What do you consider to be a casual, non-serious climbing trip? Maybe it’s bouldering with your homies. Maybe it’s a few weeks of sport climbing on some Mediterranean island where the you end up spending as much time cragging as you do at the beach, drinking ouzo and snacking on roasted goat meat.
For Adam Ondra—who is between comp seasons, which apparently demand much more serious attention and focus—a casual climbing trip means going to the United States to try to onsight a few moderates …
Only in this case, “moderate” means the Salathé Wall on El Cap. 32 pitches, 5.13b. A crack-climber’s dream.
Had any other Euro showed up in Yosemite with a goal of onsighting the Salathe, we Americans would’ve scoffed and laughed. But Ondra earned mad street cred two years ago when he swooped in and completed the second ascent of the Dawn Wall in less time than it takes me to get through a single issue of Alpinist.
On November 3, Ondra enlisted the belay and simul-climbing skills of Belgian badass Nico Favresse to join him in a single-push, sub-24-hour onsight attempt of the greatest crack climb on earth.
Leading everything, Ondra just cruised … He onsighted the Boulder problem pitch, the 12c roof, the monster off width—he got himself all the way up to the famous Headwall crux without a fall. However, his dream came up short. By then, there was no gas left in the tank, and he came away empty handed in some respects, but seemed to be just as happy and fulfilled to have gotten the opportunity to climb an amazing route like the Salathe. Who could argue with that?
This is Andrew Bisharat and I’m here with my co-host Chris Kalous, and we caught up with the Ondrasaurus himself to hear more about his magnificent failure on the Salathe.