Prized Seb Bouin Line Sees First Repeat by This Quirky Climber

What’s the word for Lucien Martinez’s mental approach to Playboy Rode sans Complexe (9a+)? Unorthodox? Subliminal? Just plain weird?

However you want to talk about it, the Frenchman took a strange route into his fourth career 9a+ send, and the first repeat of Seb Bouin’s testpiece in Lourmarin, France.

Martinez’s story on the 55-meter route starts with psych unseen. When asked what led him to try it, he said, “In fact, I had never seen the route” — until he arrived to redpoint it.

Any information would help, so his friend Nico Pelorson, familiar with the behemoth climb, sent him a series of voice messages detailing it. Martinez started listening to them — then developed increasing affinity for them. Then started listening to them before bed. (Or so he said.)

“He made me little voice messages so that I listen to them at night before going to sleep,” Martinez explains in the video edit from the project (auto-translated).


‘I’m not crazy’

He assures the audience it’s a joke — but proceeds to exonerate himself of “obsession” with the route for seconds on end.

“I’m not crazy, I’m not obsessed with climbing, I’m sane — I listened to them every other night!” he insisted.

Gesticulation aside, he mentioned elsewhere that he targeted Playboy Rode sans Complexe due to its “king line” status, and the fact that Bouin, his countryman, had bolted and established it.

“The problem with Seb’s routes is, in addition to the difficulty, they are long, overhanging, demanding…which means that to repeat them you need like a kind of special devotion,” he told Fanatic Climbing.

As the editor-in-chief of Grimper magazine, he’s endearingly prone to romanticizing rock climbing. I asked him what motivates him the most.

“Hard question! But maybe it is that feeling of pure happiness of clipping the chain of a hard route that made me dream for months or years,” he replied.

Dream on, Lucien Martinez — and keep climbing the leaderboard.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.