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James Pearson making the first trad ascent of A denti stretti 8b+ at Balmanolesca, Italy
Photo by Riky Felderer

James Pearson & Caroline Ciavaldini, hard trad ascents at Cadarese and Balmanolesca


At Balmanolesca in NW Italy James Pearson made the first repeat, and first trad ascent, of A Denti Stretti 8b+, while at nearby Cadarese Caroline Ciavaldini made a trad ascent of Grazie Rickie 8a+ .

Climbing sports routes in a trad style, i.e. with only nuts and friends and ignoring the bolts, is incraesingly catching on and just the other day James Pearson made the first trad ascent of the difficult A Denti Stretti at Balmanolesca high up in Italy's Val d'Ossola. This is the hardest route of the crag, freed in 1995 by Alessandro Manini and marked by a series of intense boulder cruxes. Pearson attempted to on-sight the line but after a massive battle took a whipper fall off the final moves. He returned the other day and sent this gem despite poor conditions; the Englishman's ascent is the first repeat in 18 years and the first trad ascent. Balmanolesca is not new to this greenpoint style: in 2011 Japan's Yuji Hirayama made the first trad ascent of the nearby classic stamina piece Profondo Rosso 8a+.

Prior to visiting La Balme, Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini had spent some time at Cadarese where, in between dodging raindrops, the Frenchwoman made a trad repeat of Grazie Rickie, a bolt-protected 8a+ which she had toproped a few years back and which she had always wanted to climb with nuts and friends. Banking on her experience gained in England, Ciavaldini climbed past the long final run-out to claim what is her "hardest trad ascent to date".

Pearson and Ciavaldini are now expected in Val di Mello and we're certain that they'll get up to something interesting in Val di Mello, too.

The crags
Cadarese (Valle Antigorio) – 50 cracks from 4a onwards, located at an altitude of circa 900m, considered by some to offer the densest concentration of cracks in Central Europe. A mix of sport and trad climbs with equipped belays, a new sector has been developed recently dedicated exclusively to trad. www.ossolaclimbing.org/node/99

Balmanolesca (Val d'Ossola) – A historic crag in Valle Divedro (Valle d'Osssola) which was equipped primarily during the 1980's, with circa 50 routes from 6a to 8b on an ultra-compact gneiss. Some of the cracks are ranked as the most beautiful in the entire Ossola valley. www.ossolaclimbing.org/node/160





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