Second Ascent of Tribe - World's Hardest Trad Route? - by James Pearson

© Tristan Hobson

James Pearson has made the second ascent of the trad climb 'Tribe' at Cadarese, Italy. Tribe was established by Jacopo Larcher in Spring 2019 (UKC News) and is widely regarded as the hardest trad route in the world. Jacopo believed it to be harder than any route he had done - a sentiment shared by James - and while Jacopo declined to grade the climb, the difficulty is likely to be somewhere in the 9a-9a+ region.

James Pearson high on Tribe.  © Caroline Ciavaldini
James Pearson high on Tribe.
© Caroline Ciavaldini

James reported through his agent:

'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 deep down I thought it probably was impossible, like so many other king trad lines I've looked at over the years.'

James had been wanting to check out Tribe ever since Jacopo's first ascent, but following the birth of his son Arthur, he's 'not really had the ability/energy/time to get stuck into a project like that.'

James and his wife Caroline Ciavaldini arrived in Cadarese to wet rock. He had about 1-1.5 hours at the end of each day to work the line between the seepage drying and the rock starting to seep again. James commented:

'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 dialling the moves over a period of days, James climbed the line on his seventh lead attempt. He explained:

'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.'

Commenting on the line's difficulty, James added:

'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.'

James adds Tribe to a long list of hard trad ascents including Rhapsody E11 7a at Dumbarton Rock (2014), Equilibrium E10 7a (2005) at Burbage South and a ground-up ascent of Muy Caliente E10 6c in Pembroke (2011).

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James has gone from climbing near his family home in the Peak District of England to exploring walls and mountains in exotic locations around the globe everywhere from Tazmania to Thailand. His first venture into rock...

James's Athlete Page 33 posts 12 videos

22 Oct, 2020

Nice to see this thing getting a second ascent, but we need to be careful with the "World's Hardest" tag. For example, comparing this to the hardest crack climbs is going to be pretty difficult. And although this is obviously physically harder, comparing it to something like Echo Wall (8c climbing with death fall potential) is also problematic. Until someone comes along having done the hardest at all three categories, it's all just going to be speculation.

22 Oct, 2020

It's good to see James still doing impressive stuff! Is that crag gritstone? Looks really good.

P.S. looks like granite on the photos from the news piece of the FA.

22 Oct, 2020

Great vid of the FA

22 Oct, 2020

Whatever the grade that line looks AMAZING!

22 Oct, 2020


The rock looks utterly gorgeous.

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