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Adam Ondra Fires First Repeat of ‘Trofeo dell’Adriatico’ (5.15a)

Adam Ondra climbingAdam Ondra climbing in the Balkans; (still image from Black Diamond's 2019 short film "Adam Ondra—The Balkans Road Trip")
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On January 29, Gabriele Moroni snagged the first free ascent of ‘Trofeo dell’Adriatico’ 10 years after David Lama bolted it. Adam Ondra was quick to respond.

Moroni clipped the chains on Saturday; by Sunday, Adam Ondra had claimed a quick first repeat. Ondra reported that he used a hidden kneebar just before the crux to send the route.

It was the prolific Czech climber’s 70th route graded 5.15a/9a+ or harder. On the list of climbers with 5.15 sends, Ondra is alone at the top; Italian Stefano Ghisolfi is next on the 8a.nu list with 24.

“Amazing line, one of the best in the grade. Great vision by David [Lama] for bolting and a lot of work by Gabri [Moroni] to clean and send it,” Ondra said via 8a.nu. “I found a kneebar just before the crux that makes the route a bit easier, but still 9a+ for sure.”

He also credited Moroni for sending the route without the kneebar. Ondra thought bypassing the technique made the route significantly harder than the way he climbed it.

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David Lama’s Legend, and “Trofeo dell’Adriatico’s” Unique Legacy

David Lama’s climbing accomplishments speak for themselves. The Austrian first broke onto the national scene as an indoor competition climber. He quickly climbed out of the gym, though — at 14 years old in 2004, he won the European Youth Cup and ticked his first 5.14c/8b route on real rock.

In 2008, he won the overall IFSC Climbing World Cup. But in 2011, he left the comp scene behind to focus on mountaineering full-time. Gritty ascents of Cerro Torre (free) and Luang Ri (first ascent, solo) won him acclaim throughout the climbing world and the 2013 National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” award.

On April 16, 2019, an avalanche swept him, Jess Roskelly, and Hansjörg Auer off the Canadian Rockies’ Howse Peak to their deaths.

Moroni said Lama told him he should give “Trofeo dell’Adriatico” a try after bolting it but running out of time to send it himself. Moroni was a young gym climber when the route first went up. He said that he finally got the opportunity to try the route after Italy’s first COVID-19 lockdown ended in 2020.

It’s possible that the local climbing community saved the first ascent for Moroni. Via Instagram, he reported, “Some days I felt the urge to do it as soon as possible because I really wanted other people to try and enjoy this perfect piece of rock! But on the other side, I really wanted to be the first to do it in honor of David.”


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A post shared by Gabriele Moroni (@gabrimoroni)

Ondra again pointed to Moroni’s significant cleaning work (which spanned three sessions, according to Moroni) as he concluded the debrief of his second ascent.

“I tried it some years ago when it was still a project and totally dirty,” Ondra said. “[T]his year I was really close to sending [it on my] first day, but in the end, I had to wait for another day with fresh skin and power.”

On his last planned burn of the day before a rest, he clipped the chains.

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