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The Dark Side

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American Dream S 
Barn Dance S 
Big Burly S 
Elephant Man S 
Evil Emperor S 
Force, The S 
Grippy Green S 
It's a Trap! T 
Mama Benson S 
Mind Meld S 
Padawan S 
Praestantissimum S 
Return of Darth Moll S 
Shanghai S 
Small Fry S 
Stormtrooper T 
Straight Outta Campton S 
Swing Line S 
Techulicious S 
Tusken Raider S 
Wookie Love Nest S 
Young Jedi S 
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The Dark Side  

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Page Views: 10,062
Administrators: saxfiend, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Monomaniac on Dec 19, 2008
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45° | 29°
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38° | 28°
55° | 49°
47° | 16°
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The uninspiring left side of The Dark Side. "...


The Dark Side is a steep, pocketed wall of dark gray sandstone, similar in character to the Motherlode. Boasting the second largest concentration of 5.13 sport routes at the Red, the Dark Side is a great place to find a good project. Additionally, the crag features a number of excellent 5.12s of every grade. The options are limited in the 5.11 & below range, but there are a handful of moderates if warming up on 12a is not your thing.

The routes here are extremely steep, some of the steepest at the Red, climbing a bulging wall at a nearly constant 45 degree angle. Several body-sized huecos provide great rests on some lines, while other lines are more sustained. The cliff faces north, so receives all-day shade, making this a good option on warmer days. Also, the vast majority of the lines here stay dry in the rain.

Getting There 

From KY 11, take Fixer Rd, then take the first left. Follow this windy, paved road for a while, and continue as the road turns to dirt, passing a few houses. These roads are passable when wet. After ~1 mile of dirt, turn right onto another dirt road opposite an oil tank. Stay left, then park at an obvious RRGCC kiosk. Behind the kiosk, locate a trail that crosses the creek. Follow the trail for ~10 minutes, passing signed turn-offs to the Gold Coast & Solar Collector. Switch-back up the steep hill to the cliff, and head right when you first reach the rock. The first route encountered is "Grippy Green", 12a, which begins up a 20-foot-tall, 6"-deep, left-leaning dihedral.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.3 miles from here

22 Total Routes

['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',10],['2 Stars',5],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Dark Side:
Grippy Green   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Mama Benson   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 50'   
American Dream   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 90'   
Shanghai   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 90'   
Tusken Raider   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 60 pitches   
The Force   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   
Elephant Man   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   
Browse More Classics in The Dark Side

Featured Route For The Dark Side
Lucas, Rachel and Jessica try not to make a scene ...

Swing Line 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a  KY : Red River Gorge : ... : The Dark Side
The ultimate "power endurance" route, that would make a perfect 4x4: V4, V3, V5, V7 (or something like that...) Currently the hardest route at the Darkside, this testpiece pushes a line up the tallest part of the cave with sustained bouldering that increases in difficulty up to a poor shake before the final crux boulder problem. An ascent demands a mix of bouldering power on the small pockets, technical finesse on the poor footholds and stamina to link it all together with few rests, all on p...[more]   Browse More Classics in KY

Photos of The Dark Side Slideshow Add Photo
The Dark Side detail.  Routes shown from L --> ...
The Dark Side detail. Routes shown from L --> ...
The ridiculous cirque of The Dark Side.
The ridiculous cirque of The Dark Side.
The Dark Side from the other side of the cliff.  T...
The Dark Side from the other side of the cliff. T...
Side view of most of the Dark Side with a climber ...
Side view of most of the Dark Side with a climber ...

Comments on The Dark Side Add Comment
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By LeeAB
From: ABQ, NM
Nov 7, 2009
Mono forgot to mention the unique "pocket" band that many of the routes pass through where bowling ball grips can be found, very cool. The rock here is sharp though, many of the holds have crisp lips that help you stay on but can punish you for poor technique or desperate movement. Also I would call the wall more 30 degrees overhung, still quite steep, maybe a little steeper than the Undertow wall at The Load but not as steep as the Madness Cave or Twinkie.