Adam Ondra: The Best Climber in the World

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023

Bio

Adam Ondra is one of the best rock climbers of this generation and is currently the best in the world. He is from Brno, Czech Republic, and has been called the “best climber ever” (The Economist) and a prodigy who has become quite famous in the rock climbing world. As a child, he started climbing at the age of six years old and with the support of his climbing parents, he rose to fame quickly. He appeared in climbing magazines and to this day he is still accomplishing some of the most impressive accomplishments in the climbing field.

He holds an incredible number of “firsts” in his climbing career. Some examples are:

  • First to redpoint a 9c (Silence) – 2017
  • First to redpoint a 9b+ (Change) – 2012
  • First to flash a 9a+ (Supercrackinette) – 2018
  • First male athlete to win both the Lead Climbing World Cup (2009, 2015, 2019) and the Bouldering World Cup (2010)
  • First and only male athlete who won titles the World Championships in both disciplines (lead and bouldering) in the same year – 2014
  • He’s also had so many first ascents that it’s nearly impossible to list them all in one place.

Stats:

Height: 6’1”
DOB: 02/05/1993
Ape Index: 1.01 / +0.4″
Started Climbing: 1999
Ascents: 1773 sport + 493 boulders
Average Grade: 8b+

In the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Adam was able to compete but finished in sixth place. This was the first time sport climbing made an Olympic debut, and he’s currently training for a second appearance in 2024 in Paris. This time, the Games will be separated into two categories, speed climbing and bouldering or lead climbing. We’ll see if 2024 holds plans for an Olympic medal (maybe even a gold medal?) for Ondra.

In 2023, he released an awesome video revealing the secrets behind the scream that he’s so well known for. The video is well worth the watch.

Outside of his climbing career, Ondra married long time girlfriend Iva Ondra on September 1st, 2021. In May of 2022, they welcomed their first child, Hugo.

Ondra still continues to climb and is working on some of the world’s toughest climbs, including Excalibur and Project BIG. He’s won 18 gold medals, in his 26 years of climbing and has completed 201 routes that are grade 9a and harder.

For recent information about what he’s up to, you can follow along with him on social media:

Notable Climbs

Adam Ondra has an insane amount of notable accomplishments, but we’ve selected the top ones and put them in order from most recent to further past. Spoiler alert: he’s is way better at real climbing than everyone else so there’s a lot.

Super Crackinette (9a+/5.15a) – 2018

In France in 2018, Ondra flashed Super Crackinette (9a+/5.15a), completing the second ascent of the route and the first (and only) flash ascent of a 9a+. Adam said on his website: the “route is a dream, the ascent was a dream.” There’s a great video of that day by Reel Rock.

Silence (9c 5.15d) – 2017

Until recently, Adam Ondra was the first person and only climber to have sent 9c, the hardest route in the world. It’s called Silence in Flatanger, Norway, and it took him more than five years to climb it from the time he bolted it. To complete the Crux 1, he took five trips to Norway in 2016 and 2017, had eight weeks of training with three sessions per day, and a total of about 70 hours of trying the crux.

If you have twenty minutes to spare, the video is definitely worth the watch.

The Dawn Wall on El Capitan – 2016

Often called the hardest and longest free climb in the world, the Dawn Wall is located in Yosemite National Park in California. Twenty-three year-old Ondra claimed the 2nd free ascent in November of 2016, after eight days of camping and spending time on the wall. There’s a detailed full write up on Adam’s experience here at Climbing.com. The route was redpointed by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson a year earlier, but their ascent took 19 days.

First Ascent of 120 Degrees (9a) in Flatanger – 2016

Adam has spent a lot of time in Flatanger Cave in Norway (as you’ll see in previous climbs on this list – there’s quite a few here) and has several first ascents. In 2016, he claimed FA on 120 Degrees and onsighted two 8b+’s and one 8a+ (Crack the Back, Froskekongen, and Open Shoulders).

First Ascent of 5.15a/b in Slovenia and Croatia’s First 5.14d – 2016

On a short trip to Slovenia and Croatia, Adam established the hardest route in each country over the course of only four days. Vicious Circle (5.15a/b) is located in Misja Pec in Slovenia and Adam had says it’s “super powerful and resistant climbing.” The next day, at Medveja, Croatia, he onsighted The Core (5.14d) but suggested it was at most a 5.14b/c, and also onsighted Outdoorfingerspiele (5.14b). Continuing on his trip, Adam made the first ascent of More (5.14d) on this third attempt and it became the country’s first true 5.14d.

