Ondra Flashes 5.14d/15a at Red River Gorge
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10/30/12 – Adam Ondra has flashed Southern Smoke Direct (5.14d/5.15a) at the Bob Marley Crag in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. This direct start adds a V11- to V13-range boulder problem to Southern Smoke, and was first done by Red local Adam Taylor in 2011; it’s not seen a repeat until now.
Taylor hesitantly graded it 5.15a because he worked much longer on this route than on his other 5.14d projects. Ondra—who’s probably climbed more 5.14d routes than anyone (maybe even Chris Sharma?)—said this on his 8a.nu scorecard: “Hard to believe it, but it is true! Two days ago felt bad, didn’t know what to climb as I wanted to save onsights/flashes for another year, and now this came! Thanks everyone for the beta and good vibes, moment I will never forget. Everything went so perfect. 9a benchmark, I’d say.”
This is Ondra’s first climbing trip to the U.S., and much speculation has been made about which routes he would onsight or flash. He’s onsighted numerous 5.14c’s in the past, but this is the first “true” 5.14d flash the climbing world has seen. In June 2012, Ondra attempted to flash Sharma’s Biographie (5.15a): He climbed through the 5.14d section and into the final, crux boulder problem, but fell from getting pumped.
There are two other 5.14d routes at the Red, Pure Imagination and The Golden Ticket, that we can probably safely assume Ondra will try to onsight or flash. So far, in less than a week, he’s also climbed Lucifer (5.14c), 50 Words for Pump (5.14b), and Transworld Depravity (5.14a, onsight).
Date of ascent: October 29, 2012
Sources: 8a.nu, climbing.com