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Interview with Adam Ondra about climbing season 2009


We read about Adam Ondra a lot of news through the year 2009…..about climbing and competitions achievements. One of the best climbers of the world is always something going on. And this year the news have been extra exciting. First year in senior competitions and he made the first ascent of his hardest route ever, Marina Superstar 9a+/9b in Sardinia. Obviously we wanted to find out more about his latest successful year.

Congratulations Adam, you won the World Cup 2009. It’s great! The first year among adults and right away such a great results, which were kind of expected result. How did you enjoy your first year in senior competitions?
Thank you. I don’t know if you have expected this, but I didn't. My goal was to get on stage of the Lead World Cup 2009, I dreamt about it in the corner of my soul. In the end it was really great. If somebody is winning who doesn’t like it? You don’t feel after that the time spent in an isolation room was useless.

What kind of mistakes did you do at competitions and what do you think you should improve?
Slipped leg in Brno and one hesitation in the final move in China, which cost me a gold. Otherwise I didn't do much mistakes compare to others, when I fell down the main reason were my „pumped“ forearms. My weakness is an endurance; I am not able to shake hands on middle holds, so I prefer go on. It is always good strategy besides in Arco, where routes were longer then anywhere else and it was impossible to climb in a style ground-top.


Adam Ondra-Kranj, Slovenia

foto by friends of Petra Pavlíčka


You mentioned that Spain climbers are compare to you much stronger in Arco.
Do you think your success depends on character of the route?

They have amazing ability to shake down on not very good holds. I am better in bouldery routes where you won’t stop.


What kind of routes are mostly set at the World Cups?
Mostly powerful and endurance, occasionally technical finesse.

You're dependent on the rocks, how do you manage be longer time from rocks?
Finally I somehow managed to combine rocks and plastic, so I wasn't apart from rocks longer time. At least I always climbed the rocks on weekends. So I changed Kras after school behind the wall. I could not stand more then two days without rocks.

Your placing in overall results of Climbing World Cup 2009 relied on the last stage of the Climbing World Cup Lead, held in Kranj Slovenia. Were you nervous?
It is truth that there were greater nervous than usually. In qualification round I climbed the most nervous in season. In the semifinal it was all right and in the final I was nervous, but still ok. I am particularly nervous as the last half hour before the climb, important things is to get rid of it, as soon as I start climb. And it is going well.

Do you think that competitions depend on luck?
Not as much as in bouldering. I would say it is important be off luck, for example like slipped off leg. Otherwise it is up to you, you must show you psychical and mental power, don’t screw something.

Do you follow the motto: who don’t risk don’t win?
I try to climb effectively, fast and don’t doubt it. No big thinking in the middle of the routes, what I have planed, I try to keep on and keep the time. Sometimes it can turn out and it is better to stop, think over, but statistically is better for me risk a bit.


Adam Ondra-Slovenia, 2009, Kranj,

foto by friends of Petra Pavlíčka


Are you going to take a part of all round of The World Cup next year?
In the Lead yes, in the bouldering I will see….

Do you need to spend more time on plastic because of competitions?
Certainly. To go straight from rocks to competitions would be a nonsense. It's very important to get used to feeling artificial hold under my skin. I usually train indoors during the last two weeks before a World Cup, while at the weekends I climb on rock.

Do you enjoy competitions?
How I have written above: The winning is not a bad feeling, ….It is the way how to satisfy your ego.

Let's drop the topic of competitions. Also your rock's season I would call successful as well. You have climbed your hardest route ever, Marina Superstar 9a+/9b. It is the first route, which you graded as high. According to pictures the route looks extremely overhanging and last year you said that it was beyond your possibilities. This year you climbed it after four days of trying. What were you missing last year?
Last year there were lack of time and endurance. This year I traveled there especially on this route in my best form and it paid off, even almost no…..the next day the route got wet and did not dry out till the end of the trip.

Could you describe the route and the history of the route?
The route is located at the crag Domusnovas in the south side of island. There are about ten different sectors with route from all classification. Marina lead at the northern entrance San Giovanni, cave more than 500m long, where is also a drive through. Passage is not allowed. The Marina was bolted by Matteo Marini last year after three days of work!


Where did you fell the most and how looked your successfully attempt?
The route follows the right arête of the cave and is about 35 meters long, climb a 50° or even steeper overhang. The first part is power endurance rated 8c , follows the crux contains  long powerful moves about Fb7C+. Then it is like 8b/b+. I fell down mostly at the crux and couple times while I broke tufas or slipped off. The successfully attempt was very interesting. After couple of falls from last crux move, where is an uncertain cross to three finger pocket on backhand, I started to feel the mental pressure. The first two attempts of the day did not go well, so I took a long brake, lunch, warmed up again in 7c+ and after 20 minutes I gave a burn. In main crux I had planed to not hesitated and give my best. But mentally I failed. Fortunately in three seconds of hesitating my thumb of my right hand moved one centimeter higher, where he stacked on small edge and that was what I needed. The finish was hard but I kept climbing.

před klíčovým místem

Adam Ondra- crux in Marina Superstar

foto by © Vojtěch Vrzba


Do you like extremely overhanging lines?
Before I did not suit me, but slowly I begin to get used to. Extremely be overhanging the World Cup in Puurs and there I was surprised to win.

