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Ondra on Fire, Onsights Fourth Lifetime 9a/5.14d

Adam Ondra(Photo/Petr Chodura)
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Adam Ondra’s having a pretty good holiday season on rock. Tuesday, he punched out one of the ‘proudest achievements’ of his absurdly successful climbing life.

For awhile, it seemed like the world’s strongest rock climber was either fading or underperforming. While Seb Bouin spent most of 2022 repeating routes at Flatanger, Norway, and in California, and establishing gaudy routes of his own, Adam Ondra seemed somewhat dormant.

Well, that ceased to be the case abruptly.

Yesterday, the Czech icon pocketed an onsight of “Water World,” 9a/5.14d in Slovenia’s Osp Cave. The success served to follow up on a V15/16 first ascent on Nov. 23, and a 5.15c first ascent he called the second-hardest route of his life on Nov. 20.

Describing “Water World” to 8a.nu, Ondra assessed it’s “possibly not the hardest” climb at the grade, but also gave the opinion that the movement is unobvious.


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In the same 8a.nu post, the outlet tallied the 29-year-old’s onsights at the 5.14a (8b+) threshold and harder: 193. The next-closest climber on the list? 8a.nu pointed to Piotr Schab, who has 31 — and zero harder than 5.14b.

“Water World” marks the fourth time that Ondra has onsighted 5.14d, but it’s the first time he’s pulled it off in 8 years. In 2014, he ticked two onsights at the grade: “Il Domani” in Baltzola, Spain, and “TCT” in Gravere, Italy (which Stefano Ghisolfi had only recently finished putting up). His other onsight at the grade is “Cabane au Canada,” though he has “suggested” it might be 5.14c, according to Gripped.

Ondra is also the only human ever to flash 5.15a. He set that (ridiculously high) standard on “Super Crackinette” in Saint-Léger du Ventoux, France, in 2018.

Speaking to the conditions and character of his “Water World” first ascent on Instagram, Ondra called it a “rare moment” and “one of my proudest achievements.”

In an article on Explorersweb this spring, I suggested that Adam Ondra might be trading in the limelight for the dad life. Instead, he’s living in both worlds pretty comfortably.

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Want to help Ukraine relief efforts — and also get some one-of-a-kind climbing holds made by Ondra himself? The auction kicks off on Oct. 17. Read more…

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