Seb Bouin Creates Another Savage Climb, Hints at Even Harder Project

Medium take: Seb Bouin is the world’s best sport climber not named Adam Ondra. Hot take: Bouin has been the world’s best sport climber, period, for the past two years.

The Frenchman just tagged yet another ninth-grade climb, tossing Les Rois du Lithium (9b/5.15b) onto his growing pile. The route on the sparse limestone of Pic Saint Loup, France, explodes out of an 8b start into 20 meters of the business — a razor-straight line with holds that clearly inspired Bouin, the first ascensionist.

“When I bolted it, I couldn’t imagine there will be so much perfect holds. And when I first tried it, I was amazed by the moves and the line,” Bouin said in a Black Diamond Instagram post.

Bouin called it “probably” his favorite route at the grade ever. That includes Jumbo Love, the United States’ first 9b, and Ondra’s Mamichula.

Lately, the 31-year-old has been aiming higher. Not content with Jumbo in 2022, he completed a savage extension to author Supreme Jumbo Love — America’s first 9b+. That came after he created DNA, the world’s second 9c route (still unrepeated).

Characteristically unwilling to rest on his laurels, Bouin said he’s not done in Pic Saint Loup yet.

“There is another hard and inspiring project in Pic Saint Loup: The Wolf Kingdom project. It will be harder than Les Rois du Lithium,” he said. “Let’s continue the fight!”

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.