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COTE D’USURE | A new 9a+ from Seb Bouin

Our ambassador Seb Bouin describes his latest fascinating feat, a 9a+ route of absolute value, which the French climber has opened after nine years of study.
Here are his words.

This project was really important to me for many reasons: first of all, the length of the route which is just exceptional. It is definitively the most incredible line I’ve bolted in my entire career. Right in the middle of the Verdon canyon, 150 meters above the river, this route is a concentrate of pure movements, incredible holds and crazy bouldering sections. Little tip note; this route is full of pinches (what a dream for me).

Second, this route is a part of my youth and it’s also my first experience as a route setter. Nine years ago, when I was 16, I started climbing on these huge overhangs of La Ramirole. I was enthusiast and wanted to experience absolutely everything there. While climbing around, I saw this impressive prow of the cliff standing in front of me. Despite my big lack of experience, I decided to start with the first couple of meters and I had no idea how long it would have taken. What a tough work. I had few scares to be honest. The craziest one was the time I tried to set–up the anchor. I had enough of hanging off my static rope, so from the last bolt before the route ending, I decided to free climb, up to the top and with my drill, taking the risk to fall on my personal static tether (highly risky). It was way harder than expected and when I finally reached the point where I was supposed to screw the anchor, I was extremely pumped. Fortunately, I had this little hook with me, which is supposed to help me a little bit while drilling. The way down was even worse. I was two meters above the last bolt and while down-climbing, no fall was allowed.

Over time, I know that it was seriously irresponsible to be alone out there. Specially because I’ve got no phone network at the crag. Anyhow, it took me three days in total to setup this goddam anchor.

After bolting the entire route, I was still wondering if every section was free-climbable… but anyway, the work was done, just some cleaning to do and the last but not least challenge was to climb this beast.

I didn’t start climbing this route right away. This challenge seemed way too hard, back in the time. But few years later I finally decided to get this project done and started with the first part of the line. The goal was to figure out the first real crux which is a big dyno that you need to stick.

In 2018, I’ve decided to work on this route even more seriously, because it gives a perfect training complement. I still needed to clean and understand all the sequences of the second part. Such a long and intense process but in the meantime so satisfying after being able to climb on it. It’s been a fantastic journey and a complete process from bolting this route, to its first ascent.

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