Posted on: June 1, 2008

Red River Gorge wood rat fires When Doves Cry with ease. (Must be the core strength.) [Photo] Bart Bledsoe

It's common to see wildlife in Kentucky's Red River Gorge: deer abound, as do snakes (climbers have learned to keep their eyes open for copperheads and rattlers in particular), and wood rats can often be found scurrying along the base of the crags. But when local climber Bart Bledsoe began bouldering out his favorite offwidth problem, the thirty-five-foot roof crack When Doves Cry on Pistol Ridge, he wasn't thinking of the fauna. He was thus a bit surprised when a rat leapt four feet straight up into the crack and stuck the landing. Bledsoe inserted his head to watch, which forced the rat out to the lip of the roof, where the crack was at its widest. Bledsoe grabbed his camera, placed one of the cams he'd been carrying for training weight for perspective and snapped this photo. “He looked pretty calm,” Bledsoe recalls of the wood rat. “He's a much better climber than I.”

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