Red River Gorge Best Crag in America!

New River Gorge is runner up. Dammit!

The 5th Annual New vs. Red basketball tournament finished up under a huge full moon with no shortage of drama as the Red Rockets brought their A game and edged out the Sock Monkeys on their home court, marking the first time either team lost at home. A crowd of 200 fans, including an impressive posse of 40 from the Red, packed the Kistler’s yard in Lansing cheering, chanting, shit-talking and generally whooping it up as the two well-matched teams went at it, vying for the title of Best Crag in America. Heading into the tournament the score was tied 2-2, with the Monkeys determined to bring the trophy back home.


Coach K wins the chug-off AGAIN over the Red’s Coach Pete!!


Possibly the highlight of the entire weekend was Monica Hambrick’s rendition of the National Anthem on the Alphorn!!

The tournament kicked off with possibly an American first: Monica Hambrick played the national anthem on her Alp horn, bringing a surprisingly touching and serious moment to the otherwise raucous event. As usual Coach Kenny Parker won the chug-off, crushing Coach Pete McDermott who never even finished. Pete can’t chug worth a damn but he gets big points for coming all the way from Idaho or somewhere out west where he was fighting fires.

There was no doubt shortly into game 1 Saturday night that the Red Rockets had come to win. Nik Summers, Jordan Garvey, the Ventura Brothers, Ben Ritchey and the rest of the team came out with a ferocious intensity and had the Sock Monkeys on their heels. The Monkeys rallied behind the dominating inside play of Adam Wakefield and the point guard wizardry of Patrick Cindrich to make it a competitive game but the Rockets surged at the end and took game 1.

Having recovered somewhat from his intense beer chug victory, Coach Kenny, with the expert help of local basketball legend and Pies and Pints kitchen manager Tony Preston, put together a plan in game 2. The Monkeys came out strong, and with timely substitutions, pulled ahead behind the seriously competitive drive of Point Patrick. But, not to disappoint the raging crowd, the Rockets surged back behind ultimate MVP Mark Ventura’s impressive all around game. Mark sank long range jumpers, rebounded, drove to the hoop, and just generally out-ran everybody (well he is a college cross country runner!) to come back and put the Rockets in the lead. With their backs to the wall, facing game point and a tournament loss on multiple occasions, the true spirit of the Monkeys came out. With a basketball tenacity one would not expect to see in a holler in Lansing, WV, the New River team made clutch defensive stops, made timely buckets and pulled ahead to take game 2 giving themselves more life and a deciding game 3. To show his unrivaled enthusiasm New River local and AAC campground host Paul Nelson had a premature…celebration, running onto the court spraying the Sock Monkeys with champagne mistaking a game victory for winning the whole shebang!


Jordan Garvey driving on Sock Monkey Graham “Grizzle” Elliot in Game 1

Game 3 began with an ultra intense Nik Summers and Jordan Garvey still upset at letting game 2 get away. Both teams at this point were reaching peak levels of exhaustion. Everyone was playing their hearts out and the crowd could sense it. Cheering their respective teams on, the audience literally propelled the teams on and the game started right where game 2 left off. The Sock Monkeys surged early and took the lead but the Rockets responded, behind possibly the best player to play on either team in all five years Nik Summers, squashed the Monkeys momentum and took a big lead.

At that point the tension in the holler could not possibly be higher. The Red Rockets were at game point with a big lead and all seemed done for the Monkeys. But, the combination of a completely exhausted Red Rocket team and a final ferocious defensive push from the Monkeys, prolonged the tournament giving the crowd unbelievable sports entertainment. After what seemed like an eternity Nik Summers sank a long jumper securing the Red’s victory and killing the hopes of The Sock Monkeys and their home crowd. The impossible had happened,…the home team lost.

Roman candles and the bonfire were lit, the music got loud and the beer flowed as the full moon lit the holler. Pure awesome.


The 2015 Red River Gorge Red Rockets

A write up of the tournament would be incomplete without a detailed look at Megaphone Wars. Red River climber and self proclaimed Red Rocket Mega Fan, Spencer Victory, brought his battery operated megaphone like he does every year and as soon as the games started so did his endless stream of puerile shit talking. The Sock Monkey fans did the best they could to ignore it but eventually it started getting under their skin and tensions began to rise. Emcee and NRAC board member Dave Bernier was pissed because the microphone that Gene Kistler was supposed to provide did not work so he could not counter Spencer’s irritating commentary. That went on for the entire first game. But early in the second game NRG locals Nate Smith, Matt Carpenter, and Josh Williamson went all sneaky special forces on the situation, managing to quietly heist the megaphone from an inattentive Victory. Bernier then set up shop in the Babkirk’s van and took over the shit talking detail in relative safety. Or so he thought.

Never under-estimate the Red River Gorge gal fans. Whoa. Sure enough, midway through game 2 Bernier was savagely attacked by Amanda who threw herself headfirst into the van window and had Dave in a headlock before reinforcements came to help out. Nate Smith was able to once again run away with the megaphone, though Amanda chased him all over the yard and nearly took him down. A court side scuffle ensued with a scrum of fans from both sides struggling to secure the megaphone. Alvie Walsh had to be restrained and Zak Roper reported that some girl from the Red bit him. But once again the New was victorious and maintained control of the megaphone.

Peace was finally established when Bernier and Victory settled in next to each other for game 3 and passed the mic back and forth. Civilized shit talking ensued.



The 2015 New River Gorge Sock Monkeys

We would like to thank:


Sock Monkey Patrick Cindrich guards the Rockets ace Nik Summers in the Big Game

Every single member of the Red River Gorge traveling dog and pony show. This tournament has become the highlight of our year. We love what we have created together and we salute you as partners, rivals, and friends. We have built a bridge between the Red and the New, Miguels and Water Stone Outdoors, the green and the red, that shows the world what we value and how we play. Here is to the many games to come! 

All the Sock Monkey fans who put on green, brought chairs and dogs and kids and came out out to support the team, Jason Babkirk for spinning great music all evening, Monica Hambrick for making magic with that horn, Julie Wingard for filming the event with her fancy camera, Paul Shaw for shooting stills, Ashley Ziomek for manning the ipad, Bridge Brew Works for the beer deal, Kurt Smith for providing Skratch for the teams, Dave Bernier for trying to emcee and for providing Nick Tennes with appropriate footwear, Neil Hakel and Chris Woodrum from OCD Brewing for manning the beer tent, New River Alliance of Climbers for helping pay for stuff, Tillman and Sadie for being the big dog mascots, Jeff Hearn for being the best Sock Monkey Mascot ever (who knew you could shake your booty like that?)