Adam Ondra in the thick of it on the Dawn Wall
- Wednesday 5th August 2020 at 7.37pm
Oct 21st; 2016
Adam Ondra has travelled to the US and is now firmly ensconced on the Dawn Wall.
Adam Ondra on one of the early pitches of the Dawn Wall. Photo Heinz Zak
Following the epic first ascent of the Dawn Wall by Tommy Cauldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, , Ondra went onto the record saying that he was interested in trying the route. And now that he’s finished his studies Ondra has packed his bags and headed over there for a six-week stint. Ondra needs no introduction to the world of sport climbing and although he’s no stranger to multi-pitch climbs he’s got very little or no big wall, trad climbing or crack climbing experience. To compound these issues, Yosemite is well-known for being a different ball-game and many find the climbing and grades pretty challenging. It appears however that Ondra spent a few days in the Valley acquiring some much needed new skills before setting foot on the Dawn Wall. That said however, in comparison with the Yosemite experience that Tommy Cauldwell had before setting foot onto the Dawn Wall, Ondra is virtually straight out of kinder garden!
Ondra clearly knows that he has taken on a massive challenge – his comments to his sponsor Black Diamond confirm that; “First day on the big wall in Yosemite, and straight onto the Dawn Wall! Foolishness, lack of respect or boldness?” He clarifies his thinking; “The Dawn Wall just dries up quickly after the huge rain on Sunday. And it went all right.”
Ondra getting stuck into the Dawn Wall. Photo Heinz Zak
Ondra reported back to BD on his first day on the Dawn Wall: “Definitely scary and adventurous. Tiny footholds and insecure climbing, smearing my feet onto glassy footholds of Yosemite granite and all that with poor protection by copperheads, peckers, tiny cams and occasional bolts. I ripped some copperheads, took some falls but made it to the top of pitch 7 and fixed our ropes. Leading the pitches with all the fear definitely felt super hard, but once I had the rope from above, the moves felt OK. But grades on the Dawn Wall are definitely not overrated. Great success for today and 5 pitches to go tomorrow to have our ropes fixed under the crux pitches.”
Yet his enthusiasm and his talent was being held back by his lack of Yosemite experience as his comments after Day 2 show: “We started pretty late yesterday and the fact we are very inexperienced was obvious right from the beginning - I did a lot of jugging up in my life, but only sport climbing and always using one GriGri and one ascender. Bad technique resulted in being super slow and tired after having jugged up the first 7 pitches. It was 3.30 PM by that time, so I managed to get to the top of pitch 10 until it got dark. It was quite intense, a lot of bold climbing again, especially on pitch 10, which is another horrendous layback with poor protection, but combination of aid climbing, french freeing and fear made me go to the top with none of my pieces of pro being ripped off. I did not feel like going for more adventure in the dark, so we just fixed our ropes and I tried pitch 7, 8 and 10 (5.14a, 13d and 14a) on the top rope with head lamp. These pitches are not only bold, but freaking hard too! Definitely no easy grades for these ones, Tommy and Kevin are tough guys! I tried the moves all over again to get some confidence and we got back to the camp by 12.30 at night. Big day for sure.”
The latest reports – on Rock and Ice here – suggest that Ondra has now progressed further up the route to around pitch 15 which is the crucial pitch which stopped Kevin Jorgeson for so long. Rock and Ice suggest that Ondra will be working the pitches as well as fixing ropes for his team.
Veteran climber / photographer Heinz Zak is alongside Adam and shooting the action.
Watch this space for more details…