It’s the world’s hardest lines that catch Jakob Schubert’s attention particularly fast. One of
climbing’s strongest protagonists, the Olympic bronze medalist from Austria has the 9b+ route
Perfecto Mundo in Spain’s Margalef as a “personal best” to his name. Ever since French rock
climber Sebastién Bouin opened the route ‚DNA‚ in the Verdon Gorge in 2022 and proposed the
grade 9c, 32-year-old Schubert couldn’t wait to make the trip to the steep wall of La Ramirole
and lay his hands on one of the hardest routes on the planet for the very first time.

It wasn’t more than a flying visit but the take-aways were impressive and sustainable. Watch his
newly released video to get first-hand insights on DNA and read on for more details on Jakob’s
learnings on the route.

You recently spent a short trip to what is likely to be the world’s second-ever 9c route. How
much could you take away from DNA, the route freed by Seb Bouin in the Verdon Gorge in the
south of France?
Last November I went for a very short trip to Verdon. I took the 10 hour drive just because I wanted to
spend four days on DNA to see what the route is like; if I like it for the future, and to know if it is
something that I’m really interested in trying a lot more. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the
sector La Ramirole and the route itself. It’s simply amazing.
I really enjoyed climbing on it and I felt pretty good in the route as well. I was able to do all the moves
within two days. A video that Seb sent me helped massively as I didn’t have to invest all the time to
figure all the beta out by myself. What attracts me most is that there’s not one specific crux move but
that the route is more about adding all these hard moves together and do it in one piece. And
obviously it is a very attractive line on a magnificent wall, the new video gives just a small glimpse into
the beauty.

Can you walk us through the main parts of the route?
The route starts with a very powerful 8c, a rather short one with quite a few hard moves. Seb does a
lot of like very tricky knee bars that I definitely struggled on; but then you have a very big knee bar
rest, which is definitely very good. The long crux section starts there I would say, so there’s this 8a
boulder problem and then a few moves in between, a very bad rest and then an 8a+ boulder
according to Seb. I’m not sure, it could also be a tiny bit harder. Definitely both boulders are quite
hard, especially the first one felt hard for me because it’s a huge span and I’m completely stretched

Thereafter the route continues to be very powerful: pinches, dropknees and a big move to an
undercling and tricky knee bars along the way which are difficult to get a feeling for. Most of it is very
much my style and I’m happy to have found solutions for all these hard individual sections.
After that it’s still 8c/8c+ to the top, with basically the best climbing of the route on these amazing
tufas. Altogether the route is really hard, and I can’t wait to actually come here for a longer period and
try sending this beast one day. I’m also looking forward to seeing the video about Seb’s process for
the first ascent. Wanting to do something so badly always brings along mental battles, especially if the
process is spread out over such a long period of time.

Following your probably strongest season ever with
Olympic bronze and the 4th World Championships title in lead in 2021, you made yourself a
name as a ‘down grader’, so where do you see DNA?
A lot of people are always very interested in the grade of the very hardest routes. What do you think
about Silence? What do you think about Project Big? Do you think DNA is actually 9c? Obviously, it’s
very hard to tell after only a couple of days in it. I think you can only grade a route once you actually
sent it. You can make assumptions, but actually grading it is only possible once you succeeded on it. I
haven’t really tried connecting all the boulders, which will definitely be hard. What I can say right now
is it’s not harder than 9c and it’s not easier than 9b+.

So, will we see you back on DNA this year or what’s your plan of attack for 2023?
I’m kind of a spontaneous person. So I wouldn’t say I have my whole year planned out. However, I
have certain goals, routes, boulders and competitions that I want to try or attend.
When it comes down to competitions, my biggest goal is to make the top three in Combined at the
World Championships to secure the ticket for the Olympic Games. If I’m not able to do that, then
obviously, I will train for Laval, the European qualifier in November.
Regarding rock climbing, I’ll focus on bouldering until spring, and then I hope I can make it back to
Flatanger for another round on Project Big. If I manage to grab the Olympic ticket, my focus for the
rest of the year will switch completely to rock and I’ll probably come back to Gorge du Verdon.

The stakes are high, and the routes hard – sounds like a year to Jakob Schuberts taste.

© Alpsolut