The 24-year-old Frenchman Simon Lorenzi managed the first ascent of the sit-down version of The Big Island in Fontainebleau. Now Simon decides on an evaluation and gives the extended version a new name: Soudain Seul (9a).

A few hours after Simon Lorenzi communicated his ascent of the boulder The Big Island in his seated start version, he now provides more details about the ascent. The big question that everyone was asking is the rating of the line. He begins to write a little vaguely and finally confirms:

After all considerations, it is appropriate to rate the seat start version with 9a / V17.

Simon Lorenzi
Simon Lorenzi after the successful ascent of Soudain Seul / The Big Island Assis (9a). Picture Gilles Charlier / @ gilles.charlier
Simon Lorenzi after the successful ascent of Soudain Seul / The Big Island Assis (9a). Picture Gilles Charlier /

Knee clamp as a stumbling block

It was not that clear to Simon Lorenzi. The version The Big Island, rated 8c for a long time and recently downgraded to 8b + several times, Simon climbed in a few sessions. It quickly became clear to him that he wanted to try the seated start version.

Two months later I was back in Fontainebleau for 14 days. Although the weather was bad, I climbed as often as possible and tried to optimize the moves and sections.

Simon Lorenzi

Simon needs six sessions to climb the first part. The climbing is very technical and he was not used to climbing with knee clamps. “The whole climbing with the knee clamps was the most complicated for me,” explains Simon.

At the end of his stay he was ready for real attempts at ascent, but on the very last day he fell twice when he tried to grab the ledge at the end of the boulder. “Because I was so close to the ascent after eight days, I thought the boulder is no more difficult than 8c +.

Looking forward to the climb too early

The ascent didn't come as fast as hoped. A week later, Simon returned to Fontainebleau. Simon was determined to crack the boulder in the two days. But there were always new problems. A small change on one train caused problems on the next.

It took me another 15 sessions to solve all the little problems and tweak as many details as possible.

Simon Lorenzi

All the small tweaks were necessary in order to wind your way through to the end of the boulder with as little effort and endurance as possible. “Even on the day of the inspection, I made small, helpful tweaks to the beta. I needed around 25 sessions to get there - far more than I originally thought, ”explains Simon.

9a, 8c + / 9a or just 8c +?

The question of the questions was posed not only by the climbing community, but also by Simon Lorenzi himself. For a long time he puzzled over how he should evaluate the seated start version of The Big Island, Soudain Seul.

I feel like the difficulty is somewhere between a hard 8c + and a 9a.

Simon Lorenzi
Picture Gilles Charlier /

Simon explains in detail that he lacks a reference for a similar boulder in a similar style and therefore cannot say with certainty that it is a 9a. Other athletes, who also plan the boulder intensively, estimate the sitting start to be 9a.

After all the considerations and arguments - and in comparison to where our sport is currently - it seems appropriate to rate Soudain Seul with 9a / V17.

Simon Lorenzi

Second or third 9a boulder in the world?

It was the Finn Nalle Hukkataivalon October 23, 2016 with Burden of Dreams rated a boulder with 9a for the first time. There was a murmur through the climbing world. Since then, numerous international climbers have visited the hardest bouldering line in the world. Nobody has been successful so far.

Second 9a boulder is devalued by repeaters

In January 2019 the excitement in the climbing scene was again great. The Frenchman Charles Albert, known for climbing barefoot, climbed No Kpote Only in Fontainebleau and rated the boulder with 9a. Just two months later, the first candidate was there to get a repeat. With success. The Japanese Ryohei Kameyama repeats No Kpote Only - and devalues ​​it. Incidentally, Ryohei has already tried Burden of Dreams, but could not crack Nalle's boulder. His conclusion:

I feel like Burden of Dreams is a bit more difficult than No Kpote Only. I think No Kpote Only is in the range 8c + / 9a. But I didn't climb a lot of very difficult boulders and therefore don't have a good reference. Therefore my assessment may not be correct.

Ryohei Kameyama

Nico Pelorson repeating No Kpote Only

Further devaluation from No Kpote Only to 8c

The Frenchman is even harder in court with No Kpote Only Nico Pelorson. He describes the boulder, rated 9a by Charles Albert, only as a solid 8c.

With climbing shoes and the optimized beta, I find No Kpote Only a solid 8c. The line climbs super, thanks to Charles Albert for the first ascent of the boulder.

Nico Pelorson

Due to the devaluation of No Kpote Only and the still existing rating of 9a in the case of Burden of Dreams, Soudain Seul is in second place. We're excited to see how the sit-down version of The Big Island, Soudain Seul, will be evaluated by future repeaters.

+ + +
Credits: Pictures Giles Charlier /