Q // Who is the RRGCC?

A \\ The Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition (RRGCC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 to represent the interests of rock climbers in response to a bolting ban imposed by the US Forest Service in Red River Gorge, Kentucky. After successfully negotiating to have the ban lifted, the RRGCC has remained active in confronting various access issues both on public and private land in the Red River Gorge area.

Q // How is the RRGCC organized?

A \\ The RRGCC is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation organized according to the requirements of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Federal requirements specific to maintaining a tax exempt status. All donations are tax deductible.

Q // What is the RRGCC working on right now?

A \\ As usual, the RRGCC has multiple items on its agenda.

In 2015, the RRGCC received a grant from The Arches Foundation to put in toilets on the RRGCC property! We are working to identify locations and comply with local permitting and hope to have the first toilet open by Fall of 2016.

For 2016 we have a new Land Manager, Curtis Gale-Dyer, who is working to identify a new parking lot for Sore Heel, and expanded parking for Solar Collector. In addition, he is developing a comprehensive trail plan for the new MFRP.

The RRGCC is partnering with local mountain biking enthusiast Chris Chaney to develop mountain biking trails on the PMRP. These trails will be separate from climbing trails and will bring many miles of mountain biking fun to the area once completed. For more information, click here.

If you are reading this anytime after June of a given year, Rocktoberfest is coming up, and we are gearing up for the best fundraiser/party of the year! We will have registration for participants and volunteers open in September. Please join us!

The RRGCC is also attempting to establish access at currently closed crags, such as Oil Crack/Arena. This will take time and there are barriers to be overcome, but we will continue to work at it.

Q // What is the RRGCC’s stance on bolts?

A \\ The RRGCC considers all fixed gear (including, but not limited to, bolts, bolt hangers, quickdraws and anchors) abandoned gear. Use it at your own risk. The RRGCC does not maintain bolts or any type of climbing equipment. The Fixed Gear Initiative is a separate group that was established to bolt and rebolt in the Red River Gorge.

Q // What do I do if I want to bolt a route on RRGCC land?

A \\ You need to sign a waiver. The Land manager requests that the approach trails to new development create the least environmental impact and be as easily sustainable as possible. To do this, we request developers allow us to help find the best approach trail for use during development and will not cut the trail as a project until requested by the developer.

Q // What do if I want to build a trail on RRGCC land?

A \\ In order to build a trail, you first need to contact us with a plan for where the trail will go, how it will be built, and the expected costs and resources required to build it. To do this, please contact our Land Manager.

If you are also interested in leading the project, it’s important to attend a Trail Leader Training day, which will be held throughout the year. We use these days to teach those interested in trail development how to properly build a sustainable trail.

Of note, we are working on getting all trails, in both the PMRP and the MFRP, to the point that they make the least environmental impact as possible and require as little maintenance as possible based on the guidelines set out in Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook – USDA Forest Service.

To participate in a planned trail day, please register online.

Q // Where is the MFRP parking lot?

A \\ The Miller Fork parking lot, completed in the summer of 2014 with help from local oil and construction companies, is just before a wide creek on Hell Creek Road. Its GPS coordinates are 37°38’31.9″N 83°40’44.0″W (37.642204, -83.678900). Please see the MFRP page for directions.

Q // Are there mountain biking trails?

A \\ The PMRP is dedicated to human-powered recreation. This is not limited to climbing. So, a few years ago the RRGCC started work on mountain biking trails. These trails are open, though at the moment there is only a one-mile loop that is completed. For more information, click here.

Q // Why doesn’t the RRGCC log the PMRP and/or MFRP to make money?

A \\ The idea of selectively logging specific parts of the PMRP was discussed several years ago. Logging the PMRP was not pursued for several reasons. Most of the PMRP had been logged at some point prior to the purchase by the RRGCC. Thus, the amount of mature wood is limited. If we were to log the PMRP, selectively or not, the amount of money that would generate is surprisingly low relative to the impact it would have on the land. There are some talented logging companies in the area that do a great job of minimizing their presence, etc. But at the end of the day, their impact on the land far surpasses what most of us would consider acceptable for our beloved PMRP.

Concerning the MFRP, the timber rights to the property were a point of negotiation for the purchase. There is more mature wood on the MFRP, and far less presence of oil infrastructure.

Because of the aesthetics of the property, the disruption of roads and trails, and complete closure of the MFRP during logging, we felt that is was in the best interest of the climbing community that the RRGCC maintain the timber rights to the property. For those reasons, we have no intention of logging selectively or otherwise in the MFRP.

Q // How were the RRGCC’s purchases of the PMRP and MFRP structured?

A \\ The PMRP was purchased by the RRGCC in 2004 at a purchase price of $227,500 ($325 per acre) for 700 acres. In 2010, the RRGCC restructured the PMRP with the owners and with the Access Fund. The last payment was made in 2012, and the RRGCC now owns the PMRP!

The MFRP was purchased by the RRGCC in 2013 at a purchase price of $245,000 ($792 per acre) for 309 acres. The Access Fund awarded us a $10,000 grant to help toward the down payment, and financed the loan via their Land Conservation Campaign. We are on track to pay off the MFRP by the end of 2017!

