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Areas in Kentucky

BSF (placeholder) 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Knobs Forest Knobs 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Red River Gorge 483 / 1247 / 25 / 51 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 1773
Rockcastle River 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Stonecrest 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Western Kentucky 27 / 34 / 8 / 2 / 1 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 68
Elevation: 899 ft
GPS: 37.579, -85.078 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: Andy Laakmann on Oct 4, 2006
Admins: saxfiend

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.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Kentucky

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Roadside Attraction
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Autumn
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Rock Wars
Trad 2 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
A Brief History of Climb
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Breakfast Burrito
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Whip-Stocking
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Bathtub Mary
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Amarillo Sunset
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
No Place Like Home
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Banshee
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Witness the Citrus
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Ro Shampo
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Check Your Grip
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Twinkie
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Super Best Friends
Sport
Roadside Attraction Red River Gorge > Graining Fork Nature Preserve (a… 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Autumn Red River Gorge > Long Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Rock Wars Red River Gorge > Long Wall 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 2 pitches
A Brief History of Climb Red River Gorge > Pendergrass-Murra… > Gallery 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Breakfast Burrito Red River Gorge > Pendergrass-Murra… > Drive-By Crag 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Whip-Stocking Red River Gorge > Pendergrass-Murra… > Drive-By Crag 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Bathtub Mary Red River Gorge > Muir Valley > Arsenal 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Amarillo Sunset Red River Gorge > Pendergrass-Murra… > N 40 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
No Place Like Home Red River Gorge > Emerald City 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Banshee Red River Gorge > Muir Valley > Solarium 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Witness the Citrus Red River Gorge > Miller Fork Recre… > Fruit Wall 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Ro Shampo Red River Gorge > Graining Fork Nature Preserve (a… 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Check Your Grip Red River Gorge > Pendergrass-Murra… > Drive-By Crag 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Twinkie Red River Gorge > Phantasia 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Super Best Friends Red River Gorge > Muir Valley > Solarium 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
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My lady and I will be cruising through KY and W VA on an upcoming trip. We plan to stop and do some clippy clippy and Red River and New River but have heard stories of amazing limestone caves in the area, or within a few hours.
I'm an experienced big wall climber and guide from Ca with some caving exp. I would love to be shown or told about one of your gems whilst not thrashing or pissing off the locals. I can even bring my 100m static 9mil cord and technical gear if needed. I'm not too interested in stairs or sidewalks, I like to get dirty.

Thank yeh

JoshP Feb 13, 2017
Rob Montgomery
Lexington, Ky
Rob Montgomery   Lexington, Ky
Hey Aaron, quite new (really new) to climbing but always up for new things. Shout my way sometime and we'll figure it out. Rob Montgomery~ Oct 10, 2016
Aaron1
Piqua, OH
Aaron1   Piqua, OH
Hey. Need a TRAD partner. Inexperienced and looking to learn more! Always a good time at the RRG. Let me know if interested, thanks.

-Aaron Jan 19, 2015

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