BD athlete Liuyong Bang (Abond) reports on month-long trip to Red River Gorge, Kentucky
Black Diamond athlete Liu Yongbang (Abond), who established the first 5.14b route in China and in August 2010 was the first Chinese to redpoint a 5.14c, Spicy Noodles (near his home base in Yangshuo, China), made a one-month trip to Kentucky's renowned Red River Gorge in October 2010. Below is his report and photos from his trip.
When my girlfriend, Xiaoting, and I arrived at Red River Gorge, my friend couldn’t wait to take us to the Military Crag and show us what the sandstone crag looks like. Before arriving at the crag, we hiked up and down through hills, which I didn’t expect at all and that really made me tired and I had a very difficult time catching my breath—most of the crags in Yangshuo are about five minutes walking from the roadside, which has spoiled my legs in the last couple of years. My friends laughed at me and later on I had a new nickname: Slow Panda.
I was shocked on the first sight of the Military Crag as I’ve never seen a colorful crag like this with orange and red stripes. I couldn’t wait to put my gear on and climb. The moment I touched the wall, I felt recharged and full of power again. Sandstone has very good friction, just like a huge sandpaper, with various types of handholds. For me most of the typical handholds in Red required open-hand power. This is quite different from the limestone crags around Yangshuo.
In China people can go camping wherever they want if they can find suitable site. This is free of charge, but of course without any camping facilities. But in America it seems if you want to go camping, there are public campsites available for you with camping facilities like showers, laundry, kitchen, etc. What you need to do is to pay only a few of dollars for this convenience, because in China wherever you go, you can always find cheap hostels and hotel.
I loved all the crags at the Red, because all the routes were new to me. I spent the last five years climbing in a same place… the routes are no longer novel to me. As a climber, I think the happiest thing is to travel around the world and climb as many routes as possible— the Red was my first time camping for a month straight! There are more than 2000 routes at Red… I felt like I was drowning in the stunning routes every day. No matter what kind of routes you wanted to climb—big overhanging routes, vertical routes or sloper routes—you can always easily find them at the same crag here. Open the Red River Gorge Climbing guidebook, I picked out the five-stars route and went through them one by one. Because I had injured my finger before I left China, I wasn’t able to climb all of the really hard routes I wanted, but even still every day there was the biggest harvest for me. There are so many classic routes I enjoyed very much, such as Ultra Perm (5.13d) and Omaha Beach (5.14a). In fact, this past trip to Red River Gorge was not simply a climbing trip at a climbing paradise, but it was a changing point for my attitude to rock climbing: climbing hard to make progress is important, but enjoying rock climbing and the happiness of the process is far more meaningful!