Adam Ondra Climbs Chilam Balam [interview]by Björn Pohl - UKC Apr/2011
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Four(ish) tries was all it took and then it was done. Adam Ondra made swift work of Barnabé Fernandez' 82m marathon of a route at Villanueva del Rosario, near Málaga in southern Spain.
Barnabé worked it for three seasons before he made the first ascent. It should be mentioned the ascent is surrounded by a lot of mystique and has been questioned by many.
I don't have any comments from Adam yet, but I'm guessing he won't agree with the original grade suggestion of 9b+. Make no mistake though, the route is surely extremely difficult, otherwise Chris Sharma or Dani Andrada would have done it a long time ago.
Here's what Adam says about the ascent:
I can't still believe it honestly. I had tried it for three days, hard to count the attempts, since I tried a couple of times only the upper crux a few time in a row.
When I set off, I considered maybe 1% chance that I could do it, That day should have been working day, I had wanted to work the upper section all over again to get it wired very well. But I tried the upper crux once, felt pretty strong and realized there is no better solution than the one I had and decided to give it a go. To find myself on the top of the cliff was at least shocking, I could not believe it was not dream but reality.
The whole route can be described as 8c+ into 8c into 8c whith good kneebars all the way, but no other no hands rests, so after so many kneebars your whole body is sore, not only your forearms. It is a strange kind endurance, which I actually like quite a lot since it is about bouldering power as well.
The key is the ability to recover well and fast in the kneebars. I could feel pretty fresh when setting off from the rest position, but after so many meters of climbing I was pumped again after a couple of moves.
The crux comes on the very top, and last 14 moves are definitely the crux of the whole route, you have to sprint through them as quickly as possible since you can hardly even chalk up there and the moves are difficult even as single moves. If this crux was excluded, the route is not more than 9a/+.
Regarding the grade, it seems like a normal 9b, possibly even low end, but in any case you can't call it 9a+. Speaking about pure difficulty, Chaxi Raxi (a 9b at Oliana that Adam redpointed in March) seemed definitely harder to me.
In the video below, Adam climbs the first half of the route again for the photo-shoot a few days after making the second ascent.
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