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America’s First 5.15c is Suprême Jumbo Love

Sébastien Bouin has made history with the first ascent of Suprême Jumbo Love in California

Sébastien Bouin has made the first ascent of Suprême Jumbo Love in California at 5.15c, making it the hardest rock climb in North and South America.

Bouin, who made the fourth ascent of Jumbo Love last week, just repeated the line but linked it with a direct start that was first tried by Chris Sharma in 2010. Sharma made the first ascent of Jumbo Love in 2008, and it was repeated by Ethan Pringle in 2015 and Jonathan Siegrist in 2016.

Sébastien Bouin on the first ascent of Suprême Jumbo Love 5.15c. Photo by Clarisse Bompard

The direct variation adds 20 metres of 5.14d before joining Jumbo Love, which was the world’s first confirmed 5.15b. Jumbo Love was bolted by Randy Leavitt, who was with Bouin during the send of the direct.

“Some special moments up there, in the cold and the wind,” said Bouin. “There was whole lotta love for climbing, the people and the desert. This route and this place have been on my mind since I started I climbing. Finishing this trip by sending the direct start couldn’t be more perfect.”

Bouin said that he nearly fell off the final slab of the 70-metre climb, which he said is tricky and requires careful climbing after such a long and pumpy route. “The first 5.14d is quite tricky, and it’s easy to fall, even if you have the power,” he said. “Then you have this Jumbo Love crux, where it’s definitely possible to fall, even if you have the power, if you miss the one finger pocket.” Bouin said that you need to move efficiently because you need “energy to link all the pumpy parts to reach the lip of the overhang.”

The first time that he made it through the direct start was on his third try of the day. “I was definitely too spent to have any chance on the main Jumbo Love section,” he said. “I knew I had to do the direct and the Jumbo Love crux on the first try of the day.” On his next visit, things came together. “Sometimes, everything just comes together – shape, conditions, vibes, friends, cameraman, luck,” he said. “I know it doesn’t happen often, so I’m very grateful to live such big moments when it does.”

Randy Leavitt and Sébastien Bouin. Photo by Clarisse Bompard