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Adam Ondra Nears Top of Dawn Wall All Free!

Adam Ondra has sent the most difficult pitches on the Dawn Wall up to 5.14d. He only has 11 pitches up to 5.12 left. He has downgraded some pitches and noted that he sent the 5.13d pitch 18 in the dark without working on it much. He climbed the lower half of the route in two days before a rest day. On day four, he noted, “I still felt a lot of pressure, as I knew that sending pitch 14 is almost a must,” wrote Ondra on Instagram. “But today, my mindset was different. I tried to make jokes, being relaxed and focused only just before the climbing. I was lucky enough to be precise and send pitch 14 (5.14d) on my first go after a little warm up.”

He then climbed pitch 15, a long 5.14c/d with a 5.13c intro. “After chalking up the holds, I had a heartbreaking fall, a few moves below the jug of glory and I had to face a hard decision. Should I give it one more try and try risk cutting my skin open or wait for tomorrow?” wrote Ondra. “It was rather unsure whether my skin would be better the next day. I took the first option. I started climbing again and despite feeling strong, my skin was really soft and sweaty.

“On the jug below the boulder problem, I almost thought my decision was wrong. I kept going nevertheless and somehow made it through the crux, where I had to improvise with my beta, as I was unable to reach with my foot all the way due to my sliding fingers from the razorblades. Getting to the anchor was emotional of course.” Ondra took the rest of day five off after his big sends.

On day six, he climbed the loop pitch with some 5.14 downclimbing that avoids the dyno section. Ondra planned on linking it with pitch 17 to make a 60-metre 5.14c, but he stopped at the end of the original pitch 16. “The loop pitch is an extremely hard pitch mentally,” said Ondra. “The down-climb is awkward, powerful and insecure and is the crux of the pitch for sure. At the bottom of the loop, there is a good ledge, but I could not sit down. As you start climbing, you get into a tiny layback with pin-scars, which is super easy to slip on.

“This section is probably at 5.13c, but it is really devastating if you slip and have to climb the down-climb again. I was lucky to fight through the down-climb, took a rest at the ledge and climbed super carefully through the layback into the no-hands stance—the end of the loop/dyno pitch.” It took Ondra 45 minutes to send it and then he took a short rest before sending pitch 17.

“In the next 4 hours, I climbed pitch 18 (5.13c) in possibly the biggest fight of the day,” wrote Ondra. “My feet were so painful and weak that I was shaking so badly on the second half of the pitch. But I made it. Pitch 19 is very short and bouldery (5.13c, but I think 5.13b is better) and pitch 20 (5.13c—one of the best pitches on the wall) went very smooth. Pitch 21 (5.13d) is the last hard pitch. I had never worked on this pitch very carefully and it got dark in the meantime. I switched on my headlamp and headed towards the Wino Tower. I climbed slowly, took my time and hoped I would not pump out.”

By 6 p.m., he was on top of Wino Tower. With less than a dozen pitches up to 5.12 left, Ondra will have to wait until the weather improves on Monday to attempt to finish. If he sends this week, he will have made the third free ascent of what many call the hardest big wall free-route in the world.