Jakob Schubert started off 2018 with a bang and is wrapping it up in the same way: He welcomed December with the second ascent of Chris Sharma’s El Bon Combat—initially floated as a 9b/+ (5.15b/c) by Sharma in 2015. The Austrian’s send comes just two months after he won gold in both the Combined and Lead competitions at the World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.
“One of the best routes I have ever done,” Schubert wrote on Instagram. Sharma was there on the day that Schubert clipped the chains. “It was awesome to share the moment of the send with him,” Schubert wrote.”
In 2015, when Sharma established the climb in Cova de l’Ocell, his suggestion of 9b/+ made it his hardest ever first ascent. Prior to El Bon Combat he had established a number of 9b’s (5.15b’s), including Jumbo Love, Neanderthal, First Round First Minute and Fight or Flight, but never a 9b+ (5.15c). After bolting La Dura Dura, the world’s second 5.15c, Sharma projected the route jointly with Adam Ondra, who made the first ascent. Sharma went on to make the second ascent.
Schubert suggested a different grade for El Bon Combat. He wrote, “I know it’s easy to not think about it and just take the grade of the first ascensionist which is 9b/9b+ in this case but I feel the responsibility to have more thoughts about it. For me it felt easier from the first day I tried it and i would guess it’s a hard 9a+ [5.15a].” Previously Schubert has sent three other 9b’s: Sharma’s Fight or Flight and Stoking the Fire, the former in 2014, the latter this year; and Adam Ondra’s Planta de Shiva, in 2016.
Sharma congratulated Schubert on Instagram and, in response to Schubert’s opinion on the grade, suggested that Schubert may be unknowingly sandbagging the route.” It very well could be ‘only’ 9a+,” Sharma wrote, “however it very well could also be that Jakob is in insanely good shape right now and doesn’t know his own strength considering he absolutely smashed the world circuit and pretty much everything is his path.”
Watch Chris Sharma on the first ascent of El Bon Combat