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Bayes Wilder Sends Two V12s (Two Months After 5.14c). He’s Only 10

He may be the youngest climber to have put down 5.14c. And he just added two V12s to his tick list.

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Bayes Wilder is having a pretty dang good year. He sent his first 5.14a, Rodeo Free Europe, in Wild Iris, last July. Then, in November, he put down Southern Smoke, his first 5.14c (yep, he skipped a grade). And a few weeks ago, he put down two V12s—Barefoot on Sacred Ground and Rumble in the Jungle—during a trip to Hueco Tanks, the latter of which he did in a day.

And the best part? Please, refrain from quitting climbing, because Bayes is only 10.

“Climbing is my life,” he told Climbing over the phone. “I just like all the crazy cool stuff in climbing. I love knee bars, toe hooks, heel hooks. … It’s so abstract.”

Bayes Wilder cuts loose on Chbalanke, V11. (Photo: Wilder Family Collection)

Bayes has been climbing since he was 2, when he first started hanging on the homewall that his dad, Matt Wilder, built. Wilder is a former pro himself, who has climbed up to V14 and 5.14d (The Fly, in Rumney, New Hampshire).

“It’s really fun to climb with him and challenge myself to try stuff that he likes,” said Bayes. “And he really supports me and can give me all these nice little tips that can help me through the climb.” The family lives in Boulder, Colorado, where Bayes trains on Team ABC.

When Bayes and his family went to the Red River Gorge, Kentucky in November, Southern Smoke was on the mind; he’d heard of other young, shorter climbers having success on the climb, so he thought it might suit him. Southern Smoke, first ascended by Joe Kinder, is located just left of Ultra-Perm (5.13d) at the Bob Marley crag. It charges up a series of pockets before transitioning to finish on Ultra-Perm’s final crux. Bayes struggled on the transition, which consisted of “lots of slopers, bad holds.”

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He got on the climb early in the two-week trip but felt shut down, so he climbed other stuff, including God’s Own Stone (5.14a), and built up his confidence. He returned to Southern Smoke near the end of their trip “in the mode of the Red.”

“When I got through all the cruxes and was on Ultra-Perm, I just felt so close, and I felt adrenaline,” said Bayes. “I was so excited. I got to the top and it was just so surreal. I was really psyched to do it and climb on such an amazing, fun route.”

He sent the route on his third day, fifth try (seventh if you count his two romps up Ultra-Perm), making him possibly the youngest climber ever to send 5.14c. Ashima Shiraishi sent the same route at age 11 in 2012. 

Speaking of which, ABC coach Robyn Erbesfield Raboutou told Climbing Bayes is “as amazing or more than Brooke or Ashima were at that age.” Both Brooke Raboutou, Olympian, and Shirishi are top world climbers. 

After returning home, next up was Hueco—one trip during the week of Thanksgiving, and a two-week trip over Christmas and New Years. Bayes has been going to Hueco with his family on and off for the past three years. He lit up when talking about the place: “I just like going there so much.” Prior to his latest trip there, he set the goal of climbing V12. 

Bayes Wilder on Rumble in the Jungle, V12. (Photo: Wilder Family Collection)

Shooting past that, Bayes ended up climbing two V12s, one V11, and three V10s, all on the second trip to the southern desert.

Rumble in the Jungle was on our last day and I got so many knee bars on it!” he said. “And one of those knee bars was a no-hands, and I could twist around into this awkward position to keep going on the climb. And Barefoot on Sacred Ground just had such fun moves. I just really liked the moves on Barefoot, too.”

If you google either of these climbs, you’ll see footage of pros like Alex Puccio, Jeremy Fullerton, and Nina Williams trying hard. Now, watch Bayes absolutely smash them. 

“I was trying hard. Really hard.” 

Sureeeee…

“I was pretty nervous about whether I would do [these climbs] or not but the nerves weren’t fully on my mind,” he said. “I was just going to have fun on cool moves and do it or not do it”

Interviewing Bayes, I was constantly impressed by his maturity. He was egoless, stoked. He said: “I want to have climbing in my life for a long time…”