Adam Ondra repeats Bon Voyage E12

© @pet.phot

Adam Ondra has made the first repeat of James Pearson's E12 route Bon Voyage (9a), in Annot, France.

He described the route as one that 'could be (physically) the hardest route on trad gear in the world'.

The line was first climbed by James in early 2023, and shares the same beginning as his 2017 route Le Voyage (8b+), before heading left across shallow pockets on a blank face, and finishing up a technical arête. 

At the time, James was reluctant to give Bon Voyage a grade, stating that he would 'like to try a few more hard sport routes to better gauge [his] level, and also climb at Annot with other high-level climbers'.

Ignacio on Bon Voyage  © Jaime Merino @jimmy.merin
Ignacio on Bon Voyage
© Jaime Merino @jimmy.merin

In December, after having spent time on Bon Voyage with climbers including Jacopo Larcher, Sébastien Berthe, and Ignacio Mulero, James wrote a detailed post about why the route was such a difficult one for him to grade, before proposing E12.

Adam first started trying Bon Voyage in early February, with James there to share beta and give support. Adam first worked the crux section of the route, before moving on to working the start of Le Voyage in order to improve his efficiency on the lower section.

Thereafter, Adam took a short break to do some sport climbing, visiting Gorges du Loup, where he reportedly made a quick ascent of an 8c+/9a route, as well as Buoux, where he onsighted routes at 8b+ and an 8c.

Returning to Annot, Adam started putting in lead attempts on his second day on the route. On his third day on the route, he fell from the first move of the final arête, before going on to make the second ascent that same day.

In terms of the grade, Adam said that the route would be hard 9a if it were bolted, but felt harder with the additional difficulty of placing gear.

Writing on Instagram, Adam said:

'I am very happy and proud to make the second ascent of this James Pearson masterpiece! Not that I am an expert in trad climbing, but it could be (physically) the hardest route on trad gear in the world'.

'It took me three days of work and I had to really put up a fight. The route felt challenging in many different ways and apart from being very runout (but probably safe), it has some very hard (and odd!) moves where you really need to be a very complex climber'.

'It is hands down one of the best routes I have ever climbed and it is a true miracle that there are just enough holds to make it climbable, and enough gear to make it runout, but safe'.

'Gradewise, I think if it was bolted, it would be very solid and specific 9a. Placing the gear makes it a little more physically difficult, and adds some extra spice'.

We spoke to James shortly after Adam made the repeat, and he had this to say:

'I'm over the moon that Adam took the time to come to Annot, to try the route, that he did the route, and that it gave him perhaps a more complete experience than he was expecting!'

'He told me for example that when he did it, on the actual send go itself, he still had to fight really deep on the top of the route and that made it a really memorable experience. That's fairly similar to what I felt on the route as well'.

James on Bon Voyage, tackling the traverse on shallow pockets  © Raphaël Fourau
James on Bon Voyage, tackling the traverse on shallow pockets
© Raphaël Fourau

'I'm really psyched that he's come, he's done the route, and that it felt as hard as I thought it might be, but more than that I'm just really happy that he came to try the route and that he had such an amazing time on it, and that he totally agrees with me that it's a real miracle of mother nature'.

With the world's first ascents at 9b+ and 9c to his name, more ascents at 9b+ than anyone else, and an 8C+ boulder first ascent - Terranova - which seems almost certain to receive an upgrade when it finally receives a repeat, Adam's repeat of Bon Voyage further cements his (already firmly cemented) status as one of the greatest climbers of all time.

Adam and his team captured footage of the ascent, which will be released on his channel in due course.

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Born in the Czech Republic, Adam Ondra has built up a decorated career since his early competitions, winning his first World Championships medal in 2009 in lead climbing. He was a favourite for Tokyo 2020 gold, but an...

Adam's Athlete Page 140 posts 51 videos

16 Feb

Correction: Adam Ondra repeats Bon Voyage O3

17 Feb

Awesome to see this! Ondra must have the most unbalanced top heavy trad route climbing pyramid ever! Dawn wall, Bon Voyage and a bit of czech sandstone.

17 Feb
17 Feb


The route is hugely impressive and it's good to see James' view of the route vindicated. The area also looks pretty fantastic and if I get back to form I may need to collar a partner for a trip there!

17 Feb

This was Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall’s tongue in cheek proposal for O grades, O meaning Ondra. Check it out it kind of stacks up. I think it’s presented first in their training cellar video with Adam.

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