Monday, March 30, 2015

There's No Bouldering in the Red River Gorge

I have a strange bruise on the tip of my right ring finger.
Evidence convicts.  Lack of evidence merely intensifies the dramatic ambiance of a case.  Mystery. Enigma.  Withholding—or failing to find—good compelling evidence is a great way to keep people on the edge of their seats.  Or an even better way to lull them to disinterest.
Years ago I tried to make my case.  But you can't drag a dump truck sized boulder into the courtroom.  In this case that judicial purvey happens to be the parking lot of Miguel's Pizza.
But that bruise...
It didn't get it smashed by a hammer doing some drudgerous honeydo project. No, I smashed it with the weight of my fat lard body as my limp-noodle arm went taught thrutching for a micro-jug on one of Kipp's pebbled masterpieces. You know its got to be good with a name like Dwarf Warts.
When the full mass of my high density frame jerked against the dishpan pink skin of my weakest finger apparently some damage was done. Thankfully the brutal injury numbed the area and I was able to continue wallowing on the beachhead of bouldering on Red River. Well, not exactly. No, no...I was wallowing. There's photographic and video evidence of that. At least until I can spirit Kipp's smartphone away for a few minutes.

Larger than life
(That's as high as I got)
We weren't in the Red River Gorge.  It’s all semantics.  See, if you use the local sprechen sie  “Gorge” to refer to the area then you’re blatantly deceiving, but if you use the common climber vernacular “the Red” then Kipp’s little bouldering spree and ensuing promotional campaign has been spot on.  Barely.
You may have heard of the BMW Boulders.  No?  Kipp Trummel—aka Pigsteak, aka Piggy, aka Kipp Quixote—has a tax preparation business in Campton.  One of his local clients offered to show Kipp the rocks on his land.  He said Kipp probably wouldn’t be interested in climbing them because they were so short.  Turns out they were the right kind of short.  And Kipp was very interested.
The BMW Boulders were born.  The non-pebble wrasslin’ benefactor bought the land on the courthouse steps.  There’s at least a couple hundred acres of wooded land with a couple of distinct ridge fingers where the bouldering is located.  Kipp’s local friend's laid back attitude toward climbing development on his land and Kipp’s voracious reputation for said development has been just the right cocktail for destruction.  The BMWs were an instant hit.  BMW is short for Breathitt-Magoffin-Wolfe as in the three counties that come together nearby.  At that boundary juncture the Red River (yeah, that one) is born.  Near the parking area for the BMWs the Red is barely a trickling stream.  It has miles to go before it enters its infamous and world renowned Gorge.
From Slade it’s a solid half hour drive deeper into the Eastern Kentucky hills than most climbers are used to making.  For me it’s forty-five minutes from home to reach BMW.  I can be clipping the first bolt on Fuzzy Undercling in twenty from my couch.  Even when Kipp plays hooky and launches off from his office in Campton it’s not hop, skip and jump.  But Kipper has a distinct advantage having based himself conveniently in Wolfe County. 
Back to that bruise.  It’s taken me all fall and winter to finally have committed to visiting the area.  There’s a new area with less certain access than the original BMWs.  And the photos Kipp “leaked” out from the Minefield drew me in.  The boulders are gorgeous.  The rock formation is unique and distinct.  I just had to go.  In shape or no, I wanted to fondle that rock.

Poor photo quality, but this was me in my bouldering heyday on Detox at Sky Bridge Ridge
More recently on a an FA attempt of Clean and Jerk at the Reactor
Years ago I was a prolific moderate boulderer.  In about three years’ time I almost single-handedly put up five hundred problems in and around the Gorge up to V4.  But that was years ago.  That was when I was younger, childless, and thinner.  I was a full time student and worked a series of low paying part time jobs so I would have plenty of free time for climbing.  That is not the living arrangement I currently enjoy.
Chronic tendonitis drove me away.  Kipp’s incessant workweek photos and videos of BMW and the Minefield have drawn me back.  I’ve even been out recleaning my old standards around the Red from fourteen or fifteen years ago.  I can’t do most of them right now, but I know that I’m back on the right track.  And with this bouldering renaissance Piggy has whipped up maybe I can get some help and an occasional spot on my old projects.    
Kipp and I both laugh at the notion that there is no bouldering in the Red River Gorge.  And I know for years to come the naysayers will have their way.  It’s doubtful a new edition of Red River Gorge Bouldering will be published anytime soon.  You’ll still be more likely to see more rope tarps and stick clips than crashpad migrations any time soon.  Traffic will not be diverted onto the Mountain Parkway for boulderers headed to the South’s bouldering destinations.
But give it time, the next generation may look more favorably upon the Red as a bonafide bouldering area.
My 8 yo Bean sending Anna V0- at the Reactor

The proud first ascentionist!

No comments:

Post a Comment