A few days ago, Jakob Schubert managed the first free ascent of the Project Big sport climbing route in Flatanger. Now Schubert finally gives an answer to the question of what the route should be called and how difficult he rates it: It is called BIG and he suggests the difficulty level 9c.
- How heavy does Schubert rate BIG (Project Big)?
- What arguments led to the evaluation?
- What role did Adam Ondra play?
- News report on the inspection of BIG (Project Big)
- Jakob Schubert during the inspection of BIG
- How many 9c routes are there?
This is how Jakob Schubert rates the sport climbing route BIG aka Project Big
9b+, 9b+ hard or 9c? Since the Austrian's redpoint ascent of one of the hardest sport climbing routes in the world Jakob Schubert the climbing scene speculated about what grade Schubert would propose. For some it was clear that he would go for grade 9c. Others were more likely to guess 9b+, because Schubert is known for his tough reviews - and for devaluing other people's difficult routes.
News report of the inspection
“It took me a while to sort out my thoughts about my most important ascent to date,” Schubert begins his communiqué. In his announcement, Schubert emphasized how very grateful he was Adam Ondra for setting up this dream line in Flatanger and that the Czech invited him to plan the route together.
Why does Schubert rate the route as 9c?
For a long time it was unclear to Schubert himself whether BIG should be rated 9c or just 9b+. When he first started planning the 2022 route with Ondra, he leaned heavily towards 9c. As the two of them made rapid progress on the route, 9b+ suddenly came into play as a difficulty level. But then came the key point where they had trouble and so the pendulum swung back towards 9c.
As is often the case, Schubert also tries to compare the route with previous ascents. He includes the route Perfecto Mundo (9b+) in Margalef. Schubert invested three weeks in the “Spanish roller” until he was able to get through.
Adam Ondra's role in evaluating the route
Another argument that convinced Schubert to propose a 9c for Project Big or BIG was Adam Ondra. Schubert not only planned the route together with Ondra last year, but also exchanged ideas intensively with Ondra then and now after the red point ascent.
Given the comparison with Perfecto Mundo and the history leading up to the ascent of BIG, as well as taking Ondra's opinion into account, it seemed right to Schubert to suggest 9c as the difficulty level.
The ascent of BIG (Project Big) in full length | Video
Third 9c route in the world – none confirmed
Schubert's hesitation also has to do with the fact that there aren't many routes of this level of difficulty yet and 9c is the current upper limit for sport climbing. The Czech Adam Ondra tried this level of difficulty for the first time on September 3, 2017 after climbing the route Silence. The route has not been repeated to this day.
Next, handle Alexander Megos. on August 5, 2020 for grade 9c, as his long-term project Bibliography succeeded in Céüse. However, the route was taken by the Italian Stefano Ghisolfi and further repeaters downgraded to 9b+.
The distance shortened again until the next climber reached French grade 9c: Jakob Schubert with BIG There are therefore three 9c sport climbing routes worldwide, as of September 27, 2023, and they all have one thing in common: None of the routes have been repeated to date and their grade has therefore been confirmed. So will the fate that befell Alexander Megos repeat itself in 2021?
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Cover photo: Alpsolut Pictures