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Iker Pou attempting the Bombé bleu project at Buoux, France
Photo by Fred Ripert
The crag Buoux in Southern France
Photo by Michael Meisl

Bombé bleu at Buoux, work in progress for Iker Pou


The difficult project Bombé bleu at the French crag Buoux has recently been attempted by Iker Pou.

One of the most famous and most difficult lines at Buoux - the insane project Bombé bleu - has been checked out recently by Iker Pou, the strong Basque climber renowned for his incredible finger strength. Clearly visible from the little stream which trickles through the valley below, this massive bulge above the sector La Plage was bolted over twenty years ago, back in 1991, by none other than Marc Le Menestrel who also named the route Chantier. But the 16 moves proved too intense, too bouldery even for him and the route remained, as the name suggests, a "building site", work in progress. Highly talented Ben Moon attempted the line after his outstanding first ascent of Agincourt 8c nearby, and the Englishman even created moulds of the crux holds in order to reproduce them at home, but after managing to climb circa 70% of the moves he too had to give up. Just like, in the years that followed, a great number of other top climbers. In recent times Frenchman Fred Rouhling showed interest in the route yet despite being a specialist at this type of climbing (and despite having discovered a new sequence), not even he succeeded. And although everyone agreed that the route was theoretically feasible, in practice it proved otherwise and Marc Le Menestrel's vision has therefore continued to grow into a beautiful, unattainable dream for the vertical non plus ultra…

The man who has now decided to put himself to the test on this intense series of monodoigts and two-finger pockets is another climber who certainly doesn't shun challenging gravity: Iker Pou. The Basque power house of Nit de bruixes 9a+ at Margalef, to name just one of his routes which require steel tendons and tons of motivation... a muerte. Seeing the importance of this line, we decided to check in directly with man himself to find out about his work in progress.

by Iker Pou

I spent four days in Buoux, this was my third trip and the last time I came here was 13 years ago! This time I came to try the legendary climb Le Bombé bleu and check out some of its moves. I only tried the route 3 times, we weren't particularly lucky with the weather and conditions were really hot. The route is situated at the sector La Plage and since it receives the sun all day long I only tried it late in the day, before that it was simply too hot and greasy.

What can I say? Well it is certainly one of the most fantastic and beautiful routes that I have ever tried in my entire life! As beautiful as it is impressive! I'd obviously like to return and attempt it in good conditions, but my first impression is that, for sure, it's possible! Super hard, but a great project which will motivate me in the future. I've done some hard routes in the past but Le Bombé bleu fits into a completely different category, you need superb power to link these perfect moves up perfect rock. It's very, very hard indeed!

Le Bombé bleu has circa 16 moves and now they're considering adding a beautiful, logical extension which adds a further 10 metres. The route start with a long dyno from a very bad mono to a nice two-finger pocket, in a very big roof! It's a crazy move! I think this is the beta used by Fred Rouling. This is followed by another dyno and hard power move to the next bolt. From here to the belay there's the last crux of the route, another crazy dyno to a good hold. The footholds are always really bad and the crux is holding a bad two-finger pocket which is very, very small…

I was really lucky to have been helped by Marco Troussier and Fred Ripert who shared lots of route information, and also by Adrian who motivated me to try the line in the first place. All my life I've dreamt about finding a perfect route and now I think I've found it! The only problem is that it's situated 9 hours from home, and finding the right conditions at Buoux is hard! You need to be very motivated! Vamossssss! A muerte!

TOPO: the crag Buoux, France





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