Monday, December 23, 2013

Realization Shorts and Steep Sandstone

The Red River Gorge is one of the United States' best sport climbing areas and there's no better time to visit than in the fall. If you don't mind cold nights, November is a great month. The leaves are in full colour, the humidity is relatively low and the temps are perfect for climbing.

This year I arrived with a new piece of gear, the Mammut Realization shorts. They're no ordinary shorts since a  buckle-less climbing harness is built right into the fabric.The only visible clues are the subtle gear loops on the side and the small tie-in points at the front. Because the harness is well hidden, expect strange look at the crag as you launch up your latest project with nothing but a rope tied into your stylish climbing shorts!

After you get past the novelty, you'll see that that they're actually very comfortable. A small elastic band keeps them closed when you're not climbing and, since the leg loops are built in, you don't have to worry about them riding and pinching you, if you know what I mean. The aesthetic gear loops rack a full set of draws and the shorts are easy to clean - just throw them in the washing machine. They also come in a pants version, which would be a good choice for cold, late-fall weather.

New cliffs open at the Red on a regular basis and I've enjoyed sampling the Bright Side on this trip, yet another steep and impressive zone. Here a climber scales the long, classic 5.11c of the crag, Crown of Thorns.

If Crown of Thorns feels too easy, check out Blowin' Loadz (5.12c) in the middle of the cave. It delivers the classic Red River Gorge pump, for sure!

Another crag I've been spending time at on this trip is Purgatory. This cliff is a little different than the average Red River Gorge wall. The routes are fairly short and feature bouldery moves. Here a climber tackles the crag classic, Paradise Lost (13b). I think this cliff has some of the best stone in the entire region.

Our time here is coming to a close, but we are relishing the clear days and vibrant colours. Back home, winter storms are brewing. Ski season is on the way!

Marc Bourdon - Squamish, BC

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