2nd Ascent of Sharma’s Stoking the Fire (5.15b) – 2016

At the time, Stoking the Fire was one of two unrepeated Chris Sharma routes in Santa Linya cave in Spain, and Adam claimed the 2nd ascent back in 2016. It took over a year, but after a couple visits he was able to clip the chains. After this climb, it seemed as if he had done almost every 5.15b and 5.15c available, so the climbing community was anxious to see what would come next for the leading climber in the world.

5.15a FA for Ondra: Predator – 2015

After several 5.15a first ascents for Adam, Predator (5.15a) seemed like no big deal. He posted on 8a.nu that he spent one day on it one month previous to this attempt, then sent it in 30 minutes on his second go. The new route is in his home country of the Czech Republic at the crag Srbsko.

New 5.15b in France C.R.S. – 2015

After a few months of flying under the radar post-Three Degrees, Adam’s name popped up again in climbing news as he claimed the first ascent of a new 5.15b route in South France called C.R.S. It was bolted by Seb Bouin and Adam called it the “ultimate power endurance testpiece, combining desperately physical overhang with extremely thin holds on the very top.”

2nd Ascent of Three Degrees of Separation (5.15a) – 2015

Another Chris Sharma route, Three Degrees of Separation was originally thought to be a 5.14d, but after Adam claimed the 2nd ascent he suggested it was a 5.15a because of “three massive dynos into perfect jugs” (dynos are a type of jump) that were made more difficult by getting pumped out on the previous 20 meters. This route was previously on Adam’s list of “The Routes I Cannot Climb” in an old Planet Mountain interview but he was able to send it, taking advantage of his height in those difficult dynos.

adam ondra
Photo: Pierre Delas/Kairn

Flashes Jade (V14) in Colorado – 2015

A few days after White Noise, he flashed Jade (V14) in Rocky Mountain National Park. He had just placed third in the Vail World Cup then completed the “hardest flash in the world” (quote by Dave Graham). He also flashed Don’t Get Too Greedy (V13) while he was there, both of which he had hiked to before heading to the airport.

White Noise (V14/15) in Colorado – 2015

While in the Vail, Colorado, area for the World Cup bouldering competition, Adam visited Rocky Mountain National Park, where he sent White Noise (V14/15) in only a handful of tries and flashed Bear Toss (v13). These quick ascents were quite impressive, especially right before the competition.

Necessary Evil (5.15c) – /2015

As part of a rare American trip from Ondra, he spent some time in Squamish (British Columbia) and Las Vegas, Nevada. In Squamish, he made a valiant flash attempt of Dreamcatcher (5.14d) but a wet finger lock prevented his send. He then went south to Las Vegas where he was able to pull off a quick send of Necessary Evil after a failed onsight attempt (5.15c).

Another 9a Onsight – TCT in 2014

In Gravere, Italy, Adam onsighted his 3rd 9a/5.14d with TCT. It stands for Tito Claudio Traversa and stands as a tribute to the young climber who was killed in 2013 in a tragic accident. The route was established only a month prior by Stefano Ghisolfi.

Photo by: Petr Chodura

First Round, First Minute…First Repeat (5.15b) – 2014

In early 2014, Adam Ondra claimed the 2nd ascent of First Round, First Minute (5.15b), a short, power route first climbed by Chris Sharma in 2011. Ondra had visited a couple of times over the years, but consistently ran out of time before completion and made it his 2014 goal. Including this route, Ondra had climbed thirty 5.15 routes, nine of which are 5.15b and three 5.15c.

Sends Biographie (5.15a) and Onsights Another 5.14c – 2014

In between the World Cup competitions in 2014 (where he won in bold lead climbing and bouldering), Adam took a few days to finally finish off and ascend Biographie (5.15a) in France. This was two years after his flash attempt but it ended up taking him about ten tries since then. This was the 13th ascent the route by Chris Sharma all the way back in 2001. During this time, Adam also onsighted Superplafond (5.14c), which was his eighteenth 5.14c or harder onsight.

Another 5.15b/c in Norway – 2013

In 2013, Adam had another successful trip to Flatanger Cave in Norway. He claimed the first ascent of Move (5.15b/c), which was his fourth route creation in the cave behind Thor’s Hammer (5.15a), Iron Curtain (5.15b), and Change (5.15c). Incredibly, this was Ondra’s 26th 5.15 ascent, sixteen of which were first ascents.

Another 5.14d First Ascent for Ondra – 2013

Back in Norway’s Flatanger Cave after his ascent of The Change in 2012, Adam Ondra bolted and sent four new routes – 5.13b, 5.14a, 5.14c, and his new route Illusionist (5.14d). This was quite a productive time period, but his climbing partner Petr Pavlíček said it was “just a little warm up” before the “really super hard projects.

