love song for an area: the cove

22 10 2008

as most of my friends well know – i have a ‘thing’ for bouldering in kentucky.  some might suggest that i don’t have a good aesthetic barometer (i.e. i like “choss”), but the truth is i am just easily stoked on climbing boulders.  i’m a rock ‘whore’ of sorts.  and by that i mean i am hard-pressed to dismiss a rock climb.  the way i see it, if i can’t do it then it needs doing; the forest is full of johns.

while i have long extolled the limited virtues of morehead climbing (a smattering of semi-chossy sandstone pebbles about an hour east of lexington and 30 minutes north of the red river gorge), i have pretty much steered clear of what little bouldering we have in the red river gorge.  it has always seemed a bit ridiculous to head to the red without a rope; millions of posts kindly suggest the same.  and by kindly i mean somewhere between a good flaming and a mob-carry to the scaffold.

but this season i decided to give the red another go with the pad.  not only would this protect me from abject failure on routes (knowing i’m gonna fail before i fail is disheartening), but would give me some much needed power time on the rock before the temps get good down south.

so i took a gander at my trusty red river bouldering guide.  where had i not been?  what had i not found disgustingly awful?  and most importantly, where are the big numbers?  all answers pointed to one locale…

the cove.  featured in my last (and only) video as well as a jemerson vid from last winter, the cove is a steep sandstone roof area featuring 20 problems from v3-v12 with the vast majority landing in the v6-8 range.

first let me say something.  no – you can’t top out at the cove.  the fact that people have dismissed this area because of its ‘lack’ is absolutely mind-boggling.  here are some examples of mind-boggle creation.

“it kinda defeats the purpose of bouldering if you don’t top out”

WTF?  really?  how many hours have we all spent on hangboards, campus rungs, plastic cobble NOT TOPPING OUT?  come to think of it, how many problems do we do where the topout is inconsequential?  don’t get me wrong, i loves me a good grunting horrorfest 20′ off the deck, but i boulder because i like climbing hard moves, not because i get to pwn the rock after i do all of them.  i also find it funny this crusade against ‘wallering (bouldering sans topout) originates amongst a group of people who never topout: sport climbers.  maybe if we put some chains at the cove they’d come around.

“it’s all roofs”

exactly.  roofs are rad.  they not only allow me to use my front lever training, but they allow for some super-sick movement.  in fact, roofs are so rad i’d have to imagine that roof naysayers naysay largely because they can’t hang (on holds in roofs).  get to trainin’ kids.

this post isn’t all defensive posturing.  it also has a kudos list:

1) the cove is always empty.  this is good for ____________ or ____________ or _______________.

2) the entire place stretches no more than 70 yards from end to end.  wanna move to another ‘area’…. done.

3) there are more heel-toe cams, toe hooks, heel hooks, and bicycles per square foot than anywhere else in the world (maybe an exaggeration, but this is a blog not an encyclopedia….yet).

4) it has one of north america’s few death fall but NOT highball boulder problems.

5) the view is spectacular.  one of the best in the red.

that’s it.  love song complete.  if you happen to be down this way then bring a pad, fire me an email, and we’ll go cove-ing.





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