Adam Ondra Interview

Adam Ondra on Golpe de Estado (9b/5.15b) in Siurana, Spain. Photo by Vojtech Vrzba

Adam Ondra on Golpe de Estado (9b/5.15b) in Siurana, Spain. Photo by Vojtech Vrzba

In mid-March, 17-year-old Adam Ondra completed the second ascent of Chris Sharma’s Golpe de Estado (9b/5.15) in Spain. Ondra said it was his hardest route yet, requiring 29 tries over 14 days, which is saying a lot: The young Czech has compiled a remarkable record over the past few years, redpointing more than thirty 9a or harder routes; he also boulders V14, and he won the 2009 overall World Cup in lead climbing.

The Russian website has just published an extensive and well-illustrated interview with Ondra, in English, by Alexander Ledovskih. Fun fact: Ondra, arguably the strongest sport climber in the world, cannot do a one-arm pull-up. The interview begins:

Q. How and when did you start climbing?

A. My parents have been climbing for 30 years, and they have been bringing me on the rocks since I was baby. Naturally I was very curious to try it as well. At age of three or four I used to swing on the rope when parents climbed some overhanging route, and I really loved it. Soon afterwards I tried to climb as well, but maybe once a month, one route on the rocks. I was simply too short. Since the age of 6 I have been climbing frequently, when I grew a little bit and was tall enough to climb at least 6a.

Q. Last year I saw your performance in the World Cup in Puurs (Belgium). It was amazing – you were the only guy who sent final route to the top! What is the secret of your success? What is the role in that of your natural climbing abilities, experience, motivation and training?

A. Hard to say, success depends on many factors, I think. Firstly, I have big talent for climbing and had the best conditions possible to work on my talent, thanks to my parents. I had possibility to climb outdoors all the time and to improve my technique and efficiency in climbing. Secondly, I became soon totally obsessed by climbing. If you train and climb by your heart and passion, everything goes way easier. What more? I do not know, maybe the way of my climbing (fast, efficient and, if everything is OK, precise).

Q. You are from Brno. We also know that two-time lead-climbing World Champion Tomas Mrazek is also from Brno, and many other famous strong climbers are from your city. What is the reason of that? Are there some special conditions for development in Brno compared with the other cities of Czech Republic?

A. I do not know if this is the main reason for this trend, but we are more or less the only city in the country which has relatively good limestone area in its surrounding. Moravsky kras. The rest of country is full of sandstone, but most of it is not good for sport climbing, although it is wonderful. Moravsky kras is a very good school (but tough indeed) to start climbing because it is a very weird and awkward type of climbing. The rock is very smooth, frictionless, and footholds very slippery. One really gets used to putting your feet precisely on the rock.

It is hard to mention other reasons, because if you compare our training conditions indoors, you have to admit that it is better in Prague. In general, I do not think it is that is important to have super-good training conditions; it is enough to climb in two or three different bouldering rooms, and with strong will you can train very well, just as Tomas.

Visit to read the rest of this excellent interview, including Adam Ondra’s thoughts on grades, training, the Olympics, and his hopes for attempting Chilam Balam (given 9b+/5.15c) in Spain.

Date of interview: March 25, 2010