• TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal: The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept: Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger: Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: Climbers We Lost in 2013
  • TNB: The Top 10 Climbing Achievements of 2013
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak: Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery: The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem: Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller: National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best In Show: Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Under Pressure: Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: My Favorite Bling Can Be Yours Too!
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower: Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: The Only Blasphemy
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem: Crawling, Balling and Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown: Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Best Sport for Kids?
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory: El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago: Athol
  • TNB: UIAA Issues Bizzare Indictment of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Tony Scott, Climber, Movie Maker, Lived and Died Large
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Passion of Grubb
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Unholy Matrimony
  • TNB: Bad Genes
  • TNB: WORLD
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Your Most Psyched
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    Memoire
    Memoire

    TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot

    29-Jul-2013
    By

    Adam Ondra sticking the crux move on <em>La Dura Dura</em> (5.15c). Photo by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.bernardogimenez.com/">Bernardo Gimenez</a>. Recently, I’ve been working with my favorite climbing wordsmith and Rock and Ice editor at large Andrew Bisharat on a story about Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra’s race to send the hardest sport climb in the world, La Dura Dura (5.15c). [See the next issue, No. 213, for the feature].

    Both Sharma and Ondra spent weeks on the route, put in countless efforts, trained specifically and failed over and over. But then something happened and they succeeded. Interestingly, they only succeeded when they stopped trying.

    In the article, Ondra writes, “When I set off I felt significantly weaker than the day before. I barely made it through the first part. Somehow I miraculously didn't fall off those terrible two moves that had tested me so much in the past and I managed to reach the jug … My mind was empty, I had no worries and no doubts. Perhaps this did the trick.”

    Sharma said something similar: “That was a trippy thing. I just forgot about the goal. I was just using this time on the route as my training. Not training for something. Just training to be a master … ”

    So often climbing writers and athletes talk about “letting go of effort” or “beginner’s mind,” conditions where the mind is empty and open, with no preferences and therefore ready for anything. Apparently, that’s how you climb the hardest sport routes in the world and just yesterday at the crag I heard somebody shouting up advice to his partner: “Let go to hold on! Don’t focus on the outcome!” But how do you achieve that state of grace free of expectation?

    In the past, the Zen notion of shoshin or beginner’s mind was revolutionary, but after 50 years in western cultural consciousness, Zen maxims are in danger of becoming a little cliché and if you’re not careful you can buy into the mistaken idea that all you have to do is “let go.” This mental disposition is said to be the prerequisite for peak performance, but it’s interesting to me that “not trying” is only useful after you’ve put in extraordinary effort and suffered great doubt.

    Effort and emptiness go together like charcoal and bratwurst. Without the first you won’t ever enjoy the sausage. In other words, beginner’s mind isn’t really useful if you’re actually a beginner. It’s only helpful if you’re an expert. Letting go of the goal only works after you’ve broken your mind by trying so hard for success. It’s tempting to focus on abstract concepts like emptiness and forget about the blood, sweat and tears.

    Climbing well is the work of a lifetime but some people are better than others and some are masters. Small gestures give it away. For example, take a look at this video about Ondra donating bone marrow and dispatching Sicily’s first 9a. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing (cause, hate to say it, the faux-U2 euro music really sucks, in my opinion) fast forward to the two-minute mark and simply watch for 20 seconds as Ondra ties his bowline. It’s like a magic trick, an amazing demonstration of countless hours of training, yet simultaneously effortless and flowing. That’s how you climb the hardest route in the world. You do it like Ondra ties his knot. 

    2:00 to 2:20


    Congratulations to the winners of last month’s TNB giveaway:

    Oofos Thong sandal: Andrew Goett

    Outdoor Research Air Brake Belay Glove: Sam Chittenden

    Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoodie: Ben Boldt

    Rock and Ice chalk bag: Kevin Belida

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article:
    Hello