Adam Ondra powered through the crux pitches on Friday and on Saturday reached Wino Tower on the Dawn Wall (VI 5.14d) of El Capitan, Yosemite. Now only 11 more pitches stand between him and the summit of the big stone.
“Hard to find the words to describe how I feel,” Ondra said in an interview with Black Diamond Equipment. “We made it up to the Wino Tower and no more
hard pitches guard my way to the top. I could not have asked for a better day.”
Made it to the Wino tower tonight! Deep satisfaction, peace and fire at the same time in my heart and soul. Perfect conditions today and perfect focus. That means only 11 “easy” (5.10 – 5.12) pitches left. We would have continued, but looks like it will rain soon. Which means forced restday tomorrow and hopefully finishing it off on Monday. Detailed report on @blackdiamond and @mytendon soon. Photo @pavelblazek #montura @gardatrentino @lasportivagram #elcapitan #Dawnwall #yosemite
A photo posted by Adam Ondra (@adam.ondra) on
On day one of the final push, Ondra, who is being supported by fellow Czech climber Pavel Blazek, blasted up the route’s first nine pitches (5.12b, 5.13a, 5.13c, 5.12b, 5.12d, 5.13c,
5.14a, 5.13d, 5.13c). On Day two,
he dispatched pitches 10, 11, 12 and 13 (5.14a, 5.13c, 5.14b, 5.13b), which brought him to the bottom of the crux pitches. He rested for a day,
before attempting pitch 14 (5.14d) on Thursday, November 17. Pitch 14—and the pressure of the climb—proved their difficulty, and after
eight failed attempts, Ondra gave it a rest until the next morning.
He described Thursday, his fourth day on the wall, as a “complete disaster” and told Black Diamond that he “still felt a lot of pressure as I knew that
sending pitch 14 is almost a must.” But on Friday, “my mindset was different. I tried to make jokes, being relaxed and focused only just before the
climbing,” he reported.
After warming up, Ondra sent pitch 14 (5.14d) on his first attempt of the day. He then moved on to pitch 15, the second 5.14d traverse pitch, and took
a “heartbreaking fall” a few moves below the “jug of glory,” he reported. At that point, he had to decide whether or not to try the pitch again, and
risk damaging his skin on the razor-sharp holds if he were to fall, or wait until the next day when he would be better rested.
“I took the first option,” he told Black Diamond. “I started climbing again and despite feeling strong, my skin was really soft and sweaty. On the jug
below the boulder problem, I almost thought my decision was wrong.
“I kept going nevertheless and somehow made it through the crux, where I had to improvise with my beta, as I was unable to reach with my foot all the way
due to my sliding fingers from the razorblades. Getting to the anchor was emotional of course.”
A photo posted by Pavel Blažek (@pavelblazek) on
With the two traverse pitches down, Ondra called it a night to rest before taking on pitch 15, Tommy Caldwell’s
cryptic 5.14a “Loop Pitch” variation, in the morning. Ondra described pitch 15 as “an extremely hard pitch mentally. The down-climb is awkward, powerful
and insecure and is the crux of the pitch for sure.”
The next morning, on day six of his final push with , Ondra went for the Loop Pitch despite feeling “quite wrecked,” from the day before, he said. Nevertheless,
the sky was overcast and Ondra said his skin felt sticky. He started the tenuous down-climb, balancing on micro edges to the small ledge at the bottom
of the loop. After a short rest, he entered the upside of the loop—an insecure layback with pin-scars.
“This section is probably at 5.13c, but it is really devastating if you slip and have to climb the down-climb again,” Ondra told Black Diamond. “I was
lucky to fight through the down-climb … and climbed super carefully through the layback into the no-hands stance—the end of the loop pitch/dyno
Ondra continued climbing into pitch 17, a 5.14a layback, like he originally planned (linking pitch 16 and 17 into a longer, 5.14c pitch), but after 45
minutes of climbing, his feet were “just gone,” he reported. He returned to the no-hands stance to rest, and then climbed pitch 17 from there, as in
the style of the first ascentionists Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. “Doing the whole 16 plus 17 link seemed impossible at that moment,” Ondra told Black
With the hardest pitches behind him, and plenty of day left, Ondra cranked through pitch 18 (5.13c), pitch 19 (5.13c/b), pitch 20 (5.13c)—“one of
the best pitches on the wall,” he reported—and pitch 21 (5.13d) to the Wino Tower.
“Weather forecast said rain later during the night, so we did not risk it,” Ondra told Black Diamond. They rapped back to the portaledge for the night,
and took a “forced rest day” on Sunday because of the rain. They plan to finish the climb on Monday.
“The weather isn’t perfect as of right now, [but] we go for it anyway,” Blazek reported on Instagram this morning. “Wish us good luck!”
Stay tuned for more updates.
A video posted by Pavel Blažek (@pavelblazek) on