Last weekend, Sébastien Bouin and Lucien Martinez climbed the Akira route in the Le Périgord climbing area. The route was first climbed by Fred Rouhling in 1995 and rated 9b. The rating at the time was questioned by international climbers and Fred Rouhling was heavily criticized. The most recent iterations shed new light on the route.

For 25 years, numerous great climbers on Fred Rouhling's Akira route gritted their teeth. The Frenchman made the first ascent of the route in 1995 and rated it 9b. A level of difficulty that did not exist before. With his evaluation he skipped grade 9a + and earned a lot of criticism. Among the critics were climbers such as Alexander Huber and Dani Andrada.

The latter tried the route even tried to climb the route once, but could not get the tour to redepoint. Nevertheless, he stuck to his criticism and said at the time that the route was probably in the 9a / + or 9a + area.

Fred-Rouhling-in-Akira_Erstbegehung_9b-oder-9a_Bild-tim-Kemple
Fred Rouhling in the Akira route. (Photo Tim Kemple)

Even the ascent of Fred Rouhling was questioned

Not only was Fred Rouhling's evaluation suggestion sharply criticized back then, but the inspection as such was also called into question. By 1995 there were only three 9a routes in the world (Action Directe, Bain de sang and Hugh), whereby the route Hugh also came from Fred Rouhling. So Fred only climbed one 9a before Akira.

There were also other aspects that cast a poor light on its assessment and inspection. The route was in an area that was forbidden to climb, so repeating the route was almost impossible. Accordingly, to a certain extent it was forgotten.

Fred Rouhling in Akira and other routes

Repeated twice last weekend

As part of his so-called “Vintage Rock Tour”, the young Frenchman Seb Bouin looked at the route. Last weekend the time had come when Akira was repeated. And not just from Seb Bouin, but also from another top climber: Lucien Martinez. For the time being, neither of them commented personally on the evaluation of the route. For his part, Fred Rouhling already wrote the following on instagram:

Yes, finally !! 25 years without repetition and now in a double pack. The starting boulder of the route is no longer the same as it was in the original state 25 years ago. Instead of 8b, this section is only rated 7c and thus leads to an overall rating of 9a. This according to the two repeaters.

Fred Rouhling

Was Akira 9b or not?

A few hours later, Sébastien Bouin also spoke up. The two of them cannot confirm the difficulty of the Akira route and rate it with a 9a. Sébastien writes:

Regarding the grade: We think the route is easier than originally rated. We felt like we were climbing a 9a route. It is difficult to speak of the degree of such a historical route, but we have to be honest. Nonetheless, the route is tough and it's incredible that it was climbed in the 90s. Respect Fred!

Sébastien Bouin

Whether the route Akira deserved the overall rating of 9b in its original state is therefore still unclear. Further voices would be needed to confirm that the entry boulder has become easier since the first ascent due to grip or step eruptions. We will investigate this story and the next one BETA-Sending from Action Talk TV report more about it.

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Credits: Cover picture Julien Nadiras

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