Adam Ondra

Climbing on ‘Molecules’: Adam Ondra Ticks Staggering 68th 5.15

Adam Ondra has spent such a long time locked off at the top of the sport climbing world, he can’t even remember what the rest of it looks like. For Ondra, imperceptible ‘molecules’ function as holds.

“Molekuly,” in Moravský Kras, Czech Republic, is Adam Ondra’s 44th 5.15a redpoint. It’s his 68th overall 5.15. No one else comes close to his superlative stats — Italian Stefano Ghisolfi (surging recently) is next on the list at, with 24. 

You’d think he’d be used to this by now. “5.15, ‘schmive’-15,” Ondra must think, cranking V14 sequence after V14 sequence, screaming his way through sport climbing’s most impenetrable crucibles. In 2017, he was the first to climb “Silence” in Norway. And now, 4 years later, no one has come remotely close to repeating it (despite Tom Randall proving that, yes, you can jam the crack).

But if you can’t breathe (or imagine breathing) Ondra’s rare air, take heart — watching the Molekuly FA on Instagram and reading the description, it’s patently clear that rock climbing at the limits is still hard for him too.


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“Wow, this thing actually goes,” he said, also mentioning the “nonexistent holds” that constitute the “epitome” of Moravský Kras climbing.

After 12 years spanned his first try and his redpoint burn, he only had to “find molecules” on which to yard through the crux. The “crazy pinch hold” looks to be the hood ornament of the brief but exacting route. Navigate a few feet of cliff surface with holds that defeat the abilities of the naked eye, then you’re out of the touchy bit, according to Ondra.

Cruise a trivial 8b+ (5.14a) headwall, clip the chains, and “dirt me,” as they say.

That’s all it takes to be Adam Ondra … right?

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.