Adam Ondra hangs upside down during the climb. Photograph: Pavel Blazek
Four years ago Ondra who is now beginning to think about on the inaugural
Olympic climbing competition in Tokyo was not even sure that it was climbable.
I bolted it in 2013. Back then I only tried it for a few days and thought it was way too hard. Then last season I started again. Over seven trips to Norway, I guess Id say I spent 40 or 50 days trying it.
It is not the first time in recent years that Ondra, who grew up in Brno in the Czech republic, has claimed the worlds hardest climb.
He was the first person to climb a route graded 9b+ on the popular French sport-climbing scale, a feat that only one other climber has repeated.
On the French scale, the level of difficulty is graded on an open ended numerical system subdivided into three other sub divisions carrying a letter a,b or c in numerical order, with the addition of a plus to denote a particularly hard climb for that grade.
After a first ascent, climbs can be adjusted up or down by consensus if necessary although in Ondras case there is no question among his peers that his hardest climbs represent the very pinnacle of the sport.
Its very different to running 100 metres, he said.
Everyone knows what it means to run 100 metres in a world record time. Because grades in climbing are subjective, I am fan of making big gaps between climbing grades. Knowing it was so much harder gives me the courage to say it is the worlds first at this level (9c).
All the more remarkably, Ondra continued with his studies at school and recently fitted in a degree around his six-day-a-week training schedule.
Right now, he said. I am full time athlete. I finished my degree so Im definitely hoping I have some more time to climb.
He said he felt he still had the capacity to climb even harder.
When I did this climb I did not feel it was at my absolute limit. I can imagine climbing a harder route. I think I can climb more at this grade one day and potentially harder.
Natalie Berry, the editor of the
UK Climbing website, and an accomplished climber herself, is a year older than Ondra and knows him from when she competed in international competition climbing events.
Its almost difficult to find words to describe what he is doing. I think what is interesting is not just that he is breaking new barriers of difficulty but he is transferring his skills to different kinds of climbing
including 800m high big walls.
Hes been climbing since he was about five of six and ever since then, every year, he has broken new new ground.
Whats nice is that he doesnt take himself too seriously. And that is part of his appeal. He doesnt get in a tizz [if something doesnt go right] and in a sport that is very individualistic, where it is very easy to get wrapped up inside your head, hes not got a big ego.