Harry Edwards: Southern Smoke (5.14c) and the Value of Family

posted by dpm on 04/30/2013

A few months ago, we reported on 12-year-old Harry Edwards' bang up trip to the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. He'd redpointed two 5.14a's, some 5.13+'s and more. Just recently, on a return trip to the Red from his home in Arizona, Harry ticked Southern Smoke (5.14c), his hardest route to date. Harry's dad wrote on the family blog, "Southern Smoke had taken a lot of work on Harry's part, and had entailed two low-percentage crux moves off horrible edges which taller climbers bypass. Jen (Harry's mom), who had become increasingly anxious to get home, had agreed to extend the trip to give Harry a shot at success and finally, that success had come."

Harry Edwards on Southern Smoke (5.14c). Photo: Edwardsfamilyclimbers.com

Harry's success is another indication of a phenomenon that can't be ignored; kids these days are killing it. This is the third "kid" ascent of Southern Smoke after 11-year-old Ashima Shiraishi and 13-year-old Kai Lightner. Despite its difficulty, Southern Smoke is emerging as the next God's Own Stone, a 5.14a route that has been stomped by the young crowd.  The common thread between all these talented young climbers is the level of support they receive from their families, demonstrated in this case by Jen's selfless act of extending the trip to give Harry time to send.

The value of a strong family support system in the success of these youngsters can't be overstated. While it's the kids that deservedly receive most of the praise for their ascents, it shouldn't be overlooked that all their achievements would likely be impossible without parents that are dedicated to their positive growth and development. The Edwards Family blog, "Gunning for 5.15 in a Supportive Family Context," explores the value of family, spending time together, and pursuing passions in life, not just as a means to 'send' but as a means to develop life skills and maturity.

They write on their blog that, "Rock climbing makes kids stronger in many aspects of their lives. Proficient climbing demands physical fitness, courage, discipline, trust, creativity, patience, and intelligence. Climbing helps children learn respect and gratitude for nature. Climbing helps children learn that happiness comes from rich and fulfilling experiences, not from money and cheap entertainment. Climbing teaches the universally-applicable principle that persistent, hard work brings success."

Read more about the value of climbing and family at the Edwards family's website, Edwardsfamilyclimbers.com. 

Harry Edwards on The Christmas Project, a 5.14 route he claimed the first ascent of when he was ten-years-old. Photo: Edwardsfamilyclimbers.com