Tribe 9a? trad by James Pearson

Friday, 23 October

James Pearson, one of the best trad climbers in UK, has made the first repeat of Jacopo Larcher's Tribe in Cadarese. None of them have suggested any grade but as Larcher, who has done La Rambla 9a+, said that with 50+ sessions, "I have never invested so much time in a route before". Here is Larcher's video including comments from Pearso. The media have speculated Tribe to be at least 9a. This would mean that it is the hardest trad route in the world and Pearson confirms this. "Tribe is by far the hardest series of moves I have ever done on a trad-route." Interesting, it seems by Pearson's comment below, that he did it rather fast in comparison to the three years projecting by Larcher. Noteworthy is also that the 34-year-old did his first 9a in July, Condé de Choc. (c) Tristan Hobson

“I’ve known about Tribe, or at least ‘the big project at Cadarese’ for about 10 years. I’ve walked past it many times on the way to the crag, and wondered if it was possible, to climb or protect. But, despite it only taking about two minutes to set up a static rope, I had never bothered to actually look at the thing. I guess deepdown I thought it probably was impossible, like so many other King trad lines I’ve looked at over the years.

I followed Jacopo‘s journey on the route with interest, first of all interested to see if it’s possible, and later to see whether his conviction would stand the test of time and if he would put everything together. Climbing a first ascent is really hard, much much harder than making a repeat, it took a lot of curiosity for Jacopo to originally check out the line, and a lot of courage for him to stick with the process and finish it off.

I’ve been wanting to check out Tribe ever since Jacopo made the first ascent, but since Arthur was born, we’ve not really had the ability/energy/time to get stuck into a project like that. We arrived in Cadarese and everything was really really wet. For the first couple of days I got maybe an hour to an hour and a half to try the route - at the end of each day once the seepage from above and dried enough, and before it started to seep again. The conditions were pretty bad, but I managed most of the moves, by the skin of my teeth, and started to believe that one day I might be able to climb the route. After working the moves for some days, I climbed the route on my seventh lead attempt. I’d fallen pretty close to the top on numerous attempts before that, but the fickle nature of the final boulder problem often spat me off, despite not really knowing why. With lots of rain forecast over the coming days, I’d pretty much given up hope, which is probably exactly what I needed to take all the pressure off and just concentrate on climbing.

Whilst I can’t say I’ve checked out every single trad route in the world, I have been on quite a few of them, and I’ve spent a lot of time searching for my own megaproject. For me, Tribe is by far the hardest series of moves I have ever done on a trad-route, and it’s a real miracle that the thing is actually possible on gear. It’s rare to find a piece of rock compact enough to make a series of sustained hard movements, but with just enough decent gear placements. Tribe would already be an awesome sport route, and one I’m sure people would be queueing up to try to climb. What makes it really special however, is that no one needed to place bolts to climb it safely. Mother nature gave us everything that we need, right here... an amazing line, a cool series of holds, and gear placements, right where you need them.”

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