October 5-7, 2012, Kentucky's famed Red River Gorge will again play host to the annual Rocktoberfest climbing festival and fundraiser. This year's event is special, however, as it marks the completion of the Pendergrass-Murray Recreation Preserve purchase, the largest land acquisition by a local climbing organization ever in the United States. Petzl is proud to have played a part in this precedent-setting acquisition and to once again support Rocktoberfest.
Emily Harrington at RocTrip Red River Gorge. Photo: © John Evans / Petzl
In 2004, the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGC) purchased a 750-acre plot of land in rural Kentucky containing over 26 crags and 500 routes. This land, known as the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP), was the largest tract ever purchased by a local climbing organization. It did not come cheap. The yearly payment on the PMRP amounted to roughly $30,000. Within a few years of the initial purchase, the RRGCC was struggling to consistently raise the funds needed to keep the land and ensure free climbing access in perpetuity.
With this in mind, in October 2007, Petzl joined forces with the RRGCC to organize a RocTrip at the world-famous sandstone climbing area. Since 2000, the RRGCC had been hosting an annual climbing event called Rocktoberfest to raise funds for trail maintenance and other expenses. Early in 2007, a Petzl employee named Greg Houston, a one-time Red River Gorge local, saw the Red's potential as a RocTrip site. He mentioned the idea to Bentley Brackett and Morgain Sprague, of the RRGCC, who then brought the idea to John Evans, Petzl America Marketing Director, and Chuck Odette, Petzl America Events Coordinator. The concept was well received all around. The wheels were set in motion.
RocTrip Meets Rocktoberfest
From Millau, France, to Getu, China, Petzl has held RocTrips all across the world since 2002, always with a component of giving back to the local area and community in one way or another. At the Red River Gorge, the goal was to raise money to help pay off the PMRP. The event was an enormous success. That October, over 900 people descended into the deep green hollows filled with amazing sandstone sport and trad climbing. Petzl and the Petzl Foundation offered to match donations raised at the event up to $12,000 dollars. In the end, the local community, with the help of many generous event sponsors and spurred on by Petzl's dollar matching, raised over $30,000 for the cause.
"Something really significant about the RocTrip/Rocktoberfest collaboration was that it set the stage for future success," says Brackett. "Our goal was to raise the entire PMRP mortgage payment during Rocktoberfest. 2007 was the first year we managed that, and we've done it every year since."
Mickael Fuselier on Swingline, at the Darkside Crag, RocTrip Red River Gorge. Photo: © John Evans / Petzl
Also of note, according to Brackett, is the fact that there were, before RocTrip, a lot of projects in the Red that had been bolted and deemed futuristic in their difficulty. RocTrip brought in the talent to send the routes, or at least show that they could be done. After RocTrip, the standard of difficult climbing at the Red went way up. Already growing in popularity in 2007, the Red River Gorge officially became a global climbing destination after the RocTrip came to town, and that growth continues to this day.
Although the PMRP purchase is coming to a close, the RRGCC continues to work tirelessly to identify and purchase amazing crags in the Red River Gorge region. "There's more than one Motherlode out there," said Brackett, referring to one of the Red's most popular and steepest crags. "We have them on our radar and our goal is to open them to climbing access."
See You There!
In the years following Petzl RocTrip Red River Gorge, the RRGCC was able to consistently meet the payment schedule for the property. This year's Rocktoberfest marks the final payment on the PRMP purchase. Petzl is happy to have played a part in this historic acquisition and looks forward to seeing everybody at Rocktoberfest 2012!
Team Petzl at RocTrip Red River Gorge. Photo: © John Evans
Video from Petzl RocTrip Red River Gorge: