Schubert grades B.I.G. F9c and Ondra agrees
- Monday 2nd October 2023
Jakob Schubert names and grades Project Big.
Having deliberated for some time since making the first ascent of Project Big – ie the Hanshallaren Cave line which Adam Ondra bolted in 2013 – Jakob Schubert has called the line B.I.G. and graded it F9c. Schubert has written up his thoughts on why B.I.G. should be given F9c - the hardest grade yet climbed - and Ondra has agreed. As it stands, B.I.G. is now the third route to be graded F9c in the world after Adam Ondra’s Silence and Seb Bouin’s DNA.
For reference Silence has been tried by a number of climbers, chief amongst them Stefano Ghisolfi who has sent some considerable time of the route both this year and last. Jakob Schubert has spent a few days on Seb Bouin’s DNA and has worked the moves. Last autumn, both Adam Ondra and Jakob Schubert spent time on Project Big and despite coming fairly close on redpoint neither succeeded.
Writing on Instagram Schubert spoke about the difficulties of B.I.G.;
“Took me a while to sort out my thoughts about my most important ascent so far.
I’d like to start with a huge shoutout to @adam.ondra for bolting this incredible line and inviting me to try it with him. It was such a cool process and in the end it does feel like a team ascent to me, since we helped each other so much and figured out the route much quicker that way. I‘d have never been able to send this beast without you, Adam and fully appreciate the effort that goes into finding and bolting such a king line 🙏 Without a doubt, B.I.G is 5 stars and I can’t wait for more people to try it!
My reflections regarding the grade: When we started trying this route last year, I initially thought it could very easily be 9c, but after making a lot of progress very quickly and feeling pretty close on it after 2 weeks already, Adam and me both were pretty confident it’ll be 9b+. But somehow we tried a lot more and didn’t make much progress and in hindsight I don’t even think we were actually that close, because we were mostly struggling to stick the crux move and believed to be in for the send once that happens. Knowing how my attempts unfolded this season puts things into a different perspective, as I stuck that move four times without sending.
My reference for 9b+ is Perfecto Mundo which I sent in about 3 weeks of work and which felt way easier to me than B.I.G. The only other guy who tried B.I.G. a lot is Adam and I’m happy he shared all his opinions with me which definitely helped me draw my conclusions.
I felt at a point where I had found the most efficient way possible for me, the whole route was worked out perfectly and I didn’t see any room for improvement. So all that it came down to was my physical & mental shape which I think are very good right now. Given the current information that I have and considering Adam’s opinion, it feels right to propose 9c and I’m looking forward to see what time will tell. You can find some more specific thoughts on my profile on @thecrag_worldwide
Anyways, the one thing I know for sure is that it will always be one of my most memorable ascents ❤”
Also writing on Instagram Ondra said this about Schubert’s success on and grade proposal for B.I.G. …
“It is nice to see my vision from 2013 finally becoming the real route, and it was super strong @jakob.schubert to get rid of "project" from its name 👊
Regarding its grade, my opinion has shifted a few times throughout the years. When I first tried it in 2013, I thought it would be either 9b+ or 9c, but I was discouraged from investing more time into it because I thought the style of climbing was too physical. Over the years, I got physically much stronger and the introduction of kneepads made this route much more realistic. When we were trying last year, we both thought with Jakob, it would be 9b+. But as time passed, I got more and more convinced that giving it 9b+ just doesn't make much sense as all the other 9b+'s I tried feel easier ☝
The problem with grading B.I.G. is that the real grade comes from this one single (big) move. Getting there is not really big of a deal in the context of the whole route (maybe 9a+/b?), but this move, even though it is not as extreme as a single move in isolation, feels extreme while coming from the ground due to its physical nature. And then, it is not over, as we could tell from Jakob's several falls after this move.
The whole 7-move crux sequence is not more than 8A+, maybe only 8A, but the physical nature of climbing makes it really challenging to link it coming from the ground. If the crux was the same difficulty, but it would be more about crimping smaller holds, the route would be just so much easier. That is why "math" of grading doesn't always work very well. 9a+ into soft 8A+ with some rest in between might not sound like a 9c to me 🤜🤛”
There are also conditions. In my opinion, the routes should be graded in the best conditions. But the PERFECT conditions for this route are so rare, yet they change the route so much, that I think that in this specific case, the conditions should be part of the grade.
All things considered, I support Jakob's 9c proposition. The only other possible solution is a slash grade. However, I think this amazing route deserves a nice grade, too 💪”
Currently, all three of the proposed F9c’s are yet to be repeated so the grade given by the respective first ascensionist is unconfirmed.