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VIDEO: Magnus Midtbø Interviews Adam Ondra

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 UKC News 17 Nov 2021

To celebrate surpassing 1 million subscribers on YouTube, Magnus Midtbø has made a series of videos with Adam Ondra. In this final video, Magnus and Adam head to a climbing area local to Adam's hometown of Brno. In a wide-ranging interview whilst climbing, they talk about his recent experiences in the Olympics, his intense training, and some of his past first ascents. All whilst Adam attempts a 9a project...

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In reply to UKC News:

My favourite takeaway through the entire series is that Ondra hates speed climbing.

 Phil79 17 Nov 2021
In reply to McKEuan:

> My favourite takeaway through the entire series is that Ondra hates speed climbing.

And modern style bouldering by the sounds of it! (Or at least its too hard on his body to warrant the injury risk.)

Very interesting discussion I thought. Magnus does ask some good questions.

Post edited at 15:08
In reply to Phil79:

Ye very true, Interesting to hear how it effects his body. Can totally understand.

I think Magnus is 10 years ahead of Ondra in terms of comps so its great to hear the pair of them talking about different experiences.

 wbo2 17 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC News:  that's the best interview I've seen in a very long time.. good questions and good answers.

Brno looks to be totally sandbagged  

 Hillseeker 18 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC News:

Er…. did anyone notice Ondra’s dodgy belaying?! I wouldn’t let him hold my rope 😆

In reply to wbo2:

Its a nice city.

In reply to Hillseeker:

Yeah, I clocked that. My non-climbing partner showed me screen-grabs and jokes she'd seen on reddit this morning of his no-hands belaying. I assumed it probably wasn't as bad as it was being made to look in screen-grabs, but seeing the video it really does look awful!

 wbo2 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Stuart Williams: really?? 

 Phil79 18 Nov 2021
In reply to wbo2:

> really?? 

Around 22 mins in when hes belaying, goes completely hands free on his grigri while Magnus is sat on the rope.....I imagine Petzl might frown on that a little!

Believe it or not I belayed him at Kilnsey once (on North Star), I definitely didn't let go of the rope then!

Post edited at 13:29
In reply to wbo2:

No hands on the rope at all while hopping from one foot to the other miming moves? I would definitely be having firm words with my belayer if they were doing that, yes. 

Edit: 23m 15s is the bit that stuck in my mind, but there are a few similar moments.  

Post edited at 13:34
In reply to UKC News:

What a superb, beautifully made climbing video. It's not just that it's a joy to see people climbing at this extraordinarily high standard, but to see something so well done. Technically, it's superlative: incredibly high quality lenses being used, very well-accomplished camera operating (almost all of it hand-held), and very fine editing - not just in a broad sense, but in the precision of all the cuts, in detail. In addition there was NO obstrusive music, just a couple of well chosen songs played briefly and gently.

So the content then becomes all important, so that I feel this climbing video is the most about climbing itself that I've seen for a long while. There's a lot of very intelligent discussion between Brno and the extraordinarily modest Adam who, as always, is exceptionally articulate. (I warmed to the fact that he hates ball-games, and has useless coordination ... I can relate to that.) And it's funny at the end.

Overall, I think a lot of climbing video-makers could learn a lot from this, by studying its sheer craft. If it got one thing badly wrong though it was when Brno said near the end, 'If you enjoyed this video, you're a hard-core climber.' Very wrong.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Brno is the place. Adam was talking to Magnus

 Moacs 18 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC News:

He's a lovely bloke isn't he?

In reply to mbh:

Oops, thanks for putting me right. It would have saved me the trouble of spelling Brno right. (How on earth is that pronounced? Bruno? ... Berno? ...)

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

God knows. Czech seems to be like Welsh. Not enough vowels.

Good post btw. I enjoyed the video too without your eye for its craft. Adam comes across as a very nice guy.

Post edited at 18:09
In reply to mbh:

Welsh has more vowels than English! Poor old English only has 5 to Welsh's 7...

In reply to mbh:

Yes. I think the sheer excellence of the production percolates down from Ondra himself. Because of his world status they can get a top film company/best film crew, etc. And it really shows.

In reply to Stuart Williams:

> Welsh has more vowels than English! Poor old English only has 5 to Welsh's 7...

I was going to make that same point. The (sad?) truth about Welsh is that it surely uses FAR more letters than are necessary to represent a few quite simply pronounced syllables.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

It's actually one of magus' videos this one. I did enjoy the rock lifting at the end 😊

In reply to Alex Riley:

Yes, all credit to Magus.

