Chris Sharma climbs huge Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo

American rock climber Chris Sharma has made the first ascent of a circa 30m high deep water solo climb on Pont d’Arc, Ardèche, France.
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Chris Sharma making the first ascent of his circa 30m high deep water solo climb on Pont d’Arc, Ardèche, France.
Ricardo Giancola

Last Thursday Chris Sharma made the first ascent of what he has described as "one of the best routes of my life", namely a huge deep water solo climb through the underbelly of the spectacular Pont d’Arc arch in the Ardèche, France.

Sharma is an expert at climbing high above the water without a rope, with Es Pontas climbed in 2005 above the waves in Mallorca and nearby Alasha climbed in 2016 immediately springing to mind. His newest route though, currently without a name, takes DWS into a completely different dimension. Although slightly easier than the previous two routes from a technical point of view, it nevertheless checks in at an extremely stiff 8b+. More importantly though, the height it reaches is somewhere in the region of a staggering 30m instead of circa 20m, making it an extremely tall proposition indeed. And to make things even more interesting, Sharma first ascended the route ground-up, meaning that during the four days spent trying the line he kept pushing his highpoint higher and higher, before jumping into the River Ardeche and then trying again.

Sharma told "I took a very pragmatic approach and tested the falls every 5 meters to ensure that I didn't hit the bottom, as well as to become acquainted with the size of the arch; one of the tricky things when approaching a new line is to become oriented and know how high up you are. So in the end I ended up taking the fall from almost the highest point of my route."

Sharma’s climb doesn’t finish at the top of the famous formation, instead it takes a natural line that ascends diagonally across the arch before topping out at around 30 meters. The 36-year-old concluded "I climbed it all ground up, so that added a lot of mystery and adventure and also added difficulty - it was an incredible experience. It’s kind of crazy to keep discovering new things that continue to inspire me in new ways!"

Free soloing has never been my cup of tea. But put some deep water below and now you're talking! Last week I climbed one of the best routes of my life. After so many years, it's amazing to keep finding routes that inspire me in new ways. The Pont d'Arc is an absolute dream line. It's hard to believe something like this even exists! After 4 days trying from the ground up and taking some big falls I was finally able to link to through the arch. It tops out at around 30 meters on the far side of the arch (that you can't see in the photo). A perfect line, on perfect rock in a perfect location. It's hard to get more perfect haha. Id say its around 8b+ (5.14). Although it felt plenty hard, it may not be the most difficult climb I've ever climbed. It's interesting how a grade is only a small part of what defines the whole challenge or the value of our climbing experience. Stay tuned for some rad video clips coming soon! Hopefully I'll be able to come up with a good name soon too. Anyone have any good ones? @giancolafoto @sharmaclimbingbcn @prana @evolvusa @petzl_official @climbskinspain @clifbar @sterlingrope @buffofficial @redbull

A post shared by Chris Sharma (@chris_sharma) on

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