Adam Ondra is, if you believe sponsors Black Diamond, ‘the world’s greatest rock climber’. Don’t know about that, but he’s certainly very, very good indeed and a multiple bouldering and sport climbing world champion. Currently though Ondra is on a six-week mission at big wall Mecca, Yosemite.
His aim is to make the second free ascent of the ferociously hard Dawn Wall. The fly in the ointment is that Ondra is best known as the world’s leading sports climber, but has ‘little to none big wall or crack climbing experience’ – something of a disadvantage you’d think.
Why he’s doing it? ‘I’ve been thinking for years about going to Yosemite’, he says ‘And finally now is the right time. The last three years I was studying and I couldn’t really miss that much school in October and November, which is the season for the Valley.
‘So, I just finished University and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, and I’m free and can go to Yosemite.’
Ondra arrived in the valley earlier this month and has been warming up with assorted big climbs, notably The Nose of El Capitan which he tackled with his father.
‘Probably the longest climbing day of my life. We went with my dad up on The Nose, wanting to free it in a day. We started with the first light and up to the Great Roof it was going well, onsighting all the pitches in around hours. But Great Roof shut me down.’
Ultimately the sustained climbing proved seriously tough and the pair had ‘a full alpine experience’ including a cold, wet cave bivi after they failed to find the descent route in heavy rain.
Ondra has already begun his attempt to free the Dawn Wall, but initially he’s ascending the route with a mix of free and aid climbing and fixing ropes as preparation for his attempt to fully free the wall later.
More about that in due course, but check out these amazing images by Heinz Zak who s with Ondra making a film. More about the project at blackdiamondequipment.com.