Kentucky's Premiere Climbing School and Guide Service based in Red River Gorge.

Bluegrass Climbing School is a locally owned and operated climbing guide service, based in the heart of Red River Gorge, Kentucky. We specialize in providing customized guided climbing experiences for climbers of all skill and ability levels; ranging from complete beginners to seasoned pros. We offer top notch programming, designed to take your climbing to the next level.

We are passionate about climbing, we do it because we love it. We would love to share our passion with you!

We pride ourselves on providing a high quality, safe, and hassle free experience for our guests. Our guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association and hold Wilderness Medical Certification for the terrain they work in.

 

Our Guides

Bluegrass Climbing School takes pride in offering the highest quality instruction and experiences available by only employing AMGA certified instructors with proper Wilderness Medical Training, ensuring your outing is both safe and enjoyable.

Erik Kloeker, climbing guide in Red River Gorge Kentucky, Trad clinics, sport climbing, anchor building, muir valley, pmrp, daniel boone national forest,

Erik Kloeker

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor

AMGA Aspirant Rock Guide

NOLS Wilderness First Responder

Erik is the owner and founder of Bluegrass Climbing School, he’s been professionally guiding in the United States and abroad for the last 7 years. A Kentucky native himself, Erik started climbing by exploring the nearby cliffs and rock faces in the Red River Gorge. Over the last decade, he has traveled to pursue his passion at crags and on Big Walls across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Erik’s main emphasis is on education. He finds it just as rewarding introducing newcomers to the sport as he does teaching new techniques to seasoned pros.

Erik gives back by volunteering with the American Safe Climbing Association and Red River Gorge’s Fixed Gear Initiative. He has partnered to replace over a 1000 worn and rusty bolts in Red River Gorge and Mexico. Erik is an active member of the  Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team and is a certified Technical Rope Rescue Technician.

Erik spends his winters in Northern Mexico operating Climb Potrero Mountain Guides. Here he guides multi-pitch climbing in the world renowned El Potrero Chico climbing area.

David Pierdinock

.AMGA Single Pitch Instructor

NOLS Wilderness First Responder

From a young age, David has been drawn to the outdoors.  David’s childhood interests in hiking, fishing, and camping were quickly overshadowed by a fascination with climbing. He first visited the Red River Gorge while studying Environmental Science at the University of Notre Dame.  After graduating, he moved from his hometown in Illinois to the Red River Gorge to pursue his passion for rock climbing full time.

David enjoys a multitude of climbing styles from single-pitch sport climbs to long, traditional multi-pitch routes in the mountains.  He has ticked off over 600 routes in the Red River Gorge.

David has a passion for sharing his love of climbing with others and puts an emphasis on being an educator first.

Travis Sapp, AMGA certified climbing instructor and climbing guide in Red River Gorge, Kentucky. PMRP, Muir Valley, Daniel Boone National Forest, Rock Climbing, Trad Clinic, Anchor Building Clinic,

Travis Sapp

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor

AMGA Rock Guide Apprentice

NOLS Wilderness First Responder

Travis grew up in North Carolina, where he began climbing as a teenager. He first discovered his passion for instructing on a NOLS outdoor educator semester in Wyoming and Utah. Following this course he traveled the world climbing in Spain, Japan, Patagonia, Morocco and the western U.S. before finding his way to the Red River Gorge. 

Clients find Travis to be an easy going and knowledgeable instructor who strives to connect with clients and tailors each trip to their needs. 

Travis is an active member of the Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team and is a certified Technical Rope Rescue Technician.

 

Best Restaurants in Red River Gorge

We thought we’d take a break from climbing and talk about our favorites places in Red River Gorge to eat, and have a beer, and hang out with friends! Hope you enjoy our picks!

Places to Eat in Red River Gorge, Miguel's Pizza

Miguel’s Pizza

Not a lot needs said about this one, Miguel’s Pizza is the center of the Red River Gorge Climbing Universe. Since as early as 1984, before Red River Gorge was known as the world class climbing destination it is today, Miguel started serving up food to hungry climbers, it has been an oasis for climbers ever since. As the climbing community grew, so did Miguel’s which now offers more than just pizza, including delicious sandwiches, bowls, salads and an excellent breakfast menu.

The Rockhouse

Located on KY 11, 4 miles past Miguels, the Red River Rockhouse is an eclectic cafe serving up Burritos, Tacos, Burgers, and Salads made with fresh ingredients and staffed by climbers. Their Barbacoa, Carnitas, and Tempeh burritos are the best around.

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The Best Climbing Guidebook for Red River Gorge

When I started climbing in the Red 11 years ago, there was only one choice for a climbing guidebook for the area. Since that time, an explosion of development in the Southern Region of Red River Gorge has prompted new books to be published. With over 3000 climbs now in the area, there was too much to fit into just one book.

There are now six high quality guidebooks available for the Red River Gorge, 3 of which  cover, comprehensively, separate regions of the Red River Gorge. Namely the Northern Region, the Southern Region, and the Miller Fork. Additionally, there are 2 “best of” guidebooks each of which attempt to condense the most classic and popular walls throughout the area into a single book, as well as a comprehensive Sport climbing guidebook. Let us help you sort through all the choices!

Our Top Pick For Traveling Climbers

Red River Gorge Climbing Guidebook, Brendan Leader, The Red, Climbing Guidebook Red River Gorge, Red River Climbing, Mountain Project, Climbing guidebook RRG, Erik Kloeker, Bluegrass Climbing Scool

 

The Red (2019). Brendan Leader. $35.00 ISBN:0958079099

Covers all Sport Climbing crags in the Red along with the trad climbs within those sport climbing areas. This book currently leaves out most trad climbing only areas. “The Red” is currently the most up to date guidebook for Red River Gorge and is a good value for most Climbers traveling to the region. We really like the format and layout of this book, and how up to date the info is.

 

 

 

 

Our Top Pick For Locals

These guidebooks are the most comprehensive guidebooks. They would be good choice for locals and collectors who want to have it all. They are slightly out of date when compared with “The Red” but often offer more detailed descriptions and read more…

The Perfect Trad Climbing Rack For Red River Gorge

Red Rover Gorge Kentucky Climbing Guide Service, Traditional Climbing Clinics, Trad Climbing Clinics, Trad Routes in Red River Gorge, Cams, Nuts, Stoppers, Trad Rack

Photo courtesy Billy Simek

The “Standard Rack”

As climbing guide in Red River Gorge, I often get asked “What is the best trad rack for climbing the area.” You’ll frequently hear that a particular route requires a “standard rack”, but no one one ever defines what a standard rack is. Guidebooks and climbers are reluctant to define a standard rack is because, well.. it is subjective. It depends greatly on the comfort level of the climber on the terrain, and how much gear will use to safely protect the route. Add to that, the fact that each climb is unique and will take a variety of gear and sizes to protect it. 

Disclaimer: Purchasing a Trad Rack is only the first step, one has to then learn how to use it! Seek a qualified mentor or Climbing School to help you along the way. 

 

RRG Cracks Are Full of Variety

The Red River Gorge is rarely ever “splitter” a term used to describe parallel sided cracks. Splitters stay a consistent size for the duration of the climb. The cracks here in Red River Gorge are filled with variation both from top to bottom, as well as in depth. While a climb may take a #2 Black Diamond Camalot near the surface, further back in the crack may reveal a #1 read more…

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