In the last year, Simon Lorenzi became one of the few climbers that can claim more the one V16 (8C+) first ascent. The Belgian took down two new problems that link into The Big Island, a Fontainebleau V15 made famous by American boulderer Dave Graham.
While The Big Island has been the subject of downgrading conversations, each of Lorenzi’s challenging low starts add numerous moves to the powerful sandstone test-piece. In February of 2021, Lorenzi put up Soudain Seul earning a lot of press as a boulder with a proposed difficulty of 9a. This would have made it one of three problems to wear the V17 difficulty rating, but, after it was repeated, it seemed that V16 may be more appropriate. In either case, the overtly challenging block forces climbers up a series of physical moves into a resistance-based crux at the end of the problem.
On January 23, 2022, almost one year later, Lorenzi returned to the boulder to establish the bloc’s second V16. The new climb, Big Conviction, climbs left out of a new V13/14 Lorenzi put up last month. That punchy problem, Conviction Low, adds at least one hard move to a V11, bumping the grade significantly.
It appears that Big Conviction shares the same start as Conviction Low, before traversing left into the harder Big Island. In the interview with 8a, Lorenzi reflected on the problem. “It starts in the low start of Conviction and then you traverse to the left on the same ramp as the first hold of The Big Island. There are like five to six more moves. The first one is the hardest, a very hard move from an undercling with two very bad feet (which make the true difficulty). Then you go far left to a good crimp and it is hard to be precisely in a position with so much tension and you have to keep your feet on the wall when you hit the crimp. If you don’t, you will fall. After there, it is like three or four moves to go into the start of The Big Island. Not that hard but it’s steep and it makes your hands more sweaty for the end.”
Although his ascent here marks yet another first ascent on this famous rock, Lorenzi noted that another 10 lines may still remain on this featured sandstone. He mentioned that he may return to develop more, but it is unclear what that might look like. ALthough he has not yet posted footage, it appears likely that the first ascents of both Soudain Seul and Big Conviction will appear in the upcoming film Soudain Seul by Gilles Charlier.
Although Lorenzi only made one bouldering World Cup final this year, 2021 was a bit of a breakout season for the Belgian Boulderer. In November, he ticked Off the Wagon Low, and in the summer he managed to tick both La Force Tranquille and The Power of Now, two Swiss V15s that he managed in a relatively short amounts of time.
As Lorenzi spent a great deal of time working the World Cup circuit, his prolific tick list earns even greater accreditation. As we prepare for a new year on the World Cup Circuit, it will become exciting to see how the increasingly strong Belgian breaks out in Bouldering and Lead.
Big Conviction V16