Seb Bouin climbs Jumbo Love (9b) at Clark Mountain

Seb Bouin repeats the endurance hammer Jumbo Love (9b). The line that Chris Sharma climbed for the first time in 2008 is not only the world's first confirmed 9b route, but also the most difficult sport climbing route in the USA at the time.

Like many climbing enthusiasts around the world, the epic fight of Chris Sharma in Jumbo Love (9b) from 2008 as well Seb Bouin inspired. "This king line has attracted me for a long time," says the strong Frenchman. He recently managed to climb the 80 meter long endurance hammer. he is after Ethan Pringle and Jonathan Siegrist only the third climber who succeeds in repeating Jumbo Love. Spoilers: Seb Bouin had his sights set on an even more difficult variant.

«Jumbo Love is everything I love about climbing: a perfect, huge, orange, sheer wall in the middle of the Mojave Desert.»

Seb Bouin
Seb Bouin secures one of the rare iterations of the 9b route Jumbo Love. Image: Clarisse Bompard
Seb Bouin secures one of the rare iterations of the 9b route Jumbo Love. Image: Clarisse Bompard

Jumbo Love (9b) - a complete adventure

He knew from the beginning that this line and the wall would correspond pretty much to his preferred climbing style, says Seb Bouin. «Climbing this route is something I've been waiting for for several years. And I was definitely not disappointed. It's a fantastic line with perfect movements."

But Jumbo Love (9b) is not just a sport climbing route, but a complete adventure due to its geographical remoteness. "I completely underestimated the entire process - the drive, the off-roading and the hour-long ascent."

«We exchanged our car three times because it wasn't good enough to get to the rock. And the off-road driving forced us to change tires twice.”

Seb Bouin
It's good to laugh: Seb Bouin is only able to repeat Jumbo Love (9b) for the third time at Clark Mountain. Image: Clarisse Bompard
It's good to laugh: Seb Bouin is only able to repeat Jumbo Love (9b) for the third time at Clark Mountain. Image: Clarisse Bompard

divide forces

Known for his incredible endurance, Seb Bouin is used to climbing for many consecutive days. For the ascent of Jumbo Love (9b), however, he had to change his strategy: "We had to sustain ourselves and maintain our energy and motivation." Accordingly, they would have slept a few nights in the desert to save themselves the time-consuming journey. An approach that paid off.

"I was able to climb Jumbo Love on my tenth day of climbing."

Seb Bouin

Targeted direct variant of Jumbo Love

But Seb Bouin wouldn't be Seb Bouin if he had traveled to the States "only" for a 9b route. The Frenchman - at the latest after his inspections of DNA (9c) or Nordic marathon (9b/+) – known for his immense stamina, had one overriding goal in mind: the direct variant of Jumbo Love, which is said to be even more difficult.

"My approach was simple: find the best possible betas in Jumbo Love in order to have the best possible chance of creating the direct variant, in which an 9c+ route has to be mastered before the 8b."

Seb Bouin

In this process, Seb Bouin used kneebars in three places, which, however, only brought the expected relief to a limited extent. Knee clamps are difficult to place in Jumbo Love. “Half the time I slipped out. I almost gave up because it was too risky for me at some points.»

Despite these difficulties, Bouin has not yet written off the direct version of Jumbo Love. With the normal start (about 8a) you reach the crux pretty fresh. However, in order to create the direct variant, which adds an 8c+ route before the crux, the Frenchman would have had to find a less strenuous beta.

With or without knee clamps: Jumbo Love is 9b

Seb Bouin believes that while the knee braces in Jumbo Love bring some relief, they don't affect the difficulty of the route. It's not like Iron curtain or Change, where the knee clamps make a big difference. "I think Jumbo Love is 9b - with or without kneebars."

"I think Jumbo Love is 9b - with or without kneebars."

Seb Bouin

Video: Ethan Pringle on the second ascent of Jumbo Love (9b)

3 Days With Ethan Pringle from 3 Thongs on Vimeo.

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Credits: Cover photo Clarisse Bompard

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