In reply to Stuart Williams:

Yikes! 

I guess I mean the ratio of consonants to vowels. Welsh words often seem to be full of consonants. eg railway in English is 4:3 consonants:vowels, in Welsh (rheilffordd says Google), it's 8:3.

But we digress...

In reply to Hillseeker:

> Er…. did anyone notice Ondra’s dodgy belaying?! I wouldn’t let him hold my rope 😆

You must be absolutely bloody joking. Your grin emoticon suggests you are. Presumably a silly tease.

In reply to mbh:

> Yikes! 

> I guess I mean the ratio of consonants to vowels. Welsh words often seem to be full of consonants. eg railway in English is 4:3 consonants:vowels, in Welsh (rheilffordd says Google), it's 8:3.

OK. But I think my point about far too many letters holds. .. But don't let's digress from this great climbing video.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

One of those rare occasions when I don't mind getting dislikes ... when I praise the way Adam Ondra (no less) climbs and belays.

In reply to mbh:

> Yikes! 

> I guess I mean the ratio of consonants to vowels. Welsh words often seem to be full of consonants. eg railway in English is 4:3 consonants:vowels, in Welsh (rheilffordd says Google), it's 8:3.

I'm fairly certain that, Welsh being an entirely oral/aural language, all this spelling was made up by academics in about the 1830s-40s. That was certainly true of the Scottish Gaelic, all made up by one Edinburgh professor. I was a bit shocked when I first learned that.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> You must be absolutely bloody joking. Your grin emoticon suggests you are. Presumably a silly tease.

I am genuinely surprised by these responses on the belaying point. Surely it's fair to say that holding someone on a gri-gri with no hands or back up isn't ideal? It doesn't detract from an enjoyable video, and it's not a huge deal, but why is it a silly tease or a joke to suggest that a belayer should really keep a hand on the rope?

And as far as Welsh goes; it might use more letters than English, but at least it applies its rules consistently. Much easier to learn than English!

Post edited at 18:59
In reply to Stuart Williams:

>but at least it applies its rules consistently. Much easier to learn than English!

I was told that once about Danish and tried it. It was true.

In reply to Stuart Williams:

First, your point about consistency re. Welsh spelling and its pronunciation is unassailable.

Second, re. Ondra's rope management competence. I wonder just how many 1000s of falls he's held completely successfully in his climbing career? Compared with falls held by his (apparent) detractors. I say 'apparent' because I would never have guessed that Ondra would have such detractors.

Post edited at 19:12
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

It’s not a contest between Adam and these so-called “detractors” though. You are framing it as some sort of personal attack when it’s just an objective observation about best practice. Everyone is fallible, that’s not a slight on Adam. 

Post edited at 19:59
In reply to Stuart Williams:

I've got a strange hunch ... it's quite funny really ... that some people don't know what unassailable means, and didn't realise that I was commending your point.

 Michael Gordon 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I would've thought he'd do a lot more climbing than belaying, while for most others it will be more like 50:50.

I'm not sure that pointing out bad belaying makes you a 'detractor'.

In reply to Stuart Williams:

I'm just finding it very odd that people don't see Ondra as one of the world's leading examples of best practice.

In other words, I'd be perfectly happy to have him holding my ropes if I was leading ...               (You've got to laugh.)

Post edited at 20:07
 jezb1 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I'm just finding it very odd that people don't see Ondra as one of the world's leading examples of best practice.

For climbing that’s unquestionable.

For belaying, in that video he shows nothing approaching best practice.

I really enjoyed the video and have no axe to grind.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

My girlfriend is Czech, actually from very near Brno, she says Brr-no. Like you're cold, Brrrr-no. Or Boorno. 

In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

That's really helpful, thanks.

 Kevin Woods 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I'm fairly certain that, Welsh being an entirely oral/aural language, all this spelling was made up by academics in about the 1830s-40s. That was certainly true of the Scottish Gaelic, all made up by one Edinburgh professor. I was a bit shocked when I first learned that.

It's a strange diversion from the thread topic, but I really have to pause on that one. The idea it was just oral is not really correct, Gaelic was being written in a form imitating Latin by the fifth century, Latin grammar becoming influential from the sixth & seventh century. Gaelic was one of four languages (asides Latin, Greek and Arabic) in which medical knowledge was systematically studied in the Middle ages. Gaelic language books were being printed by the 16th century. For a long time, they were well ahead of the game.

