Published on: 01/26/2022
Regarded as one of the best rock climbers to ever exist, Adam Ondra has won world championships, world cups, and an incredible number of gold medals.
As one of the most prominent lead climbers and boulderers today, Ondra was the first to free climb a 5.15+. He has taken on every difficult route worldwide and has completed a total of 1,550, ranging from 5.13b to 5.15d.
Adam Ondra has successfully climbed 3 of the 4 hardest routes in existence with incredible speed and efficiency.
Who is Adam Ondra?
Adam Ondra is a globally recognized rock climber, boulderer, and lead climber. He is highly talented, incredibly flexible, and physically strong. He is considered an extreme athlete on many levels.
Adam Ondra: Climber
Adam Ondra is a professional Czech rock climber. Born in February of 1993, Ondra began climbing and bouldering at three years old, but his climbing career truly began at six. Adam’s parents, who introduced him to the sport, were both passionate about climbing themselves. They traveled and camped across Europe during Adam’s childhood which sparked his initial love for outdoor climbing.
Adam’s first successful route was a 5.10a, a decently easy climb with bolts placed every foot and a half. As he began to get more serious about climbing and bouldering and master more difficult routes, others noticed his abilities. It wasn’t too long before climbing magazines recognized him as an up-and-coming young climber; more than that, a climbing prodigy.
All climbing and bouldering use a grading system.
For bouldering, the ‘V’ scale is universally recognized and used. The easiest grade in bouldering is a VB or VO. The number after the V increases as problems become harder and can go all the way up to V17, which is currently the most difficult grade on the scale.
For sport climbing or lead, the American grading system includes 5 climbing categories total, ranging from grade 1, hiking on an incline, up to grade 5, which involves scaling a verticle wall. This is why you see that every climbing route grade starts with a 5 and is followed by a decimal point. The numbers following the decimal are important and give further details on how difficult the climb is.
For categories within the decimal point markings, 5.0 to 5.7 is considered easy, 5.8 to 5.10 is deemed to be intermediate, 5.11 to 5.12 is hard, and anything 5.13 and above can only be accomplished by the few elite.
The numbers after the decimals can also include small letters that can further give details on the difficulty scale of that particular climb. A route labeled ‘a’ tends to be on the lower or easier end and a route marked ‘d’ would indicate that it is closer to the route’s difficulty level the next grade up. These small letters are not always added to the rating.
The hardest route that currently exists is a 5.15d named Silence located in Norway. The creation of this route has pushed all routes in history out of the limelight. It was graded, established, and climbed by none other than Adam Ondra.
Adam’s Early Career
At the age of eight, Adam was able to onsight 5.12c routes. To onsight a climb is to complete a lead route without prior knowledge of any beta beforehand. At age nine, he could onsight a 5.13a and redpoint a 5.13b. To redpoint means to free climb a route after having top roped it.
As Adam grew older, he became stronger, and at 13 years old, he was able to redpoint his first 5.14d, instantly making him one of the best. Adam then competed in and won the IFSC World Youth Championship the following two years in a row.
Adam Ondra competed in the Lead Climbing World Cup for the first time at sixteen. He placed above two older climbers, Paxti Usobiaga and Sachi Amma, and walked away with a gold medal. Since the beginning of his climbing career, Adam has won almost every competition he has entered.
Although he prides himself in indoor and outdoor lead climbs, Adam is also an avid and acclaimed boulderer. He has flashed a V14 bouldering problem and become the first ever to do so. Adam set the first V16, which are some of the hardest bouldering problems in existence.
Adam founded a business called AO Production, his shop that sells signed postcards, prints, and photobooks. Several climbing gear companies sponsor him, including Black Diamond and La Sportiva.
Throughout his professional career, Adam Ondra has accumulated an incredible amount of titles and medals. He has competed at 20+ World Cups, several World Championships, and the 2021 Tokyo Olympic games. Adam has won a total of 18 gold medals and 33 combined medals in his 21 years of climbing. While accomplishing these feats, he was also training to climb the hardest routes around the globe.
Ondra often enters indoor climbing competitions. In 2010 he won the Bouldering World Cup, competing with the best climbers in the world. For this competition, he holds the record as the only men’s competitor to win both the bouldering and lead climbing world championships in the same year.
Olympic Speed Climbing
Ondra qualified and competed at the Tokyo Summer Olympics on the Czech Republic’s team. The Olympic climbing medal is scored based on three parts: lead climbing, bouldering, and speed climbing. Although Adam was aiming for gold, he did not win but placed 6th overall for the men.
Speed climbing is sprinting up a wall, and to Adam, climbing is more about problem solving and creativity as opposed to the muscle memory needed and used in speed climbing. Speed climbing requires explosive moves at an extremely quick pace, and every speed climbing course is essentially the same.
Ondra has won three world championship titles in sport. With a gold medal in 2014, 2016, and 2019, he’s the first to have taken home the gold for two separate disciplines in one year.
Ondra lives to compete. He outshines in lead competitions and usually walks away with a win, if not placing top three. He competed in the IFSC combined world championships in 2019 as an Olympic qualifier. Unfortunately, he failed to qualify for the finals due to an appeal but qualified for the Tokyo Summer Olympics games in a later competition.