Q // What is the RRGCC Board of Directors?

A \\ The RRGCC Board of Directors (BOD) consists of volunteer RRGCC members who have made a commitment to dedicate a portion of their time to directing and managing the organization. Board members serve for a three year term and may only serve two consecutive terms before they must leave the Board for at least one year before becoming eligible again. A listing of our current board members can be found here.

Q // What are the RRGCC Officers? How are they chosen?

A \\ The RRGCC has four officer positions, President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. These officers must be members of the Board of Directors and are elected by the Board to serve one year terms. No one person may serve more than three consecutive years in one position without taking a one year leave from that position. A listing of our current officers can be found here.

Q // How does someone become part of the RRGCC Board of Directors?

A \\ To take a position on the Board of Directors you must be 21 years old and have been a member of the RRGCC for at least one year. Any member meeting these requirements may fill out the application to be elected to the Board. For the practical functioning of the organization, people with relevant skills and experience are sought for Board service. Past non-profit service and/or knowledge in the areas of accounting, law, fundraising, public relations, business, and environmental issues are examples the types of experience sought in prospective Board members.

Q // How much do BOD members make?

A \\ Well, occasionally someone buys them a beer… Seriously though, the RRGCC is in all-volunteer organization. The BOD members donate their time to help secure the climbing areas they (and you!) love.

Q // What is the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve? Why is it so important?

A \\ The Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) is a 750 acre tract of land located in Lee County, Kentucky that was purchased by the RRGCC from Mattie Murray, a descendent of Daniel Boone Pendergrass, in 2004. Realizing the fragility of access to climbing on private land in the Red River Gorge Area, the Murray Property was identified by the RRGCC as containing a significant amount of existing climbing routes with a number of quality crags (e.g. Drive-by, Bob Marley, Solar Collector, Darkside, Gold Coast.) The purchase of the PMRP is important because it secures access to an area containing over 400 existing climbing routes and in short because, “If we own it, they can’t close it!”

Q // What is the status of the PMRP in regards to the American Natural Gas oil company?

A \\ On the PMRP the mineral rights are severed from the surface rights. While the RRGCC has the surface right to the property, American Natural Gas has rights to extract oil lying beneath the surface of the PMRP.

Q // I’ve heard that Charmane Oil has towed climbers’ cars. Where can I park on the PMRP and not be towed?

A \\ In February 2004 the RRGCC obtained a Temporary Restraining Order that prevents Charmane from towing climbers’ cars from the PMRP. Charmane Oil has since been purchased by American Natural Gas. In the interest of respecting ANG’s right to access their oil wells, the RRGCC has established designated parking areas on the PMRP. When visiting the PMRP you are asked to please follow posted signs, park in designated parking areas, and not block or interfere with ANG’s right to access their oil wells.

Q // How do I update my RRGCC membership info?

A \\ If you are an Access Fund / RRGCC Joint Member, please update your information here.

If you are signed up through rrgcc.org for monthly donations, updating your PayPal info will automatically update your membership info.

Q // How do I support / become involved with the RRGCC?

A \\ Thank you for asking – the answer is that there are many options!

Sign up for a recurring or one-time donation on our donation page. Recurring donations help us determine our yearly budget, and one-time donations count toward our Conservation Alliance Matching Grant Campaign.

Shop our Online Store to get great RRGCC merchandise sent to your home.

Shop Amazon via Amazon Smile – no extra work for you, and Amazon donates .5% of your purchase amount to the RRGCC.

Sign up for Kroger Community Rewards – a quick one-time sign up results in donations from Kroger to the RRGCC every time you shop at Kroger. Detailed instructions here.

Become an RRGCC member and an Access Fund member in one fell swoop with the Joint Membership Program.
Please direct any questions about Joint Membership to membership@accessfund.org.
Please note that the Joint Membership charge on your bank statement may look like this: CHECK CARD PURCHASE BLK*ACCESS FUND 1234567890 CA

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Q // What are the best times of year to go climbing in Red River Gorge?

A \\ Spring and Fall are considered to be the premier seasons for climbing in Red River Gorge because of moderate temperatures. Summer weather tends to be very hot and muggy but can be endured, especially at crags that stay in the shade. In the Winter, climbing conditions at crags that stay in the sun can be tolerable to excellent. Winter climbing can be nice too because you don’t have to worry about bugs or snakes.

Q // Where is a good place in Red River Gorge to take beginners?

A \\ Depending on whether you are planning to engage in traditional climbing or sport climbing, there are any number of areas that are good places to take beginners. As long as you have one or more competent lead climbers in your party, most crags have easier climbs that can be set up for beginners. Route developers throughout the RRG have consciously established easy to moderate climbs in the interest of making these areas accessible to beginning climbers.

Q // Where is a good place in Red River Gorge to top-rope?

A \\ Very few places have access to the edge of the cliff in such a way to allow easy setup of a top-rope. If you have one or more competent lead climbers in your group, then there are plenty of climbs that can be set up for top-roping. When top-roping, please set up your own gear to run the rope through and do not top-rope directly through quick-links or any other portion of a permanent top-anchor.

