Belay Specs Blog

This blog has less to do with Belay Specs and more to do with our employee's climbing and outdoor outings.  We'll talk about exciting news about Belay Specs but we'll talk much more about the trips we've taken and the places we've checked out.  We'd like to share some of our experiences in the hope that they inspire you to check the areas out for yourselves. If you read about an area or activity in one of our posts and have questions on beta, route recommendations or anything else, leave a comment and we'll try to fill you in.

Ben picked me up to Miguel’s this morning and we headed out to a new, unpublished crag today. I’ve been a bit bummed about my lack of fitness so we decided to go hit up some new, sub-12 routes that would be quiet on an otherwise busy Sunday. It was great to have the crag to ourselves although the routes were all pretty stout and one required a stick clip to finish. There is often times little information to new crags like this and the route gradings can be very tentative.

A great thing about the Red is that there is so much rock. The online guide book lists almost 950 sport routes, over 800 trad routes and another 75 mixed routes. Those figures ignore another 200 routes at closed areas (Oil Crack, The Arena, Roadside) and areas with limited access like Torrent Falls. There are easly another few hundred routes that aren't listed for various reason that we'll go into here. "Secret" or "Private" crags have gotten attention on internet message boards, some people feel that these areas should be made known to the public and some are happy about keeping them quiet (maybe because they already know about them). I have been to a few of the crags and have pieced together where others are from comments made by other climbers. There are many reasons that these crags remain unpublished.

Many are simply in development and the bolters would like to put up all the routes before letting the secret out. There have been cases of first accents being stolen and even other developers jugging up fixed lines to bolt someone else’s line. These schinanigans have lead to much debate and developers staying more close lipped about their new areas.

Other areas simply can’t handle crowds. The Southern Region is reached by dirt roads that exist largely to allow access to the oil rigs that are scattered throughout the area including on Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition land. (The Coalition owns the land but not the mineral rights so oil extraction continues on their land.) The main dirt roads and smaller oil roads provide few opportunities for parking and most of the parking spots were built by the oil companies to allow their trucks to access their equipment. Blocking oil equipment led Charmane Oil Company to temporarily close most of the Southern Region in 2003 with climbers’ cars getting towed. A few months later, the Coalition bought the PMRP (Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve) and worked out the situation with the oil company by building parking lots for climbers and educating climbers about where to park to prevent further issues. Some areas, including  Oil Crack and The Arena, remain closed to climbing because the Coalition does not own the land. To avoid aggravating the oil companies, crags with poor parking situations have not been published. The developers of these areas are working with the Coalition to try to develop a parking plan that will provide good parking that does not hinder access to oil equipment.

The third main reason that crags don’t published is that they don’t have permission to develop the area or the permission dictates that area is not published. When developing on private land, you are at the will of the land owner and keeping them happy is crucial. If the crag is published, the area will attract too many climbers to go unnoticed and may get shut down by the owner. Again, this often comes down to parking and road maintenance.

So next time you are wondering why more information isn’t available about that crag you’ve heard whispers about, think about the land access issues and the hard work of the developers.

What our users have to say

I honestly think they are a requirement for anyone who climbs more than once a week. No more neck pain and more attentive belays. 

Bram Bell, Owner of Bluegrass Bouldering Gym in Lexington, Kentucky

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