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How Adam Ondra Pushes Climbing Forward By Going Back

Comparing the way Chris Sharma and his torch-bearing successor Adam Ondra have each uniquely approached their roles as world’s best rock climbers has been a fascinating exercise.

Sharma’s career is largely defined by pioneering a relatively smaller number of new, extremely aesthetic routes at the upper echelon of difficulty. Like Quentin Tarantino movies, each of those routes—those “King Lines,” to borrow the trope used in Sharma’s biopic—is a memorable, haunting, masterful work of climbing art. And like Tarantino films, each “release” was often separated by years.

Ondra’s career, however, has thus far been defined by mind-boggling numbers and stats. His contributions to climbing aren’t manifest in a trail of highly aesthetic FAs as much as they are found in extremely difficult movements on rock, no matter its quality or aesthetic merits. It’s in his fast repeats; his incomparable onsights and flashes. It’s in his sheer brilliance on every medium—boulder, big-wall, crack, comp, and sport. As one friend pointed out, he’s a phenomenon unto himself that might not be matched for generations.

Whereas Sharma has demonstrated something of an aversion to trying to repeat test pieces from the past—I don’t believe Sharma has ever climbed Action Directe, for example—instead focusing on establishing his own new routes, Ondra has taken an opposite track. He has shown a real interest in repeating obscure sport climbs from the mid-1990s that most of us have never heard of.

Ondra’s YouTube channel, which of course is worth subscribing to, recently posted Ondra’s most recent conquest, a second ascent of a route called Qui.

Qui was established in 1996 by Stefan Fürst at the Austrian crag Geisterschmiedwand. If you’re anything like me, there are at least two proper nouns in that sentence that you’ve probably never read or heard of before. The route was originally rated 9a (5.14d), but Ondra has suggested it’s actually 9a+ (5.15a).

This isn’t the first time Ondra has upgraded a 9a from the 1990s to 9a+, which has retroactively changed a lot about how we understand climbing history. In fact people—that is to say, Europeans of or near the region of Tyrol, for the most part—have been climbing harder than we really ever understood.

It’s understandable that our best athletes write history in real time, but it’s somewhat unique to see one who re-writes a history before he was even born.

The post How Adam Ondra Pushes Climbing Forward By Going Back appeared first on Evening Sends.

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Originally posted 2019-10-07 20:37:08.

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