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What Does it Take to Flash 5.15a?

Reel Rock's "Age of Ondra Part II" follows Adam from Spain to Canada to France as he tries to make the first 5.15a flash.

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Age of Ondra (Part II)” is available to all Outside+ members, part of an extensive library of climbing and adventure sport films found in the Outside App. Watch the full film, or download the app here.

Part One of Reel Rock’s three-part deep dive into Adam Ondra’s life charted his journey from a precocious teen, through World Cup podiums, to his first ascent of Silence, the world’s first proposed 5.15d. Part Two of Age of Ondra looks at what’s next.

What do you do after establishing not one but two new climbing grades (5.15c and 5.15d)?  For Ondra, the next challenge was clear: flash a 5.15a.

It’s a ridiculous goal, one that for most climbers is literally inconceivable. “The idea of climbing a 5.15 first try… it’s just crazy,” explains Alex Honnold, who has yet to climb a route of that difficulty.

But for Ondra, it’s neither impossible nor a new idea. “I have… dream[ed] of flashing 9a+ since I was 18,” he says. Indeed, he tried to flash Biographie (5.15a) in Ceuse, France, but failed and later admitted he wasn’t ready.

It takes more than talent to accomplish a lofty goal like this. Ondra’s preparation is equally mental and physical, with his unique—and frankly intimate—visualization of the climb taking up a significant portion of Reel Rock’s screen time. But getting the perfect beta—and the perfect conditions—are equally important. And as Ondra finds, it takes patience, preparation, and a fine balance between confidence and humility to finally clip the chains.

The journey to flash a 5.15a takes Adam from his native Czech Republic to Spain, then Canada, and finally France. “For me, maybe two or three potential options in the world that are good candidates to be flashed,” Adam explains. “And that increases the pressure tremendously.”

The last ten minutes of the episode focus on his attempts of Honour and Glory (5.15a) and Supercrackinette (5.15a), and the footage is legitimately gripping. The pressure and anxiety are palpable with a full range of Ondra’s emotions on display.

Even attempting a feat proves Adam Ondra is on another level. Completing it just cements his status as one of the greatest sport climbers of all time.

Watch Age of Ondra Part II here.