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Some Thoughts on Shawn Raboutou’s “The Story of 3 Worlds” (V16)

To spray or not to spray... News of Shawn Raboutou's immediately classic V16 on the Dreamtime boulder has dropped months after the send.

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Last winter, Shawn Raboutou, one of the world’s strongest yet least talkative boulderers, established a major first ascent on the Dreamtime boulder in Cresciano, Switzerland. The Story of 3 Worlds (V16) is an alternate start to Dave Graham’s 2005 classic The Story of Two Worlds (V15), which is itself the low start of The Dagger, a V13/14 first established by Toni Lamprecht in 2003.

Requiring a new-school fusion of power and technicality that has become Raboutou’s trademark, The Story of 3 Worlds starts on the left side of the cave and works through improbably thin underlings and feet to a no-hands kneebar. Here, after some brief upside-down chillin’, Raboutou does several hard moves culminating in a dyno to the left-hand start hold of The Dagger. 

Raboutou actually “sent” the problem twice in the same evening—having dabbed slightly on the tree that guards the end of The Dagger’s compression sequence.

With FAs of Off The Wagon Sit (V16), Big Z (V16), Fuck the System (V16), Road Kill (V15), and Fallen Angel (V15), among others, and repeats of testpieces like Livin’ Large (V16), The Creature from the Black Lagoon (V16), Finnish Line (V15), and Khoikhoi (V15), Raboutou has emerged over the past several years as one of the world’s most proficient boulderers. But unlike most professional climbers, for whom publicizing their climbing achievements is a requisite part of their livelihood, Raboutou is a bit less forthcoming with his announcements.

News of The Story of 3 Worlds dropped many months after the send, when Mellow Climbing released a video (linked below) on Wednesday. This is common practice for Raboutou, who’s been known to stay tight-lipped about his most cutting edge sends, only to release the news with little commentary or fanfare many months later. Last summer, Raboutou made the first ascent Fuck the System, an old Dave Graham project in Fioney, Switzerland, but didn’t announce the send until May of this year (Graham made the second ascent of the line this past June and, maybe emulating Raboutou, announced it today). And there have been reports (unverified by Climbing) that Raboutou also sent the longstanding Megatron project, in Colorado, and the Alphane Moon Project, in Switzerland, both of which are presumed V17s.

While many people applaud Raboutou’s “no-spray” ethos—an ethos I myself tend to admire—I do think it’s worth noting that for most professional climbers, “spraying” about their climbing lives is part of the job. Because an athlete’s value to sponsors is directly proportional to their visibility on social media (and their willingness to participate in clinics, appear in movies, and talk to media outlets), “spraying” is very literally linked to their ability to continue training and climbing at a professional cadence. In addition to being perhaps the most accomplished boulderer of the last several years, Raboutou is also a member of one of climbing’s “royal” families, and these two facts, when combined, put him in the privileged position of not having to spray all the time while also easily retaining sponsorships by some of climbing’s best-paying brands.

At the end of the day, being a professional climber is about being a leader and a role model, which Raboutou no doubt is. But we’d love it if he returned our calls! 🙂