As anticipated a few days ago, we've now got an interview with Adam Ondra, the 14 year old climber from the Czech Republic who at the start of August blazed through France and Switzerland sending some of the hardest routes there, including Abysse 9a, Speed 8c+ and Beat Kammerlander's Rätikon multi-pitch must, Silbergeier 8b+ in just one day.
We often ask ourselves in what direction sports climbing is heading and how difficult it may eventually become. It's clear that the answers lie in the hands of the new generation, and Adam Ondra seems to have given this plenty of thought. Despite his age, this young climber is quickly evolving into a world player. It comes as no surprise therefore that 15 international magazines have nominted him, amongst four others, for the second edition of the Arco Rock Legends...
Adam Ondra and the future
Let's start with Abysse 9a in France and Speed 8c+ in Switzerland. Two routes of completely different character. How can you explain this?
I've always wanted to climb every kinds of routes from huge roofs on jugs to delicate slabs.
This explains Silbergeier?
I tried Silbergeier because my friend Ondra Benes told me that I'd be able to on-sight it. I believed him. But already the first pitch surprised me. And obviously it is very hard to climb OS if there is nearly no chalk and you don't see any holds.
What does this ascent mean to you?
It was a piece of really hard climbing. I was surprised by how hard the climbing was.
You freed all the pitches in one day, but for some pitches you needed a couple of attempts. Can you see yourself going back and making a no-falls one-day ascent?
No, I don't ever ever want to climb that slab on the fourth pitch again:-) For me, as I feel it at the moment, it is better to do the whole route in one day and to send some pitches after a couple of tries, than to climb a route one day without succeeding on all the pitches and then returning another day to climb the route without falls. This year I probably won't climb any more multipitches, but next year I'd like to go to Rätikon again.
It seems that you manage to climb everything now. What do you find the hardest?
For me the hardest are routes where you need pure power. But I'm really motivated.
Despite your age you are at the forefront of hard repeats. How can see climbing developing in the future?
People are going to climb harder and harder routes. Development will be slower and slower, but it will always be there! I can imagine a 9c route. I believe also that a 9a on-sight is possible, but you need to climb the right route of the right character. This means a long 9a with simple moves. A bouldery 9a OS is nearly impossible.
In the last couple of years you have travelled and climbed a great deal. How has climbing changed?
There are more climbers, but more people climb indoors and don't go out often. And few people go to old school areas. What I find very impressive is how fast news travels. Somebody climbs a new route and next day the whole climbing community knows about it!
In some sports, such as gymnastics, very young athletes excel. Can you see sports climbing developing in this way?
I think many very young climbers are interested in competitions. I see it in my category in the EYS. But few of these climb on rocks. Yes, maybe they can't go outdoors because their parents can't afford it or for many other reasons. But in general I think more athletes will excel in competitions than on rocks. But I don't have the absolute truth, I really don't know....
Recently you've been nominated by an international jury for the second Salewa Rock Award which will be celebrated at Arco in Spetember, together with Andreas Bindhammer, Daniel Woods, Dave Graham and Patxi Usobiaga. What do you think?
I am very happy to be nominated together with such famous names and I'm really looking forward to meeting them.