First first ascent of a 9b by Ondra [update]

© 9b
Adam Ondra on La Capella, 9b  © 9b
Adam Ondra on La Capella, 9b
© 9b

For a long time now, we have become used to Adam Ondra repeating everything hard in every style everywhere. Lately he has began making more and more hard first ascents however, presumably because there's simply not much hard left for him to repeat.

His latest addition, La Capella in the La Capella sector at Siurana, Spain, is possibly his most difficult route to date, first ascent or not.

The 15m route was bolted by David and Carles Brasco and is, according to Adam extremely bouldery: A 7A+/B "warm up" section takes you to two back to back 8A+/B sections with no real rest between them. After these three boulder problems, which could be compared to one long 8C boulder, you get some relaxing 7c+ climbing to the top.

What is interesting is that this is exactly the kind of new school route Paul Robinson and Chris Sharma, among others, have predicted, i.e hard boulder sections stacked on top of eachother as opposed to long endurance marathons.

Everything taken into account, Adam feels this could very well warrant 9b, but adds that he is by no means certain and that time will tell whether this is correct or not. I asked the man a few questions and as the true professional he is, I didn't have to wait long for the answers:

Congrats Adam! Must be a fantastic feeling for you making the FA of such a route after so much work! Do you think you would have done the route on that try if you would have had more time?
Thanks! Well, I am not sure, suprisingly enough the last attempt I was in the best psychological mode of all attempts, completely focused and not thinking about potential failure.

What can you tell me about the route and its specific difficulties? Can you compare it to other routes you have done?
La Capella is a 15 year old project bolted by David and Carles Brasco and it is a completely independent line, the most prominent line of the sector in the middle of small cave. The route is roughly 15 meters long, but the crux is its first half, the second part above the lip of the cave is not more than 7c+, meaning that it is extremely bouldery climbing with two crux sections, both of them consisting of about five moves with two half-pad crimps to chalk up and clip. I am quite sure it is harder than any other short route I have ever done, it was a step harder than any other similar route in Frankenjura or back at home, but possibly I am simply out of shape...

How different do you find the process of making a first ascent compared to repeating someone else's route?
To work on a first ascent was for sure a bit different, during the first two days I didn't even know if I would be able to link since I was using an ultra-hard sequence for the lower crux. The knowledge that the climb was possible for someone else definitely helps when you repeat a route. The biggest difference is the enormous uncertainty about the grade. I suggest 9b for this climb, because of the effort I was forced to invest and also because it seems to be my style. Though I am still not sure if that is right decision and the route is not merely 9a+ since I have no idea about my shape right now and I haven't tried any other routes of similar difficulty recently to compare.

Thanks a lot Adam!

Here is a video of Adam working what was to become La Capella and Chris Sharma's Golpe de estado.

Adam Ondra is sponsored by: Black Diamond, Montura, La Sportiva, Beal and Hudy Sports

Source: 9b world climbers party

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18 Feb, 2011
As in, Ondra has repeated a number of 9bs now but this is the first time he has done the first ascent of one. Maybe.
18 Feb, 2011
Be very curious to see if this grade sticks. Most of the 9Bs climbed to date appear to have been so much longer than 15m. If it sticks would this then be the most technically difficult sport route in the world, rather than a power endurance route?
18 Feb, 2011
Amazing and totally inspiring. Thanks for putting it on. "How could I get so pumped?" How indeed... Mick
18 Feb, 2011
You really get an impression of how driven he must be in the golpe de estado footage. Screaming in anger and pulling back up the rope to try again as soon as he's off. Very inspiring.
18 Feb, 2011
I expect he won't be far off with the grade. He's not exactly short of experience in cutting edge sport climbs! But I guess it's pretty hard to grade something so short, hence his reluctance to put a number on it. I was up at Siurana last Thursday and heard some familiar screams coming from all the way across the other side of the valley. I said to my girlfriend jokingly "It sounds like Ondra's back"...turns out I was right! Amazing effort from him once again. Presumably the climbing on it is very good for him to have invested some time in it, as the line is not the most inspiring!
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