Also, if a language's syntax doesn't make sense from your point of view it's usually not because the language is non-sensical.

Can't speak much about Welsh. But the same perspectives apply.

Anyway. Back to Adam Ondra.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Yes, strange isn't it how the spelling in one language of words from other languages with no or different lettering is subject to the whims of transliteration. There's no single right way to do it.

In reply to mbh:

Yes, a fascinating subject. I had absolutely no idea (re. the Gaelic), until I was doing research for my Cuillin book, just how much that 'authentic-looking' spelling had been concocted by later academics.

 Richard J 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I'm fairly certain that, Welsh being an entirely oral/aural language, all this spelling was made up by academics in about the 1830s-40s. That was certainly true of the Scottish Gaelic, all made up by one Edinburgh professor. I was a bit shocked when I first learned that.

Oh Gordon, Welsh really isn't just an oral language ... I think most people think that spelling in Welsh was fixed in its current form, or near it, by Bishop Morgan's translation of the Bible, the definitive edition of which came out in 1620.  But it was certainly a literary language long before that, with much writing from the Middle Ages surviving in manuscript form (for example the prose stories that make up the Mabinogion, surviving in 14th century manuscripts but probably older, the great poet Dafydd ap Gwilym also writing in the 14th century, and older poetry that may indeed have started out in an oral tradition but was probably being written down by the 9th or 10th centuries).

But it is indeed a really nice film. 

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I'm just finding it very odd that people don't see Ondra as one of the world's leading examples of best practice.

I think you know that belaying with no hands on the rope is not an example of best practice. That has nothing to do with Adam or how hard he climbs. You are talking yourself into a rather strange corner here so I’ll leave it there. 

In reply to Stuart Williams:

What's so weird is that I've now looked at the whole 49-minute video again, and I just cannot see what you're referring to, i.e. what you mean. He's belaying Magnus continually from c 5:10 - 7:02, and both his hands are on the rope the whole time, with close-ups at 5:10, 6:10, 6:25 and 7:00. Then again from 21:48 - 24:25, he's holding Magnus the whole time thru multiple falls and rests. There are just two very fleeting close-ups at 23:14-16 and at 23:43, after Magnus has fallen off and the Gri-gri has locked off, when his hands are off the rope. Is this what you mean? I just can't find this bad belaying that you're referring to.

Post edited at 22:27
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> My girlfriend is Czech, actually from very near Brno, she says Brr-no. Like you're cold, Brrrr-no. Or Boorno. 

I see now, having looked at the movie again, that Adam and Magnus just pronounce it Burno.

 Hillseeker 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Not joking. Just watched video again. Still hasn’t improved!

Grin emoticon was used in a sort of “as if” manner - that AO would ever belay me…

In reply to Hillseeker:

I was never a particularly bold climber - far from it - mostly very cautious, with very occasional bold moments, but maybe I'm an unusually daring 72-year-old in that I'd be perfectly happy to be belayed by the allegedly incompetent Adam Ondra if I were leading again now. Yes, I'm a strange old fart.

In reply to Hillseeker:

In the interests of truth, please tell me the timings on the video that you are referring to.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Stop exaggerating. No one has called him incompetent. 
 

(Edit to correct punctuation)

Post edited at 22:58
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> No one has called him incompetent. 

Oh ffs, Hillseeker said he was so dodgy that 'I wouldn’t let him hold my rope'. 

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I'm still waiting for someone to tell me the footages/timings of where Ondra is belaying with no hands on the rope.

 Hillseeker 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

If course I would be honoured if he were to hold my rope…. just might have a word about holding on to the dead end before setting off  

In reply to Hillseeker:

... Before you've clipped into any runner ???

Post edited at 23:24
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I'm bumping this up again in my original spirit of wanting to enthuse about both the sheer excellence of the climbing and the production of the video itself.

[[Sadly, we now live in an extraordinary new culture of dishonesty and sneering (that seems to have percolated right down from our head of government), so that my first posting became pretty much derailed by accusations about Ondra's 'bad' belaying that were not based on any truth. When I challenged people to say exactly what they meant, they couldn't or wouldn't answer me.]]

Post edited at 00:06
 Fergal 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Have been watching Magnus's content for quite a long time, great because it is quite eclectic, including a lot of non climbing content, these Adam Ondra videos didn't really do it for me, in this one you have one of the worlds best climbers on show so you waste precious time filming them both warming up up on a 5c, the second video on the spray bouldering wall was just mind numbing, but agree Adam Ondra is engaging and enthusiastic in a geeky sort of  way.

