Kentucky's Premier Rock Climbing Guide Service, based in the Red River Gorge.

Red River Gorge, KY Guided Rock Climbing

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 Owner and Founder Bluegrass Climbing School American Mountain Guide Association Certified Guide Rock Guide Single Pitch Instructor Guided Climbing in Red River Gorge

Erik Kloeker

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor

AMGA Rock Guide Aspirant

NOLS Wilderness First Responder

Erik is the owner and founder of Bluegrass Climbing School. He has been professionally guiding in the United States and abroad for the last 8 years. Born in the great Bluegrass State of Kentucky, 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 Big Walls across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. He’s excited to share what he’s learned along the way, back in the place it all started, the Red River Gorge.
Erik’s main emphasis is on education. He finds it equally rewarding introducing newcomers to the sport or teaching new techniques to seasoned pros.

Erik gives back to his community by volunteering with the American Safe Climbing Association and Red River Gorge’s Fixed Gear Initiative, where he has partnered to replace over a 1000 worn and rusty bolts in Red River Gorge area and abroad. 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 down South, operating Climb Potrero Mountain Guides; offering multi-pitch climbing in Northern Mexico’s 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 after he went on a climbing trip to 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 and has a passion for sharing his love of climbing with others and puts an emphasis on being an educator first.

female rock climbing guide in red river gorge

Hannah Kearse

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor

NOLS Wilderness First Aid Certified

Meet Hannah. Originally from Colorado, she spent most of her childhood playing in the mountains out west. When not climbing in the Red River Gorge, you may find her out skiing, surfing, mountaineering, or anything else but working a 9-5. Hannah fell in love with climbing in college and discovered a passion for instructing while studying a minor in outdoor leadership. Since graduating she has had the opportunity to climb all over the country and internationally in places like Alaska, California, Utah, Spain, Tanzania, and Mexico. However, the rock in the Red River Gorge is her favorite and where she chooses to spend most of her time.

Hannah has been described as personable and competent. You can expect a fun and productive day out climbing with her.

Travis Sapp, Bluegrass Climbing School Owner, AMGA Certified Multi-Pitch Instructor, Trad Climbing Instructor, Sport Climbing Instructor

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.

 

Red River Gorge Guided Climbing and Private Course Rates

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, long before the Red River Gorge was known as the world class climbing destination, Miguel started serving up food to hungry climbers, it has been an oasis for climbers ever since. As the climbing community grew, so too did Miguel’s which now offers more than just pizza, including delicious sandwiches, bowls, salads and an excellent breakfast menu. As well as a great selection of ice cold beer and Margaritas.

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. The Rockhouse is a popular choice amongst local climbers, we recommend coming early for dinner or good luck getting a table on busy weekends. Nonetheless we find the food always comes out fast no matter how busy they are. 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 guided rock climbing brendan leader second edition the red climbing guidebook

 

The Red – 2nd Edition (2022). Brendan Leader. $35.00 ISBN:0958079099

The second edition of the popular “The Red” guidebook includes all of the Sport Climbing crags in the area along with the trad climbs within those sport climbing areas. This book currently leaves out most trad climbing only areas so if trad is your thing you might want to pick up the Red River Gorge “North” guidebook. “The Red – 2nd Edition” is currently the most up to date guidebook for Red River Gorge with the new edition adding about 250 new climbs since the last edition. Overall it’s a great bang for your buck for most Climbers traveling to the region. We really like the format and layout of the book, and how up to date the info is. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Top Pick For Locals

These guidebooks are the most comprehensive for the area, bar none. They’re a great choice for locals and collectors who want to have it all. They are slightly more out of date when compared with “The Red” but 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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