Ondra is arguably the best climber of all time. He lives to compete among the best and complete the world’s hardest routes indoors and out. Many of his most notable climbs tackle the hardest outdoor climbs ever created, such as the Dawn Wall in Yosemite and extremely difficult routes like Super Crackinette, Silence, and Change. Visit Adam’s website for a full list of every wall he has successfully scaled, including their climbing grades.
Adam Ondra’s 5 Most Notable Climbing Feats
Adam has successfully climbed countless walls and boulders. Let’s touch on the five most notable feats of his career thus far.
The Dawn Wall
The Dawn Wall is a multi-pitch 5.14d on El Capitan in the heart of Yosemite National Park. It measures around 3,000ft from top to bottom, and many consider it the most difficult big wall climb in the world. This wall sits on the Southeast face of El Capitan and is a 32-pitch climb in total. This slick slab of granite and most of the rock itself had been untouched by any climber before.
Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson made the first free ascent of The Dawn Wall in 2015. After five years of research and practice, these two American climbers spent 19 days completing the route.
In November 2016, Ondra completed the second free ascent ever in only 8 days after 3 weeks of learning the beta. This was also his first visit to Yosemite. Ondra has since repeated The Wall more than once, which is a feat in and of itself.
Adam flashed Super Crackinette, a 5.15a in St Leger Du Ventoux, France, in February 2018. This was the very first 5.15a to be flashed in history. Flashing a boulder problem or route is when you complete and execute the moves on your first try after learning information about it beforehand.
Ondra flashed this route with ease and claims the route doesn’t contain any real crux. The wall features 20 meters of crimps and flashing. It is considered Ondra’s latest great achievement.
Hanshelleren Cave, in Flatanger, Norway, is a giant climbing wall that is constantly undergoing development. There are about forty bolted routes here currently. This wall holds the first appointed 5.15c route, named Change. A 5.15c is one of the most difficult sport climbs to this day. Ondra himself set the route, and in October of 2012, he free climbed it.
In September 2017, Adam scaled the route Silence in the Hanshelleren Cave. No other climber had ever completed this extremely hard climb before Ondra. Previously known as Project Hard, Silence was the first route to be given a grade of 5.15d. Ondra finished bolting the route in 2013 as it was left unfinished in 2011 due to how difficult it was. Adam Ondra took on the challenge and sent the world’s first 5.15d. This is considered the hardest climb ever recorded on film to date.
The Hardest Indoor Sport Route
The Black Diamond Project, the world’s hardest indoor sport route, is located in Stockholm, Sweden. In April 2017, Ondra set a new highpoint on the route. A highpoint is reaching the highest elevation on a route. This route has yet to be successfully topped out, yet he has set the newest highpoint in hopes of being successful one day. Adam continually seeks to successfully climb the toughest indoor sport route.
Frequently Asked Questions
Alex Hannold believes that Adam Ondra is the best climber worldwide. Many people believe Ondra is both the best indoor and outdoor climber. “He’s rewritten climbing the past 10 years,” stated Hannold.
Currently, Adam Ondra is the best climber that has possibly ever graced the Earth. His efficiency, energy-saving abilities, quick movements, and incredible capability to keep as much weight off his hands as possible put him in a league of his own. In competitions, he often seems to be on a completely different planet, proving his skills to be far above the rest.
Ondra is 6 ‘1″ (1.86m). Interestingly enough, Adam has a +1 centimeter ape index, meaning his fingertip wingspan is 1 centimeter taller than his 6-foot 1-inch height. Adam also has extremely strong fingers. His one hand peak finger force is measured on a 20 mm hold, which is about 110% of his body weight. If over 100%, you’ve achieved elite finger strength status. Also, his extremely long neck acts as a lever that ultimately gives him outstanding balance. When he tilts his head back while climbing, the added leverage serves as his center of gravity.
Ondra often competes in World Cups and World Championships. At any given one, you’re likely to see him flash a route or two with extreme ease. Many of his incredible climbs are available to watch on YouTube. Search ‘Adam Ondra,’ and you’re bound to find hundreds of videos, including Ondra climbing Silence, the world’s hardest route, and a recent 5.15 climb, the world’s hardest flash. You can also watch Ondra in Season 5 of Reel Rock, which follows the world’s best climbers. It highlights Ondra’s desire to flash betas.
Find Adam at adam.ondra on Instagram. His social media account contains training, bouldering, and climbing videos, YouTube links, and merchandise you can purchase at his online store. Get to know him more as a person; check out glimpses of his life as a husband, business owner, and the greatest climber of all time on Instagram.
Adam’s street size is EU 44 but he downsizes A LOT! When it comes to climbing shoes, he will wear a size 40 at most and can go as low as 38. He most likely has his reasons (and being Adam Ondra he can do whatever he wants), but you probably don’t want to follow this example!
Adam Ondra is famous for his talent, strength, determination, and active love for the sport itself. These combined traits have made Ondra the leading climber and boulderer today. Through watching and learning from people like Ondra, we know that building up physical strength and spending time learning and practicing can bring great rewards.
“I live to climb, I climb to feel alive.”Adam Ondra