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One of my most favorite trips to the Red River Gorge

It began just like every weekend in the fall semester of 2011, I had it in my head that I was going to the Red. I had finally gotten a car, and school wasn't even in session for a month yet. My climbing "family" was still evolving, and so far the only new found friends I could persuade to join me were Trym, Theresa, and Jeanne. The plan, as always, was to leave as soon as everyone got out of class, but as usual everyone was slow, so we didn't actually get on the road until around 6:00.

We were still all getting to know each other, and what better way than a 5 hour car ride? The conversation quickly got to ridiculous topics which, for the sake of keeping reader interest we will not go into right now. After several enjoyable U-turns we made it to Walmart to buy what food we needed for an overnight stay in the backcountry. Its probably around midnight or one now, and we are arriving at Miguel's. Trym, Jeanne, and Theresa head to the goat field to find a good spot for Trym's "5" man tent and I scout out two trees and prep for some great hammock sleep.

Next thing I know its 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning, and as usual we get a slow start. After the ritualistic morning crag decision we are off to the PMRP. Off to volunteer wall we go! We put up a mixture of climbs from easy to intermediate, and I got plenty of quality hammock time in. We were all pushing into the 5.11 grade and decided to take a crack at "Johnny on Roofies" (I think this was the route anyway) I ended up bailing on the route and Trym went up to give it a try.
After some struggling and a few falls, I feel a tug once again on the rope going through my atc. This time I hear screaming, not the good beast mode kind, but the I hit the wall hard kind. Trym had fallen and  smashed his knee pretty hard. I don't recall if we ended up climbing the route or down climbing it, it was a while ago. We decide to leave the PMRP and head to the beer trailer and Miguel's before heading back out to tower rock for some trad climbing. The plan for the weekend was to spend the night atop tower rock and climb cavers route. Its late afternoon now, and after fueling up on some pizza an ALE81 we are off to find tower rock. Of course none of us had been there before, and I am horrible at reading approach directions.

We get to what we think is the trailhead and repack our gear for an overnighter in the backcountry. After hiking 1/4 mile from the trail head (poor Trym was hobbling because of his knee) we realize that we are on the wrong trail. Back to the car we go and not more than a few hundred yards down the road we find the right trailhead. About a mile of hiking and we are at the crag. Its not until now that we realize that 4 pitches is impossible before dark, and there was no feasible way that Trym was doing ay sort of shimmying. So we find another route that looks like it tops out in two pitches.

After some exciting, chossy off-width climbing I am setting an anchor and bringing up the second. While Theresa is belaying Jeanne up to the ledge, I am setting up the pulley on a very convenient tree to haul up the packs. As usual, logistics were ignored, and now Trym is left on the ground and can't climb because of his knee. So the bright idea of ascending on a climbing roping using a pussik comes into my head. For those of you that don't know, climbing ropes are dynamic, meaning they stretch quite a bit when weighted. So ascending on them is a real pain in the ass because you have to ascend an extra 20ish feet of rope before you even get off of the ground due to rope stretch. But hey it works, and after teaching how to tie a prussik by yelling down to the ground and using hang gesters Trym is on his way.

New problem: its dark and there is still one pitch left before the top. I was still pretty green when it came to leading trad so that made things rather interesting. But hey, I am young and dumb and the climb looked easy. Off I go, not 20 feet up and I find myself stuck and without good placement. To make matters better I neglected to change my headlamp batteries so I can't see much when it comes to holds. This was actually kinda beneficial, as I couldn't see the ground so I didn't really feel the fear of falling. I finally commit to the move and pull through to easy scrambling to the top. Finally!

Next step: bring up the pack with the refreshments... After Theresa climbed up we set up a haul line and began to bring up the packs as Jeanne climbed. This pitch did a lot of wandering and after hauling up the first bag I decide it would be easier to just down climb and climb back up with the packs. After enjoying a drink we realize that we have two auto-locking belay devices so Trym could ascend without a prussik (essentially cutting the time in half). We also realize a new use for climbing helmets, holders for our refreshments!!

After everyone was on top I re-climbed the pitch 3 more times to get all of the packs. We began trying to set up the tent only to realize that there wasn't enough space for it, it was going to to be a cozy, under the stars kinda night. Fortunately, there were hammockable trees so I was cozy as ever.

After a few more refreshments and possibly a safety meeting, I was in heaven looking at the stars atop tower rock. The morning came, and with it a gorgeous view of the gorge. A short rain shower had us scrambling to rig the rain fly on the bushes to try and keep dry. It didn't take long after it stopped raining to realize that we hadn't fully topped out the route yet and that we had one more short pitch to go to get to the top. After my usual epic breakfast and coffee we topped out the tower. Because we took a ridiculous route to the top (It may have even been a first ascent) we realized that the way down was going to be troublesome.

After three interesting rappels we had not only gotten down, but also realized that Theresa really liked getting stuck in trees. After we got back to the car, I think we went to Fantasia for a few more hours of sport climbing before we made our weekly trip to El Camino Real (that restaurant deserves it's own trip report) and headed home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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