adam ondra siurana climbing
Climbing in Siurana, Spain; (photo/karpenko ilia sergeevich)

Adam Ondra Slays Siurana but Falls Short on ‘King Capella’

Between stops on a recent sponsorship junket, Adam Ondra casually dropped into Siurana, Spain. The 5-day visit produced a laundry list of high-standard onsights — but no success on his project.

When most climbers hit the crag as a respite between business engagements, not much happens. You’ve probably done it — maybe your mind is elsewhere, or you’re just cumulatively tired from meetings and screen time.

On a recent visit to Siurana, Adam Ondra showed he might actually experience similar fatigue, albeit at his insanely high standard.

On Jan. 23, he posted the trip results. He walked away with the fourth ascent of Will Bosi’s “La Furia de Jabali” (an explosive, crimpy 9a+/5.15a), couldn’t send “King Capella” (9b/5.15b), and onsighted almost everything else he walked up to.


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Here’s the tick list:

  • “La Furia de Jabali” 9a+/5.15a, 3rd go
  • “Palindrom” 8c/5.14b onsight (hanging the quickdraws)
  • “La Pequena Mowgli” 8b+/5.14a onsight (hanging the quickdraws)
  • “Les tres tristes triceps” 8b/5.13d onsight
  • “Pa la China” 8a+/5.13c onsight
  • “Sensacions” 8a+/5.13c onsight
  • “Mauthausen” 8c/5.14b 2nd go
  • “Mr. Cheki” 8b+/5.14a 2nd go

It’s a solid list, if populated by ascents we’d largely expect from Ondra at this point. Onsighting consistently at the 5.14 threshold is the exclusive realm of the steel-tendoned and well-practiced.

The list is remarkable, though, for what it lacks: the “King Capella” repeat Ondra sought. He used vague terms to report that the route spat him off. “[It] threw me down numerous times in the crux move,” he wrote.

Like “Furia,” repeaters recently downgraded “King Capella.” Its original 9b+/5.15c grade made it one of a handful of routes to get the second-hardest difficulty rating in the world. Then, Alexander Megos and Jakob Schubert both dispatched it with short efforts late last year. A downgrade to 9b/5.15b and a still-percolating dialogue about the efficacy of grades ensued.

What does the rare non-ascent mean for Adam Ondra? Almost exactly nothing; he’s still the de facto king of the hill, as the only person to climb both of the world’s 9c/5.15d routes.

Adam Ondra on "Silence"
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The week before Christmas was a busy one for Adam Ondra. On Thursday, Dec. 23, he added another 5.15b first ascent to his tick list. Read more…

For his part, the screaming Czech appears singularly unconcerned. Recently, he got together with Magnus Midtbø to talk about who he thinks is stronger than him (while making a 9a+/5.14d first ascent).

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.