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Which 5.15c is Harder, Zvěřinec or Excalibur? Adam Ondra Weighs In

One route is long and pumpy, while the other is short and fierce

On November 20, 2022, Adam Ondra sent Zvěřinec 5.15c at his home crag of Moravian Karst in Czechia. He called the route the second hardest of his life, harder than Change 5.15c, La Dura Dura 5.15c, and Vasil Vasil 5.15c. The route name translates to “menagerie,” and features two distinct halves, a 5.15a followed by a 5.15b.

Excalibur 5.15c is a short bouldery route in Arco, Italy. Many of the world’s best climbers were projecting the route including, Ondra, Stefano Ghisolfi, and Will Bosi. Early last month, Ghisolfi made the first ascent of the route. Before Ghisolfi’s send, Ondra announced that he was walking away from the project due to the high potential for injury from the beta he was forced to used. The small holds required him to put his fingers in a scary tendon-compromising position.

Ondra has been getting questions about which route is harder, Zvěřinec or Excalibur. “I would say it’s very difficult to compare these two routes,” he said in response, via Instagram. “I would say they are pretty similar in terms of total difficulty.

“Yet, Excalibur, for me personally can be even harder, but I believe that Zvěřinec really fits my style. It’s a style which I basically started climbing with. I spent so much time specifically on the rock which is quite special in my home crag. Over the years, on some sections of the route, I spent really a lot of time. So it’s kind of really difficult to consider how much time I invested into Zvěřinec because it’s split into so many years.

“Last season by itself, I think I spent around 10 days on the project. But definitely all the previous years and days on some of the other sections of the route definitely helped quite a lot. For Zvěřinec you definitely need way more endurance. You need to climb a [5.15a], which is quite pumpy, into a good rest, into a hard boulder problem. Excalibur is something between 15 to 18 moves, depending on your beta.”