In reply to Fergal:

Ok, fair enough, you're less than satisfied. I found it one of the deeper recent web movies on climbing that I've seen. Those things you disliked were the background context that to me gave it a deeper reality, a deeper truth.

Post edited at 00:17
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Edited to remove my post. Its really not worth the bother of engaging further with you on this and I shouldn’t have let you pull me back in. Goodnight. 

Post edited at 00:32
In reply to Stuart Williams:

I have no intention to be 'unpleasant or obtuse'. I'm just concerned with the truth, and angry that you've put out the idea that Ondra was belaying badly, with no evidence. I couldn't find any instances in that video to back your claim up. Nothing personal to do with you at all, simply the substance of what you said.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

One of the things that really came across well in the video is that AO just loves climbing.

I find it slightly ironic that he might just be the best climber in the world not because he climbs the hardest, but because he's having the most fun 😁

In reply to Michael Hood:

Yes, he comes across as such a great guy, full of good humour, not at all self-important, but just happening to be brilliant at climbing. And very articulate with it. Exactly, as you first said: his love of climbing. 

 FactorXXX 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Hillseeker:

> If course I would be honoured if he were to hold my rope…. just might have a word about holding on to the dead end before setting off  

Lots of experienced climbers use a gri-gri in the same fashion that Ondra is using in this video.  Doesn't look right to the casual observer and probably isn't text book accepted best practice for the type of people that like that sort of thing.
However, in the real world, it all becomes a bit more organic and intuitive - you know when you can let go of the gri-gri and still be safe.  When the gri-gri was first launched, it was quickly seen that if you knew what you were doing that you could achieve a hands free locked off belay whilst your mate tatted around resting, etc.
In summary, an experienced belayer can exploit how the gri-gri works to their advantage and you have to assume that Ondra is one those...
 

 McHeath 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> I'm still waiting for someone to tell me the footages/timings of where Ondra is belaying with no hands on the rope.

Answers 9 and 10, Gordon. 

Glad to see that Magnus is very reliable on safe practice though. He didn't forget his partner Czech. 

 Kees 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

5:11. Clamping down on the handle while not holding the rope. If Magnus falls at that point I hope Adam immediately lets go of the handle, otherwise Magnus will drop to the ground. This is very well demonstrated in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKe72j_mBlU&t=792s

23:14. Adam tries hard to release the cam, hopping around like that. Also, when Magnus pulls himself up on the rope or the rock, releases the cam and immediately lets go again, he drops down to the floor.

It is so easy to avoid those dangers. Hold the rope. Use the gaswork method as reccomended by Petzl.

 Hillseeker 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> ... Before you've clipped into any runner ???

better to do it then than when you’re half way up

 Lankyman 19 Nov 2021
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> My girlfriend is Czech, actually from very near Brno, she says Brr-no. Like you're cold, Brrrr-no. Or Boorno. 

How would she say 'Llanymynech'?

 Stegosaur 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

https://i.redd.it/b9vjc7j756081.jpg

Note in the first screenshot (top left) he pays out slack by squeezing the Grigri with the left hand and pulling out rope with the right. This is contraindicated by Petzl who specifically advise against it here:

https://m.petzl.com/INT/en/Sport/Belaying-with-the-GRIGRI?ProductName=GRIGRI

As others have said, a lot of people use the Grigri that way, but it's not best practice. The recommended technique is to use the thumb and index finger of the right hand to disengage the cam, while holding/covering the dead end of the rope (the "gaswerk" method as some know it).

In reply to Stegosaur:

Why's it called "gaswerk"? 

I think the massive scandal is Adam "Black Diamond brand ambassador" Ondra is using a PETZL grigir. What's wrong with an ATC Pilot (besides that no one seems to use them at all)?

 jezb1 19 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

A Pilot normally creeps when hands free, so wouldn’t seem to suit him as well as a GriGri…!

Not that I condone hands free belaying.

 Kees 19 Nov 2021
In reply to TobyA:

The method was invented in a Climbing center in Zurich, named Gaswerk. Probably because it is located in an old gas factory?

In reply to jezb1:

> Not that I condone hands free belaying.

Isn't one of the main selling points of a Gri-gri (and other such devices) that you can have your hands free to do stuff like eating and reading the guide book while your partner is dogging?

 jezb1 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Isn't one of the main selling points of a Gri-gri (and other such devices) that you can have your hands free to do stuff like eating and reading the guide book while your partner is dogging?

