By Linda Kor
The rock climbing world is dominated by strong, lean athletes who have incredible endurance and coordination, as well as the mental capability to overcome the fear of being hundreds of feet above the ground protected only by rope and aluminum alloy anchors.
A mental image of such an athlete is not likely to bring to mind a 12-year-old boy just under five feet tall, but that’s exactly who has been catching the attention of the nation’s rock climbing community.
Harry Edwards of Holbrook recently returned from a trip to Red River Gorge, Ky., with his father Rob Ed-wards and younger brother Preston, where he succeeded in climbing some extremely difficult routes, bringing attention from Rock and Ice Magazine, which has just published an online article on him.
According to Edwards, rock climbs range in difficulty from 5.1 to 5.15. Harry has to date succeeded in climbing two of the most famous 5.14 routes in the United States: God’s Own Stone and Omaha Beach, both in Red River Gorge. Those climbs took him six and seven tries, respectively. In other words, on his sixth try, he was able to climb God’s Own Stone from bottom to top without falling. On his seventh try, he was able to climb Omaha Beach without falling. In the climbing world, for a 12-year-old to succeed on a 5.14 is almost unheard of.
It was while on the trip Edwards realized that his son has been climbing 5.14 since he was 10 years old. “In the spring of 2011, a few months before his 11th birthday, Harry climbed a route close to Holbrook which is even more difficult than the 14s he climbed in Kentucky,” said Edwards. “Success required approximately 80 attempts spread out over a period of three-and-a-half months. The significance of Harry’s spring 2011 climb is that it likely makes him the youngest person in the world to climb a 5.14.”
Other 10-year-olds known to have accomplished this feat include a girl from Boulder, Colo., and a boy from Italy, both of whom were within days of turning 11.
Not to be left behind, Harry’s 9-year-old brother Preston also has the rock climbing fever and on that same trip to Kentucky, climbed several 5.12 routes.
Edwards said both boys trained diligently for months prior to the Kentucky trip. Their typical training regimen consisted of doing 20 pull-ups, 30 push-ups in quick succession followed immediately by climbing six to 10 difficult 15’ high routes up their home training wall without resting between them.
Harry is not only a world class climber, but also a positive role model for other kids. In order to perform at the level he needs to, the young athlete takes care of his body through exercise and proper diet. In addition, Harry has a positive self-image that’s nurtured through family support.
Harry continues to climb at a world class level for his age, and hopes in the future to succeed on 5.15 climbs.
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By Linda Kor