What an effort: Sébastien Berthe wrestled with the toughest multi-pitch route in the world for 23 days. For 16 days he struggled with the 9a key rope length. He fell out six times in his attempts at the last crux. Now the Belgian has had enough and leaves the Dawn Wall – without a red point ascent, but with his head held high.

"It's been a great and tough adventure and I'm proud of all the work I've done with Siebe Vanhee into this incredible route. I learned so much - about myself and many other things," writes Sebastien Berthe after his monster effort. the Dawn Wall being able to climb in one season is a ambitious goal been. "I was really close but couldn't capture the moment."

"It's been a great and tough adventure and I'm proud of all the work I've put into this incredible route with Siebe Vanhee."

Sebastien Berthe

Video: Sébastien Berthe falls at the last crux of the key pitch

Dawn Wall: Berthe has tried everything

There's one thing you definitely can't blame the strong Belgian for: that he didn't put in a lot of effort in the Dawn Wall or showed enough patience. Since traveling to the States on a sailboat earlier this year, Sébastien Berthe has only known one destination, the Dawn Wall.

He spent weeks on the wall with rope partner Siebe Vanhee. And also after that Departure from Yosemite he didn't give up and put everything on one card. "After 23 days on the face, 16 of them on pitch 14, I had to accept defeat," says Berthe.

"After 23 days on the face, 16 of them on pitch 14, I had to accept defeat."

Sebastien Berthe

His commitment to the Dawn Wall brings the Belgian a lot of recognition, not least from first-time climbers Tommy Caldwell himself: "Oh wow. Such a work to get to this point. This pitch stopped me on two attempts. But I could never stand it up there for 23 days.”

And also Adam Ondra, who climbed the route from November 14 to 21, 2016 in record time, would have wished Berthe a success from the bottom of his heart. "It's such bad luck that he fell out on the last move. I'm sure it will work next time."

Sébastien-Berthe-Siebe-Vanhee-Dawn-Wall
The Belgian duo Vanhee/Berthe in the Dawn Wall, the most difficult multi-pitch route in the world. Picture: Alex Eggermont

Time eats motivation and self-confidence

During the 23 days on the wall, he gave everything and at the same time gave his skin a break, says Sébastien Berthe. "But it just didn't work." When the allotted time passed and the provisions were gone, he considered for a moment asking friends for a hauling mission. But this felt wrong for him. "Scoring the route like this made no sense to me."

"My confidence went down and it became harder and harder to enjoy the process up there."

Sebastien Berthe
Siebe Vanhee Dawn Wall
When mental exhaustion increases and self-confidence wanes, it gets really difficult. Sieve Vanhee in the Dawn Wall. Picture: Alex Eggermont

In the last few days, Sébastien Berthe, like Siebe Vanhee, has been showing signs of fatigue. "My confidence went down and it was getting harder and harder to enjoy the process up there." He was mentally tired and wanted to climb a few other things in Yosemite before leaving in May.

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Credits: Cover picture Julia Cassou