Seb Bouin recently achieved his first 9c, the second 9c in climbing history: DNA in La Ramirole in the French Gorges du Verdon. After spending well over 150 days on the wall over the course of two years, Bouin finally clipped the belay this spring.
Bouin discovered and prepared the route in 2019, tried it for 6 months in 2020 and 6 months in 2021. After well over 150 days on the wall and more than 250 attempts, Bouin finally finished the route a few weeks ago.
Bouin about DNA: "There are some hopes we hold on to, some dreams that keep us alive. Even if it seems far away and almost impossible, there is that little glimmer of light inside us that makes us try again and again. Sometimes we forget that these dreams are achievable, but we try again and again. Sometimes we get lost, and we don't believe in them anymore. Then we must go away to come back.. (..) ”
“ (…) I don't know if we are crazy to try so many times a project that has so little chance of success. I like to think that my approach to climbing is instinctive. I don't ask myself many questions, I just try, and as long as I'm on the rock I'm happy.
This story has been one of the longest, one of the most intense, and one of the most striking. There has been a lot of love, but also a lot of fear. A lot of joy, and a lot of frustration. A lot of hope, and a lot of doubts. I got slapped around a lot."
DNA is the second 9c in climbing history, after Adam Ondra’s Silence (2017). Alex Megos’ Bibliographie (2020) was originally proposed 9c by Megas as well and later graded 9b+ after Stefano Ghisolfi suggested it upon repeating the route in 2021.
Climbing grades are subjective and Bouin's proposed 9c after much consideration. Bouin writes: “there would be two possible scenarios, 9b+ or 9c. I have added up the arguments for both. I considered the feeling, the comparison with other routes (Bibliographie, Move, Beyond) at the level of time and feeling, the climbing style. I questioned myself on my experience and my legitimacy. I also considered the fact that it is a first ascent. Choosing 9b+ would be playing it safe. Choosing 9c would be taking a risk.
I have been playing it safe since 2014 on this cliff by proposing very tight grades. And in the end, nobody has repeated one of these routes. Comparing this route to Bibliographie, Move, Beyond, it seems a step ahead (considering time invesment, feeling, and climbing style. (...)"
"(...) To choose 9c is to take a risk. A risk of seeing your route downgraded. As there is only one 9c proposed in the world, it's quite hard to be sure and confident.
I have never tried a route of such a difficulty. Would this route be in the same league as Silence? Have I not spent all this time partly because of the process of first ascension? Despite these doubts, I take the risk of proposing the highest of the grades.
The 9c should be taken as a "proposal", which now needs other climbers to give their opinions - to confirm or to adjust. This is how gradings are built: the sum of opinions makes the grading less and less subjective. Our sport is beautiful, we don't need judges, we are the judges. Being an athlete and judging your own performance is beautiful, but at the same time difficult. That's why I would like to invite other climbers to come and try DNA. It's a beautiful route, in an incredible location. I think DNA has everything to interest and please.
Thank you to all the people who have been involved in this process, it's an unforgettable slice of life. ”
Seb Bouin climbs for Team EB, the oldest climbing shoe manufacturer in the world. Curious about EB climbing shoes and accessories? Check out our assortiment in the webshop.