up and head off to the airport. It was the perfect time for us to clean up and start the drive home.
Eat at Miguel?
When you are climbing at The Gorge, the iconic Miguel’s Pizza is a place to visit. It is a well-known establishment that makes The Gorge what it is today according to climbing.com written by Whitney Boland. The article shared the history of Miguel’s Pizza.
Yes, we ate pizza and showered at Miguel’s. You don’t have to camp to use the hot shower. It is coined operated. Miguel Pizza is quite an establishment supporting climbers. They have food, a camping ground, room for rent, rental properties, hot showers, climbing gear for sale, a wedding venue, and even a parking lot at the PMRP for cars that cannot drive through tough terrains.
Sunday was our last day so we had to check out of our Air B and B early. We climbed until 1 pm. Miguel was a convenient place to come eat, shower, and clean up before we headed home.
What Did We Use as Our Guide?
Please check out my first article about the Red for more information on the guides –>
We did not hire any personal guides while we were at the Red. We used primarily the Red River Gorge South book and Mountain Project app to help find locations of where we want to climb. The book provides details of the different locations and routes and the app provides up-to-date information such as pictures and comments about the routes from different climbers. We also used The Gaia App to help us navigate through places that the book and mountain app were not helpful.
One great thing about the Red is that it has great climbs for everyone. The trad routes are mostly populated in the northern part of the Red while the sport climbing routes are mostly populated in the southern part of the Red. For this trip, we focused on the southern part of the Red.
Once again, we had a blast even when it poured. We lucked out and found the perfect spot to climb on our first day when it poured. It was also the day that we climbed the most. The crag we spent the whole day at was called the Bruise Brothers Wall in Muir Valley. We also learned that it was one of the most popular areas and we can understand why. It has 28 routes from easy rated 5.6 to hard rated 5.11a. Because of the rain, not many people came out to climb. It also helped us covered from the rain.
From this trip, I believe each of the climbers in our group took away some fun experiences while we were at the Red. I know I did. I learned several things:
- I led my first 5.7 trad and set anchor
- We can still have fun and climbed lots at the Red when it rains
- It can get cold late in May. It was in the 50s and 60s during Memorial day weekend 2021.
- My Subaru Outback rocked in rough terrain.
- Miguel’s Pizza is ground zero for climbers (especially dirtbag climbers) with all the necessary amenities at a reasonable price.
I look forward to coming back to climbing at the Red again. The driving was not so bad as long as I have other drivers take turns with me. =)
I love to hear about your experiences at the Red or any outdoor/indoor climbing experiences. How was your visit? Please leave your questions and comments below.