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On 17/11/2015 Jakob Schubert freed Companion of Change, the first 9a in the Zillertal, Austria.

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Jacob Schubert, Zillertal, Austria Photo by © Elias Holzknecht / Woodslave Productions Jacob Schubert making the first ascent of Companion of Change, 9a in the Zillertal, Austria.

Ever since the advent of sports climbing the luscious green Zillertal valley has been one of the Austrian crucibles of this sport. Driven by the likes of Gerhard Hörhager and Markus Schwaiger, its routes have got continually become more and more challenging, and although in 2008 Kilian Fischhuber added an 8c+, the magic 9a grade was still lacking. That is, until last Tuesday when Jakob Schubert, after having placed 3rd overall in the Lead World Cup 2015, freed a long standing project at the Bergstation crag bolted originally by Hörhager and Schwaiger.

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Arco Rock Legends 2015 Photo by © Giulio Malfer Arco Rock Legends 2015 – Jakob Schubert & Kay Rush

by Jacob Schubert

The competition season has ended and it’s now time for rock climbing. I didn’t waste much time after Kranj and went pretty much straight to Zillertal to try a long-standing project at Bergstation.

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Arco Rock Legends 2015 Photo by © Heiko Wilhelm Jakob Schubert

I have been coming back to this route once in a while for some years now. Last year I got really close to sending it and this year it was one of my big winter goals to finally finish it.

After coming home from Kranj on Monday, I drove to Zillertal on Tuesday and did the first ascent of this great project on my 3rd try of the day. The first 9a of the Zillertal valley!

Seeing that it’s such a long time ago since I first saw this route and that so much has changed since my first try and the send, I’m giving it the name Companion of Change.

It’s always hard for me to grade routes but I’m going with 9a on this one, although it felt really hard and could be 9a+, too. Let’s see what repeaters will say.

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Jakob Schubert, Bügeleisen, Maltatal Photo by © WOODSLAVE productions Jakob Schubert climbing the boulder problem Bügeleisen sit 8C at Maltatal, Austria.