By Robin Dahlberg • 2012-01-01
One by one the competitors enter the soft cushioned landing beneath the competition wall. This is the stage of the night. Adam Ondra enters last to the classic tune Simply the Best. One hour later he has won the competition LaSportiva Legends Only in Stockholm, beating the current bouldering world champion and some of the best boulderers in the world. 18 year old Adam Ondra is simply the best and in many ways already a legend.
We met up with Adam on his trip to Sweden and asked some questions.
R) It seems like you climb the hardest routes in quite few goes. If you attempted a route 50 times do you think that would make you climb even harder or are you just very efficient on climbing your hardest in just a few attempts?
A) I think I’m quite efficient in climbing routes in a few attempts but I do think that if I spent 50 tries or more on one route I might be able to climb 9b+ but certainly I wouldn’t be able to climb any harder. You have to bear in mind that when you are working on a route for a long time there is a mental barrier which you have to breach. Additionaly in reality you loose your power because your only trying a handfull of moves which means you are not training so much. You just keep climbing the very same moves and it could be true that you progress on these specific moves but in reality your shape is decreasing.
If I would spend 100 tries on one route it wouldn’t be in a span of three months. I would try it in one week and then leave for a while and then get back on it with full motivation. And I think that is what Chris Sharma is doing since he is now in Spain he has got so many projects to try. He tries one and if it doesn’t feel so good he tries another one.
R) In what style of climb do you think the 10th grade will be?
A) It can be anything! I think that human body can crimp smaller holds and do more crazy moves but my guess is that it won’t be 100 meters long routes. Because it sucks when you try it! It doesn’t make any fun if you climb for 80 metres and have a hard crux on top of that. You are there beneath the crux and the only think that circles your mind is you don’t want to climb it again. If it was a route that long with absolutely no rests I wouldn’t mind but there are no such routes.
R) Chipping routes, creating holds making it easier or harder seems to been common in top level climbing. How likely do you think it is to find a do-able next level route completely without chipped holds?
A) I do think it is very possible. The situation with chipping holds have definitely got better if you compare it with 20 years ago when most of the top level routes were chipped. Today most of the 9bs are natural. Some of the holds are reinforced but that is the matter: if you think reinforcing holds is manipulating the rock or chipping and it’s bad then it is almost impossible to find a route in such a high level and do-able at the same time. I think that if you have a hold that might brake off it’s always better to reinforce it to keep it the same forever, so it doesn’t only hold for your ascent.
R) So in other words, chipping or glueing holds is a logical way of progression in the top level?
A) Unfortunately that is the case but if the route goes without – even better. On overhanging rock the quality of rock is often not as good as in the vertical. Therefore areas like Santa Linya there are many reinforced holds because it is necessary and I’m not against this. But I would be superpshyched to find a wall that goes without reinforced holds, it would be supercool. What I really hope is that the phenomen of chipping holds won’t return more into the world of sport climbing on the highest level but it is obvious that it will never disappear. It would be sad if the 1st 9c was chipped in my opinion.
R) Name a couple of climbers that you are inspired by.
A) When I started climbing I was very inspired by Wolfgang Güllich because he really pushed the limit. He was the first ascender of the first 8b+, 8c and 9a and in my eyes that is amazing. He had the audacity to try such hard lines back in those days and he wasn’t afraid to give a grade to it. The other climber who is my idol is Tomas Mrazek because he comes from the same city as I do and he became a world champion in 2001 after not so many years of climbing and training in very bad conditions.
R) North of Brno there is an area called Adersbach known for its sandstone towers, chalkfree climbing protected with nuts made of rope. What do you think about local traditions such as this?
A) There are not only routes protected with rope nuts but also bolted routes but the they are very runout. The main thing is that the routes are always made ground up. This is the tradition which in my eyes should always be preserved because that makes these towers really special.
R) What is your opinion in keeping areas like this as no-bolts areas?
A) In these kind of areas it makes sense. These areas are rather about the feeling, with beautiful weather, the rock has a very specific smell and you feel that this is a place where climbers have been climbing over a hundred years and you really admire what people did back in those days and how brave they were.
R) You do most sportclimbing and some bouldering. What’s your opinion on traditional climbing?
A) Traditional climbing where use of bolts is out of bounds, I’m not against it but in for example on gritstone in Peak District I feel that the ethics is quite strange. In my point of view once you set off you can never return to the ground but some of the routes are climbed in a way that you set off climbing a couple of metres put the gear in climb down and then start climbing again with the gear in place. I’m definitely not saying that the gritstone should be bolted but what inspires me more is where traditional climbing really makes sence because it is more efficient and faster and that’s in the mountains.
R) Would you bolt a route that could be climbed safely without the bolts, for example a hard crack?
A) I do think I wouldn’t hesitate to bolt it but if ten years later someone comes who could do it in a tradtional way I wouldn’t be against the chopping of the bolts and keeping it this way.
R) Are you ever scared when sportclimbing?
A) Eeeh No.
R) Long runouts, high up, exposed?
A) Well, I’m very rarely scared when I know for 99,9% it’s safe. It can be 8 meter above the bolt when you fall into the air I know it is safe and then I’m not scared. When it is potentially dangerous I’m scared but I think I’m mentally strong to get into the mode when you just switch off everything. It is such a mode when I feel like I’m not even present in the action, that I’m somewhere away and that someone from outside is giving instructions to my body to make the moves.
R) Do you ever get frustrated and how do you deal with that?
A) Yes I do. I get frustrated quite a lot but usually it brings me more motivation in the end to try harder. The biggest problem for me is to keep the motivation when I’m trying a route for a long time especially when I’m falling of the same move in the end of the route. Basically in the situation where I don’t progress and don’t find anything new in the route.
R) Describe the feeling when you are close of doing something you really want to do.
A) For me this is the most difficult part of the progress of working on a route. There are two types, when you are stressed by the time because you are on a trip and you are leaving soon. Surprisingly I’ve managed to send many routes the last day of the trip. I can be super nervous before setting off but once I’m off the ground I’m just completely free. The other type of being close is when I have a project at home and sometimes that is even worse because I keep telling myself that since the project is at home I’ve got so much time to send it and even if you don’t send it today ypu can always send it next week. But it has happend to me so many times that I’ve been struggeling on my projects at home just because of this approach, because you don’t give it 100% percent, you give 99% but sometimes this 1% is the difference whether you send it or not.
R) Climbing seems to be a neverending growing sport with lots of enthusiasts. Can you see any problems with a growing climbing community?
A) I think it can be related whether the climbing will make it to the Olympics or not. If climbing gets into the Olympics climbing will get much more popular. I don’t think it will matter in places like France where there are so many cliffs. It will be a problem in for example my town where there are so few rocks to climb. But I’m not against climbing making it to the Olympics.
R) If climbing would make it to the Olympics, and you got the chance to participate, would you do it?
A) Yes, definitely I would. I think climbing is the only natural movement left which is not represented in the Olympics. You have running, swimming and so on. Why not climbing?
Here is the trailer for the up coming movie about Adam Ondra