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Seb Bouin Climbs First Ascent of Nordic Marathon 9b/+ (5.15b/c)

The French climber adds this Ondra link up to his collection of challenging first ascents

Seb Bouin climbs Nordic Marathon in Flatanger, Norway

Flatanger continues to deliver. Over the last two weeks French climber Seb Bouin worked through many of Norway’s hardest routes. The cave hosts to the current hardest route in the world, Ondra’s Silence, with the potential for several other challenging link ups. On July 21, Bouin put up a new link up, Nordic Marathon.

Seb Bouin climbs second pitch of Thor's Hammer in Flatanger, Norway
Seb Bouin crimps on Nordic Marathon – photo by Marco Müller

This 130 metre 9b/+ first ascent took Bouin from Nordic Pumber, up through the second pitch of Thor’s Hammer. Bouin noted that his ultimate goal would take him through the hardest possible combination of routes. Already, his route offers a possible 9b/+ difficulty rating with an 8c to 9a+ link. Bouin imagines linking Move 9b/+ into the same concluding of Nordic Marathon.

This 9b/+ to 9a/+ link up would be one of the hardest routes in the cave, and would provide a at least approach 9c difficulty in a style unique from Ondra’s Silence.

When Adam told me about his project to cross over the cave, and go from the ground to the summit, I was immediately amazed by this idea, Bouin mentioned in a press release Monday

Bouin continued by mentioning that this was the main objective of his trip. Bouin began by working and climbing the second 9a+ section of Thor’s Hammer. He became the second climber to ascend the route after Ondra’s first ascent in 2017.

Seb Bouin climbs Nordic Marathon in Flatanger, Norway
Seb Bouin squeezes on Nordic Marathon – photo by Marco Müller

The top section alone has three distinct cruxes, all of which become more challenging following the 8c entrance to the route.  

It changed so much the end. Coming into the 9a+, with my arms already so pumped in the last crimpy crux after 80m of climbing was insane. I was falling there a few times. And then falling on the previous cruxes as well.

The sheer size of the route makes it hard mentally. You can have one go every two days. It’s so much climbing, in one intense burst that you simply can’t give two goes in a day. Then if you want to be as fresh as possible, you need a rest day in between.

So it was quite hard psychologically to only give it one burn every two days. The pressure felt so high in this last crux. The rope drag was also insane. Even if I had already switched ropes once during the route – I had to untie my knot and free-solo the last 5/10 meters.

Bouin noted the last 5 to 10 metres are very easy compared to the rest of the route.

In advance of his sending the route, he described the difficulty of the climb.

It’s hard to imagine what the overall grade that this project might be, but one thing is sure, this last pitch makes it really hard due to the style and the combination of the cruxes.

This route will be around 80m of hard climbing with the redpoint crux on the last meters. Above the lip of the cave, there are still 50 meters of vertical wall to be bolted to top out on the very summit. The total line could be around 130m to be climbed in one pitch, switching ropes as we climb.

We still have to bolt the last “easy” part to get onto the summit of the cave.

 My dream project would be to do it from Move. Adam and I think this route could be 9c.

Over the last year, Bouin has managed numerous difficult repeats and first ascents over the last year, including a recent proposed 5.15d. The route, DNA, was one of Bouin’s longest project and climbs as an endurance test-piece.

Bouin continues to work Ondra’s Change, a challenging 5.15c made famous by a cruxy shoulder sequence.

Featured image of Seb Bouin by Marco Müller.