“I think the nerves kick in when you’re about to do 5.15,” says Daniel Woods. “It’s a heavy number.”
BD Athlete Sean “Steezy” Bailey knows that feeling. Roughly three years back, the reticent rope gun and comp crusher sent the world’s penultimate 5.15—Biographie/Realization in Céüse, France—during a week off from his grueling World Cup circuit.
Since that sojourn on the French limestone, Sean has focused mostly on the hectic life of comp climbing, becoming the U.S. National Champion in lead climbing along the way, and pitting himself against the best of the best on the diverse world stage.
But that feeling of clipping the chains on another coveted 5.15 kept gnawing at Sean, who grew up binging on classic climbing films featuring Chris Sharma and crew breaking barriers on real rock.
“When I used to dream about climbing, this is what I thought about,” says Sean. “I wasn’t like, ‘I’m gonna climb World Cups and train all the time.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to climb outside on beautiful rock.’”
Last Spring, Sean was finally able to take a break from the competitions and travel to Oliana, Spain, where he tried the mega line Joe Mama 9a+ (5.15a).
“I feel like a lot of the time, it’s easy to get in a rut and just do what you feel like you have to do, or what you set your mind on,” he says. “You lose sight of how you actually feel about it. I don’t ever want to look back and be like, ‘that’s not what I really wanted at the time.’”
Check out this film by Bearcam documenting Sean’s journey to once again find that fleeting feeling of breaking the 5.15 barrier.
Live. Climb. Repeat.