Chris Sharma Climbs “Sleeping Lion” 9b+ In Siurana – The Return Of The King?

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In March 2013, Chris Sharma climbed his first 9b+ “La Dura Dura”, a historic route for many reasons. Now, nearly ten years to the day later, he has climbed his second of the grade.

On March 28th, 2023 Sharma finally clipped the chains on “Sleeping Lion”, named after the Clinton Fearon song he was listening to on the last tries. He’s given it the elusive grade of 9b+ (5.15c), which would put him back in the top handful of climbers in the world at the age of 41.

Watch Chris Sharma projecting “Sleeping Lion” 9b+ in early 2022

The Route

The route sits just five minutes walk from the parking spot at the El Pati sector of Siurana. The crag is part of a gargantuan chunk of mottled orange limestone, streaked with waves of gray, and topped by a full Spanish village.

The quality of the climbing itself is also one-of-a-kind with multiple 9a’s within a stone’s throw. The historic 9a+ “La Rambla” is on the same wall plus another Sharma achievement “La Cappella” 9b is close by.

The route itself is a real mixed bag of crimps, pockets, heel hooks, and – being a Sharma route – heinous dynos. It’s roughly 40 meters high so manages to tick another Sharma requirement of being a seriously long endurance route.

The climb gets harder as it goes higher, with the crux about 2/3’s of the way in – though the top doesn’t get much easier at all. The route is actually the only one in an apparently “blank” section of rock.

It will be incredibly interesting to see what others think of the grade and the surrounding wall when the inevitably come to take a look.

Sharma first found and bolted the route back in October of 2021, giving it a few weeks of work. However, he had to start filming for “The Climb” – a reality-style TV show from HBO Max about a group of climbers competing in various climbing styles around the world – that same winter.

He came back to try the project again in February of 2022, but Spain’s summer temperature isn’t well suited to working the hardest of projects. By November he was back and started to put earnest work into it.

Bear in mind that this was all while juggling post-production work on the “The Climb”, as well as running his climbing gym business – not to mention being a father to his two kids and husband to his wife Jimena.

Over the cooler temps of Winter, he managed to figure out the beta and get the links on everything. By March this year, Chris said he had fallen off at the upper crux 16 times.

Other Sharma Routes

Just a few months ago Chris was working the line, while also taking down some of the area’s classics. In December he sent “La Reina Mora” 5.14d in the same area. This route shares a few bolts with “La Rambla”, a 9a+ which Chris made the third ascent of back in 2006.

Sharma climbing “La Rambla” 9a+ in glorious 240p back in 2006

Chris was also a prolific bolter of the very hardest routes – being one of the very few people able to climb them in his heyday. There are still many Sharma routes out there that are open projects, or that have only recently been sent. Check out our article on the Hardest Climbing Routes In The World for just a small list of his unsent projects.

Just last year Alex Megos made the first ascent of “Ratsaman Vibrations” and gave it a grade of 9b. Sharma bolted it way back in 2014 and worked it for a while, but never gave it the full whack. Many top-level climbers including Seb Bouin, Charles Albert, Stefano Ghisolfi, and more have worked the route in the past decade.

The Man

Chris Sharma is a legend in the climbing world, having climbed the first consensus 9a+ and 9b routes. He was also the second person to have climbed 9b+ when he made the second ascent of his own route “La Dura Dura”.

If you’ve not heard that story, it was a really amazing thing to see. Chris was pushing the grade on the route when a young Adam Ondra managed to climb his own 9b+ “Change”, taking the first of the grade. Chris had spent a year on his route but brought Adam in and they worked together on it. Take a look at the doc if you have 20 minutes.

And if you’re interested in seeing what the new generation is working on: Janja Garnbret’s current project is “La Dura Dura”.

All photos courtesy of Jan Novak