Adam Ondra travelled to Yosemite to onsight Salathe Wall, one of the most famous El Cap big wall routes.
Less than 100 metres from the top, he fell on the crux 5.13c pitch. Falling after 800 metres of strong onsighting up to 5.13 trad is hard to watch.
The first ascent of the route was by Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt and Tom Frost over nine and a half days in September 1961.
Twenty years ago, Yuji Hirayama, climbed Salathe with only two falls, both on 5.13 pitches.
While in Yosemite, Ondra also sent Randy Leavitt’s single-pitch 5.13d Book of Hate, with an onsight of the Cosmic Debris 5.13b and a repeat of the Chris Sharma V13 boulder problem Dominated.
For Salathe, Ondra teamed up with Belgian El Cap pro Nicolas Favresse and started at 00:01 am. They reached the boulder problem at 7 a.m. and the Block Ledge 700 metres off the ground at 8:30 a.m.
Ondra onsighted the famous Enduro Corner 5.12d that led him to the most famous pitch of all, the Headwall.
In a heartbreaking moment, Ondra fell high on the pitch and again below the anchor.
“Salathe was a dream of mine for a long time,” said Ondra. “A dream of just being up there, feeling the air and exposure of the headwall, putting my hands into perfect cracks. And to onsight it.
“Some dreams came true yesterday, but the ultimate – the onsight is not fulfilled. And the nature of onsight is that it will never be fulfilled any more. It is only one try, lots of pressure in case of such a legendary route like Salathe in Yosemite on El Capitan.”