The British climber James Pearson has bitten into a compact Wandflucht in Annot and brings France probably the most difficult pure Tradroute: The Journey (E10 7a).

We leave James Pearson himself for the first ascent of The Journey speak. The video is below.

"I know my dream line is out there somewhere, and I often go through the same motions for each new area I visit. I feel excitement on first seeing all that new rock from a far, planning line after line up big blank faces and trying to decipher which areas are worth searching closer on foot. Later I feel overwhelmed at the impossible prospect of checking every face, or every boulder, all this before I even get on a rope to really check out the walls. Finally comes disappointment, for although I often find great things, they are never perfect, and never correspond to exactly what I am searching for.

Trad is beautiful, and natural, but it can be fickle. You need both holds, and gear in perfect harmony, just enough but not too much, and either one of these can quickly throw off the balance. The amount of almost perfect lines are too many to count. It's easy to blame the rock, but I have to take some of the responsibility. My vision for my dream line is very specific and evolving. Sometimes, just for a moment I catch myself wondering if I really want to find this thing at all.

Annot was like all the others. A beautiful area full of amazing trad routes, with enough to keep climbers entertained for weeks, months, or years. There were a lot of big impressive walls that were just going to climb, and a few short, really hard but possible lines, tucked away in tight corners or just passing to other routes. Strangely however, there is one exception ...

It took me 5 days to piece it all together, and from the first day where I couldn't even understand the moves, to the last day, running it out in hope of a sticking the last jug, the whole process was quite a journey . It was complicated to work out, pumpy to climb, and is certainly one of the hardest Trad routes I have ever done, but instead of getting bogged down by difficulty, I'd love to focus on the quality of the line for once. Just look at this thing! Its beautiful, a real marvel of nature. Take away any one hold in several places on the route and it just wouldn't work. It's incredible that it even exists anywhere, but especially in Annot where so many of the other big faces are just blank. "Le Voyage" is definitely the best new Trad route I have ever done. "

Video of the first ascent of the route Le Voyage

Credits: Text excerpt and picture James Pearson

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