Jakob Schubert is one of the best climbers in the world both in competition and on the rocks. SKALOLAZ.PRO team proudly presents an exclusive interview with Jakob about his training program, Perfecto Mundo ascent and Harry Potter.
Photo by Simon Rainer
When you hear “Russia” what do you think about it?
Many things come to my mind, but I definitely think about Moscow, because I have been in the city a couple of times for the competitions and it is really beautiful.
Do you watch any climbing videos on YouTube? If so, what channels? Adam Ondra?
Magnus Mitbo? Did you ever think about becoming a video blogger too?
Yes, I watch some climbing videos. Sometimes I check the videos from Adam, sometimes also from Magnus. I like to watch hard ascends for example on Mellow climbing. They have a nice channel with videos from some American climbers like Daniel Woods. He often climbs in Switzerland, which is not so far from Austria. So I like to watch videos of boulders and roots that I hope to climb in the future. I don’t really want to become a YouTube blogger. I think it’s a lot of work and right now I really want to focus on my own climbing. But I still want to share some things on my YouTube channel, I have been just starting. I already posted some cool climbs and I hope to do so in the future as well.
Your Instagram and other social media – do you make posts yourself or there is somebody in your team who does this for you?
No, I manage my Instagram and all social media by myself. I think it’s more authentic even though I might not post as much as others I like to keep doing it myself because I think it’s better.
Who is your coach?
I train a lot with Kilian Fischhuber now, and also with Heiko Wilhelm, Katharina Sourwein and Pawel Draga. They are our national team coaches and I work together with them in the climbing gym. But mainly I’m also my own coach. I’ve been climbing for a long time and know a lot about training myself so I can make the schedule by myself and just take some advice from the coaches.
Do you train somebody?
Now I don’t. I can imagine it in my future but right now I put all power that I have into my own training. I really want to focus on my own training still so there is not much time to train someone else yet.
With who do you train in a gym?
I have always been training together with people. It’s very important to me. And that is why this quarantine time is difficult for me because I have to train by myself and I’ve never been used to it. I really enjoy climbing with people who is very close to my level. It’s more enjoyable to do with friends, it’s a lot more motivating. I’ve been training a lot with Alfons Dornauer, he is also a boulderer from the national climbing team.
Who sets bouldering problems for you? Do you work as routesetter? If so, where are you setting?
I don’t really work as a routesetter but sometimes I set bouldering problems in our gym. So I can set something really hard for myself. And we also have a big spraywall with a lot of holds on it. And there I set a lot of boulders for myself obviously. But we also have sometimes competition boulders set for the national team which I try as well. And they get a lot of different international routesetters. Right now the Dutch climber Jorg Verhoeven sets a lot for our team in our climbing gym in Innsbruck.
Who are your friends among world-class climbers outside Austria?
I have so many friends among climbers so it’s hard to tell all of them. But I would say it’s almost everyone who makes a lot of finals because you are a lot of contact with them. For example, I would say Domen Scofic is a close friend, but also Adam Ondra, Alexander Megos, Jan Hojer, Sean McColl. There are so many of them that I am close with and that is why international competitions are such fun.
What are your strong sides as a climber? What are your weaknesses as a climber?
I think my strength as a climber is definitely physical power and pure fitness. I’m really strong in climbing simple boulders where just need a lot of strength and finger power. I struggle more on the new style bouldering with crazy running jumps and flexibility slabs.
Is there anything else in your training plan? Fitness? Stretching? Swimming?
Yes, I started to do more different programs next to climbing about two years ago. I’m getting older and I got to take care of my body. I try to focus more on my flexibility to prevent injuries and work on my weaknesses, which is flexibility in my back, shoulder and legs.
If you could take only one song, one book and one movie with you to the space journey, what would it be?
That’s a hard question. One book I would say “Harry Potter”. It’s an old one but if I could take all the seven books I really enjoyed them in my youth. I always enjoy reading them. There are a lot of good movies, so if I’m in space I choose “Interstellar”. It’s something about space and it’s an amazing movie in my opinion. And the song – something from Kanye West I think.
Coffee or tea? Wine or beer? Pasta or pizza?
Coffee, wine, pasta.
When you need a rest – what is it?
I chill at home with my girlfriend, watch some series on Netflix and just recovering from the hard training session.
Do you have non-climbing hobbies?
Yes, I definitely do a lot of other sports, mainly ball sports. I’ve been playing a lot of soccer when I was young and I’m still enjoying it. I also play basketball and tennis. I also like to spend time with my friends and my girlfriend, watch some series, and I like to play online video games on my computer.
Could you give any advice to our readers on how to become stronger as a climber in a month?
I don’t like to give any advice on how to become better, faster and stronger. It’s not the best decision I think to do any crazy program or something like that. In my opinion, the most important thing is to enjoy climbing and have a lot of fun. It’s cool when you have people around you who are maybe a little stronger than you so you can learn from them when you train together. You learn beta and how to climb more efficiently. Obviously you can do some exercise but the most important thing that you should really enjoy them. Because I think the more motivation you bring to training, the more fun you have the sooner you get better.
