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Fred Rouhling's Akira Repeated - Twice!

© Seb Bouin Collection

Fred Rouhling's visionary route Akira at Les Eaux Claires, France, has finally had a repeat after 25 years and not only one, but two! Seb Bouin and Lucien Martinez made the 2nd and 3rd ascents of the 65ft route.

Akira was the first route in the world to be given the grade of 9b. It was a bold move at the time as 9a+ still hadn't been climbed. The route was also unusually due to it being a boulder/sport hybrid - quite a common occurrence these days, but less so in 1995.

It seems the difficulty of Akira had changed over the years as bits of the route have fallen off. In a post on Instagram, Rouhling has offered his congratulations to Bouin and Martinez and explained a little about the difficulty of the route. He wrote:

'The starting boulder section would no longer be worth the original V13 (Font 8B), but would now turn around V9 (Font 7C) boulder, which would bring the overall difficulty down to 5.14d (9a).'

It appears that hold breakages have turned the route into a 9a, one which Bouin describes as 'quite unbelievable for the '90s.' The route has an interesting history behind it that was delved into by Pete Ward in this fantastic article. Rouhling had his doubters in the '90s; perhaps unsurprising considering the level he was suggesting.

Seb Bouin climbed the route as part of his Vintage Rock Tour on which he is climbing France's historical testpieces. He recently ticked another of Rouhling's routes, Hugh (9a), which was France's first 9a.

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23 Nov, 2020

At last! I remember everyone taking the piss out of Rouhling when he did it, that he was overgrading etc etc as it was such a jump in standards...

24 Nov, 2020

Seb Bouin is awesome. Hopefully the fuss can be over now. Whether it's 9b or 9a it was a very impressive ascent and ahead of its time. In an extra segment of Peter Mortimer's film First Ascent, Rouhling comes across as a kind, quiet, and impressive climber eager to share his love of the sport.

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