Suprême Jumbo Love
Watch Seb Bouin add his own piece of history to Clark Mountain and establish America’s new hardest route.
In the fall of 2022, Black Diamond athlete Seb Bouin made a pilgrimage to the mythical Clark Mountain to pay homage to Jumbo Love—a route he’d dreamed of for years. But sending the iconic Chris Sharma test piece (and the world’s first 5.15b) was only the beginning of his journey. Take a trip into the heart of America’s hardest climbing and watch Seb add his own piece of history to Clark Mountain with the country’s new hardest route.
“Jumbo Love was a dream since I was a child. I started climbing around 2005 and it was documented in one of the most incredible climbing films—Progression—I had watched at that time.
Back in 1990, Randy Leavitt saw this wall up there in the middle of the desert. So far away from everything. He saw with his binoculars the potential of the main line, Jumbo Love, from the road. He went up one day and bolted the line in three pitches. After realizing the line was maybe too futuristic for him, he left it as an open project. In 2008, Chris Sharma made the first ascent of this route and named it Jumbo Love. A stunning line which introduced a new grade to the climbing world: 9b/5.15b. Then he came back around 2010 to try the direct start. Yet, he didn't finish it.
Sending Jumbo Love
Jumbo Love looked like everything I like in climbing—a perfect huge orange steep wall in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I knew this line and this wall would be my preferred climbing style: long, exhausting, impressive. Climbing on this line is something I have been waiting for for several years. And I was not disappointed. It's an amazing line with perfect moves.
But Jumbo Love is not just a hard line, it's a whole adventure. I totally underestimated the total process, the drive, the off-roading, and the hike in. We changed our car three times because it was not good enough to get to the crag. We also changed two tires due to off-road driving incidents. The one hour hike really takes it out of you. I am used to climbing for many days in a row. But, here, that would be a mistake. We had to preserve ourselves. And keep our energy and motivation up. I managed to climb Jumbo Love (5.15b) on my 10th climbing day.
My overarching objective was to do the direct variation of Jumbo Love. My approach was simple: find the best beta possible on Jumbo Love, in order to have the highest chance possible of sending it coming from the direct, adding a 9a (5.14d) route before the 9b (5.15b). There were some special moments up there, in the cold and the wind. I shared some days with Randy Leavitt himself, trying the direct.
There was a whole lot of love for climbing, the place, the people around, and this desert.
I was able to finish the trip by sending the direct start. It couldn't be more perfect. The effort is really long, adding 20 meters of hard climbing before the crux of Jumbo Love. This is followed by the second part of Jumbo Love which is really physical and pumpy. The icing on the cake is the last slab of 20 meters. A tricky slab where you have to know what you do. I almost fell on the slab.
The final route is around 70 meters, and the hardest part is combining everything. The first 9a (5.14d) is quite tricky, and it's easy to fall, even if you have the power. Then you have the Jumbo Love crux, where it's definitely possible to fall even if you have the power (missing the one finger pocket). Then you need fresh energy to link all the pumpy parts to reach the lip of the overhang. The last slab is not that hard, but if you are done, and you don't know it quite well ... you can easily fall there too.
Sometimes everything just comes together—shape, conditions, vibes, friends, luck … I know it doesn't happen that often, and I am incredibly grateful to live such big moments. Suprême Jumbo Love is born! I am happy to play a part in this story with such great history and with love at the center of it all.” — Seb Bouin