It's been a long, rainy summer, and more often than not it seems, Elemental climbers have been battling with finding dry rock at the red river gorge after multiple days of rain. Even the most overhanging stone can seep after several days of heavy Kentucky-style down pouring! But after countless wet approaches and seeking shelter from rolling thunderstorms in a lot of rock shelters, this summer has definitely provided us with a new understanding of where to find dry rock at any grade in the Red.
Now granted, you will find that the majority of the rock that does stay dry is the steeper, more difficult climbing, but there are classics at most every grade that you can climb in a down pour and stay completely dry. Let's take a look at some of the best moderates that are climbable even in the worst conditions.
This climb is one of the best at the grade anywhere in the gorge, and since it's nestled in a nice little rock shelter, it stays dry even when it's been raining for several days. The same can't be said, however, for some of the other classics at the crag like Banjolero (5.10c) and Swallow the Hollow (5.12a) but if you're desperate for dry rock as a beginner climber, this is a hidden gem!
While you may be in for a bit of a wet hike, you should definitely go check out this and other perma-dry lines at Bruisebrothers. Since the crag is full of lower end moderates, you can definitely find something dry to climb, but just be aware that everyone else might be thinking the same thing! If you're feeling adventurous, go climb Creature Feature at Phantasia wall. The jugs over the lip are so big, you can climb through it even when it's a veritable waterfall off the top.
5.10 range -- Oompa and Loompa at the Chocolate Factory
These two amazing lines stay permanently dry, and can provide a good challenge for the beginning 5.10 leader. Be forewarned though, these routes have been known to bust unseasoned (and maybe even some seasoned!) forearms to bits. If this is at your limit, warm up by going bolt to bolt to avoid the flash pump.
Another great contender for the 5.10 climber seeking dry rock is Johnny and Tectonic Walls in Muir Valley. Again, be prepared for a longer hike, but Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky and Plate Tectonics both stay permanently dry thanks to the natural rock sheltering above. Be sure to thank your belayer for standing in a mud pit to give you a catch!
5.11 range -- Bronough Wall in the Sore Heel area of PMRP, or Solarium (Muir Valley)
With some awesome, steep lines in the 5.10, 5.11, and 5.12 range, Bronough is a great stop for anyone in the 5.11 range on a rainy day. Beautiful, steep, typical Red River Gorge style climbs like Jingus (5.11b) and the powerful Belly of the Beast (5.12c) are a nice compliment to some more technical face climbs such as Like a Turtle (5.11b) and Two Women Alone (5.11a). Also check out Solarium and the Arsenal at Muir valley for some more perma-dry 5.11 classics like Banshee, Bathtub Mary, and Air Ride Equipped!
5.12 Range -- The motherlode or the 5.12 wall at Military Wall, and the Dark Side
Does anything really need to be said about the motherlode? If you wanna climb dry 5.12s all day long, head to the lode. There are classics at EVERY grade.... 'nuff said. Same goes for the dark side, if you want to climb forearm busting, power endurance climbs in complete dryness, this is your crag. If you're feeling a little more mortal, or your endurance isn't quite up to snuff, check out the 5.12 wall at Military. Gung Ho is one of the best 5.12b climbs in the entire gorge, if you haven't been on it, go do so immediately! While you're there, check out Tissue Tiger, Reliquary, and even put your friends who don't climb 5.12 on Fuzzy Undercling, one of the most classic 5.11b's (more like 11+ with the start now!) in the entire Red River Gorge.
Once you climb 5.13 and above, you're pretty much set as far as dryness is concerned. Almost all your routes stay permanently dry because they're so steep. Go hang out at the lode, purgatory, chocolate factory, drive by, etc... and be your super strong selves!