Sends La Dura Dura (5.15c) – 2013

At the time, La Dura Dura (5.15c) was considered the world’s hardest sport route, and it took Adam five trips and nine weeks of effort. Located in Oliana, Spain, the route received a proposed grade of 9b+ (5.15c) and he said that it felt harder than his Change route in Norway.

Adam Ondra sending La Dura Dura

Two 5.14 Onsights – Pure Imagination and Golden Ticket – 2012

While he was in Red River Gorge for Southern Smoke Direct (5.14d), Adam also successfully onsighted Pure Imagination and Golden Ticket (5.14d). Though both were estimated to be 5.14d, Adam suggested low end 5.14c for Pure Imagination and high end 5.14c for Golden Ticket.

open air
Photo: Ales Rozsypal

Flashed 5.14d/15a – Southern Smoke Direct in 2012

Adam was the first climber to flash a 5.14d and he chose Southern Smoke Direct in Red River Gorge. This was only the second ascent of this boulder problem that was established by Adam Taylor in 2011. While on this trip to the Red, Adam Ondra also was able to onsight Omaha Beach, Transworld Depravity (both 5.14a) and many other routes in Madness Cave.

Sends 5.15c in Norway The Change – 2012

Ten weeks after Adam Ondra sent the first half of The Change, he tried again and made it through the first 5.15c. Located in Norway’s Flatanger Cave, the route almost didn’t allow Adam to finish, and he kept slipping on some wet crimps near the finish. They almost called it and said they would come again for another visit, but the rocks dried out and Adam was able to send what became the hardest route in the world at the time.

More From Norway: Nordic Flower (5.14d) and Others – 2012

One day after The Eye of Odin (5.14c), Ondra had some great accomplishments in Norway. He pulled off an onsight of Nordic Flower (5.14d) and had brought along 30 quickdraws for the 55 meter route. He said “I was so heavy at the beginning that it felt like a crux.” On this trip, he had also put up Thor’s Hammer (5.15a), as well as Norway’s hardest boulder problem Blood Redemption (V14/15)

The Eye of Odin (5.14c) – Adam Does His Thing in Norway – 2012

Just a few days prior, Eye of Odin (5.14c) had its first ascent reported. It took three of the best sport climbers working together to get first ascent (first sent by Ethan Pringle then Dani Andrada). Pringle was quoted saying “the wizard” (Adam Ondra) “will onsight it,” which came true a few days later when Adam onsighted it. This was Adam’s 10th 5.14c onsight, not including the ones that he downgraded to 5.14b.

Flash Attempt of Biographie (5.15a) – 2012

In one of the most watched flash attempts, Adam tried his hand at Biographie (5.15a) in France. There was lots of people at the crag, as well as a slew of others watching through Facebook and Twitter feeds. Unfortunately, Adam would fail this flash, but would return for completion in summer of 2014 while he was in between competitions.

To Tu Ještě Nebylo 5.14d First Ascent – 2012

Adam Ondra’s first ascent of To Tu Ještě Nebylo (5.14d) in the Elbsandstein wasn’t necessarily anything new, but he made news for bolting it on lead instead of rappelling down like normal. This area is one of the oldest free climbing arenas in the world and has a strict code of ethics that Adam respectfully followed. He took several lead falls with a power drill in hand, but Adam stepped up to the challenge for sure.

2nd Ascent of Gioia (V16) – 2011

Gioia means “joy” and the boulder problem is located in Varazze, Italy. First established by Christian Core in 2008, Adam was the first climber to successfully repeat it, even after several attempts by some of the strongest climbers. In 2011, this was potentially the hardest problem in the world.

Another 5.14c Onsight – L’Avaro in 2011

After failing to quality for finals at the 2011 IFSC Lead World Cup but before heading to the World Championships in Arco, Italy, Adam stopped by for some climbing. He was able to onsight his seventh 5.14c, L’Avaro, at the Italian crag Tetto di Sarre.

Second Ascent of Overshadow (5.15a) – 2011

After a total of seven days of effort, Adam Ondra completed the second ascent of Steve Mclure’s Overshadow (5.15a). Located at Malham Cove, UK, the route didn’t come easy for Adam and he agreed with the original suggestion of 5.15a. During this visit, Ondra also claimed the 2nd ascent of Rainshadow (9a – first repeat since 2003), climbed the first ever 8c onsight in the UK on Bat Route (7b to 8a+ headwall), and almost got the first repeat of Total Eclipse (8c+/9a).

References

  • Wikipedia
  • Planet Mountain
  • AdamOndra.com
  • Climbing.com

Cover photo from AdamOndra.com, quote by Ondra added afterwards.

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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