As far childhood holidays go, two-year-old Arthur – son of professional climbers James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini – is currently winning. Young Arthur joined his parents on a recent climbing trip to the giant sandstone walls of Ethiopia. And as far as babysitters go, he couldn’t have had a more culturally enriching experience with help from the local community as his parents went on their way in search of previously unclimbed towers.
In their latest film, The North Face athletes James and Caroline found themselves in Gheralta Range of Ethiopia in search of new climbingroutes in the region. This quest for adventure brought them to Excalibur, a sandstone tower that was peppered with awkward moves, loose rock, and pretty sparse protection.
“If Arthur ends up loving climbing, I’ll be really happy, but I’ll be equally as happy if he loves running, or biking”
Although the family trio managed to snag this first ascent, James and Caroline were far from the first to visit these towers. The Tigray region has a rich history of climbing, with local priests and worshippers frequently scaling the walls to reach secret and sacred churches that have been carved out of the sides of the sandstone rock faces since the 4th century – and the film shows that in an epic way, with aerial footage revealing these passages covering the steep walls. The whole thing looks like it was pulled straight from the latest Star Wars sequel.
James reflected on the experience: “Climbing has brought us so many wonderful things in life. The chance to travel all over the world, to meet people and discover places we never would have otherwise, but more importantly our passion for climbing gave us focus and purpose.
“If Arthur ends up loving climbing, I’ll be really happy, but I’ll be equally as happy if he loves running, or biking, or playing the violin, or flower arranging! My goal as a father is to show him that he can go anywhere and do anything, and if I manage to show him that, I’ll feel like I’ve done a pretty good job.”