Elevation: 1,142 ft
GPS: 37.838, -83.647 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 48,892 total · 327/month
Shared By: Chris Chaney on Oct 4, 2006 with updates from Ma Ja
Admins: saxfiend, Jason Halladay, Shirtless Mike
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Description

This is the best crag in the RRG for learning trad climbing. There is the greatest concentration of easier routes, with quality routes at every grade from 5.6 to 5.11.

The aspect is generally southern, with some routes getting morning sun and some getting afternoon. The wall is hot in summer, but somewhat sheltered in light rain.

There are a few easy and moderate multi-pitch routes so this is also a great wall to get a little MP practice in a well travelled setting.

Fortress can be very crowded at times. Large groups often take over the crag which can ruin everyone's day.

If you are a trad climber and visit the area you can't pass up spending some time here.

Getting There

Parking area GPS: 37.8380, -83.6440

24 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Fortress Wall Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Fortress Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c R
 6
Get Outta My Way
Trad
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R
 45
American Wall
Trad
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
 144
Calypso III
Trad
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
 52
Route 48
Trad
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 326
Bedtime for Bonzo
Trad 2 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 155
American Crack
Trad
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 166
Calypso II
Trad
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 174
Party Time
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 117
Calypso I
Trad
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
 23
Horny Bitch
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 81
Bombs Bursting
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 176
Snake
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13
 86
Blue Runner
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b A2
 72
Where Lizards Dare
Trad, Aid
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 9
Thunder Chicken
Trad
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Get Outta My Way
 6
5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c R Trad
American Wall
 45
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R Trad
Calypso III
 144
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a Trad
Route 48
 52
5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a Trad
Bedtime for Bonzo
 326
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 2 pitches
American Crack
 155
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad
Calypso II
 166
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad
Party Time
 174
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Calypso I
 117
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Horny Bitch
 23
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c Trad
Bombs Bursting
 81
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Snake
 176
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Blue Runner
 86
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13 Trad
Where Lizards Dare
 72
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b A2 Trad, Aid
Thunder Chicken
 9
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
More Classic Climbs in Fortress Wall »

Sun & Shade

Details: All day sun in summer. Sun most of the day in winter.

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season
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Photos

saxfiend
Decatur, GA
saxfiend   Decatur, GA  
Outstanding trad area, but if you're not prepared for Gunks-style sandbagging, you'll get a rude awakening! Oct 27, 2008
Drake Pregnall
Morehead, KY
Drake Pregnall   Morehead, KY
Absolutely agree with you there. I climb in the Gunks and the Adirondacks regularly, two very sandbagged places, and I still found the Fortress Wall grades to be a bit stiff. Mar 19, 2012
Dreez  
Approach: Park at the 2nd pullout with a wooden post and forest service sign (but no wording, just wood). Can park about 5 cars. Approach is about 10 minutes and you'll wind up at the Snake 5.8 Trad 60 feet climb. Jun 16, 2014
Jordan K
Ohio
Jordan K   Ohio
End Of Fortress Approach trail: 37.837337,-83.647221

Watch out for MASSIVE amount of poison ivy along the approach "in season."

While not every single climb will be dry, lots of climbable routes in light/medium rain due to a large roof system over this crag. Fantastic crag for the beginning trad leader. Sandbagged? Definitely maybe. But not atypical of the northern gorge region at all. Jan 19, 2015
Do you know if its possible to walk off the top of fortress wall back to 77? Or get to the top from 77? I've topped out a few times before and never walked the ridge line far enough but found plenty of old fire circles. Made me think people might be able to hike in from the road. Mar 18, 2018
Chris Chaney
Stanton, Kentucky
Chris Chaney   Stanton, Kentucky
Yes, there is a distinct trail that goes north for about 1.2 miles to the gate on the left side at the top of the paved road (KY 77). You can find it on MTB Project: mtbproject.com/trail/701254… Mar 20, 2018
Ma Ja
Red River Gorge
Ma Ja   Red River Gorge
Parking is at the 3rd Pulloff now. You'll be about 15 yards past the trail if you came from Nada Tunnel. Dec 9, 2018