My reaction on grading route B.I.G. 9c by Jakob Schubert

Created by: Adam Ondra
2023/09/28

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!

Watch the ascent on Jakob's YouTube channel. 

Photos in gallery by Petr Chodura

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