Seb Bouin Climbs New Contender For Hardest Sport Route In The World
French climber Seb Bouin has made the first ascent of his project DNA, at La Ramirole in the Verdon Gorge. Bouin bolted this climb in 2019 and has spent six months of each of 2020 and 2021 attempting it. This European spring, he has finally found success after a marathon siege of over 150 days and more than 250 attempts. Given the difficulty he had in getting it done and his multiple redpoints in the 9b/9b+ range (37/38), it is suggested this route could well be 9c (39). Regardless of where the grade settles, the climb is a stunning line on an impressively steep and beautifully streaked limestone wall—an inspirational bit of rock climbing in terms of the difficulty, aesthetics of the line and determination and persistence from the first ascentionist. For images and more information regarding this climb, check out his instagram.
Currently, the only accepted 9c in the world is Adam Ondra's Silence at Flatanger, Norway. Silence remains unrepeated, potentially because of the extreme knee manipulation involved in Ondra's sequence. Prospective ascentionists would need to find a different sequence or have elastic knee ligaments like Ondra. Last year, Alexander Megos proposed 9c for his route Bibliographie, at Ceuse. However, repeats from Stefano Ghisolfi and Sean Bailey seem to have settled it at 9b+.
Seb Bouin's other first ascents in the 9b range on the same wall in Verdon remain unrepeated, but hopefully we see this area receive more attention and the grades of these climbs reach some kind of consensus. Though it must be said, there are only a handful of climbers in the world climbing at these grades, many of whom are prioritising their own projects, so a sensible consensus may take some time to coalesce.