Less than a month before his 42nd birthday, Chris Sharma has made the first ascent of his long-term project Sleeping Lion, 9b+, in Siurana, Spain.
Bolted by Sharma himself, Sleeping Lion is a forty metre route which, according to an interview Sharma gave to climbing.com, can be broken down into five sections of f7B/+, f8A, f8A, f8A+, and f8A. Each of these sections is separated by bad rests, and each 'stylistically various, involving techy heel hooks, punchy dynos on steep terrain, and tenuous face climbing on small edges'. Sharma told climbing.com that he fell sixteen times from the final crux, the route's fifty-fourth move.
Whilst the route is near to Siurana classics like La Rambla (extension) (9a+) and La reina mora (9a) - the latter of which Sharma repeated last December - Sleeping Lion is a completely independent line, the only route in the centre of a 40-metre-wide section of otherwise unbolted and unclimbed rock.
Sharma's ascent of Sleeping Lion comes almost exactly a decade after his ascent of the world's second 9b+ route, La Dura Dura (9b+), which he made the second ascent of shortly after Adam Ondra made the first. Sharma's repeat of La Dura Dura, and confirmation of the 9b+ grade, made it the first consensus 9b+ route in the world. As such, Sleeping Lion is Sharma's hardest ever first ascent, whilst also becoming the hardest route in Siurana.
Speaking to climbing.com, Sharma said that the route was a 'personal goal of proving to myself that I could rise to that level again'.
'Obviously there is some ego involved in that, but it's more of a personal challenge... If I compare it to trying La Dura Dura with Adam Ondra, vying for the first ascent of the world's hardest route, there were all these expectations. This time around, it's just me in my own world on my own creation, just kind of doing it, for the sake of it, because I wanted to see if I still can do it'.
Despite consistently climbing in and around the 9a range, Sharma's most recent route harder than 9a+ - El Bon Combat, 9b - was ticked more than eight years ago, when he was 34 years old. In climbing Sleeping Lion, Sharma becomes just the fifth climber to have climbed two or more 9b+ routes. He is almost twelve years older than the next oldest member of that group, Adam Ondra.
In addition to joining a select group of people to have established a route at 9b+, Sharma was also responsible for climbing the first consensus 9a+ route, Biographie (9a+) at Céüse, France. as well as the first consensus 9b, with Jumbo Love (9b) at Clark Mountain, USA.
No they were not. ‘Change’ by Ondra in Flatanger was the first. https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2013/02/adam_ondra_climbs_the_dura_dura-67802
Right you are, have edited that section:Sharma's repeat of La Dura Dura, and confirmation of the 9b+ grade, made it the first consensus 9b+ route in the world.
Incredible achievement from Sharma. Just a small point, consensus seems like a good term to use here. Regarding Mutation from 1998 which Will upgraded to 9a+, seems like it might be a while for a consensus to be reached on that one seeing as repeats are slow in coming! Similarly, Huber's Open Air from 1996 has had only one repeat from Ondra so a consensus is yet to be reached on that one too. Hopefully more repeats of both will confirm but it seems unlikely that either will be downgraded from 9a+, particularly Mutation!
"Sharma was also responsible for climbing the first consensus 9a+ route, Biographie (9a+) at Céüse, France. as well as the first consensus 9b, with Jumbo Love (9b) at Clark Mountain, USA."
And in a sense, also the first consensus 9b+, in that his ascent established the consensus. Not bad.
f7B/+, f8A, f8A, f8A+, and f8A (i.e. boulder grades)
F7b/+, F8a, F8a, F8a+, and F8a (i.e. sport grades)?