Interview with Loic Zehani, a young prodigious French climber

Impressions and consideration after the ascent of Obsession, his first 9b

16 October 2019

In recent years, we have followed with interest the story of the young Frenchman Loic Zehani who, after a very long series of 9a released in various crags in France, in his beloved Orgon has given birth to his first 9b, Obsession, a very hard connection that, as will come confirmed, will consecrate Loic as the third Frenchman to have solved a shot of such difficulty. Here he is in this interview where he tells about his latest fantastic exploit.

Thank you for your Loic time, then tell us something about this Obsession, your first 9b.
It is located in Orgon in the Bergerie sector and is a link between two routes. You have to climb almost all the difficult part of Le Poisson Pilote, which I had graded as 9a+, and then after five very physical movements, go up to the second part of Les Mollahs du Mollard, 8c+/9a or hard 8c+.

What kind of climbing do you meet?
The first part is very hard, very strong and with many bouldering movements in strong overhang, with various sequences on pockets for one or two fingers. After a little rest, cross over to the right and go up the second part of Les Mollahs. This part is less of strength and less overhanging but the holds are smaller.

So overall it's a powerful route?
The path requires a lot of power but also a lot of resistance because after the first 40 very intense movements, there is still a 6c / 7a to arrive in the chain.

Who did bolt it?
I did Le Poisson last spring while Olivier Bert bolted Les Mollahs but ten years ago.

Is he the one who valued Orgon?
Olivier has bolted over 150 pitches in as many as 10 different sectors, from 6a to throws that can be a real project for anyone. Obsession asked me for something like 70 attempts!

After the 9a and 9a+ that you opened or repeated, what criteria did you use to grade Obsession?
An important route is Sashidananda, 9a+ by Gerome Pouvreau of which I made the first repetition in 2018. Sashidananda has a first part of 8c+/9a (about 20 movements) and after a section of 8b/8b+ (about 15 movements) . Obesession has an initial section of about the same length but that alone is 9a+ and a second of 20 other movements around 8b+.

Is the difference between Sashidananda and Obesession sensitive?
Surely Obsession is tougher, "how much" I don't know exactly.

Turning to your story as a climber, we followed your evolution with interest and we know that you have often climbed with your dad, who is also very strong.
I owe it to him for all he has done and continues to do for me and my sister, making us grow as climbers and people. After 30 years, he still has a lot of motivation.

And among the other climbers do you have any idols?
No, idols no. I think Chris Sharma, Dave Graham and Dani Andrada are good persons.

Loic thanks EDELRID and TENAYA for support.

Some important realizations of Loic Zehani

September 2019
Orgon, Le Poisson Pilote, 9a + FA

July 2019
Gargantua, La Grande Vadrouville, 9th FA

April 2019
St. Leger, Iron Man, 9a FA

July 2018
Avignon, La Fiesta del Biceps, 9a FA

April 2018
Orgon, Sashidadanda, 9a

January 2018
Orgon, Fast and Furious, 9a

December 2017
Cevennes, Ma Faute à Toi, 9a FA

November 2017
Ceuse, La Cadre Nouvelle, 9a

July 2017
Orgon, Les Mollahs du Mollard, 8c+/9a

July 2017
Gargantura, Mon Oncle d'Amerique, 9a FA

May 2017
Orgon, Une Epoque Formidable, 9a FA

November 2015
Cevennes, Carnaval, 9a FA

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