How did you celebrate your hardest route ever?
With Pizza Quatro Formaggi. I was there with guys who don't drink.

How do you look for difficult projects?  Do you made a list of routes forward?
I make a list of the routes 9a and harder, which I'd like to climb. Otherwise people ask me to come to try some new projects. Marina Superstar is the case.

You have climbed 15 routes rated 9a or harder this year , amazing. Is this level still hard for you or it is standard? Are they some 9a unreal for you? It seems that what you touch you climb.
In 9a I must still push hard, it is not routine yet. Especially some 9a gave me a hard time. Perhaps Pantera in Frankenjura, some I had to give up.



Adam Ondra in Fugu 9a, Schleierwasserfall

foto by Michael Meisl


I admire that you don’t follow only big numbers, but you are motivated even for old school classic, like in Basel Jura. Basel Jura doesn't belong to popular areas at this time, obviously regard to a character of routes. But in description of routes you wrote that they are even overhung. So why is not so popular?
This area is not that frequently visited because of a very hard classification and it bargain mainly in easy routes. Such hard 7a I haven't done for very long time. From 8a and higher it slowly started to agreed. Mostly areas are vertical or slightly overhung with small holds, always with bad footholds, but for example the route „Ravage“ 8b+/8c leads in big overhung with big holds and longer moves.

Is the climbing like in Frankenjura there?
Not really. It reminds me Frankenjura with its green forests, but there are mostly free and taller walls in Basel Jura. It reminds me more Boux combined with Schleier (The best parts- Falkenfluh) and Palava (the worst one). The rock is very smooth with bed feet holds, but holds are mostly sharp.

What do you enjoy about old school climbs? Do you think that some of them get ahead of time?
I like to try routes which have been done years ago but since nobody has tried it, so a real difficulty nobody knows. Some of them are much harder. Beyond I love climb on different type of rocks-.  Without this versatility I wouldn't enjoy climbing.


You on-sighted the route Ravange 8b+/8c in Basel Jura, which was at one time the most difficult in the Word. First ascender was A. Menestrel and second ascent claimed our Venca Voďár Vodička! This is not know that Voďár spoke in climbing history?
Yes, it is like that. And he could even be  the first, if he had not let the project to Menestrel. Otherwise I regard this route a lot, more than other 8c on-sight, because it was really hard climb. And I think that this is my first on-sight of the route which were done before 1990.



Adam Ondra in Ravange

foto by archiv Ondrovi


Did you find out others routes from Voďar in Basel Jura?
Very hard 8b, La Belle vie, and 8b/b+, (L'Amour) on Falkenfluhm but the biggest surprise was The Wall graded 8a+, which is almost vertical with zeros friction (it doesn't meant that the route is slippery, the rock is simply like that). I couldn't imagine with former shoes.

You have traveled so many countries  and you have been in some many climbing areas.  Which of them you would like to visit again?
Surely I would like to come back to Rockland. For bouldering I have never seen something like that. Even notoriously climber with rope jubilate!


I saw your ascent of Xaxid Hostel in Osp. What I also saw was observation party around you, cameras, compacts. You are always in a main sight anywhere you climb. It is not easy. How do you manage this medial pressure?
It is possible to get used to it. And you don’t always climb in front of many people. I don’t think that a medial pressure make me nervous, I pressure myself with the route I wanna climb, no people around me or media.

Climbers expect from you  opinion about difficulty now. It must be sometimes uncomfortable position, especially when you downgrade the route?
Sometimes it is very discomfort to downgrade the difficulty of a route, but I always try to express very truly what I feel. It is nothing personal against an author.

What difficulty you give depends on number of attempts?
The number of attempts is very relative indicator. Sometimes I send a route on my tenth attempts, but withal I know that with bit of luck I could do it on my second attempt. Sometimes a counter is started to whirl and you can’t do nothing….Otherwise I listen my feelings, there is probably no other indicator you can follow.

Your projects will run out soon with the temp you climb them. Then will be turn on drill and self projects?
Not yet, there are still many climbing and open projects, as well as new drill lines, but you must go 500 kilometers to get there……The main potential I see in Tirol. I am also keen to do a long line as Jumbo Love, some of them I have had already in my head.

Never ending Jumbo Love is waiting. Do you want to go to prairie?
Next year certainly no, I don’t have time, but in future I would like to try it.

I know, you don’t like to speak about your planes, so we let us surprise. Thank you for time and good luck in your next projects!

interview by Simona Ulmonova

Simona   [edit] 21:14 24.01.2010Print 

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