Phillip Schaal on Jade
Interviewed by Tomasz Mazur for the Góry Magazine #186 (November 2009)
Let's start from the beginning. I know that you started climbing when you were 15, but what's happened that you were interested in climbing?
Well there was a gym close to my house and I would spend everyday after school there. It was a kind of a place to hangout away from home. And I loved the climbing and all the gear.
Your climbing career is a quite "natural" way - I mean you weren't a wonder kid, but every year you improved yourself. It was a long way for you?
I do feel like I have come along way. I was mildly talented as a kid climbing up to 5.12 in the first year. I was always trying to improve and then started entering competitions and a junior. I loved competing as a kid and did quote well. Then when I entered High School climbing took a back seat for a number of years. After High School I got into climbing again and never stopped. But I did have many hurdles to over come. And it was a long process.
Than you reached V13 level and sent V15 - Jade... Do you feel competent at this level? Some (I suppose jealous) people said that Jade has to be V14 coz you did it...
Well I climbed my first V13 back in 2005. I had already climbed a few V12"s then and was pretty strong. I fell into a rut of sorts but the summer of '08 through to the winter I climbed 15 V13's, and like 30 V11 and V12"s... I was getting really close to V14 then and could have climbed one put it just never happened. As far a jade many think it's only V14 but I’m sure once more people do it the grade will settle in. I for on am never one to downgrade something. I prefer when a group downgrades. I wouldn’t mind if jade did get downgraded. I will say I feel like I could climb something way harder than Jade.
You are quite modest! Only four climbers sent Jade before you, and they are not "unknowns" persons and you said, "I wouldn’t mind if Jade did get downgraded". What do you think about comments from people who didn't do routes/boulders and say that something should be downgraded?
Well my stance on downgrading is that it should come from a group of people, not one person. For me climbing Jade was a goal that I wanted for myself so if someone says it's not v15 then that’s ok with me since I wanted to climb the problem not the grade. So in that regard if more people climb Jade and they think it should be downgraded then so be it. As far as people that don’t do routs/boulders and say it should be downgraded, well that doesn’t really matter since they are only speculating. There are many climbers that think to themselves, "if so and so climbed that then it has to be easy" but that's all just talk. People love to hate on other people so I don't let anything like that bother me. The bottom line is that I only climb because I love to climb. I don't climb for fame or sponsors. I climb because I am obsessed with it.
You said "I feel like I could climb something way harder than Jade" - Do you think about yourself as a top climber and V15 (maybe V16) it's your level?
Without sounding too arrogant I do think I could climb something harder. It seams like every year I get stronger and the projects that I didn’t climb before seem to get easer for me. So maybe V16 is something I could climb someday. All I know is that if I continue to become a better stronger climber then the sky's the limit.
So, how looked your work on Jade?
First day did all the moves except the move, but was very close on it. Day 2 it was too hot and only dialled in the stand some more. Day 3 conditions were good. Stuck the move then stuck it from the start. The fell on the last move (I don’t think anyone has fallen there) Last try I send it. It was a bit rainy and colder than the other day.
Of course I have to ask about "The Move" - Is it really, really, really hard move?
Well for me it was not that bad. But I think if you are not good at the classic Frog position that the moves can me harder. It’s really just a standard lock off to a good edge off a 2 and a half Crimp. You need good skin and conditions or else its impossible.
Plans for future? What will be next? Where do you find motivation: in higher grade or beauty of routes/boulders? Are you thinking about visit in Europe, trying some classics problems there?
As of now my plans are to keep climbing hard boulder problems and routs both gear and bolted. I'm dying to get to Europe and South Africa. We'll see what happened
In some interview you said that huge impact on your actual strength had training, strategy and conservation. About training - we can find lots of books and articles... But could you explain me something about strategy and conservation?
Well as for strategy. Since I don’t really train I will pick out my projects accordingly. Like one that works the fingers, one that works the muscles, and (something that is hard for me) on that is power endurance. That way you are conditioning your self to get better on all kinds of blocks.
For Conservation it’s simple. Quit while you are strong. If you get worse on a project back off for the day. Any time you climb yourself into a hole it take many more rest days to recover and many times you will be weaker due to all the rest. Its real about listening to your body and looking at that the skin on your fingers say.
Next 5 minutes for sponsor! You are sponsored by 5.10. And I have seen new Team shoes. What are advantages of these shoes? Do you think that developing of technology can be possible? The 5.10 asked you about your suggestions?
Yea Five Ten is a great company. They have supported me since "05 and have been really good to me. The new team Shoe is incredible. It is my new favourite shoe. The advantage is that its downturned with a velcro strap, (something the V10 didn’t have) the velcro strap really allows you to get a tight fit. I'm also sponsored by these great companies. Metioluos, Verve, and Organic.
You have a girlfriend (who is a climber as well), you have a product sponsor, you have degree (in business) - but you are not "pro" climber, so what do you do for life?
What I can. I am working hard to become a pro climber but I really just want to travel as much as I can.
Is it gossip or true that you are a bit superstitious? Do you have some climbing rituals?
I have no rituals but I am very superstitious. I'm scared of having bad luck.
Less seriously question. What's the strangest job which you ever done?
I have had some strange jobs but when I was a senior in high school I worked at a boat marina. I learned quickly to use all the big equipment and with out any experience I was operating the machine that takes large boats out of the water for the winter. So without any training I was moving boats that were worth like 300k. I bet if the owners knew who was moving their boats then they would choose a different marina.
Some young climbers will read an interview with you. Can you say how looks your work on sponsors? I suppose that it's not only about "to-do-the-most-hard-grade", and not exactly only about how good climber you are - but much more...
That is true you can’t just be a strong climber. If that were true then it would be like getting paid to eat ice cream, if you were good at eating ice cream... You have to believe in who is sponsoring you... I have always climbed in Five Ten's even before I became sponsored. I truly believe in their products. I think Five Ten is the best you can get, and I am very fortunate that they have supported me. Along with Five Ten Metiolus, Verve and Organic have been behind me and I feel like it's my duty to represent them all in a professional way. You have to be professional when you are at the boulders as much as when you walk into a store. You never know who is around. Being sponsored is like wearing a badge all the time saying I represent these companies. So you have to be aware of how you come across to other people all the time.