Q // I am new to climbing, what is the best way to learn?

A \\ Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous sport and should be undertaken only after obtaining professional instruction or under the supervision of a professional guide. There are several businesses offering professional guide services in the Red River Gorge area and professional instruction is available at a number of rock climbing gyms.

Q // What is the best guidebook and where can I get a guidebook?

A \\ "The best guidebook is the most current printed guidebook, and there are three: Miller Fork Climbing authored by Ray Ellington and published by Red River Climbing LLC, Red River Gorge North authored by Dustin Stephens and published by Wolverine Publishing, and Red River Gorge South authored by Blake Bowling and published by Wolverine Publishing. They may be purchased online (MFRP, North, South) and are also available for sale at various climbing related businesses and gyms. A percentage of the profits from sales of the guidebooks are being donated to the RRGCC."

Q // What do I do if something bad happens?

A \\ There is an extensive write up of what to do in case of emergency here. Please read this information before you go out, so you're prepared.

Q // Whose land is this?

A \\ The RRGCC owns three tracts of land.

  1. PMRP:
    • On January 20, 2004, the RRGCC purchased the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP), which is a 750-acre tract of land. Realizing the fragility of access to climbing on private land in the Red River Gorge area, the Murray Property was identified by the RRGCC as containing a significant amount of existing climbing with a number of quality cliffs. The purchase of the PMRP is important because it secures access to an area containing over 400 existing climbing routes and in short because, “If we own it, they can’t close it!”
  2. MFRP:
    • The Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP) is a 309-acre tract of land in Lee County, Kentucky, that the RRGCC closed on in May of 2013 with the help of the Access Fund’s Land Conservation Campaign. The RRGCC received grant money from the Access Fund to help make a $45,000 down payment, and has a plan in place to make five yearly mortgage payments, after which the RRGCC will own the MFRP, securing climbing access on that land in perpetuity.
  3. BRRP:
    • The Bald Rock Recreational Preserve secures access to a popular set of world-renowned climbing areas including the Motherlode, the Chocolate Factory, the Bear's Den, and the Unlode. The 102-acre acquisition secures access to these areas for climbing and land conservation. The purchase was made possible through a $225,000 mortgage loan from the Access Fund. Additionally, the RRGCC was awarded a $40,000 matching grant from the Conservation Alliance and a generous donation from Trango to support our initial fundraising efforts.

Q // Who owns the rock / routes?

A \\ The deed descriptions for the land owned by the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition (RRGCC) were written over a century ago. When first written, the general purpose of these deeds was to transfer usable and marketable land (e.g. homestead, farming, livestock, etc.) and/or the mineral rights. Many of these deeds do not directly address ownership of a cliff face when used as a property boundary since the concept of the cliff face having value was not considered in pre-climbing days. These deeds reference physical land features including cliff tops, cliff faces, rocks, trees, and bodies of water which can be difficult to identify and which may have changed over time. Portions of these tracts have changed ownership and been separated, rejoined, and separated again over the course of the past 100+ years. Given these issues, the RRGCC often consults with legal and real estate professionals for guidance on who owns the cliffs.

Q // No but really - who owns the cliffs themselves?

A \\ This is a much more difficult question to answer than many would expect, and the answer may vary from crag to crag. Some climbers believe that where cliffs are overhanging, the “drip line” always is the boundary. However, this “drip line” concept is not recognized under established Kentucky law. Sometimes deeds are clear that a certain point is the boundary. That point may be the outermost point of the cliff, an "X" carved in the base of the cliff under an overhang, or a tree near the cliff. Sometimes the deeds are not clear. Many simply say "the cliff" is the boundary, without establishing a clear point along an overhang. Determining ownership of any given route requires review of the deeds for properties both above and below the cliff. Often a surveyor can read these deeds and definitively determine ownership. Sometimes the neighbors must work together to determine a clear boundary line utilizing modern survey techniques.

Anyone who would like to pull the deeds to the relevant tracts of land is welcome to do so, and to form their own opinion on cliff face ownership.

Q // Why should I care about access issues? I just want to climb.

A \\ Climbing access is always at the discretion of the owner. It is our mission to to secure and protect open, public access to rock climbing in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky and to promote conservation of the environment on the lands where we climb. We believe that by owning land and by working with other land owners in the area, we can ensure open public access to climbing. You, as a climber and ambassador for our sport, can help protect access by behaving responsibly and respecting land owners' wishes.

Q // What is a waiver? Why do I need to sign this?

A \\ A waiver and release form is typically used to protect a business or person from liability for dangerous activities by allowing the participant to sign a release before participating. By signing a waiver you are following the rules required by the owner of the land to use that land for recreation.

Q // What waiver do I sign?

A \\ There is a lot of rock in the Red River Gorge region of Eastern Kentucky. This rock is owned by various non-profits, the federal government, and private entities. It is up to you as a user of this land to follow all rules and regulations of the owner of the land you use. The RRGCC requires all visitors sign a waiver to visit PRMP, MFRP or BRRP. A waiver is required or you are considered trespassing. We encourage you to contact those owners to learn about their specific requirements.