Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Adam Ondra in the Peak District

The weekend just gone was another busy climbing one. Not just a case of vertical moving and shaking on my behalf, but also visiting the Outside shop in Hathersage, to hear from "the world's greatest climber", as La Sportiva and Neil Gresham liked to introduce Adam Ondra.

Adam Ondra and Neil Gresham at Outside in Hathersage


Now, the only reason I put that in quotation marks is because some of you out there, in the internet, would grunt at such a notion as the world's greatest climber. After all, what's Adam ever done on grit? Or snow? Or ice? Or whatever... Well, the first of those questions he answered this weekend (I'll come onto that). The others, as far as I'm aware, he's never touched. I think it's fair to say he's the world's best sport climber - having onsighted more than 25 8c and harder routes (including one 9a) among other achievements (I'll come onto that as well).

However, his passion for climbing doesn't end at sport climbing, it seems, as Neil waxed lyrical of Adam's knowledge of Peak District grit routes. Indeed, he came over here wanting to repeat some of the classics. In the end, he repeated Master's Edge (E7 6b), Balance It Is (E7 6c) and Messiah (E6/7 6c). I believe he onsighted all three, in particularly damp and greasy conditions. That morning, he'd had 4 attempts at Hubble (8c+/9a) at Raven Tor as well, coming agonisingly close to latching the last hard move, he told us. It was raining when we headed out to Hathersage in the morning so I was surprised to hear anyone was out climbing - let alone trying to climb one of the hardest sport routes in the country. It was warm when we left, as well, so I can only imagine how rubbish conditions were when Adam finally got on the grit stone in the afternoon. 

We went climbing inside. Lame, I know.

Come the evening and it was time for Adam's presentation, preceded by Neil Gresham talking about 70s & 80s climbing icons and fashion. Lycra featured heavily. Most amusing was when a picture of Ron Fawcett popped up on screen and Neil began talking about the similarities between him and Adam, pushing boundaries and standing head and shoulders above other climbers of their time. Underlining this was the striking physical similarities, both lithe and sporting a head full of curly hair. Unfortunately, no one questioned whether Adam was planning on growing a mustache anytime soon.

Ron Fawcett... or is it Adam Ondra in 10 years? - Credit John Beatty
Adam's talk started with his entry into the world of rock climbing (at a very young age, being as his parents are both climbers themselves) through to when he started climbing hard (also very young) and then climbing the hardest routes in the world (still young). The man is only 21 years old! He first climbed a 6a aged 6, moving onto onsighting 7b+ aged 8, onsighting 7c+ aged 9, onsighting 8a aged 10, and... well... you get the point. Hardly even a teenager (12 or 13... not sure) he climbed his first 9a. He's also won world cups in Lead & Bouldering (being the only person to do so... ever). To cut a long story short (his autobiograhpy in 30 years will be a huge tome of climbing achievements, I'm sure), he's also established the world's hardest routes - La Dura Dura (9b+), Vasil Vasil (9b+), and Change (9b+) to name just three.

There was footage from his hardest boulder problem, Terranova (8C+), and Vasil Vasil, which I named above. These are two of the hardest bits of rock climbing in the world - nice things to have for a slideshow on your life. While everyone knows who Adam Ondra is and his slideshow was photo after photo of him climbing things that no one else could climb, there was no rock star drama or attitude and, indeed, the overriding impression I got was someone who simply loved rock climbing. It just so happens that he's the best at it too.


Back to the land of mere mortals, come Sunday, psyched from Adam's presentation, I went out to climb on the grit. Apparently, I was too psyched (NB: see 'daft'). I warmed up on a 7A boulder problem called Mini Beak, at Rivelin, which I've done several times before. I then didn't climb for around an hour or so (spotting duties), before going over to try Master Kush (7C+) without warming up again. I failed miserably, obviously. It was now midday, warm and we were in a wood a day after it rained. I was basically swimming around, it was that humid. So we went somewhere with a little more breeze, Burbage South. Following chips at Fox House, I took it relatively easy, climbing a couple of 6s and failing on some 7s, before calling it a day. Rather unsuccessful in terms of completing climbs, but enjoyable nonetheless.

That was it. Another climbing weekend gone. I felt so rotten and fatigued on Sunday night and all-day Monday that I thought I had gained an illness over the weekend as well, but it seems dehydration and exhaustion will play funny tricks on you. Remember kids... drink lots of water. I'll leave you with that little lesson.