Veteran 5.15 climber Seb Bouin holds a handful of unrepeated first ascents 5.15b and tougher. After some scrutiny, he thinks his new route in France is equal to the toughest sport climb on the planet.
Sebastien “Seb” Bouin isn’t any stranger to the “laborious laborious.” Amongst his 20-plus 5.15 redpoints, many are first ascents. Amongst these, a number of have gone unrepeated for years.
Now, the French climber thinks he authored a route as laborious as any bolted climb wherever on Earth. “DNA,” 5.15d/9c, took Bouin 150 days of labor over 3 years. He estimates he tried the route 250 instances — by comparability, Alexander Megos’ “Bibliographie,” 5.15c/9b+, required 40 days of labor.
When he lastly clipped the chains in early Might, he might hardly imagine it.
“Once I acquired to the highest of the final laborious half, I didn’t fairly perceive, I had so many doubts, I used to be so afraid of the final strikes for concern of falling,” Bouin wrote. “[Then] I used to be there, the DNA undertaking was performed. I spent a lot time doing the identical strikes, falling dozens and dozens of instances in the identical place. It’s nonetheless laborious to understand.”
‘DNA’ of the World’s Hardest Climbing
“DNA” takes a steep line of sparse holds immediately out of the large La Ramirole cave above the Verdon Gorge in France. To climb it, you’ll wish to ensure you’ve warmed up — the route kicks off with 5 bolts of 5.14b terrain. After that, hopeful repeaters will launch right into a V11 boulder drawback that Bouin referred to as bodily, low-percentage, and “random.”
The second crux is finicky, requiring good friction. It clocks in at V12. For those who’re nonetheless on, cop a relaxation and hold it collectively on a closing 5.14c headwall.
Cautious Grade Evaluation
If Bouin’s grade appears audacious, his intent in issuing it was the other. The 29-year-old thought-about a number of parameters in assigning “DNA” the world’s hardest present grade, placing it on par with Adam Ondra’s “Silence” (5.15d).
“That is the large query,” he mentioned, referring to the numerical issue. “There are two potential eventualities, [5.15c or 5.15d]. However earlier than I resolve, I’m going to weigh the professionals and cons to have the clearest thoughts. I’ll take completely different parameters to attempt to be as correct as potential: comparisons with different routes, time spent, climbing model, and many others.”
In Bouin’s evaluation, he considers his different 5.15c ascents. He accounts for his shorter work classes on completely different routes like “Bibliographie” and asserts that a lot of his personal 5.15 traces stay unrepeated. “La côte d’usure,” 5.15a, has sat silent since 2018; “La rage d’Adam,” 5.15b/c, has seen no ascents since Bouin’s in 2019.
He additionally regards his climbing model. The steep, bodily climbing at La Ramirole, he says, fits him higher than small holds between lengthy reaches on the extra vertical cliffs of Céüse — the house of “Bibliographie.” Subsequently, he causes, the lengthy work session signifies “DNA” could possibly be considerably tougher.
Bouin Opens the Door: 5.15d or Not?
In the long run, Bouin performs the climbing advocate first. Admitting that he left himself and the route open to the potential for a downgrade, he’s extra keen on discovering out what others assume than claiming the “world’s hardest” title.
He mentioned, “[5.15d] is my ‘proposition’ for ‘DNA,’ which now wants different climbers to present their consensus — to both affirm or modify. Our sport is gorgeous, we don’t want judges, we’re the judges. It’s stunning, however on the similar time fairly laborious in this type of scenario, on the very innovative.
“That’s why I’d love to ask the world’s high climbers to return and provides DNA a go.”
Learn Bouin’s full ascent report, together with climate circumstances, ways, and extra, on Black Diamond’s web site.