On April 29, 2022, French professional climber Seb Bouin completed the first ascent of one of the toughest routes in the world: DNA in the Ramirole sector of the Verdon Gorge in France. He has invested more than 150 days and 250 attempts in the line, and he proposes a rating of 9c.

When assessing his long-term project DNA in der Verdon Gorge swayed Seb Bouin between 9b+ and 9c. The strong Frenchman explains why he finally decided on the higher level of difficulty as follows: “I have never tried a similar route with a similar level of difficulty as DNA. The 9c is my proposal for the DNA, which now needs to be confirmed or adjusted by other climbers.”

"I have never attempted a similar route with a similar level of difficulty as DNA."

Seb Bouin

Of course it is a risk to propose 9c, adds Seb Bouin. A risk that the route will be downgraded. “As it currently only there is another route in the world, which has been proposed at a similar level of difficulty, it is difficult to be safe and confident.”

Seb Bouin spent more than 150 days on the heavily overhanging route. He made more than 250 attempts before the first successful ascent of DNA. Picture: Lena Drapella

Appeal to climbing elite

"Our sport is beautiful, we don't need judges, we are the judges," said Bouin. Climbing is nice, but at the same time quite hard in such a situation, at the limit of what is feasible. That is why he would like to invite the best climbers in the world to come to France and test DNA.

"I would like to invite the best climbers in the world to come to France and test DNA."

Seb Bouin
Seb Bouin during a no-hand rest in heavily overhanging Route DNA (9c). Picture: Lena Drapella

From the challenge to the project to the first ascent

After the first ascent of La Rage d'Adam (9b/+) Seb was looking for another challenge, something even more difficult. After a route really above his level so he could challenge himself.

With DNA, Seb Bouin found a tough challenge right on his doorstep. Picture: Lena Drapella

La Ramirole was the perfect place for it. It is a rock face that is in good condition most of the year and is not far from Seb's house. Taking a closer look at the wall, he noticed that there is a line right down the middle, through the huge cave, in a section with few holds.

At the end of the 2019 season, he was trying to find methods and understand the line. Seb has spent more than 150 days on this route and attempted it over 250 times.

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Credits: Cover picture Lena Drapella