SÃ©bastian Bouin repeats Chilam Balam
- Saturday 8th August 2020 at 12.38pm
May 29th, 2015
Sébastian Bouin has just repeated the infamous Chilam Balam (F9b), the monster endurance test-piece in Spain.
Sébastian Bouin starting out on Chilam Balam. Video grab
The 22 year old Frenchman, Sébastian Bouin, has been amassing a very respectable number of hard routes in recent years but this is his first F9b. Surprisingly, it is thought that he is only the second Frenchman to climb the grade after Fred Rouhling who did Akira in 1995. In 2011 Bouin climbed two F9a/+ in the Verdon Gorge and Lourmarin. Since then he’s added two more F9a/+’s to his CV, La Tierra negra at Margalef and Playboy Rode sans Complexe at Lourmarin. In 2012, and again in 2014 Sébastian stepped-up to F9a+ for the second ascents of both La Madone and Staphylocoque at Lourmarin and le Pic Saint-Loup respectively. He’s also understood to have repeated Little Badder (5.14d) in Flatanger Cave, Norway.
Sébastian Bouin on the lip of Chilam Balam. Video grab
Chilam Balam was first claimed by Bernabe Fernández in 2003. Fernández offered the grade of F9b+; at the time it was the first route to be graded F9b+ which was two full grades harder than Chris Sharma’s Realisation F9a+ at Ceuse. Believed to be named after an ancient Mayan story, Chilam Balam is a monstrous 80m long pitch which follows the lip of a huge roof on tufas and colonettes. The climbing is continuously strenuous albeit several bouldering cruxes present significant challenges; the final crux being the ‘heart-breaking’ finishing slab. Fernández reputedly spent three years working the route using static lines and super-long quickdraws to reduce rope drag and fall potential from the radically overhanging route. Fernández argued that when he red-pointed it the routes felt considerably harder than the other routes he had done and although he inferred he wasn’t sure he graded it F9b+.
Sébastian Bouin on the finishing crux of Chilam Balam. Video grab
Chalam Balam became climbing’s ‘elephant in the room’. In 2011 Adam Ondra made the first repeat of Chalam Balam – staggeringly in just three days – downgrading it to a ‘low end F9b’ in the process. Ondra described the route as being an F8c+ followed by two F8c’s with each section separated by knee-bar rests. Ondra admitted that he was lucky with the final crux section which has presented problems for others attempting to repeat the route. Ondra suggested that without this final section the route would be F9a/+. Ondra’s repeat proved that Chilam Balam could be climbed although the uncertainty regarding Fernández’s ascent still remained given no belayer has ever been named.
Watch a video of Sébastian Bouin on Chilam Balam here..