To overcome the limits of what is humanly possible, to create something that may be impossible, to continue to believe in himself, Sébastien Bouin had to hit rock bottom and see himself so close to giving up that the very idea made him sick.
It was a day last winter, almost three years after starting the project that, now, has just been chained.
“I was so obsessed with the route that I made a mistake and went to test it in the middle of winter.
It was eleven degrees below zero and ice hung from the ceiling of the wall.
Climbing like that was crazy.
And, of course, I failed."
The French climber had spent almost three years trying to climb a project for which "a 1% chance of success" was granted, after years of illusions, progress, setbacks and lukewarm hopes.
That frigid winter day he was close to giving up.
But, “leaving things hanging is not my way of being.
In fact, I never leave anything hanging, neither the projects nor the people.
But sometimes it is harder to continue than to stop, mental suffering is perpetuated... although other times it works out...”, he smiles.
At the age of 13, he chained his first 8a, just one year after discovering climbing.
At the age of 14, his first 8b arrived and a year later his first 8c.
Today there are children who do 9a at the age of 12, with which Bouin's progression, being good, was not sky-high.
After a slight stagnation, at 20 years old she chained her first 9a + and at 23 she climbed to 9b.
At 26 she achieved a 9b / + and at 29 she proposes 9c for her project named 'ADN'.
One of his best rope companions is his mother, the same one who made him try many sports until climbing seduced him.
She also got hooked and now they often travel together to climb half the planet while she has become her favorite insurer.
Only she knows first-hand, without filters, the psychological torture to which her son has been subjected.
“My mother is part of my history with climbing, we form a nice team.
I am motivated, it is a way of approaching this sport, but in this case I have needed something more than motivation, I have had to invest much more because it is very hard to remain motivated when you see that perhaps what you are trying is not within your capabilities.
At one point I found myself trying the route for years, finally failing to climb it.
Everything was very difficult and at the same time random.
I tried it in 2019, 2020, 2021 and I have chained it in 2022 and in the process there have been so many doubts that it has been very complicated from a psychological point of view.
Normally, I don't lose motivation, but at one point I was fed up with the whole process: arriving excited, failing, coming home and telling myself that I had to train more, change certain things.
he returned with his homework done and fell again.
And that process has been repeated often.
I even told myself that maybe I should do something else with my life, ”she admits.
As a child, Seb Bouin was in the French climbing team, but he left it slamming the door: “I did not have a good experience with the team leaders and since then I have not competed.
In fact, if I had to climb only in climbing walls, I wouldn't climb.
Although I train indoors, the essence for me is in the rock.
Chaining a route of your maximum level is not like going to a competition in which you win or lose and turn the page.
Here, the difficult thing is to turn the page because the doubt corrodes you: are you or are you not capable of achieving what you want? ”, He explains.
Seb Bouin equipped and created the 'DNA' route because the cavity in which it is located is not far from his home, in the Verdon.
“The most logical thing would be to try the only 9c proposal that exists in the world, which is the route called 'Silence' that Adam Ondra equipped and chained in 2017. But there are two problems: the route is scary and it is in Norway.
It's scary because Ondra is a climbing monster and when you watch the video and see what he suffers, you don't want to.
And if I had to spend three years living in Norway to repeat it, I don't know if I would be able to... so I decided to create my own 9c”, admits Bouin.
The best mountain climber of the century was an unknown
The days repeated like traces.
Breakfast, short drive, approach on foot to the route, warm-up on the floor, two hard routes but not much to get in shape and a first attempt.
“If I fell high enough on that attempt, I barely had any energy left for another attempt, but even so I would rest for a long hour and try again… to fall again.
Because the route is 50 meters long and it used up so much energy that sometimes I couldn't try it the next day.
Sometimes I could climb two days in a row and rest one, or rest two days and climb one,” he recalls.
After eating, he went to the climbing wall where he trained after a bodybuilding session.
He repeated this process almost 200 times between 2019 and May 5, when he managed to chain the route (reach the final drop without holding on to the safety pins or resting on them).
Now all that remains is for other climbers to try the route and confirm, or not, that it is a 9c.
“I have spoken with the three who can test it and the most motivated seems to be Álex Megos.
Ondra fathered her the same day I chained her up, which he's busy with and Stefano Ghisolfi hasn't said anything about the possibility of coming to see her yet.
I don't see any other candidates at the moment.
And if they tell me it's not that hard, it won't be a trauma.
I'll be happy if someone comes to try it.
And if they reduce that quota, it will be that I have made a mistake in my assessment.
This is how the
are created , there are no judges, we must discuss it among all… but someone needs to come!”, he almost implores.
Aerobic work is not part of Bouin's preparation, but if he admires someone in the world of sports, it is the Catalan Kilian Jornet: "I like his way of looking at the mountains, it's similar to what I do: try things that seem impossible.
The most delicate challenges are the ones that motivate me and help me progress.
Kilian is very resistant, and I, as a climber, look similar”.
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