Daylight savings is coming this weekend. We’re switching the clocks from winter to summertime, the days are becoming longer, and it’s getting warmer outside – sounds like the perfect spring awakening. But in order for this spring feeling to really reach me, all of those elements need to come together harmoniously; as long as it’s still wintery outside, I can’t quite feel it.
In an attempt to help spring along, I looked back at a bouldering project from last year that really made me sweat: ‚ill thrill‘ (8B+) in the Magic Wood, Switzerland.
Through this, a surprising parallel to the present emerged – in life, a lot has to fit together so that it feels like a warm knife sliding through butter – weightless, with an unbelievable feeling of lightness.
The warmth needed to achieve this feeling is currently lacking. At that time, it was too hot, and the boulder problem gave me trouble for an unexpectedly long time. The individual moves worked well, but it was linking these moves – the ascent – that took a while to succeed. Actually, that’s a great strength of mine: I have a good physique and the self-confidence that I can accomplish each individual move. This boulder, however, has a lot of rather difficult moves and not a specific crux move. So, the challenge was to finally put everything together.
At least since ,Perfecto Mundo', my first 9b+ route, I’ve known how many little things have to come together if you want to climb a boulder or route to your limits. The external conditions have to be right, and you have to feel good physically, but most important is the mental aspect. Climbing a route is more difficult mentally: the strain and the extreme concentration last longer. On the other hand, when it comes to bouldering, a move might be so at the limits of your ability, and so technically demanding, that it’s extremely difficult to get everything right.
As a competitor you learn to channel all of the skills you need to succeed on the day of competition. For lead climbing as well as bouldering, I have to be able to call up everything I have at exactly the right moment in order to succeed both physically and mentally. But external factors of course also play a role in whether you slip, or simply have bad luck. You’re never fully in control. Even if I’m the conductor holding the baton, I still have to trust that the whole ensemble will play in unison.
My teammate Nicolai Uznik hits the nail on the head in the video for the “ill thrill” boulder problem: “It doesn’t always work out. There are rarely days like that for Jakob Schubert, but today seems to be such a day.” It was definitely one of those days … outside temperatures over 25°C are far from ideal for rock climbing, and especially for boulder projects. You sweat and have little friction between your fingertips and the rock face. With every new attempt you wear down your skin a little bit more; your skin is more soft because of the warm temperature, but the rock is rough and the holds are sharp. That’s why I kept crawling into the hole below: it was the only place where the air was cooler, and my skin could cool down a bit. But of course, I couldn’t allow Nicolai’s statement to stand …
This difficult situation sparked my motivation and ambition. They’re definitely needed when working a good five hours on such an ascent. If I only want to reach my goal half-heartedly, I can pack up right away. Giving up is too easy.
In such a situation, experience is the key to success. With time you learn how to deal with the challenges. Past successes help remind us that even in the face of adversity you can still succeed. With the boulder “ill thrill”, it was important for me to know that I already completed each individual move, so that it really just became about putting them together. You know that it is possible, so now it’s about the physical aspect of doing it. By conserving your power within each move you’ll have enough strength left to top out.
It’s also important to put things in perspective – the world isn’t going to end if you don’t succeed this one time. With this perspective, you can see a really difficult boulder – one where you only do a few moves each attempt – as an opportunity for great training. Even if I don’t succeed, I give it all that I have – at least then I’m improving just like spring before it’s actual awakening. Every day there’s a bit more sun. I’ll be happy when I can finally go out in a t-shirt or shorts, and comfortably ride my bike to climbing training without freezing. Being outside on a warm day– that’s something I’m really looking forward to!
Remind yourself of the feeling of happiness!
It’s so important to remind yourself of that feeling of euphoria you get after you put in all that hard work. It’s simply awesome. And it’s motivating to recall this feeling.
Have a good time!
Whether you achieve your goal or not, I find it very important to have a really good time. If you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, it becomes difficult to stay motivated.
Surround yourself with good people!
Having good friends and a good atmosphere around me is crucial. In Switzerland my two good friends Michael Piccolruaz and Nicolai were with me. Even when a boulder frustrates you, you’ve got good music in the background and can joke around – it’s fun, and makes it really easy to stay motivated.
Competition Highlights 2021
16.-17.04 | World Cup in Meiringen (SUI)
22.-26.06. | Home World Cup in Innsbruck (AUT)
03.-06.08. | Olympic Games in Tokyo (JPN)
Photos by Michael Piccolruaz