No.

 Pedro50 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

Naughty Robert. For prolonged dogging just tie an overhand knot in the dead rope.

 PaulJepson 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

I'd just like to echo what other people have said. I'm not going to go through the video again but I remember watching it and thinking the belaying was pretty shocking at the time (when Magnus was trying Adam's 9a project I think).

Whether or not it is actually fine or whether Ondra has got on fine for 10000000 catches like that is beside the point; it is breaking many established rules. Both what Petzl say and what is taught as best practice in this country. If you belayed like that in any climbing centre in the UK I would expect you to be kicked out. If you belayed like that on any MT assessment, you would fail.

I'm sure you can pull up loads of evidence that a grigri has never failed to hold a rope on its own but I've seen video of a rope slipping through them. Ondra is obviously vastly experienced but that doesn't mean everything he does is correct, it just means he hasn't had the hard lesson yet. Maybe he never will. Maybe he'll accidentally bin open the release handle while not holding the rope and kill his mate. 

Magnus belayed best-practice straight after, from what I can remember, which made Ondra look worse. 

I've seen Ondra let go of the dead rope on previous videos so it's obviously something he does. 

The video was very enjoyable though. Belaying aside, both came across very well and it was fun to see a 9a climber having to think on a 5, and hearing about Ondra falling off a 6b. It was insightful to hear how he likes to climb outside of 100% control, meaning he could fall off even easy things.

In reply to Kees:

> The method was invented in a Climbing center in Zurich, named Gaswerk. Probably because it is located in an old gas factory?

It is. I've been there.

https://www.kletterzentrum.com

 AJM 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think this is mostly a difference between what the manual says (no) and common usage (often yes)!

 Wire Shark 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> There are just two very fleeting close-ups at 23:14-16 and at 23:43, after Magnus has fallen off and the Gri-gri has locked off, when his hands are off the rope. Is this what you mean? I just can't find this bad belaying that you're referring to.

Whoa.  You don't consider the bit where he takes his hands off after the guy's fallen as poor belaying?  Do you know how Grigri's work?  Have you ever used one?  Personally, I'd be much happier to take a fall onto a "no-handed" Grigri (it'll simply lock up) than passively sit on one (it might not stay locked up).  The only time I've been dropped in 20 years of Grigri use was exacty this scenario.  I was sitting on the rope, adjusted my position slightly (which momentarily unweighted the rope), then I was plummeting earthwoods.  Fortunately it was a climbing wall with a bit of a padded mat at the bottom, and only about a 20' fall, so other than being a bit winded I was OK.  Idiot belayer admitted he'd taken both hands off the device, and thought that's what they were designed for.

But really Gordon, I can't see why you're defending this so strongly or getting so irate at people calling out his poor belaying in this instance - which it absolutely is.  Just because he's an awesome climber doesn't mean he adopts "best practice" (I hate this phrase when applied to climbing - does even it exist in this context?). 

The unfortunate thing is that people will watch this, observe his technique, and copy it.  If it's OK for Ondra then it must be OK.  Bit surprised that you yourself have fallen into this trap. 

[Edit] Actually, having watched bits of it again, I'd also be inclined to say he gives out too much slack early on, especially as he's not watching the climber and chatting to the camera person.  If he fell off anywhere up to and including the third bolt I think there's a good chance he'd hit the ground.

Post edited at 04:55
 Wire Shark 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Isn't one of the main selling points of a Gri-gri (and other such devices) that you can have your hands free to do stuff like eating and reading the guide book while your partner is dogging?

Dogging you say?  I'm thinking you take the "social" aspects of your climbing to extremes.  Any chance of an invite?

 Ger_the_gog 24 Nov 2021
In reply to UKC News:

I really enjoy Marcus' content and the recent Adam Ondra videos are no exception. 

Bad practice is still bad practice, regardless who is doing it. Although I'm sure that if the shot hit the fan, Adam would grab that dead rope faster than Gordon can say "yr esgob William Morgan". 🙂

 Spanish Jack 25 Nov 2021
In reply to Ger_the_gog:

Who is Marcus xD.

The belaying is probably fine and he'll never drop someone, but if he was my partner I'd have a word about a thing or two.

 Ger_the_gog 25 Nov 2021
In reply to Spanish Jack:

> Who is Marcus xD.

That's a very good question. 😁


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