Sean Bailey has clipped the chains of Chris Sharma’s Biographie/Realization (9a+ 5.15a),
his week-long project and life-long dream. With the send, he broke through the 5.15 barrier and became one of 14 known climbers to redpoint the world’s
“This was my only focus here [in Céüse],” Bailey tells Rock and Ice. “Personally, I can feel an aura around [Biographie], especially
with how many people have struggled on it and how many people have done it.”
The 20-year-old from Seattle, Washington is in the midst of the Lead World Cup circuit and has spent the past months training for competition. But he took
advantage of the month-long break between comps to attempt one of his childhood dreams.
Biographie was originally bolted in 1989 by French climber Jean-Christophe Lafaille, but it remained unclimbed until July 2001, when Chris Sharma
sent it and confirmed its status as the world’s hardest climb at the time.
Bailey says, “When I was 13 and I was just getting psyched on climbing, I found the old footage of Chris [climbing Biographie]. I watched it,
and just thought it was awesome. I got so stoked.”
Last year Bailey gave Biographie a go. He spent a couple days working the route, but he wasn’t ready for the send. This year, stronger from training
and mentally focused, he came back to give it another shot.
“The most challenging part was the mental aspect,” he says. “The climb is just so iconic. To treat it like any other climb was hard.”
Bailey is no stranger to high-pressure climbing. He’s competed in national and international competitions for years. In March, Bailey won the USA Climbing Sport National Championships.
“The long-term goals for me definitely focus on climbing. There aren’t a lot young dudes and gals focusing on climbing in the U.S., so this has been
a big stepping stone for me, very validating.
“[Finishing Biographie] has definitely opened my eyes to new possibilities. I think I’m definitely going to try some other routes of the same
Bailey attributes much of his success to his long-time coach Tyson Schoene, who “taught me a lot about the redpointing game. He’s the reason I’m as good
as I am now.”
As for the Olympics’ decision to include competition climbing, “I’m excited that it’s showing movement [in the sport]. It’s rad because I’m trying to make
this my life, but I don’t know how stoked I am on the format. But it’s cool that climbing is getting noticed.”
Margo Hayes, Sean Bailey Win USA Open Sport National Championships
Q&A: Jon Cardwell On Climbing Biographie/Realization (9a+ 5.15a)
Sachi Amma Cranking Biographie (5.15a)