When I left Cody, my plan was to spend a week in Colorado before heading home to Atlanta. I spent one night in Denver but some of my plans fell through I didn’t want to go climbing in Colorado by myself so I decided to head home early.
At some point while driving through Kansas I started trying to think of other areas I could hit up on the way. It just so happened that the Red River Gorge was more or less en route. Then I remembered that my friend Carmen was planning on going to the Red. A couple texts later and I learned he was driving there the following day. After three LONG days of driving from Cody Wyoming I found myself rolling into Miguel’s on a Saturday night. I haven’t been to the Red in five years and I was not expecting the insanity I encountered at Miguel’s. The parking lot was well past capacity, and lines for pizza stretched outside the building. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen that many climbers in one place. Climbing on Sunday was a madhouse with lineups on every line at the crag we went to.
Luckily the crowds died down during the week which made for a much more natural climbing experience. I mostly climbed with Carmen who I met in Squamish and another Torontonian, Natalie. Considering I hadn’t done any sport climbing in 2.5 years, I wasn’t expecting much! I managed to repeat Fuzzy Undercling which is a pumpy 11b and on the second day I fell at the anchors on a 90-foot 12a which I was pretty stoked about! It was fun to mix things up and clip some bolts. On day three I couldn’t shake the pump from my forearms but I did get on an amazing 12c called Malice. I went bolt to bolt on it and one section took me awhile to get through but I was super psyched when I got to the top. Amazing full value route with a blank vertical section at the top.
We had two forced rest days due to freezing rain that was coming down sideways. I had a fun last day climbing some 10s and 11s and getting back on Malice. Malice felt really easy compared to the other day but somewhere around the 5th or 6th bolt I got pumped and fell. After resting for a few minutes I cruised up to the top. Classic boulderer.
The Red is a phenomenal place. It’s gorgeous in the fall with splashes of red, orange, and yellow throughout the forest. There are so many crags, it’s hard to keep track of them all. It’s like Fontainebleau but for sport climbing. It was great to climb on some long routes and work on my endurance. I’m not about to project a 5.14 but am psyched to at least get back to the sport climbing shape I was in a few years ago and maybe even progress to a solid 13a climber at some point in the future.
From the Red I headed south to North Carolina to do some hiking with my mom for her birthday and then I’ll finally be making my return to Atlanta, just over a year since I started my North American tour.