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Arizona 12-Year-Old Sends 14s in the Red


Photo of Harry Edwards climbing The Christmas Project courtesy of Rob Edwards.Spending three weeks in the Red River Gorge with his father and brother, 12-year-old Harry Edwards sent God’s Own Stone (5.14a) and Omaha Beach (5.14a), and onsighted Flour Power (5.13b) and Dirty Smelly Hippie (5.13b). The hitherto unknown Harry, of Holbrook, Arizona, has been climbing hard for several years now, and may have climbed his first 5.14 at age 10. 

“When Harry turned 9 and began to exhaust the routes within his wingspan at the climbing areas closest to our home, I began searching for and bolting new routes for him,” Rob Edwards, Harry’s father, recalled in an e-mail to Rock and Ice.

One of those he prepared was Wolverine (5.13b) on the New Side wall in Mentmore, located in the Gallup, New Mexico, area. Harry, still 9, gained the first ascent in that same year. Harry went on to redpoint his possible first 5.14 four months before his 11th birthday.

That "epiphany" only just occurred, says Rob, "when Harry broadened his experience on consensus routes at the 13d and 14a grades at the Red.”

The potential 5.14 came a year and a half ago, when Rob bolted a new route in a nearby canyon around Christmas time. With a few months of work, in April 2011, Harry redpointed The Christmas Project.

The route takes a series of tiny edges and shallow pockets up a slightly overhanging wall.

"The final crux involves a match on a credit-card edge," Rob tells us. "It’s plain hard.”

Harry calls it the hardest route he’s ever done, according to Rob: A few months ago he tried to repeat it, "and was humbled pretty quickly." Harry has climbed 5.13d’s in three states, as well as the harder God’s Own Stone and Omaha Beach in the Red, and feels it exceeds the difficulty of all of those.

While there, he also redpointed Ultra Perm and Swingline (both 5.13d) and The Madness (5.13c).

Although unsure about when they'll be able to get back to Kentucky, Harry hopes to focus on Southern Smoke (5.14c) and Lucifer (5.14c) whenever he returns. For the time being, he and Rob are developing a limestone cliff in Northern Arizona.

"Last winter, I bolted a project in that area which appeared to be 'hardest yet' material for Harry," Rob tells us. "He is looking forward to getting on it." 

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