So, if you’ve been around climbing for even a short time, you may have heard of the climbing phenom Adam Ondra. He has won 18 gold metals and climbed 180+ routes that are rated 9A or harder.
I think the best way to understand is to learn a little more about Adam, the things he has done and the legend he is making.
Born on February the 4th 1993 in Brno a beautiful Czech city Adam arrived in the world already harnessed up ready to climb. Born to two climbers, the big walls never stood a chance.
By age 8 he had already conquered an onsight 7b+(5.12c) to put that in perspective for you, most average adults only climb between 6c – 7a.
This means by the age of 8, Adam had already surpassed a majority of climbers and he was just getting started. Over the next decade, Ondra proceeds to hone and sharpen his climbing skills.
By age 9 he was redpointing 8c and at 11 he onsighted 8a+ and redpointed 8c. This kid was just eating grades that took most climbers years to move through.
There is even a rumor floating around that his parents built him a climbing wall in his bedroom to try and cut down on the gym trips and to allow him to climb during his rest days.
With the perfect background for climbing, it’s no wonder Adam took no prisoners and placed top 3 in most of the competitions he entered from ages 11-16.
Then to top it all off in 2009 at age 16, Ondra won the lead climbing world cup, however, he didn’t stop there and the next year he set his sights on the bouldering world cup.
After a battle with Austrian climber Kilian Fischhuber and Japanese climber Tsukuru Hori, Ondra managed to secure first place and become the first climber to win Gold in both Lead Climbing and Bouldering and remain’s the only climber to do so today.
It’s crazy to think that during this time Ondra was still splitting his time between school and climbing.
However, 2012 changed all this, Adam finished school and wanted to leave his own mark in the climbing world. He wanted to give something back to the sport that had given him so much.
At the time the hardest grade in the world was 9b which already seemed to be pushing the physical limits of the human body. Adam, however, seemed to have a little more push in him than the rest of us and set out to change that.
Adam had his sights on a beautiful cave in Norway called Hanshelleren. This is where he would leave his mark. Over the space of 4 months, Ondra scouted the cave finding a path through the endless sea of granite.
After months of grueling hard work, Adam finally reached his goal and climbed this beast and left the start of his legacy in the climbing world.
He decided to name the climb ‘Change’ to signify what it meant to him. Not only was this a change for Adam, as he no longer had to split his time between school and climbing, it was also a change for the climbing world. A message that climbing still hadn’t hit its limit and there were harder climbs to be found.
The next step in Adams climbing journey was a rendezvous with Chris Sharma, the undisputed king of sport climbing. Chris had been struggling to climb a route he set called ‘La Dura Dura’ (The hard hard). He invited Adam to join him, hoping to spark some friendly competition which might help Chris send the route.
This meet up is also seen in the eyes of a lot of climbers as Chris passing over the mantle of “worlds best rock climber” to Ondra and the next generation of climbers.
After weeks of grueling hard work and difficult climbing, Adam became the first person to climb La Dura Dura. This must have sparked something in Chris as he also managed the route a month later, something he didn’t think himself capable of.
If you are still not impressed yet, don’t worry it gets better. Ever heard of the dawn wall? Its the part of El Cap that lights up at dawn as first sun touches the wall.
While photogenic, this beautiful piece of rock also offers some of the hardest big wall climbing in the world. A lot of people thought it couldn’t be done, but two famous climbers called Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson spent 6 years finding a route up 3000ft are razor blade rock and difficult climbing and proved them wrong.
Adam, inspired by their 18-day assault to free climb the whole route in one run, just had to fly out to Yosemite and try it for himself. What happened next surprised a lot of people!
Adam managed the clear out the dawn wall in just a couple of weeks and made the second ascent. I forgot to mention that this was also Adams first time in Yosemite, crazy right?
Adam was running out of challenges fast and needed something new and challenging. He ended up creating his own challenge out of necessity.
He dubbed this ‘Project Hard’.
The project was a climb out in Flatanger Norway and back in Hanshelleren where Adam created ‘Change’ his 9b+ route so many years ago.
Adam had been trying this route on and off for 4 years! This dude managed to send the dawn wall in a couple of weeks. Imagine how hard this climb has to be for him to struggle for 4 years!
However, his lifetime of training, hard work and dedication paid off, as on September the third 2017 Adam managed to finish the route and successfully climb the worlds first 9c.
If you wonder what shoes Adam used to do it then check out this post.
What makes Adam such an amazing climber?
There is something that I have avoided talking about so far. And that’s Adams visualization and simulation training techniques that I think are the key to what puts him ahead of other climbers.
While bizarre, intense, and awkward to watch the technique really helps him nail down certain move sets and allows him to pull harder, grip stronger and move faster while on routes.
Adam usually grabs his physical therapist to help him simulate climbs (Taking the term physical therapist to a new level).
You can watch an example of it here. As you can see it’s pretty weird to watch. But hey, the best are the best for a reason right?
His sights are set!
With Adam being only 26 he is in an amazing place to to cement his legacy as one of the best climbers of a generation. He’s old enough to have gained the experience needed to win across three disciplines and also young enough to be in his peak physical condition.
But I think most importantly he has set his sights on the Olympics as his next challenge. Once Adam sets his mind on something, it usually happens.
Just look at Change, The Dawn Wall, La Dura Dura, Silence and 100’s of other insane climbs that have fallen to this man’s pure willpower and climbing prowess.
I mean it’s no wonder people are already backing him as the 2024 Olympic favorite.