Lattice Blog

Adam Ondra Repeats The World’s Hardest Trad Route

In this episode, join host Tom Randall for an in-depth conversation with climbing legend James Pearson. James recently established ‘Bon Voyage’ (E12), a route he boldly suggests is the world’s hardest trad climb, pushing the boundaries of difficulty and safety in the sport.

James Pearson is a household name in the climbing world, known for his groundbreaking first ascents like ‘The Walk of Life’ (E9), as well as ascents of some of the world’s hardest sport climbs. Despite that, there has been controversy surrounding the grading in his earlier career.

Although his earlier efforts faced some controversy, with a few of his climbs like The Groove and The Promise being downgraded from E10 to the relatively quotidian E8 after establishment. This criticism, which even included accusations of overgrading for media attention, forced James to re-evaluate the entire grading system.

The experience turned out to be a turning point for James.  He spent years rebuilding his confidence and credibility as a climber, making significant ascents in Europe. This included repeating the downgraded ‘The Walk of Life’ and tackling other difficult routes like ‘Tribe’ (E11) and ‘Lexicon’ (E11 7a).

So when James established  ‘Bon Voyage’ in France and felt it was his hardest route yet, he initially hesitated to propose a grade. However, after witnessing other accomplished climbers struggle on the route, James decided to propose the world’s first E12 once again, ten months after his initial ascent. This episode dives into James’ experience with ‘Bon Voyage’ and the lessons learned from his past grading controversies, but also the validation James received when none other than Adam Ondra, successfully repeated the route and agreed with the E12 grade.

In this episode, James dives deep into:

  • Sharing ‘Bon Voyage’ with Adam Ondra
  • What makes this route unlike anything else out there
  • Adam Ondra’s approach to risk
  • What beta Adam Ondra used for this epic route
  • Who else is trying ‘Bon Voyage’
  • The evolution of trad grades and why did James propose the controversial E12 grade for ‘Bon Voyage’

This episode is a must-listen for any climber interested in the cutting edge of trad climbing, the ever-evolving world of grading, and the unique perspectives of two climbing legends!

Don’t miss this captivating episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more!

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