The longest climbing break of my career



Flag of Japan

Climbing will be Olympic and I will be there.

... is finally and officially over!

Since I can remember, I had a maximum of 14 consecutive climbing-free days in my life in one year of my career. And now there have been 35 consecutive days without any climbing! This lets you think of creative training methods around the house, but also allows for some time to work on projects around Innsbruck and a new video.

The image of a deserted city is still very strange, but fortunately, it’s already a thing of the past. Besides my handstand and campus board training, I also kept eyes and ears open for new, difficult routes and boulders during the quarantine period; not only abroad, but also in Tyrol, especially during a time like this. I had the two boulders ‘Traumschiff’ and ‘Nihilist’ on my to-do list for quite some time, and I already tried ‘Traumschiff’ a year ago, so now it was time to get things done. About ‘Nihilist’, however, I heard that it was one of the best and most difficult ones in the Zillertal. Both are rated 8B+.

I already knew the first part of the new route at Jochberg and I knew that the line would be absolutely awesome to climb because it leads diagonally through the entire overhang using logical rock structures. This resulted in the first ascent of ‘Walk the Line’ (9a). I wanted a name with 'Line' because the route has the same entry point as two others that are already called 'Line', and then there is the unique Johnny Cash song 'I Walk the Line', so it fits very well.

About a year ago, we had our first contact with the ‘Weisse Rose’ route at the Schleier Waterfall in Going am Wilden Kaiser during a photo session with Heinz Zak. At that time, I hadn't really thought about climbing it, but then I realized that the route opened by Alex Huber in 1994 would suit my skills very well. I just had to pick it up! After checking it out twice and a narrowly failed attempt, I successfully climbed the route on April 28. Following Alex Huber and Adam Ondra, I am the 3rd person to succeed.

Next time I see Alex Huber, I would like to congratulate him again on this ascent. It is very impressive that he was able to climb such a difficult route back in 1994 – I was only three years old at that time.

Was the climb the best feeling of the last weeks? Hard to say. ‘Weisse Rose’ wasn't better than either of the two boulders or 'Walk the Line'; it's a great route and therefore I had a very good feeling about it, but what makes a climb à la 'Perfecto Mundo' even more special is when it challenges your own limits. The routes of the last weeks have been extremely nice to climb, but I didn’t have to give it my all.

Jakob climbing white rose 9a at schleier waterfall

But the most important thing was to climb again after all these weeks. It wasn't about succeeding in any of these routes. It was more about being outdoors again, being with my girlfriend and friends, living and enjoying the moment.

My first reunion with the rock was very special. The feeling of stone under my fingers got me so excited that I totally forgot about my snacks, i.e. bread, banana, apple and bars. But that’s okay. It was great to be able to do what I like to do most; especially because I hadn't been allowed to do it for around one and a half months.

Feet and hands have suffered the most on the first days of climbing. Especially my feet are not used to being in their tight climbing shoes anymore and it gets uncomfortable a lot faster. But after two or three days, they got used to it again. My hands took a little while longer, however. Indoors and outdoors is always a little different, especially when climbing on real rock. This is more intense and since I climbed only outdoors, my skin had to get used to it. On the first few days, you need to take it easy so your skin builds up faster.

Speaking of sun: Since we climbers don't spend much time in the sun, that's not an issue. When climbing, we choose the most shady areas because cooler conditions are better and the sun doesn't burn up the rocks. That means climbing in the shade, chilling in the sun.

Heelhook at the crux
Birdview - White Rose 9a

By now, we are somewhat back to an everyday life. Since a few weeks, we have been allowed to continue our training in the gym, thanks to a special permit. Not as often as I would normally do it – so only three instead of five times – but that's a good compromise between training and rock climbing.

But what I really miss are the competitions so I can measure myself and set the foreseeable goals I prepare myself for. Of course, this takes some pressure off because I am not constantly thinking of the next performance test.

What is unusual, however, is that I am not travelling. Normally, I'm in Spain or other countries during non-competitive times to try several difficult routes. I'm not used to being at home for so long, even though this can be an exciting experience as well.

PS: I still can't do the handstand perfectly. I can stay in the position for a short time, but I still train on the wall. That has to get even better. It's quite a good training for my opponents.

PPS: My hair is pretty wild in the video. Yes, they also suffered from the quarantine. A good three months not at the salon - that was also a new record!

Jakob climbing Walk the line Zillertal
Walk the line Zillertal

Photos by Alpsolut