James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini successful in English gritstone: They climb Harder Faster (E9 7a) and Gaia (E8 6c) respectively.

Christmas with a difference. While most people were sitting in the warm room on December 24th, decorating the Christmas tree, preparing a sumptuous dinner and opening the first bottle of wine, they scored points James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini difficult and mentally demanding routes in the English climbing area Gritstone.

James Pearson in the Harder Faster route. (Image Chris Prescott)

Harder Faster, the route that James Pearson scored, was first climbed by Charlie Woodburn 20 years ago. The Australian Toby Benham managed a first repetition, who climbed the route red point in 2003 - secured by James Pearson, by the way. Now it was James himself who returned to the route and secured a red point ascent.

When I secured Toby Benham on the route in 2003, I would not have dreamed of scoring the route myself. It's kind of weird that now that I'm a father, I had the courage to tackle this uncontrollable, shaky and difficult route.

James Pearson
Caroline Ciavaldini during the ascent of Gaia. (Image Chris Prescott)
Caroline Ciavaldini during the ascent of Gaia. (Image Chris Prescott)

Caroline Ciavaldini climbs Johnny Dawes Route Gaia

Caroline, partner of James, also treated herself to a gritstone classic on Christmas Day. She scored the route Gaia, first ascended from Johnny Dawes in 1986. With her ascent, she is only the third woman to score the route.

After meeting James, I looked for the keyword 'tradclimbing' and the first thing I saw was the video of Jean-minh Trin-Thieu falling on the Gaia route. It was clear to me at the time that trad climbing was stupid. At the same time, of course, I always remembered the route. Whatever the reason: I'm happy to have scored the route.

Caroline Ciavaldini

Jean-minh Trin-Thieu on the Gaia climbing route

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Credits: Cover picture Chris Prescott