Melissa Le Nevé and Fabian Buhl have both made ascents of James Pearson's Le Voyage (8b+), E10 7a, in Annot, France.
The ascents are the ninth and tenth of the year, with Le Nevé's ascent - the route's third female ascent - coming just two weeks after Caro Ciavaldini's.
Both climbers worked the route on top rope, with Le Nevé making her ascent on her second headpoint attempt, having lost faith in a nut placement and bailed on her first attempt. Both climbers are thought to have placed all the gear during their ascents, in addition to using some in-situ slings.
In posts on Instagram - shared below - the climbers both stated that they found Le Voyage to be slightly easier than the French 8b+ / E10 grade that the route has previously been given.
Le Nevé - who has climbed up to French 9a - suggested that the route was easier than some Céüse 8b routes that she had previously climbed, and that the crux was similar to a Fontainebleau 6C boulder in difficulty.
Buhl, on the other hand, compared the route to others he had climbed that used the E-grade system, and found that the other E9/10 routes he'd climbed 'felt much more committing than Le Voyage, as you actually could hit the deck'. Buhl also stated that he felt the route was 'a classic 8b on trad gear'.
Regardless of how bold or safe the route is, Le Nevé and Buhl's suggestion of French 8b is a slight downgrade of the difficulty of the climbing on Le Voyage, with French 8b+ the grade that has typically been referenced since Pearson's first ascent in 2017.
Whilst this technical downgrade wouldn't necessarily mean a downgrade from E10, it would suggest that Le Voyage would need to be at the bolder end of the scale to be considered E10.
Both Le Nevé and Buhl mentioned that they felt that Le Voyage was relatively safe, which, in conjunction with their suggestion of 8b, would place the route at low E10, or hard E9.
To our knowledge, none of the route's twelve other repeat ascensionists have suggested a downgrade from 8b+.
James Pearson has congratulated both Le Nevé and Buhl on Instagram, agreeing that Le Voyage is a route that 'is run out, but unlikely to cause injury', and stating that it is when you combine the physical and technical difficulty of a route with the danger of a route that you can begin to get a sense of its E grade.
He also said, in response to Le Nevé's thoughts on the difficulty of the crux, that it would be 'brutal for 6C!'
Pearson's other top-end Annot route, Bon Voyage (9a), which he established at the beginning of the year, is yet to see a repeat.