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Caroline Ciavaldini Sends Bold Grit Route Gaia 5.12dX

It was famously climbed in 1986 by Johnny Dawes

Caroline Ciavaldini has repeated the famous gritstone route Gaia E8 6c (5.12dX) at Black Rocks, England. It climbs a steep groove that heads up and right across a technical face with a series of low-percentage slopers and smears that lead to a burly arete.

It was first climbed in 1986 by legendary grit climber Johnny Dawes, who led the route after having briefly rapped down some of the climb. In 2008, then-23-year-old Alex Honnold flashed Gaia and said, “Not a true onsight since I’ve seen movies, but there was no chalk.”

Ciavaldini is the third woman to tick Gaia, after American Lisa Rands in 2006 and Katy Whittaker in 2013. Sean McColl sent the heady line in 2016 as the first Canadian.

A 1990s film called Hard Grit featured Frenchman Jean Mihn Trin-Thieu falling from the crux (watch here). The first ascet of Gaia was featured in Stone Monkey in the 1980s, a film about Dawes’s early climbs.

Ciavaldini’s partner, James Pearson, sent Harder, Faster E9 during the same trip. Read about it here.

Sean McColl on Gaia