Just a couple of days after his 20th birthday, the young Czech climbing phenomenon Adam Ondra succeeded on what is most likely the world's hardest sport climb, making the first ascent of the well renowned La Dura Dura project at Oliana, Spain.
Both Ondra and Chris Sharma had been attempting the line, and it was Ondra, after 9 weeks of effort, who clipped the chains to make the first successful redpoint.
The route, now graded 9b+ is the same grade as the last 'hardest route in the world' (The Change at Flatanger in Norway) that Adam put up last year. They may be the same grade, but Adam thinks La Dura Dura is the harder of the two...
In a recent interview on Planet Mountain, Adam explained how La Dura Dura breaks down:
"The first section is comprised of 15 moves, about 10 metres high, a 9b/9b+ in its own right which leads to a rest, a bad kneebar where I could recover for about a minute before moving up into the second section, 10 metres of 8c+ climbing which leads to two tiny crimps and then the jug and good rest. From here... a further 20 meters of 8b climbing lead to the top."
And Adam also explained why it is harder than The Change:
"If I compare it to Change I think La Dura Dura is harder, but still 9b+. Change really suits my style of climbing, the crux has some moves where you need to be really flexible and it seems to have been naturally made specifically for me. I know it might sound strange, but La Dura Dura has more straightforward climbing, but you really need to get everything wired 100%. I needed about 5 weeks for Change, and 9 weeks for La Dura Dura. I'd say that for me La Dura Dura is a better achievement because it fits my style less."
Oliana has been a forcing ground for world sport climbing after coming in to vogue around eight years ago. Some notable ascents have been Chris Sharma's Papichulo (9a+) in May 2008 and Pachamama (9a+) in May 2009 and of course Adam Ondra's Chaxi Raxi (9b) in April 2011.
Chris Sharma, who was the vision behind La Dura Dura and bolted the route, spoke of it and how it stacks up against other hard routes in this 2012 UKClimbing Interview:
"Well, first of all I definitely see a lot of potential still to push the standards in sportclimbing. One of the biggest challenges is finding the perfect route that is just beyond our limits but that is also something much cooler and more inspiring to warrant trying harder and longer than ever before. In my time here living in Spain and dedicating myself to finding, developing and climbing the hardest routes 've been trying to find that next step. It seems instead of one giant leap it's a lot of baby steps instead. Although there are still no 9b+ routes, within the grade of 9b there are some easier and some harder. For example Neanderthal in Santa Linya might be on the lower end and First Round First Minute is probably nearer the higher end.
But there are two projects that stand out as being a solid step beyond. Perfecto Mundo in Margalef and La Dura Dura in Oliana.
I've been working on both of these lines on and off and have been quite close to redpointing several times. This last season I had the pleasure to work on La Dura Dura with Adam Ondra and it was an amazing experience to try such a hard line with such a good climber. We both had some really good goes but in the end the season came and went without a send. Although it may seem sometimes we walk away empty handed when we fail on our projects, I think redpointing isn't the only marker for progression. With La Dura Dura, I had thought that the route was totally beyond me and that it was a route for future generations. I had previously done all of the moves but was unable to link any of them. Teaming up with Adam, I think some of his motivation and determination rubbed off on me and I realised that maybe it was possible, and by the end of the season we were close to doing it. So even though I have nothing to show for all this time spent on that route I still feel like I had a huge progression in my climbing this year."
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