INTERVIEW: Alban Levier

Alban Levier on l'Alchimiste, ~8C, Apremont, Fontainebleau, 190 kb
Alban Levier on l'Alchimiste, ~8C, Apremont, Fontainebleau
© Gilles Puyfagès

Alban Levier has shown spectacular form in and around Fontainebleau lately. Just take a look at his recent ticklist:

- Quoi de Neuf, ~8C

- La Force, ~8C/9a

- l'Alchimiste droite, ~8C

- La Force du destin, ~8B+

- Le surplomb de la mée assis, ~8B+

- and more...

Our friend Pierre Délas a.k.a Fanatic Climbing has made an interview with Alban.

First, tell us a little about yourself for the people who have never heard your name ?
I’m 21 years old, was born in a Paris suburb and I've climbed since I was 10. I've been competing on the international circuit with the French team since 2013. Besides my training, I’m a route setter at Vertical’Art, a bouldering gym near Paris and sometimes I study (Sports at university). I love climbing outside too, so between trainings I try to spend most of my time in Font forest.

You've been on incredible form the last two weeks – tell us about it.
I was feeling I was getting strong whilst I was trying «La force» in Orsay. This wild roof problem is so physical that it gives you monster endurance. I tried l’Apparemment assis (sit start) last year but I lacked endurance. With the Orsay roof training, I came back stronger and certainly with more stamina.

Alban Levier on l'Alchimiste, ~8C, Apremont, Fontainebleau, 250 kb
Alban Levier on l'Alchimiste, ~8C, Apremont, Fontainebleau
© Gilles Puyfagès

Recently I made progress in grip strength so I wanted to try “La force du destin”. Guillaume Glairon-Mondet showed me all the beta and I owe him a lot. Despite a big move going for the top of the boulder it was quite doable. You just have to be strong on this long move… The next day, when Jeremy Bonder did “L’arête de Boissy” 8B+, I went back to try to do the sit start of “Hiphop” (8B). Last winter I did the standing start version. So I was working the sit which adds a big move and I found the jump-move easier than in the past. After a lot of tries and with a good friction I got it too.

How do you explain your shape at the moment ?
I’ve been training for the next comp season for the last 4 months (it starts in April). I think my training is paying off. I feel good, so I’m profiting from it! I'm physically on form so I'm just trying not to fix any mental limits on myself. So I've simply said I'll try some hard lines which have received few repeats, and it’s all going right!

Alban Levier on l'Alchimiste, ~8C, Apremont, Fontainebleau, 112 kb
Alban Levier on l'Alchimiste, ~8C, Apremont, Fontainebleau
© Alban Levier collection
Can we say that doing the whole span of the Orsay roof at the end of 2015 has been an important factor in your progress ?
No, I don’t think it was a specific jump in progress. I’ve been training hard and enjoying my climbing for the last 5 years. Without mental limitations my progression has been steady. Now I just hope it will continue!

You've just sent «L’alchimiste» in two short sessions! Tell us about this boulder!
The line is superb. This incredible and historic boulder was nearly forgotten until recently and after a session of work, I just couldn't wait to get on it again the next day! Conditions were very humid in the morning but after drying the holds and with the benefit of a light wind the first tries were promising. The day before I couldn’t do the last mantle move of the problem. You don’t see the finish hold so you are forced to stick the last sloper in a blind move using two bad holds (a pinch in the overhang and a bad sloper). Then I found a different method with compression moves on bad holds with a heel hook that fitted me better. After resting 15 minutes I really focused and using the new beta I got it first try!

What can you say about the grade you suggested, 8C?
I only have the 8B+ boulders I've done for comparison. The recent ones I've done have taken less effort than this problem so I think 8C is correct.

Tell us about the infamous left exit of the problem, is it doable for you?
The left exit is maybe an eliminate variation now because the boulder has been repeated via the right, but this version is the original historical line. After tying it a few times I think it’s possible to catch the bad crimp on the left of the lip and to finish via this as Marc Le Ménestrel did before the hold got broken. It’s more intense but shorter. Now it's just a question of linking it!

Alban Levier on L'apparemment assis, 87 kb
Alban Levier on L'apparemment assis
© Alban Levier collection
Any other problems you want to try or check out look? Does “Le pied à coulisse” tempt you? (The boulder has recently had its first ascent by Guigui Guillaume Glairon-Mondet who proposed 8C+).

Why not? I'm tempted by the problem but at the moment I have so many nice lines to do so maybe it’s not my priority. I’m thinking about trying “La pierre philosophale”, “Misti” and “The big island”.

What are your goals for the next competition season ?
Climb well! Seriously, I would say to try be more regularly in the finals, because when you get to that point anything is possible. In bouldering it’s hard to be consistent, but it's that challenge that captures me. You have to be very strong in loads of different ways and that diversity is what I am focusing my training on now.

Still want to know more?

- FB athlete page
- Instagram
Gilles Puyfagès Photo page.

Alban Levier is sponsored by: Ocun, Rokodromo,  S'cape Font Shop and Vertical Art


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