Crown Jewel of the Red River Gorge
Welcome new climbers!
Muir Valley extends a welcome mat to climbers brand new or relatively new to this exciting sport. To help assure your first adventures on these beautiful rock faces are safe and exhilarating, the Muir Valley owners offer the following advice:
1. First and foremost, to climb in Muir Valley you are required to first fill out a waiver for yourself. It also covers any children under 18 years of age who accompany you. Click here to sign an on-line waiver for climbing in Muir Valley.
2. If you have never climbed outdoors before—regardless of your experience in a climbing gym—you would be wise to hire a rock climbing guide to help introduce you to the sport. Click here for a list of excellent guides who are permitted to guide in Muir Valley.
3. Because there are very few places in the Red River Gorge area where a rope system can be set up atop a climb, you will need to learn how to lead climb early on. This is best done under the watchful eye of an expert on a climbing route that is well below your level of skill. Some climbing gyms offer training in lead climbing. And most guide services in the Red can provide you with this training.
4. Learning to lead climb is only half the equation. You will also need to have a partner to belay you who has also been trained in lead belaying. This skill is hugely different than the simple skill of belaying a top-ropped climber in a gym. Several climbing accidents have happened recently due to a belayer not knowing how to safely belay the lead climber.
5. Cleaning the anchors is a very important technique that all climbers need to know how to perform. This is the act of retrieving one's gear after finishing a climb and before descending back to the ground. Improper cleaning and descending have resulted in several serious accidents in recent years. To provide you with a safe place to practice your anchor cleaning skills, the Muir owners have installed several sets of top anchors at locations around the Valley and at a height of less than 8 feet. These practice anchors are just like the ones at the tops of climbs, yet they allow for an instructor to stand by to closely observe your actions and offer coaching advice.
6. Observe two basic rules—especially during your first few dozen climbs: 1) Always wear a helmet—both as a climber and as a belayer. Many a time a serious accident has been avoided because a helmet was employed. and 2) Stick clip the first bolt. Countless ankle injuries, along with more serious types, could have been avoided by using one of these tools. A stick clip is simply a telescoping painters' pole with a gadget on the distal end that grasps one of your quickdraws, with the rope going through the lower carabiner. You can reach up and clip your draw onto the first bolt about 15 feet off the ground, so that you are essentially on a belayed top rope climb until you reach the first bolt. If at any time you pop off the wall before reaching the first bolt, your belayer can prevent you from hitting the ground.
7. Once you have mastered the basic skills of lead climbing, belaying, and cleaning anchors, you should gain experience by climbing with skilled, responsible climbers who can help you in honing your skills.