Letter From James Pearson: Two week trip to Ticino in Switzerland

© James Pearson

Hope all is well. I've just returned from a two week trip to Ticino in Switzerland and thought I would send you a little bit of info on what I got up to.

The trip got off to a great start. On my second climbing day, I made what I believe to be the third ascent of a solid 8b called General Disarray. It is a fantastic problem, involving big moves on friendly holds. I should have done it on my first day but I ran out of energy so had to wait for for my second day, when I did it first go.

James Pearson The Ganymede Takeover (his first confirmed Font 8b flash)
© James Pearson

On my third day I onsighted a highball 8a+ called Sissyfuss. I was at the area to try an 8c called From Dirt Grows the Flowers (FDGTF) and my friend asked me if I would try Sissyfuss and work out the beta for him. The problem is high and slopey, you can't see what the holds are like from the ground. I had no idea of what to do but made a plan of how I thought I might climb it and set off. The rock was a lot slicker than I was expecting and I felt close to slipping off the initial moves. I made it to what I thought might be the crux and to my surprise I managed to stick the sloper. I soon realised that the true difficulties lay higher up, but I kept it together and carefully climbed through the balancy moves to the top. Later on that day I tried FDGTF and managed most of the moves before darkness stopped play.

James Pearson The Great Shark Hunt (second confirmed Font 8b flash).
© Simon Richardson/DarkPeakImages
I returned to FDGTF and managed to link a few sections together and start to work out a sequence on the slopey madness that is the topout. I left again in the dark, feeling confident that I could do it at some point in the near future.

Then came the rain. Days and days of traipsing around wet crags looking for dry holds or sitting in the apartment going out of my mind. The clear skies forecast failed to appear until the last day but the boulders were still sodden. Armed with some toilet roll, chalk, and five days worth of psych' I was determined to climb something. I remembered about the Deliverance bloc and its short, steep crimpy problems, figuring that it might be possible to dry them out. After a few rolls of toilet paper and a bag of chalk I decided the problems were dry enough to climb.

Schule des Lebens is a short, crimpy 8b on the Deliverance boulder. Due to the basic nature of the holds and most of the moves I decided that it might be possible to flash. I watched some friends trying the moves and planned out a potential sequence. The first move definitely looked like the hardest and I was incredibly nervous about pulling on knowing that the following seconds could mean success or failure. The starting holds felt really small and the necessary body position didn't appear obvious. I focused on what I thought would work, making sure that my feet were placed precisely before firing upwards for the edge. I stuck it and tightened up my core so I could move my feet. The next few moves went well and after a little bit of a fight with the last two moves I had made it to the top. My third 8b flash, fantastic.

After a few minutes rest I re-chalked my hands and sat back down on the mats. No Mystery 8a+ shares the same first move as Schule des Lebens before moving leftwards via good, spaced holds. Confident from my flash, I pulled on but I couldn't help feeling nervous especially as I knew how hard the first move was. I hit the hold and was surprised at how much easier it felt. After composing myself I climbed smoothly to the top for another satisfying ascent.

James Pearson on Vecchio Leone Font 8b
© James Pearson
It was turning into a very good day, it's amazing how well you feel once a few things have gone your way and after a rest I started to look at the super low start. I worked out the moves pretty quickly but I was finding it tough to stick the big move on the link. My heel kept slipping out at the last minute but I finally got it to stick and started to move to the top. The moves felt really tough and I was close to falling off but just managed to push on to the top.

The light and my strength were fading. I wanted to climb the super low start into Schule des Lebens but even with a last ditch head torch effort I couldn't quite manage it. As annoying and sad as failing can be, it just means that you have something to come back for.

So after a very damp start, it turned into a great day, a fitting finale to a great trip. All of my ascents were filmed by Crabstix Productions and will appear in "The Uprising" which is due out in 2008. I am also trying to get hold of some pictures or video stills but I am going to be away from home until late December so it might be tricky.

Take it easy,


James Pearson, 21, aka Keen Youth, has been climbing since 2001, first bouldering then routes, his second lead was Kaluza Klein E7 soon followed by The Zone E9 6c, Knocking on Heavens Door E9 6c, Equilibrium E10 7a and then his own E10, The Promise at Burbage North.

His bouldering highlights include three Font 8b flashes, The Ganymede Takeover, Schule des Lebens and The Great Shark Hunt.

Based in Matlock, Derbyshire he is at the moment on a bouldering trip.

You can watch James Pearson climb in the Hot Aches film, Committed, that includes the award=winning short, Keen Youth - "Best Short Film" at Kendal Mountain Film Festiva 2007.

James Pearson is sponsored by The North Face, Five Ten and WildCountry.

30 Nov, 2007
Are those Donkey marks really necesary, a real eeore(eyesore!), when are people going to realise this grafiti is eco vandalism and totally unaceptable, the thing is the tick marks are more often than not left by these lazy Kevin the teenagers! You can certainly see why access is becoming a problem in these sensitive areas.
30 Nov, 2007
on the scale of eco-vandalism i don't think some removable chalk really counts - yeah it doesn't look pretty, but lets face it a flight to Switzerland is alot more damaging...
30 Nov, 2007
From the photos it should be called Tickino!
30 Nov, 2007
True but very visually offensive, certainly to locals and visitors alike akin to urban grafiti, no traces should be left in these unspoilt places. Shows a total lack of respect for the environment. You are right about the hipocrisy of flying to dick around on boulders in this day and age !!??
30 Nov, 2007
You bet.
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