Now let’s talk about the rocks. I’ve seen the movie about your Perfecto Mundo ascent, it’s very interesting and motivating. Was it harder to work on the route when the camera was always following around you rather than without filmmakers nearby?
No, not really. I had a big advantage that I really knew the filmmaker really well. He is a good friend of mine and he’s not someone that asks a lot of me, while he is filming he does not saying do that or do this. I always actually just doing my normal tries. And he was just following me basically while I did those tries. And I did not really feel that there was a camera there. So it was quite easy for me to focus on my project.
Where did you live during those three weeks of the siege of the route?
I was living in a nice Airbnb in Margalef. We drove only 5 minutes from our house to the crag. So we could really take our time and did not waste it on the road. So I always had enough time for some good tries on the route and also some time to recover back at the apartment. It was also really important for me to have some nice people around me so I was traveling with my friend Domen Skofic and Alfons Dornauer. And it was not only about train the hard route but it was also about having a good time with friends.
What can you say about Domen Skofic – did he help you to send the route?
Yes, he definitely helps me to send the route. As I said for me it is very important to have friends next to me when I try some hard route. I feel safe and just well with these surroundings. So Domen and Alfons helped me to have a good time there. When you try such a hard route you make 2 or 3 attempts a day and you have a lot of free time at the crag. And you take big brakes in between and enjoy that time with the friend talking about climbing and other things and having fun. And finally, it really helps you to send the route.
Did Domen try Perfecto Mundo with you too? What was his impression of the route?
Domen and Alfons tried Gancho Perfecto. It has the same the first third of the route like Perfecto Mundo, it has the same start, so we could work on the start together. But Perfecto Mundo I mostly checked out myself. Domen briefly tried Perfecto Mundo and he also liked it, but his project was Gancho Perfecto. We shared some beta, especially at the start of the route, so we could find tricks together an optimized the beta perfectly.
Did you talk about Perfecto Mundo with Alex Megos or Stefano Gisolfi before sending the route? Maybe one of them gave you some advice?
Yes, of course. Alex and Stefano are both good friends of mine. So I talk to them is it a good route, can you recommend it, do you think I will like it? And they tell me: “Yes, It’s really good”. And I already asked them about some tricks, maybe what I could focus on. They told me a bit about the crux, about the mono, about the pinch, what is important to focus on. But mostly I also watched the videos to try to be perfectly prepared.
If you would make a guidebook what description of Perfecto Mundo you would write?
Perfecto Mundo is definitely an amazing route, so I would write that it’s a really good route. I think that it’s a big endurance test piece. You might expect of 9b+ that it is the hardest moves ever, but it is not that way I think. It does not have insanely hard moves. It’s more like many hard moves connected together without big rests. So for me it was a lot of about endurance and never giving up until you clip the chains.
How did you care about the skin during the siege of the route?
Margalef is a very special crag if it comes down to skin management. It’s very sharp with all the pockets, and Perfecto Mundo is a Margalef’s route. So it’s also sharp there and you need to take care of a lot of your skin. The most important thing is that in the first week you should not try too much. If the move seems too hard and you can’t do it yet you should not waste all your skin. So especially in the first week, you need to give some time to adapt to the sharp pockets. Then slowly do a little bit more, but never do too much, because you don’t want to risk and get a big cut on your finger and finish your trip. So the biggest key is to be patient and try to adapt to the rock and the sharpness.
What was the hardest thing in sending Perfecto Mundo?
For me, it was definitely the endurance part at the end of the route. I talked to Alexander Megos and Stefano Gisolfi, and they told me that for them it was all about the crux. And once they were able to stick that move from the mono they were able to send the route. I thought that it’s gonna be the same for me, but in the end, that crux move did not feel so hard after all. I was able to get over it already after two weeks. But it was really hard for me to go to the top from there because it still about 10 meters that I felt really pumpy. Stefano and Alex never fell there but I fell 4 or 5 times after the crux just because I pumped out. I felt really good in all the hard moves because I think my maximum power was really good but my endurance was not good enough. So I really have to adapt to climb really efficiently all the way so I save all my energy even for the top part. It was difficult to stay focused and mentally prepared after falling so many times after the crux. But I tried to stay calm, believe in myself, and I knew at some point I’m gonna send it, and that luckily still possible in that one trip.
What are your plans for the future: what crags do you think about? What projects on the rocks do you have?
Right now the future is really hard to predict because of the coronavirus and all the quarantine. We don’t know how many comps will we have this year. Will we have comps at fall or we will not have any comps. Can I travel somewhere or do I have to stay in Austria for many more months. Not sure right now but I’m planning to do most of the World Cups if we will have some this year. And I definitely want to try to squeeze in a lot of rock sessions in Tirol at my home and also if we can travel I would like to travel somewhere. There are still many hard routes that I’m interested in. I really want to go back to Flatanger one day. And obviously the main goal for the next year is the Olympic games.
Text: Yury Birilov
Photo by Eddie Fowke, Simon Rainer