The sign as you enter the campground reads Rocky Top Retreat, but everybody knows it simply as Roger’s. “Hi, I’m Roger,” were the first words you heard upon arrival, whether that was a few months or 10 years ago. Located near the top of Kaymoor crag, Roger’s campground has been the home base of thousands of climbers since 1993. To pretty much everyone’s dismay, Roger Fox (“That’s Foxxx with three Xs – did you get that?”) hung it up at the end of 2011, leaving a hole in the fabric of the New River Gorge climbing community. The New River Gorge Adventure Guide caught up with Roger as he shut down last fall to get the beta on what’s next.
Q How would you describe yourself?
A That’s your job, you can describe me.
Q Nicest guy at the New River Gorge?
A I doubt it. They haven’t seen me in the morning.
Q How would you describe Roger’s campground?
A Rogers? It’s like livin’ in a park. It’s Roger’s neighborhood. I just don’t wear the sweater.
Q Your hosting style?
A Unique … how’s that? I had 18 years to perfect it. I like everybody to have a good time. It’s what you come down here for. Just can’t keep the rain off of ya. I pay the weather bill but it gets stuck.
Q When did you buy the property?
A About 30 years ago. I bought it from the land company. It used to be the coal company and then they changed it to a land company because they held so much land.
Q Do you remember the first day you opened for business?
A We had an accident. Somebody fell down the cliff. It took the park service four hours to get him. Today it would take probably 10 hours to get him.
Q How many campers do you estimate you have hosted over the years?
A A million (laughs).
Q How many on an average weekend?
A I don’t know. Sixty to 70.
Q Why did you decide to close?
A ’Cause of health reasons. Sick of workin’.
Q What kind of reactions did you get when you told people you were closing?
A People don’t like it, but I can’t help it. If they try to bribe me, a million dollars would do it.
Q Your four acres and house are for sale. Asking price?
A Million dollars.
Q You’re the million dollar man.
A That’s it.
Q What if you don’t sell?
A I’ll live here. In peace and harmony. The house suits me just fine.
Q What are you going to do now?
A I’m goin’ on a two year vacation – and (won’t) leave the house.
Q What else?
A A hobby.
A Shootin’ campers.
Q Have you ever kicked anybody out?
A About 40 people. Yeah, it’s pretty fun. Just go away. The road goes both ways, just don’t stop here. You get some jackasses every year.
Q What does someone have to do to get kicked out?
A Shootin’ potato guns at climbers. That would do it.
Q Thank you for kicking that person out.
Q What will you do when somebody shows up and pitches a tent in 2012?
A Get the squirrel gun out. It’s huntin’ season. All year long.
Q I’m sensing a little burnout here, Roger.
A Yeah, that’s it.
Q Where are people going to camp now?
A Anywhere they want to.
Photograph by Mary Reed
Category: Rock Climbing