Seb Bouin Climbs Another Mega-Hard Ondra Route: The World’s First 9b+

In his latest Instagram post, Sebastien Bouin said he felt tired from weeks of climbing in Norway. That was right before he sent the world’s original 9b+.

“I wanted to play the game until the very end,” Bouin wrote.

If it’s a game Bouin’s been playing lately, he’s winning it. Over the last few weeks, the Frenchman has ticked off many of the world’s hardest sport climbs in the now-legendary Hanshelleren Cave in Flatanger, Norway.

His latest accomplishment saw him sending Change, Adam Ondra’s 2012 opus that clocked in as the world’s first 9b+ climb. The 55-metre slugfest went unrepeated until Stefano Ghisolfi made the second ascent in 2020. Nobody else managed to finish it between he and Bouin.

The route contains two pitches, which Bouin sent separately before aiming for the full send. The only problem was that he had just four days before his scheduled departure, which he said made him feel uncertain.

“I didn’t know if it would be enough for the entire route,” Bouin wrote, referring to his energy level. “My body started to feel crushed by this cave. I felt tired from the trip.”


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A ‘last day’ kind of guy

Initially, conditions in the cave conspired against him. Bouin’s first two work days on Change brought humidity and moisture. Bouin nearly finished the route on the second day, but ultimately fell from wet holds on the second crux.

On the third day, Bouin finally got “exceptional” weather for climbing, yet briefly questioned himself.

“I was torn in my mind. Should I try it and take advantage of the conditions? Or should I wait until I knew I was fully recovered?”

However, Bouin didn’t wait. The 29-year-old “literally flowed” through the holds and sent the route as planned, using kneepads like Ghisolfi — and unlike Ondra.

“I am happy to say that I made no mistakes and felt the belief that I could make it to the end, and I did! I am not usually a ‘last day, last try’ kind of guy, but this time it happened,” Bouin wrote.

The send adds yet another jewel in Bouin’s ever-heavier crown. In mid-July, he conceived a futuristic project at Flatanger — and fulfilled it a week later. That climb, Nordic Marathon, consolidates an incredible 130m of stout, steep terrain. With a proposed difficulty of 9b/+, the route is the longest continuous stretch of 5.15 ever climbed.

Don’t sleep on Seb Bouin — especially if you’re concerned about your ranking.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.