James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini recently made the 3rd and 4th ascents of the multi pitch route, Les Chemins de Katmandou, Gorges de la Jonte, 8b+ max.
It took just two days of work for James to succeed the whole route, with a further two days needed for Caroline. Chemins de Katmandou was equipped by Laurent Triay, in 2002, who made the first ascent, followed by Chris Sharma.
Caroline reports, James fell on an old copy of Climbing from 2003, with Sharma's note book published, and passed it to me feeling there were interesting ideas about motivation and comp. However, what caught my attention was a picture in Chemins de Katmandou; the route seemed amazing, and also close from my home, and so here we were, dreaming of trying it as soon as possible. Chemin kept its promises' and was a wonderful adventure. The last pitch in 8b+ is especially unbelievable; a bulging overhang, far above the gorge, perfect moves and holds, with Eagles planning just 20m from our heads!
James has recently become more and more interested in the world of Multi-pitch and Big Walls, and Les Chemins de Katmandou is the beginning of his next project. From his blog, James commented "The eventual idea is to create something very long, very hard, and very scary, but this final phase is still quite a long way off in the future. Now is the time to begin developing the necessary skills, by attempting and repeating certain existing routes, some classic, some obscure, in the style of the separate components of the master plan."
When asked about the crux pitch, James feels the 3rd pitch is simply exquisite – a contender for the best route I have climbed on limestone!.
James is a Trad virtuosi and Caroline a pure comp climber, you couldn't imagine two more different climbers. Together they teach eachother skills, and Les Chemins de Katmandou is their first step to other multi-pitch adventures...
I caught up with James for a chat:
Just finished the first of this summer's projects in La Jonte - the gorge that runs next to the Tarn very cool place! :)
Alright, MP should suit you perfectly, no? Strong sport climber with a strong head type like you!
In some ways yes...
but in others...
I get so tired, so quickly, just hanging around on the belays really takes it out of me.
Ah, I guess it takes some getting used to... the mental aspect of being on a wall for so long?
The route we did was only short, 50m 8b, 20m 7c+, 30m 8b+, but I was exhausted!
That's hard though! 8b, 7c+, 8b+ back to back... no proper rest. I'm not surprised that you got tired.
It's more tired in the big muscles of the body, just feeling stiff and sore. It was very very windy and cold, which I think tires you much quicker.
Caroline Ciavaldini had top-roped the route for a couple of days when James did it and a week or so later they were back to make an attempt and a photo shoot.
James: It was really inspirational as the top pitch is her anti-style. Really big moves, often on mono's and 2 finger pockets.
She was almost past her limit, but somehow stuck it all together on her 3rd try of the top pitch. First she tried with my beta and couldn't do the moves, then she figured out her own sequence and could do the moves, but perhaps only once in every 5 or 6 tries. Then on the first day of our photo shoot she figured out to take the crux hold as an undercut mono instead of sidepull 2 finger and it made all the difference...
Well, she still had a massive battle... there were two moves that were so far for her, she couldn't look at the holds, as if she did, her head pushed her body too far from the wall!
Undercut mono huh... jikes. Considering she has almost made a habit of climbing 8c's in a few tries, it must have been a hard 8b+ for her. Anti-style or not!
She is really happy, such a great route! I lead the pitch again for photos and was smiling on every move - I think it is the best route I have done on limestone!
Yeah, for her she felt hard 8b+, I think 8b+ for taller people.
Hopefully the news gets more people motivated. Such a good route in an incredible setting, especially with the giant eagles swooping above your head! And I think it's had only 3 or 4 ascents in 9 years.
James Pearson is sponsored by: The North Face, Five Ten, Wild Country, Adidas Eyewear, Waxx underwear and Eat natural.
Caroline Ciavaldini is sponsored by: Edelrid, Vaude-Kong, La Sportiva, Adidas Eyewear, Waxx underwear and Powerbar.