Recently, Adam Ondra became the second ever to onsight a 9a (5.14d). The route was La Cabane au Canada at Rawyl, Switzerland.
I had a chat with him at the trade show at Friedrichshafen, and it was very obvious he was really happy to finally have reached his goal of onsighting 9a. In less than a week, he will head up to Flatanger to start working the various projects he bolted there earlier this year. The plan is to stay for a month, but as he has got two months off, that could very well change. This autumn, he starts studying economics, which means he will have less time to travel. Instead, he will be focusing on competitions again.
Here is the Cabane au Canada interview. The questions are by Pierre Délas/Kairn, as we had both sent similar questions.
9a [5.14d] onsight was one of your goals these last years. A big achievement?
It is definitely something very big for me. I always had it in my mind, and I was never really sure whether I was capable of doing it yet. 10 years ago, I wanted to believe that something like that would be possible, but it still felt something out of reach, something completely surreal. Now, after 10 years of hard work, it came true, but it still feels surreal.
Can you briefly describe your feelings during the onsight ascent? Were you fighting hard?
It was kind of a weird day. It didn't start very well. I had the information from the weather forecast that it was supposed to be overcast. So I didn't have to get up that early in order to avoid the heat on the south facing wall. But just to be sure, I set up an alarm for 5 AM. I heard the alarm, saw the clouds and went back to sleep. At 7 AM, I was awake and saw blue sky. I got furious. I had to make my warming up routine much faster, the swim in the icy cold dam had to be skipped and we had to hurry up to the crag. But I did not feel that good. I didn't know why. After an unsuccessful warm up (I chose the wrong route, thinking that I was climbing 8a, I climbed some harder route which is not included in the topo), something clicked in myself. All of the sudden I felt good. A little nervous, but most of all, quite confident.
At the beginning, I climbed with slight nervousness, but on the top, I went like a robot. I climbed perfectly. No space for thinking. When I finally clipped the chains, there was a brief moment when I was wondering if this was for real. For the very next moment, I was wondering if this was a real 9a. A little doubt. But then I realized that this is the first route given 9a I onsighted that can actually be a true 9a according to my subjective immediate post-send feeling. After the sends of the previous ones, I knew instantly that they did not feel like 9a. This one, even though low-end 9a, I could say with all my honesty that it could be 9a. (that does NOT mean that it is definitely not 8c+, who knows?).
What can you say about this route? Perfect style for you?
It is a route that fits me perfectly. 40 meters of pefect wall, that looks like it was cut with a knife. Small crimps, good footholds, decent rests in between cruxes. And it is an impeccable line. When I saw it the day before, I almost peed myself. It looked that good!
Trying the 9a routes onsight with having in mind that you can succeed seems hard. What do you do to avoid feeling the pressure?
It is very difficult. It helped in this case that I had not expected it that much. I thought that the route would be dirty and abandoned after a long winter, but it turned out to be perfectly cleaned. But I hadn't been nervous for days in prior. Additionally, two days in prior I had an amazing feeling in Gastlosen. I did the first ascent of Torture physique integrale, 9a+/b. I knew I was in a pretty good shape and I had enormous motivation for climbing.
Thanks Adam, and good luck with everything!
This article was originally published by UKClimbing.com