While he may have come up short on his goal of onsighting the Salathé Wall, on El Cap, Adam Ondra got a pretty dang good consolation prize just a week later when he made the first ever onsight of Just Do It (5.14c). Bolted by Smith Rock sport-climbing pioneer Alan Watts in 1989, Just Do It was first climbed by the French climber J.B. Tribout in 1992. It had no real close competition for the title of the hardest line in the United States until 1997, when Chris Sharma established Necessary Evil in the Virgin River Gorge, Arizona.
Ondra reported on Instagram over the weekend, “Just Do It is such [an] iconic route … The first 5.14c (8c+) in America, taking the middle [part] of East face of Monkey Face. Extremely stoked to have done it today in the best style possible – onsight.”
Before onsighting Just Do It, Ondra had a middling trip to Yosemite if judged by his usual stratospheric standards. He reacquainted himself with the slick Valley granite with a second-try send of Randy Leavitt’s stem-fest Book of Hate (5.13d). He then dipatched Dominator (V13), in just a handful of attempts, and added an onsight of Cosmic Debris (5.13b) for good measure. His main goal in Yosemite was an onsight of the Salathé, but—despite a strong effort, supported by the Belgian climber Nico Favresse—the first pitch of the ridiculously exposed Headwall put an end to that dream. A true onsight of El Cap remains an extant goal for the time being.
Moving northward to Smith Rock, Ondra transitioned to crimpy welded tuff face climbing with style. Though he failed to onsight To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a)—along with Just Do It Smith’s other most famous line (also bolted by Watts and first climbed by Tribout)—he did onsight both Scarface (5.14a) and White Wedding (5.14a).
Before turning his attention to Just Do it, he made the second ascent of the young American Drew Ruana’s Assassin (5.14d), the hardest single pitch of climbing at Smith. Assassin links the crux boulder problems of Repeat Offender (5.14b), Villain (5.14a) and White Wedding in one meandering 170-foot pitch.
Finally, Ondra turned to Just Do it. The list of top climbers who have sent it include the aforementioned Ruana, Paige Claassen and Jonathan Siegrist. The famous route has remained a prized redpoint for American and visiting climbers alike since 1992, but rarely have climbers looked at it as a possible onsight.
But Ondra has taken onsighting to new levels in the past few years. While Alex Megos gets credit for the world’s first 5.14d onsight for Estado Criticio, Siurana, Spain, in 2013, to date Ondra is the only other person to onsight the grade and has done so three separate times (one more than Megos). According to 8a.nu, Ondra also has 19 5.14c onsights (not including Just Do It) and 61 5.14b onsights. He also made the first ever flash of a 5.15a when he sent Megos’ Supercrackinette in Saint-Léger, France in February 2018.
With Just do It, Ondra climbed the 18-bolt 140-foot pitch in just 18 minutes (according to a comment on Mountain Project). And with that, Ondra capped his siege of existing Smith testpieces.
One question now is whether he’ll leave his own legacy routes in the area. “There are still futuristic projects bolted back in late 80’s that Alan [Watts] showed me yesterday, still waiting to be climbed…” he wrote on Instagram.