June 3, 2011 posted by

World’s Hardest Climb?

BD athlete Adam Ondra making the first ascent of Chaxi Raxi (9b) at Oliana, Spain from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

There’s a new sheriff in town. And his name is Adam Ondra.

This kid, who just turned 18, has turned the climbing world on its head this year. Today’s Friday Psyche is Ondra on Chaxi Raxi, a long standing Chris Sharma project and one of the hardest routes in the world. If it’s not the hardest than that title goes to one of the other 9bs he’s established this year, which we know because he’s climbed pretty much all of the other hard sport climbs on the planet.

Ondra is doing what most people thought was impossible in today’s climbing world, where the sport has been divided up into specialized arenas: climbing the hardest rock routes in every style. He’s been traveling around the world to grab the second ascent of pretty much anything on the “world’s hardest” radar (he’s yet to come to America but when he does Jumbo Love will likely have a grade confirmation)—even multi-pitch climbs in remote locations, as well as onsighting routes on a completely different plane. He recently nabbed the second of the almost-mythical line Chilam Bilam. Its first ascent had always been debated and some of the world’s strongest climbers, such as Sharma and Dani Andrada, had failed on it. It took Ondra four tries and then, while in the neighborhood, he established an even harder route on the same cliff.

He calls himself ‘weak’, which simply means power is not his forte. But this hasn’t stopped him from doing the hardest boulder problems or winning world cups, even though he mainly focuses on long hard ‘endurance’-style climbs. He is simply on another level from every other climber right now. The scary thing is that he seems to be getting much better each year and probably has another decade to physically improve.

physiology lesson: the quick hand shakes ondra does between movements near the top of the climb are to help recharge CP (creatine phosphate) stores, which fires ATP (to keep you attached to the rock). CP stores run out quickly, 3-8 seconds, but also can recharge very quickly. subtle and effective.


  • that kid is seriously impressive.

  • Yawn.Done something very similar, only diff was that mine was angled 30 degrees in the other direction.Glad to see climbing videos are at least trying to break out of the mold.I think climbing should have different weight classes like boxing. Doesn't seem like a level playing field when you got a mutant like that. I mean, I gained 2 pounds just looking at his lunch.Chris' arms looked thicker than Ondra's torso.j

  • Besides calling himself weak he also sits around and talks about how "it's very hot" even though he's wearing long pants and a jacket.

  • Steve McClure says he's weak, too:

  • Steve: "Adam is a grade ahead of the top of the tree, and two grades ahead of the general hero! So he's a grade up on Sharma/Paxti/Ramon etc and two up on all the other stars. He is in a league of his own on rock." Jack: Anything else to say? Steve: "Adam really impresses me in many ways. I can relate to him, he's a climber, a rock climber. Relative to the indoor guys he's weak, but on rock he has all the strengths. People forget climbing strengths are not just about 'strength'. You need power, power endurance, then flexibility, finger strength, tenacity, technical ability, footwork, ambition and more. He has all of these. Also his attitude is great, he's just a climber like us all, psyched for his mates on 8as, and keeping his efforts in perspective. I heard recently a top hero begrudgingly saying Adam was good, 'but he's weak, he's no good indoors really, he has faults'. Adam would never come out with this, he's just doing his stuff!

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