Uniting Canada's Largest Climbing Community

The Brotherhood
On my way back from Chattanooga I stopped in Lexington to visit some old friends. We used to spend months every year climbing in the Red in the early 90s and into the 2000s. During that time we became close friends with many of the local climbers who were responsible for developing the Gorge into a world-class climbing area.

And while over the years we tried to remain close to all those folks, people moved away or had other significant life changes (marriage and families) that made it more challenging to stay in touch.

We eventually resigned ourselves to the idea that maintaining that previous level of familiarity was not going to happen. We had all moved on in one way or another. Still, it was difficult coming to terms with this new reality. These folks had come up to Toronto for our wedding and we had travelled down south for theirs. We had spent New Years together and countless other days just enjoying each other's company. But in the end, age and time had transformed our relationships. We still cared about each other, but the banality of life seemed to prevent us from spending time together.

When I arrived in Lexington, I had few expectations. I would see Matt Brotherton, whose house I was staying at, and most likely no one else. I was okay with this. After all, it was a bit unrealistic to expect that we would all get together for beer and the seemingly endless matches of Tekken we enjoyed over 20 years ago.

So upon entering Matt's house, I was more than a little surprised to see so many friends from those past years. During the evening we reminisced about those earlier times where it seemed like we had the whole Red River Gorge almost to ourselves. We joked about how quiet the cliffs used to be and how much we missed climbing at now closed crags like the Hominy Hole and Pocket Wall. We talked about our relationships (successful or otherwise), kids, work and of course climbing. And while it was clear that none of us were the same person we were when we first met, we were still connected by a shared past. Climbing had brought us together over 20 years ago and it created a connection that could still draws us together today.

The next evening I went to the local bouldering gym with Matt and Craig. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed climbing with these guys. Craig asked me what my climbing plans were for the new year. I thought about what I was going to say. I could tell him that I was considering giving up on climbing in southern Ontario (the access issues and logistics have gotten old), or that I was likely to be driving seven hours north on weekends to develop a new cliff. I choose the latter.

He looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just drive a few more hours and come climbing with us?”   

I thought about what he said. Some of my best memories are from the times I was climbing with these guys. Sure, the Gorge is an incredible place, but it’s the personal connections that make this place special – at least for me. And really, what’s a few more hours of driving to climb with friends you’ve known for over 20 years.

Red River Gorge Friends Jan 2015

Front row from left to right:
Matt Brotherton, Gus Alexandropoulos, Porter Jarrard, John Wallace, Matt “Shag Nasty” Weddington, Brian Toy
Back row from left to right:
Hugh Loeffler, Roscoe Klausing, Jason Mclennan, Craig Smith

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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 35 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid-80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.