Sawanobori

A short film following UK climber James Pearson as he journeys to Japan to take on waterfall climbing – or ‘Sawanobori’ – for the first time.

  • Video: The North Face

Arriving in Japan with the initial idea to be practicing Sawanobori – waterfall climbing – on smaller ascents, in this film by The North Face James Pearson and fellow climber Caroline Ciavaldini – alongside Japanese climbers Yuji Hirayama and Toru Nakajma – were thrown in at the deep-end with a towering first challenge: taking on the 350m Shomyo, Japan’s highest waterfall.

Video Duration

Sawanobori as a subset of climbing is varied in itself, with bouldering problems and mini routes as well as big walls. ‘I was overwhelmed by those spaces – difficult rocks, slimy rocks and the volume of water – realizing that there lurk unknown dangers in comparison to normal climbing,’ Hirayama explained.

‘At the end of the day they’re all just vertical playgrounds for us to explore.’

James Pearson

Tackling dense vegetation to reach the falls, an approaching typhoon made the conditions even more challenging for the athletes, with the already damp and slippery rock soaked by intermittent downpours.

‘Day two on the Shomyo falls was really about stepping into the unknown – the only thing that was clear was that we needed to be fast. The more I see the Japanese climbers, the more I’m impressed by their vision of the sport. They look at things in a completely different way,’ said Pearson.

Articles

Further Reading

Bach to the Future

An attempt to reach out to aliens becomes a retro-hit more than four decades after its launch.

The Navy Without a Sea

Bolivia lost its only coastal territory 130 years ago. Yet it still has a fleet which is important both practically and symbolically. Laurence Blair reports on daily life in Bolivia’s landlocked navy.

The Man Who Talks to Sperm Whales

James Nestor reports on the astounding qualities of the sperm whale. Working with a highly qualified free diving crew he discovers how we are getting ever closer to communicating with the world's largest predator.

Pyrogeography

The opening of a major new centre for the study of wildfire in London this year is the latest admission of the impact it is having on society and the environment.

What a $100,000 Canoe Looks Like

‘I love that it takes so long to make canoes,’ declares Trent Preszler. The artisan boat maker took up his craft after his father died, using the tools he inherited to create a canoe over the course of fourteen months.

Story Island

Despite Iceland’s small population of 331,380, the average print run for fiction is 1,000 copies – a per capita equivalent of one million in the USA.
Browse by Category