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Ondra Makes First Ascent of Jungle Boogie (5.15a)

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6/12/12 – Nineteen-year-old Adam Ondra has made the first ascent of Jungle Boogie (5.15a) in Céüse, France (watch the video below). After three days of attempts, the Czech climber redpointed the route, which was attempted initially by local climber Sylvain Millet and then later by the young Enzo Oddo.

“After having fallen off twice at the lip of the overhang, I knew that I could do the route,” Ondra said in an email. “I just couldn’t make any mistakes.”

Jungle Boogie is located on the left side of the Biographie/Realization buttress, the site of the world’s first 5.15 sent by Chris Sharma, and is described as a power-endurance route.

“The route climbs so well and requires ultimate finger strength,” Ondra said. The first half of Jungle Boogie requires long reaches on good holds up to the second bolt, then 20 moves of big moves on tiny crimps without any rests. The second half climbs an easy vertical wall no harder than 5.12c.

“It is so intense,” Ondra said. “Your fingers are always in the crimping position, and your forearms get sore very fast without any warning. But I really love this style of climbing because you don’t get bored climbing the easy section at the bottom.”

Although he described the hardest single move as a cross-over from a bad, sharp pinch to a rounded edge, the real crux came later. He needed to climb efficiently through a section of particularly bad crimps to save power for a section of two-finger undercling pockets.

“You must climb Jungle Boogie with full commitment from the ground,” Ondra said.

Ondra was first introduced to the route by Arnaud Petit during a trip to Céüse two years ago, but didn’t have time to try it until recently.

Jungle Boogie is not as impressive as the other routes around it,” Ondra said. “But I climbed it to get used to the Céüse style of climbing in preparation for my ultimate goal of flashing Biographie. As I clipped the chains on Jungle Boogie, it was rather a relief because it freed my mind for this next goal.” Editor’s note: Ondra attempted to flash Biographie/Realization the next day; he made it through the first, 5.14c section, but fell at the final crux.

Ondra has been climbing 5.15 since the tender age of 15. His first was La Rambla at Siurana, Spain, in 2008. Since then, he has redpointed eleven 5.15a’s and five 5.15b’s; nine have been first ascents.

Although Ondra currently has unfinished projects back home and in Spain, he says he wants to find new challenges in northern Europe this summer.

“I don’t want to split my interest too much,” Ondra said, “so sport climbing and opening the hardest routes are my biggest motivations right now. It’s great to make a first ascent, but opening a route is way different. It is something you found and you put a lot of effort into; thus gratification from the success is much higher.”

Date of ascent: June 7, 2012

Sources: Adam Ondra,