Climbing: Jakob Schubert, this is how you climb the limits of the human being and this is how you see it on YouTube | The Mountaineer | Sports

Climbing: Jakob Schubert, this is how you climb the limits of the human being and this is how you see it on YouTube |  The Mountaineer |  Sports

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The Austrian Jakob Schubert, ascending Project BIG, in an image taken from his Instagram.
The Austrian Jakob Schubert, ascending Project BIG, in an image taken from his Instagram.

The essence of climbing is rock, even though pavilions now flourish like mushrooms and welcome thousands of people interested in discovering the vertical world. The explosion of climbing walls suddenly dramatizes the eternal cohabitation between the natural and the artificial. In this case, the rock, the outdoors, the natural environment, versus closed spaces, crowds and the resin from which the grips are made. Facing a rock wall, reading its shapes, placing your feet, trusting, discovering which grips are good, moving forward fighting against gravity and uncertainty… Sensations that are difficult to find in a climbing wall where the holds are colored and everything turns out rather aseptic.

But climbing is growing excessively from indoor spaces, which is not bad news either, as revealed by the audiences in Spain for the premiere of climbing in the last Tokyo Games and the first men’s gold in history for Alberto from Extremadura. Ginés. It was necessary to add spotlights, cameras and emotion to the gesture of rock climbing, and it was the brilliant Austrian Jakob Schubert who has brilliantly remedied it: he has offered in streaming on his YouTube channel his climb on a Norwegian wall: Project BIG.

Schubert is the undisputed king of competitive climbing: no one has won more than him, nor has he been world champion more times, even though he won the bronze medal at the Games. Reading his record is exhausting, but the international reference in the domain of rock is named after the Czech Adam Ondra. The two decided to join forces last year in the fall to try to solve Project BIG, which could be the most difficult rock route ever climbed, located in Flatanger (Norway) on the same wall where Ondra proposed the first 9c of the route in 2017. history of climbing with the Silence route.

The Czech firmly believed that Project BIG was even harder, that it could even reach 9c+, but after months of work alone Schubert seemed close to chaining it (reaching the climax without hanging to rest or using the fixed safety devices to progress), and then decided to offer in streaming on his YouTube channel the moment he could make history. For six days, everyone who wanted could see him fight and fall. Until, finally, he achieved his goal. On site, only half a dozen cameras and friends attended the magical moment. But thousands of stunned fans attended live from their homes. The Austrian had yet to issue a verdict on the difficulty and he promised to take the microphone two days later. Finally, he did not make a ruling until last Thursday, a week after chaining the route, which he baptized as BIG. His verdict was that the route did not exceed 9c. The world expected it to be 9c+.

When a climber chains a route for the first time, he proposes a degree of difficulty based on his experience. It is assumed that honesty must go ahead to adjust the degree of difficulty without inflating or underestimating it. Afterwards, the rest of the climbers who chain the route must contribute their opinion to reach a degree of consensus. In the history of climbing there have only been three proposals with a 9c difficulty level, and Schubert’s is the fourth.

A temporary evaluation

The first came in 2017 from Ondra and its Silence channel. Later, in 2020, the German Alex Megos assured that the Bibliographie route would be 9c, but a subsequent repetition by the Italian Stefano Ghisolfi, after which he assured that the route did not exceed 9b +, forced Megos to rectify. In 2022, Frenchman Seb Bouin declared that his most grueling project, dubbed DN A, could be 9c. The problem is that no one has repeated these routes, so the grade is not confirmed. Schubert had previously chained one of the few itineraries confirmed as 9b+, Perfecto Mundo, a route that seemed “much easier than BIG”.

Now, the question that the Austrian has been asking himself for a whole week is how much more difficult BIG is. The route runs along the roof of a cave and offers 60 meters of endless climbing. “When I started trying this route last year, I thought it could easily be 9c, but after making great progress very quickly and feeling pretty close to doing it in just two weeks, both Adam and I were pretty sure it was going to be 9b+”, he published on his social networks.

“But somehow,” he continues, “we tried it a lot more times and we weren’t making much progress, and in retrospect, I don’t think we were even that close, because we were mostly struggling with staying on the key move and we thought we’d chain it together. as soon as that happened. But it wasn’t like that because I managed to overcome that movement four times without chaining,” he explained on Thursday.

To offer his point of view, Schubert decided to discuss it with Ondra, who although he has not yet managed to chain the route, has worked on it (and equipped it in 2013), and knows perfectly the rest of the routes in the cave. Thus, by consensus of the two reference climbers, the route remains at 9c, “a proposal waiting to see what the weather says,” summarizes the Austrian. And what can happen is the following: that in a few years, if someone repeats the feat, the route goes up a grade or loses half a grade. At the moment, there are no references, but it is clear that from now on the difficulty will grow very slowly until it reaches an impossible level.

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Jane Austen

Jane Austen is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.

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