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Kentucky
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Red River Gorge 
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Western Kentucky 

Kentucky 


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Location: 37.5794, -85.0781 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: saxfiend, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Andy Laakmann on Oct 4, 2006
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Description 

Sandstone...

From a climbing standpoint, you can define the Bluegrass state with that one word.

From Morehead, through the Red River Gorge and the Rockcastle River watershed on down into Tennessee via the Big South Fork (of the Cumberland River) out to the coalfields of Western Kentucky, the dominant exposed rock is sandstone.

By far, the best quality rock overall is in the Red River Gorge. That's not to say that the rest of the state is choss, just that the greatest concentration of quality developed climbing happens to be there.

If you're not climbing sandstone in Kentucky you need your head examined. There really isn't anything else to climb except some unconsolidated limestone. The geology of Kentucky could almost be called boring. But it really isn't.

The Eastern end of the state is all Cumberland Plaeteau. What most people, locals and visitors alike, call "mountains" are actually the topmost edge of a vast plateau. The exposed cliffs and valleys are a result of aeons of erosion down into that plateau. If you don't believe me look at the horizons. Flat. There are no peaks, no high chains of summits dividing the landscape. Oh, there's local relief, but the scale is small.

The scenery is distincly different from that of the Blue Ridge, the Smokies and other chains along the Appalachians. Different in relief, but similar in ecology and climate.

Western Kentucky is unique in it's own way. It's the same general type of rock, but different consistencies and arrangements.


Getting There 

Most climbing in the state is easily accessible from major highways. I-75 funnels most visitors to the Mountain Parkway and then on to the Red River Gorge.

The Big South Fork is a little further off 75 and parallels it at a distance.

Western Kentucky access varies, but doesn't suffer as much from the crazy gravel backroads of the Eastern end of the state.


1,160 Total Routes


['4 Stars',177],['3 Stars',526],['2 Stars',338],['1 Star',100],['Bomb',7]
['<=5.6',84],['5.7',74],['5.8',99],['5.9',110],['5.10',250],['5.11',260],['5.12',190],['5.13',52],['>=5.14',5],['',0],['<=V1',13],['V2-3',16],['V4-5',7],['V6-7',1],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Kentucky:
Roadside Attraction   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Red River Gorge : Roadside Crag (CLOSED)
27 Years of Climbing   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 65'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : The Gallery
Autumn   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Red River Gorge : Long Wall
Creature Feature   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Red River Gorge : Phantasia
Plate Tectonics   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 70'   Muir Valley : Tectonic Wall
To Defy The Laws Of Tradition   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Red River Gorge : Left Flank
Rock Wars   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 120'   Red River Gorge : Long Wall
Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 60'   Muir Valley : Tectonic Wall
Breakfast Burrito   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
A Brief History of Climb   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 100'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : The Gallery
Whip-Stocking   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Air Ride Equipped   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Muir Valley : The Solarium
Fuzzy Undercling   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Red River Gorge : Military Wall
Amarillo Sunset   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 50'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : North 40
Dogleg   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 90'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Bob Marley
Twinkie   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Red River Gorge : Phantasia
Ro Shampo   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Red River Gorge : Roadside Crag (CLOSED)
Mercy the Huff   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 80'   Red River Gorge : Left Flank
BOHICA   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 100'   Red River Gorge : The Motherlode
Kaleidescope   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Browse More Classics in Kentucky

Featured Route For Kentucky
Chris traversing into the "handcrack"

B3 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13  KY : Red River Gorge : Long Wall
A hard climb with some interesting gear. While I have seen this described as a handcrack in some versions of guides, I beg to differ. It is more a series of pods and flares with some crack between, and even then not really such a size so as to be called a handcrack.Locate the pair of climbs, Perforator and B3. Perhaps 5 meters left of Perforator, boulder/climb some pockets up and at the bottom of a crack (5.10, PG13) and get some gear ASAP. Climb the "crack system" with interesting jams and ho...[more]   Browse More Classics in KY

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