After taking down nearly every test-piece and open project in the New River Gorge, Alex Megos has moved on to the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. Megos dispatched Southern Smoke Direct (5.14d) and an open project known as Your Heaven, My Hell (5.14d) on his first day in the Red.
Megos tried Southern Smoke Direct three years ago, but was unable to send before leaving the Red. The line begins with a V13/14 boulder problem, with powerful moves between thin pinches and shallow pockets. Adam Ondra flashed the route in 2012, which was one of the world's hardest first-try ascents at the time. This time around, Megos polished off the Red test-piece in a matter of hours.
If that wasn't enough, Megos, climbing 16 days with only one rest day, took a whack at a project and neighbor of Southern Smoke. When Adam Taylor bolted Your Heaven, My Hell, he thought it might be as hard as 5.15-, which would be the first of its grade in the area. Now that Megos has bagged its first ascent and suggested 5.14d, as the RRG Fixed Gear Initiative puts it, “seems like we will have to wait for that elusive first 5.15 in the Red.”
Megos has almost exhausted the supply of hard climbs at another iconic American sport climbing destination, and the Red's locals are looking hard for projects to throw his way. Jason Halladay suggests on Facebook that Megos attack the Sharma Project, envisioned and equipped by the legend, Chris Sharma, himself. No grade has been proposed for the open project, but one commenter on the RRG's online guide says, “Heard it's comparable to doing multiple V14s in a row.”