Ondra Spans the ‘Impossible’ in a Decade: Watch Two Hard Climbs

When Adam Ondra says he thinks a rock climb is ‘impossible,’ the climbing world pricks up its collective ears. That’s exactly how his two most recent (and nails-hard) ascents in Arco start.

Before you do anything else, skip to 13:45 to witness a scream from Ondra that’s cartoonishly dramatic, even by his standards. (It lasts 2 full seconds.)

… Did you do it? Great. Now, read on.

The strongest rock climber on the face of the earth doesn’t usually drop the “i” word. Instead of “impossible,” he usually opts for “hard” — which is, of course, a relative term.

Unless you’re one of about 10 mega-strong rock climbers alive today, you — like me — might find almost every one of his first ascents impossible to climb.

For screaming out loud, the guy once said the dime edges on a 5.14a slab were “good holds.” So the approach he takes to his newest routes, “Bomba” (9b/5.15b) and “Bombardino” (9a+/b or 5.15a/b) in Arco, Italy, makes the routes seem like outliers.

Ondra FA Diretta Italo Spagnola 5 14 slab Arco Italy
Check Out Adam Ondra's First Ascent of a 5.14 Slab
Check out Ondra's first ascent of "Diretta Italo Spagnola," 5.14a, in Arco, Italy, a 5-degree slab route with allegedly "good holds!" Read more…

In 2012, Ondra was already climbing 5.15 routes regularly. He bolted “Bomba” and “Bombardino” around that time, and he must have figured he’d crush them just like every other 5.15.

In fact, in his new YouTube video “Last Great Lines,” he tells us that initially, he gave the sibling routes even less respect than that.

“I always dismissed this right exit to be too easy. ‘It’s not worth it’,” he says about “Bombardino.”

“But,” he reconsiders, “I was quite wrong.”

What gives? What made the 20-year-old projects feel impossible to Ondra 10 years ago but approachable today?

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Maybe watching Ondra manipulate his paws around the horrible, misshapen holds at close range holds the answers. (The mid-length video features plenty of that.)

Or maybe it’s a rock climbing enigma. Numbers don’t say it all, and sometimes it’s not worth agonizing over why you did or didn’t send.

One thing’s for sure: We’ve got plenty more rabidly passionate sending to look forward to from Ondra.

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Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson is a staff writer at GearJunkie, and several other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about climbing, cycling, running, wildlife, outdoor policy, the outdoor industry, vehicles, and more for 2 years. Prior to GearJunkie, he owned and operated his own business before freelancing at GearHungry. Based in Austin, Texas, Anderson loves to climb, boulder, road bike, trail run, and frequent local watering holes (of both varieties).

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