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Adam Ondra Just Sent the Second Hardest Route of His Life

Ondra says the new route is upper-end 5.15c and the most difficult climb he's sent other than Silence 5.15d

Photo by: Petr Chodura

Today, Adam Ondra sent what he calls the “second hardest route of my life,” a first ascent of Zvěřinec 5.15c (9b+) at his home crag of Moravian Karst in Czechia. The route name translates to “menagerie,” and features two distinct halves, a 5.15a followed by a 5.15b.

The new route shares its upper portion with a previous route Ondra put up in 2011, Perlorodka. Originally graded 5.15a (9a+), Ondra believes the route is now more likely 5.15b. The route features a low-percentage, stout V14 crux with “reachy moves and desperate slapping of the completely rounded lip of the overhang.”

Zvěřinec includes this upper crux section of Perlorodka but begins with an alternate start, which Ondra says could be 5.15a in its own right. After struggling with poor conditions for two weeks, he took advantage of the high-friction 0°C day to send the route.

“Even though it’s 9b+ [5.15c], which is the same as Vasil Vasil, I think this is quite a bit harder, but I don’t think it’s hard enough to get a 9c [5.15d],” said Ondra in a voice recording sent to Gripped. ” I was projecting this route in April, as it’s close to home and my wife and I were expecting our baby boy, who was born at the start of May. It’s too hot in summer, so I returned this fall. November had cold nights and hot days, which meant the rock was cool and damp. Today, on November 20, it was around freezing during the day and overcast. The friction was good and thanks to having warmed up at home, I didn’t get any numbness in my fingers. I’m very happy to climb a 9b+ [5.15c] after a long time.”

According to his 8a.nu profile, this send marks Ondra’s 200th route 9a (5.14d) and above, a mind-blowing statistic. He climbed Silence 5.15d in 2017. He’s previously climbed three routes at the 5.15c grade, all first ascents: Change in Flatanger, Norway in 2011, La Dura Dura in Oliana, Spain in 2013, and Vasil Vasil in Czechia that same year.

Earlier this year he got the first ascent of Wonderland 5.15b, although he says the route is probably 5.15b/c. In addition to his 5.15c and 5.15d sends, Ondra has climbed 22 5.15bs, 47 5.15as, and 126 5.14ds.

“My home crag is important to me, as it’s the place where I spend a lot of my time and it’s been where I’ve made several milestones in my career,” said Ondra. “In 2007 when I was 14, I made the first ascent of the first 9a [5.14d] in the country and I then made the first ascent of the first 9a+ [5.15a] but looking back I think it’s a 9b [5.15b].” A video of the send will be released in 2023.

© Adam Ondra, Author: Petr Chodura
Lead photo: Petr Chodura