The Dark Side Rock Climbing
Side view of most of the Dark Side with a climber ...
The Dark Side is a steep, pocketed wall of dark gray sandstone, similar in character to the Motherlode. Boasting the second largest concentration of 5.13 sport routes at the Red, the Dark Side is a great place to find a good project. Additionally, the crag features a number of excellent 5.12s of every grade. The options are limited in the 5.11 & below range, but there are a handful of moderates if warming up on 12a is not your thing.
The routes here are extremely steep, some of the steepest at the Red, climbing a bulging wall at a nearly constant 45 degree angle. Several body-sized huecos provide great rests on some lines, while other lines are more sustained. The cliff faces north, so receives all-day shade, making this a good option on warmer days. Also, the vast majority of the lines here stay dry in the rain.
From KY 11, take Fixer Rd, then take the first left. Follow this windy, paved road for a while, and continue as the road turns to dirt, passing a few houses. These roads are passable when wet. After ~1 mile of dirt, turn right onto another dirt road opposite an oil tank. Stay left, then park at an obvious RRGCC kiosk. Behind the kiosk, locate a trail that crosses the creek. Follow the trail for ~10 minutes, passing signed turn-offs to the Gold Coast & Solar Collector. Switch-back up the steep hill to the cliff, and head right when you first reach the rock. The first route encountered is "Grippy Green", 12a, which begins up a 20-foot-tall, 6"-deep, left-leaning dihedral.
Weather station 3.3 miles from here
25 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',7],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',6],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in The Dark Side
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Dark Side
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Dark Side:
Count Dooku 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport, 1 pitch, 85'
Grippy Green 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport, 1 pitch, 70'
Shanghai 5.12c/d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Sport, 90'
The Force 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport, 1 pitch, 75'
Featured Route For The Dark Side
Shanghai 5.12c/d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Kentucky
: Red River Gorge
: ... : The Dark Side
One of the classic routes of the grade, Shanghai ascends an intimidating wave of bullet sandstone. The route begins with an awkward scramble up the unfortunate ramp. Begin a bit left of the bolt line with a long reach (and a long draw) to clip the second bolt. Match the big hold & cut your feet to get established on the wall. Enduro jugs lead to a cool undercling move to a horn, then more jugs to an obvious blank section visible from the ground. A series of big crux moves, with a bigger pu...[more] Browse More Classics in Kentucky
The uninspiring left side of The Dark Side. "...
The Dark Side detail. Routes shown from L --> ...
The Dark Side from the other side of the cliff. T...
The ridiculous cirque of The Dark Side.
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Nov 7, 2009
Mono forgot to mention the unique "pocket" band that many of the routes pass through where bowling ball grips can be found, very cool. The rock here is sharp though, many of the holds have crisp lips that help you stay on but can punish you for poor technique or desperate movement. Also I would call the wall more 30 degrees overhung, still quite steep, maybe a little steeper than the Undertow wall at The Load but not as steep as the Madness Cave or Twinkie.