V15 at 15 years old? What are they feeding kids these days!?
Two days ago, on May 25, Oriane Bertone, the 15-year-old from Nice, France, climbed a new low start to the problem Satan I Helvete, in Fontainebleau, and suggested the grade of 8C (V15). The ascent makes Oriane the fourth woman—following Ashima Shiraishi, Kaddi Lehmann and Mishka Ishi—to send V15
Satan I Helvete (bas)—Oriane’s new low start variation—adds a couple of hard moves into the stand start of the existing problem. Comparing Oriane’s beta on the already established portion of the boulder to that of other ascentionists (e.g. Alban Levier) speaks to her vision and how fully she had to devise a completely different set of movements to make the boulder possible for her.
Watch Oriane Bertone’s First Ascent of Satan I Helvete (bas) (8C/V15)! [Turn on CC in YouTube player for English subtitles]
Bertone posted on Instagram today, “This trip in lockdown in Fontainebleau taught me much more than I expected. During this quarantine, my motivation suddenly went down. It was surely the hardest month of training I’ve never experienced. But thanks to that, I’ve learned that progress is the only real objective I must have. Become and relive each day, renew and reinvent yourself with new shades of color on our canvas. Simply progress, move forward and keep your head up high. Dare to accept yourself as you are. Dare to accept being kneaded, molded and shaped with defaults and qualities, and that perfection and achievement of results doesn’t simply mean accomplishment. Accomplishment is the accumulation, the acceptance that our falls, our adjustments, our fears, our doubts, our abandonments and our surpassings are neither useless nor lost. That the way taken may be the right one, and that the longest path sometimes hides more treasures than the shortest path. It is thanks to all these stages, these stops, these injuries, these fears, tears and these questions that each in his own way progresses and advances.”
She finished, “Here is ‘Satan I Helvete’ my very first 8c and long-standing project.”
The original problem, Satan I Helvete, has a winding history.
Dave Graham made the first ascent of the original Satan I Helvete in 2003 and graded it 8B+ (V14). After a slew of repeats over the years—by well-known climbers such as Dai Koyamada, Paul Robinson and Jan Hojer, among others—the grade settled at 8B (V13).
Then in 2013 the starting holds broke. A note from February 2016 on the website bleau.info reads: “The starting hold of this former 8b has broken off in December 2013. The problem has been reopened by Alban Levier, who proposed the grade of [8C].”
As happened after Graham’s first ascent back in 2003, those who repeated Levier’s reestablished version of the problem thought his 8C grade a bit too lofty. Those who have repeated Levier’s reestablished version include Charles Albert and Nicolas Pelorson. The consensus grade is 8B+ (V14).
In 2015, Ashima Shiraishi was the first woman, and at 14 years old the youngest person up to that moment, to climb V15 when she sent Horizon, Mount Hiei, Japan. Kaddi Lehmann, of Germany, joined Shiraishi in 2018, with an ascent of Kryptos, Basler Jura, Switzerland. Then in 2019, 13-year-old Japanese climber Mishka Ishi became the third woman and youngest to tick a V15 when she sent Byaku-dou, Mt. Hourai, Japan.
Prior to Satan I Helvete, Oriane had sent a handful of V13s and a V14, Golden Shadow, Rocklands, South Africa. She climbed the latter in 2018, at just 12 years old, still the youngest to climb that grade.