Groundbreaking 5.15 Gets Second Ascent


Adam Ondra on Open Air (9a+/5.15a) at Schleier Wasserfall, Austria. Photo © Vojtech Vrzba. See more photos at www.tomala.cz/vojta.

Adam Ondra on Open Air (9a+/5.15a) at Schleier Wasserfall, Austria. Photo © Vojtech Vrzba. See more photos at www.tomala.cz/vojta.

Adam Ondra has made the second ascent of Open Air at Austria’s Schleier Wasserfall, a route first done when Ondra was only three years old. Although Alex Huber graded Open Air 9a (5.14d) when he climbed it in 1996, Ondra, 15, felt it was the hardest climb he’d redpointed yet—harder than any of the 5.14d or 5.15a routes (La Rambla, La Novena Enmienda, Weiss Rose, PuntX, and Action Directe) the Czech superstar has repeated this year. 

Open Air begins on a sloping ledge above a 5.13c warm-up pitch. After a 50-foot roof (about 5.13c), there is a jug followed by a crux boulder problem that Ondra estimated at about V12. Ondra spent five days on the route, making nine attempts in all, to snag the redpoint. 

Adam Ondra on Open Air (9a+/5.15a) at Schleier Wasserfall, Austria. Photo © Vojtech Vrzba. See more photos at www.tomala.cz/vojta.

According to photographer Vojtech Vrzba, Ondra skipped an easily clipped bolt before the crux because, he said, “If I clip it, the friction on the rope takes about 10 kilos of weight down and it won’t be fair.” The result was sporting 50-foot falls from the crux moves. 

Open Air is one of several groundbreaking routes that Alex Huber pioneered in the early to mid ’90s, all of which were graded 5.14c or d. At the time, Wolfgang Güllich’s landmark Action Directe in Germany was still considered hard 5.14c (8c+). (Güllich graded it XI on the UIAA scale after he climbed it in 1991.) But times and grading have changed. Huber’s Weiss Rose and La Rambla both have been upgraded. And, as Ondra wrote at 8a.nu, “Now when [Action Directe] is 9a, [Open Air] should be 9a+.” 

Read a short interview with Ondra about his Open Air ascent at CzechClimbing.com

Date of Ascent: November 17, 2008

Sources: 8a.nu, Lezec.cz, Vojtech Vrzba, CzechClimbing.com

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