Sébastian Bouin, of France, clipped the chains of the 80-meter monster Chilam Balam (5.15b) this week, claiming the third ascent of the famous—and controversial—Spanish route.
Bouin began working the 22-bolt endurance test-piece, located at Villanueva del Rosario in the Andalusia region of Spain, in February. He made quick progress on the lower section but was stumped by a bouldery section up higher. Bouin returned to work the route earlier this month—along with the Spaniards Edu Marin and Dani Andrada—and reached the anchors this week.
In 2003, Bernabé Fernández reported climbing the route and proposed the unprecedented grade of 9b+ (5.15c)—two grades harder than Chris Sharma’s benchmark 5.15a Realization/Biographie in Céüse, France.
Both the 5.15c grade and the legitimacy of Fernández’s first ascent were questioned by the climbing world.
In 2011, Adam Ondra made the first repeat of the route—after three days of projecting—and suggested a “lower end” 9b/5.15b. Ondra may have cleared the air regarding the route’s difficulty, but the legitimacy of Fernández’s ascent remains a mystery.
As for 22-year-old Bouin, Chilam Balam is the first 5.15b in his growing tick-list of impressive sends. In 2012, he made the first repeat of La Madonne (9a+/5.15a) in Luberon, and in 2014, the first repeat of Staphylocoque (9a+/5.15a) at Pic St. Loup, both in France.
Other notable ascents of Bouin’s include Era Vella (5.14d), Tierra Negra (5.14d) and Perez Victimas (5.14d) in Margalef, Spain and Little Badder (5.14d) in Flatanger Cave, Norway.
Adam Ondra on Chilam Balam (5.15b):