Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

News

Adam Ondra’s Hardest Routes in Flatanger

Adam Ondra has taken sport climbing to new levels, and his futuristic routes in Norway's Hanshelleren Cave have played a large role in his progression. This story gives insight into the drive and discipline of the world's best climber. Ever.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers and Strength Training for Injury Prevention
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Ondra in his element, putting up futuristic routes in Flatanger, Norway. Photo by Petr Pavlicek.The beating of a hammer drill echoed off the massive gray walls of the storied Hanshelleren Cave in Flatanger, Norway, home to Change (5.15c) and Move (5.15b), two of the world’s hardest routes. It was 9 p.m. and still light. The drill belonged to Adam Ondra, who had already established seven new routes since arriving here a week ago in late May, 2013. He had thought that the projects would occupy him all summer, then he redpointed five of those lines in a single week.

“Finally I’m getting a little stronger,” he said after sending The Illusionist, a new 5.14d.

When Ondra wasn’t dispatching his projects, he would lie on his back, peering up at the roof for hours, scouting new routes. Above him loomed uncharted territory, providing the perfect canvas for someone possessed by a psych few people can even imagine.

“When I repeated most of the world’s hardest routes, it was a natural progression to try to break the path ahead and push the limits,” he says. “Bolting is time-consuming and tiring, but I’m enjoying myself.”

The area’s Hanshelleren cave is set within a sprawling granite cathedral. Its dark interior opens like the giant mouth of a Norse god.As he bolted, Ondra’s singing and whistling floated down from the roofs, the acoustics of the cave spreading his notes of inspiration.

Flatanger is a new proving ground for hard sport climbing, and it has been drawing elite climbers from around the world. The area’s Hanshelleren cave is set within a sprawling granite cathedral. Its dark interior opens like the giant mouth of a Norse god. The cave sports 260 feet of overhanging climbing capped by a 160-foot headwall. The granite is crisscrossed by cracks and peppered with blocky holds. Although Ondra, Ethan Pringle, Dani Andrada and Magnus Midtbø have been bolting the hardest lines on the massive roof, other route developers have been steadily churning out lines for the rest of us on the cave’s vertical and slightly overhanging outer edges. As a result, Flatanger has turned into one of Scandinavia’s premier crags.
==
Line Tveter styles <em>Paletikk</em> (5.12b). Flatanger, Norway. Photo by Claudia Ziegler. ” /><strong>A BOLTING MISSION</strong></p>
<p>I hiked up to the cave for the first time this summer. Ondra and I, along with the Czech filmmaker Petr Pavlícek, left the campground and headed through pastures owned by the local farmers Berit and Olav Hestnes, who have turned their land into a campground, even letting climbers stay in their barn and use their restroom. The Hestnes plan to build on a new home, and will eventually rent out their entire compound to the climbers who have been coming in increased frequency since the first routes went up in the mid-1990s.</p>
<p>The air that day was rich with the smells of Norway’s boreal forests, the salty North Sea and freshly cut grass. Wild raspberries, cloudberries and lingonberries lined the serpentine path up to the cliff. I munched on fruit the whole way, then stopped, awestruck, at my first view of the cave. I stared into its depths. It was way bigger than it looked from the road or from pictures. The cave was one of the most inspiring rock features I’d ever seen.</p>
<p>Then I noticed Ondra’s 650-foot static line strung from off the top like something out of Jack and the Beanstalk. He’d been using the static rope to bolt his projects, setting hooks and cams to hold him into the wall. The fruits of his efforts would include a 150-foot 5.13b extension to a route <em>Berntsenbanden</em>; a 5.13d <em>Doorkeeper</em>, named after a cruxy barndoor move; <em>The Illusionist</em>, a 5.14d sent in four days; a 100-foot 5.13a <em>Ronja</em>; <em>Move</em>, at 5.15b; and <em>Dharma</em>, a 5.14b that had caught his imagination a year before, and which leads into the middle of the cave’s daunting roof.</p>
<p>“The rock quality is absolutely amazing and you don’t even need to brush or clean anything,” says Ondra. “Some of the sections feel like you’re climbing in Yosemite.”</p></div>
<div></div>
<div>The portion of the cliff to the right of Dharma has been, for Ondra, the most fascinating part of Hanshelleren—probably because the lines appear completely impossible. From the ground, this part of the wall looks like a giant, black, polished plate. Of course, later that summer he threw himself at it, and established <em>Move</em> (5.15b) after two and a half weeks of effort. It’s one of the world’s hardest routes.</p>
<blockquote-right><p>Then I noticed Ondra’s 650-foot static line strung from off the top like something out of Jack and the Beanstalk.</blockquote-right>Ondra has spent his career climbing as wide a variety of routes in as many different areas, giving him an enormous repertoire of movements that live in his muscles. When he confronts a move he can’t do, his mind becomes a computer, scanning his vast library of moves and experiences for a solution. When he finds a match, he turns on his try-hard capacity and sends. His infamous screams and grunts are evidence of how hard he goes for it.</p>
<p>“I grew up making my own bouldering problems, and I never let myself get caught up in other people’s routes when I’m training,” he says. “This has made me good at finding my own solutions, visualizing moves, recognizing my own strengths and weaknesses, and most of all, memorizing sequences.</p>
<p>“The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself,” he says. “Or at least that’s what I tell myself.”<br />==<br /><img src=