Jumbo Love 9b by Seb Bouin, Sights Set on Harder Start

© Clarisse Bompard

On Wednesday 19th October, Seb Bouin made a rare repeat of Chris Sharma's Jumbo Love (9b), at Clark Mountain, USA, and he's already looking at a harder direct start.

Seb Bouin on Jumbo Love 9b.   © Clarisse Bompard
Seb Bouin on Jumbo Love 9b.
© Clarisse Bompard

The 76 metre route, which was first bolted by Randy Leavitt in the 1990s, and was subsequently freed by Sharma in 2008. It was the world's first confirmed 9b and America's hardest route at the time. 

Seb sent the route on his tenth day of climbing, after first being inspired to try the route by the Reel Rock film featuring Chris Sharma and Ethan Pringle working the route.

Seb had this to say:

'An old dream came true last Wednesday. This king line has attracted me for a long time. It was a true inspiration to see the footage of Chris Sharma on it. I started climbing around 2005 and it was one of the most incredible climbing films I had watched at that time'.

'Jumbo Love looked like everything I like in Climbing: A perfect huge orange steep wall in the middle of the Mojave desert. I knew this line and this wall would be my pure climbing style. Climbing on this line is something I have been waiting for, for several years. And I am definitely not disappointed. It's an amazing line with perfect moves'.

Seb Bouin relaxing before the steep cave of Jumbo Love.  © Clarisse Bompard
Seb Bouin relaxing before the steep cave of Jumbo Love.
© Clarisse Bompard

Whilst many would say climbing 9b is hard enough, Jumbo Love comes with its own unique set of challenges, namely, getting to the crag.

'Jumbo Love is not just a hard line, it's a whole adventure. I totally underestimated the total process, the drive, the off-roading, and the hike in. We changed our car three times because it was not good enough to get to the crag. We also changed two tires due to off-road driving incidents. The 1h hike really takes it out of you. We were sleeping some nights in the desert, so as not to drive every day'.

Seb Bouin powers through to make a rare repeat of Jumbo Love 9b.  © Clarisse Bompard
Seb Bouin powers through to make a rare repeat of Jumbo Love 9b.
© Clarisse Bompard

Seb climbed the route using kneepads, but does not think that the addition of kneebars changes the grade of the route.

'I used kneepads for the send, in three places. This kind of rock (orange rock with pockets) is actually not the best for using kneepads, but I still found it helped a little, with some tricky "expert ++" kneebars. I was falling half of the time, slipping from kneebars. I almost gave up with these kneebars at some point because it was too sketchy'. 

'I was thinking the route [would be] a bit more powerful without kneebars, but way more secure if you have the strength required. It's not like "Iron Curtain" or "Change" where the kneebars are making a big difference. I think Jumbo Love stays on the same level, with or without'. 

Ultimately, Seb stuck with the kneebar beta, mainly because he's already focused on something even harder, the direct start.

'My overarching objective would be to do the Direct variation of Jumbo Love, which is supposed to be harder. My approach was simple, find the best betas possible in Jumbo Love, in order to have the highest chances possible to send it coming from the direct (adding an 8c+ route before the 9b)'.

'With the normal start, you are coming into the Jumbo Love crux really fresh because there is not so hard climbing before (around 8a to reach the crux). So I still had a lot of power reaching the crux from the original start. Yet, in the objective to start from the direct (which adds an 8c+ route right before the crux) I would need to find some less powerful beta, even if it's more technical. That's why I stuck with my kneebar beta'.

Seb's ascent is the fourth of Jumbo Love, after Sharma, Pringle, and Jonathan Seigrist. See below for a clip of Alex Megos getting 'a bit shut down' (in his own words) on the route a few years ago, as documented in the film Rotpunkt.

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