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5/2/14 – This weekend Jonathan Siegrest redpointed the famous route Biographie (5.15a) in Ceüse, France. Biographie was the world’s first consensus 5.15a and is considered the benchmark for the grade. It was also Siegrist’s first 5.15a. The route was made famous in the Big Up Productions’ Dosage Volume 1, which documented the first ascent by Chris Sharma, who then named it Realization. Siegrist describes the route on his blog:
“I can remember the first time that I saw the route—it is truly magnificent. I was shocked to see that such a bold and impressive, seemingly perfect line exists. Add to that, the historic significance of this climb, not to mention its unique and brilliant holds and movement—it really is a proud route.”
Siegrist’s ascent was the route’s eighth. He made the redpoint on June 1, 2014, after months of training and five weeks of effort. He attributes his success to a complete refresh of his regimine and lifestyle.
“Since last December I’ve been approaching my climbing differently. For the first time in my climbing life I solicited the help of a trainer. I’ve quite dramatically changed the way I train—finally trying some new things. I’ve adjusted my lifestyle, and like I once did many years ago—in pursuit of my first 5.14s—I’ve anxiously looked ahead and worked hard towards a lofty goal. It has been an awesome awakening for me. In general, I feel like I saw the end of the line for my long used methods for training and my general approach to climbing—and that line did not include my new climbing goals, so I made some changes and now I feel more prepared.”
Jean-Christophe Lafaille bolted Biographie in the 1980s, but the first ascent didn’t come until 2001. For some time, a mid-route anchor made the bottom half into it’s own 5.14c climb, but that anchor has since been removed. The last ascent before Siegrist was made by Enzo Oddo in 2010. Oddo was the first to climb the route since a hold broke on the opening boulder problem, adding another level of difficulty to the already hard route. Adam Ondra attempted to flash the route in 2012, but fell during the final boulder problem. Here’s Siegrist’s play-by-play beta.
“Immediately off the ground is a burly four-move boulder problem—which broke in 2010—rendering it several V-grades harder. To me, it feels similar in difficulty to the opening boulder on Necessarily Evil. Some 5.13- climbing right after leads to the main rest, a huge right facing flake. It’s a very good rest. After the pause, a series of super resistant two and three–finger pocket moves, with cross-throughs and underclings and high steps and all kinds of interesting and varied movement, lead you to the old anchor (now removed). To here the route is considered 5.14c, although some have suggested an upgrade due to the bottom boulder breaking. I’m not sure really, it’s hard though! There is an OK rest at the old anchor, then a bolt more of resistance climbing leads to a slightly better rest just below the finishing crux. The finishing crux is essentially 12 moves, with a bunch of foot movement, and some very fickle pockets and crimps. It’s hard to say how difficult this crux section is on its own, but it is certainly the effects of climbing from the ground that make this crux—and thus the entire route—so difficult. Above the crux there is an OK rest, and some 5.11 climbing (that is deceptively hard when you’re pumped!) for another 50 feet leads to the anchor at around the 35-meter mark.“