Adam Ondra is no stranger to pushing climbing boundaries. Five years ago, at just 19 years of age he established the world’s first 9b+ in Flatanger and once again we are drawn back to this mythic cave to see the future of climbing.
At just 24 years of age it seems that no one has such a varied tick list of hard climbs under their belt. While the previous generations opened climbs, taught us training methods, invented tools that are still in our repertoire of tricks, and taught us about climbing perseverance – no one has been able to total up all their hard lines as quickly and as easily into their bag of ascensions like Adam Ondra. Of the thousands of routes that he has sent, 140 of them have been 9a or above. He is, for lack of a better word, a living legend.
View this post on Instagram
Crux 2 (font 8B) on Project Hard was quite dry today, good enough to run a few laps on it. It involves this heinously high left foot and going far right into the gaston off left hand undercling. The foothold tends to slip a lot, making my knee spilling some blood on the wall. Not too aesthetic, I am sorry. I might wash it later. pic by @pavelblazek @blackdiamond @mytendon @montura_official @lasportivagram @gardatrentino @chimpbars @climbflatangter @kotelna.brno #Flatanger #9c #ProjectHard
Personally, being nearly 13 years older than Adam, I can tell you that he is still in his prime and still has so much ahead of him and so many boundaries will surely be broken by this extremely motivated and limitless climber in our lifetimes.
I am so lucky to call him a friend, to have overlapped with him in my last years of competition (in his first years – though he’d already climbed 9a by that time), and to have worked with him for nearly 4 years now. But there is a moment when the student teaches the professor and Adam has done that for me on numerous occasions, both with his ascent of Dawn wall in a just over a week’s time and now with his new feat. We can now welcome into the climbing grade charts the never before seen grade of 9C. 9C! (5.15d!)
Honestly, it is bold for someone to be gutsy enough to say that their line is a new grade. This past year you might remember Nalle H. talking about the process of grading his recent boulder problem as the world’s first 9A and the criticism involved in declaring your climb to be harder than anything anywhere in the world at that time. When climbing “onsight” it is even more risky as you don’t always climb that first try with the easiest beta – often missing possible knee-bars, heel hooks, and decent rests. However, this is a project line that has taken a lot of work for someone who has climbed more
9b & 9b+ routes than anyone in the world.
(At this point Sept 2017 there are only 3 established and fully sent 9b+ routes in the world. Adam has sent them all & Chris Sharma has repeated one of them – his bolted line La Dura Dura.)
View this post on Instagram
A few months ago, I was milion miles away from doing front lever. That was pretty embarassing, but since I got to work with @klausisele as a physio, I can do it on a bar and I am on the way to doing it on #ildomani board from @pucseries. I found out it was all about the body position and correction my shoulders. This was our miniproject, the real thing is Project Hard. @blackdiamond @lasportivagram @mytendon @montura_official @climbflatanger
Climbing a whole new grade means expanding your bag of training tricks. Beyond strength, beyond endurance, he has worked on flexibility, biomechanics & mobility, injury prevention, nutrition, finger strength, inverted knee-bar resting positions, power endurance, and so much more. While he gave somewhere around 70 tries on the Dura Dura, he spent a large part of last season on Project Hard & has made many trips to Flatanger to see it through to fruition.
View this post on Instagram
Progress on Project Hard has been halted by cold and cough for a week. Nothing serious, but frustrating issue while working on it. One of week of doing nothing is slowing me down by at least two weeks, as it will take me at least one week to get strong again. Training in the barn at @climbflatanger on @pucseries fingerboard (only prototype). Pic by @pavel_klement @montura_official @mytendon @blackdiamond @lasportivagram @klausisele
Going beyond the known into the unknown is something few climbers are able to do. If no one has successfully climbed it seems normal that you can’t either. It requires a lot of will and mental strength to convince yourself that the impossible is possible.
In Adam’s own words when retelling the events of the send:
“In the morning it felt like every other day on the Project. It was hot, but the air was crystal clear and dry. But I felt very little pressure and lot of psyche. Key ingredients for sending the world’s first 9c. At the end of the route when I knew I did it, I had one of the strangest emotions ever. I clipped the anchor and I could not even scream. All I could do was just hang in the rope, feeling tears in my eyes. It was too much joy, relief and excitement all mixed together… Months and months of my life summed up in 20 minutes. So much time and effort in something so short but intense as hell. Every minute spent in Norway, every move in the gym was totally worth it. This route never really turned into a nightmare, despite the time I spent on the route. It was a fun process, and it was even more fun to finish it off.”
-Quote originally printed in http://www.mytendon.com/adam-ondra-climbs-the-worlds-first-9c-515d
I think that if we can learn one thing from Adam it’s that expanding your training techniques is always beneficial, that limits are made to be broken, and there truly never is a “world’s hardest climb” set in stone for eternity. It might be a long time before this route is ever repeated, but as training methods improve, our complementary training expands, and climbing products become more technical & specifically tasked – it is inevitable that this route will one day see a first repetition. The question stands as to how many hard climbs of this nature are just waiting to be established and who will be the first to grab those sends.
Congratulations, Adam! It is a pleasure to support you.