Adam Ondra

Adam Ondra

Interview with a climbing maniac

September 29 2009, 

On February the 5th 1993 Adam Ondra is born in Brno in the Czech Republic. Sixteen years later, Adam Ondra is one of the world’s leading young climbing talents. In 2007 as well as in 2008 he won both the European Cup and the World title in the Youth category. This year, in his first year as a Senior, he dominates the world competition circuit. Together with Johanna Ernst - born in Mittersill, Salzburg, Austria in 1992 - he scares the old guard shitless. But not only in competition climbing does the young Czech excel, he also seems to be a extremely talented rock climber. This year only he succeeded in climbing two 9a+ en six 9a routes.

On the World Cup in Puurs Adam Ondra took the time for a relaxed interview with Belclimb, just before entering the climbing competition arena.

A lot of people already know you, but how would you introduce yourself?

I’m a boy from the Czech Republic, I’m 16 years old and I would consider myself a climbing maniac. My parents are climbers. They started off more as alpinists, but they turned to sportclimbing later.  It were my parents who introduced me to the sport. I made my first moves when I was 4 years old but really started climbing when I was 6.

Congratulations on your latest first ascent, Fugu 9a at Schleierwasserfall. It’s one more ascent you can add to your really long list of great performances. Out of all these ascents do you consider Martin Krpan (first 9a - 2006) and La Rambla (First 9a+ - 2008) as your most important ascents in your evolution as a climber?

To be honest, I haven’t really thought about that…

What was until now your most beautiful, most rewarding performance ever?

Maybe… Speed. It’s an 8c+ in Voralpsee. It’s a perfect line on a perfect wall, 40m long, only 3m overhanging and all small holds. It’s a very technical route but nevertheless powerfull. Beat Kammerlander opened this route.

Do you consider Beat Kammerlander one of your idols or are there any other famous climbers you greatly admire?

Perhaps Wolfgang Güllich. When I was seven, I read Rockstars, Heinz Zak’s book on the best free rock climbers of the Nineties.  By reading this book, I got to know about Wolfgang Güllich quite soon and I think he inspired me.

What is your motivation for competition climbing?

This is the first year that I am allowed to compete with the seniors and I just wanted to give it a try. Until now, it seems very successful. I don’t consider myself to be a real competitive climber however. Maybe I’ll go on with this for two more years, maybe more, maybe less. I don’t like the fact that you are obliged to train on plastic. In the Czech Republic there aren’t really hard indoor routes and the biggest gym is more or less like Klimax I, so I mostly train on boulder circuits.

We saw you had a very good trip to Rocklands, South Africa. It looks like you’ve discovered bouldering only know. Is it turning into a new passion?

It’s not that I didn’t boulder before but it’s true that we had a very pleasant 5 days of bouldering over there. But bouldering… it’s simply not enough climbing for me. However, when the opportunity presents itself, I wont hesitate. In South Africa for example, my hosts decided after two weeks of sports climbing to go an do some bouldering.  We made lots of fun. I’ll go back over there, I think, but I prefer long lines since they feel more like climbing to me.

Do you believe that the progression in climbing grades will come to an end?

There’s still a lot of space to grow. Climbing as a real sport only started some 40 years ago, I think, so it still can be considered a young sport. I’m sure that the limits will be broken again and again. Maybe not by me but someone will do.

If not you, who will it be? Who do you consider to be the strongest climber? Chris Sharma perhaps?

Chris may be the strongest climber at this moment, but I don’t know about Ramonet and Patxi. If they would dedicate more time to rock climbing, who knows which new landmarks they would set for the sport.

Do you think that one day girls will be stronger climbers than boys ?

It’s true that the gap between both sexes isn’t that big in our sport. The only notable physical disadvantage I can think of, is the length difference. They’re all so small. That length issue really makes a difference.  If I look at myself 5 years ago compared to right now, I wouldn’t say that I’m stronger now. It’s just that I was not that tall right then.

A question from a Belgian Climber : How does it feel like when you’re climbing 9a?

I believe it feels the same as climbing 7a, if that is your personal limit. When you are  climbing, you don’t really have time to think about other things than the climb itself.

Any future plans you would like to share with us?

I won’t tell about upcoming projects because maybe I won’t succeed in finishing them.  If I have to name one climbing area that is on my wish list, then that would be Yosemite.

Ok, good luck in the finals and on the rocks!

PS: Adam ended the final with success. He won the WC in Puurs.
PS2: Many thanks to Philippe Maurel (Nice-climb.com) en Vojtech Vrzba for the pictures.


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Fortiche le garçon!



Goed to the point interview. Punt!


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