Friday, March 23, 2012

The Adam Ondra Phenomena

Adam on Le Planta De Shiva
one of the five 9b routes he has done
Adam Ondra is undoubtedly one of the worlds top climbers and arguably the best, but why? How has the 19 year old made it to the top of the climbing world?

So for those of you who don't know who Ondra is, let me give you a quick bio:

Born in the Czech Republic (Brno to be precise) on February 5th 1993, he began climbing at 6 and managed to lead 6a in the same year, then by the age of 8 he had successfully on sighted 7b+. The grades keep going up until he hits fame in the magazines in 2005 at the age of 12 for on sighting 8b. Ondra climbs his first 9a in 2006 and in March 2011 he became the second person ever to on sight 8c+ (Kidetasunaren balio erantsia) just under a month after leading 9b (La Capella) and has since on sighted a further 6 8c+'s. For those of you interested in bouldering he put 2 8c's(V16) under his belt in November 2011 (Big Paw and From Dirt Grow the Flowers).

His competition career has been pretty much the same story of success and he has won a number of events and is the first person to have won both the IFSC Bouldering World Cup and the IFSC Lead World Cup.

If you want a more detailed bio I'd recommend reading his Wikipedia page, his unofficial website or watching the Wizard's Apprentice.

So what makes Adam Ondra so good, that he is almost legendary? Hopefully I can shed some light on it, however  most of what Ondra does is specific to a lot of top end climbers...
Has he been eating his Weetabix?
  1. He's been climbing for years - according to Mathew Syed in his book Bounce it takes 10,000 hours (or 10 years) to become a champion and Ondra has had 13 years, his hours of practice have allowed him to learn the techniques and get the muscles to be able to attempt such difficult routes and succeed. Even from the beginning of his career he's been committed, in a recent interview for UKC he said;  I have always taken climbing really seriously. Climbing hard and obtaining my goals has always been very important.  It just proves that practice makes perfect, and even if you don't climb hard just giving your all to make the most of the time you have will definitely improve your climbing. However it isn't just this that makes him good...
  2. He's got guts and he's got faith - If you watch Ondra climb you'll notice he'll quite happily skip clips if the hand holds are shit or keep going to the holds are good to clip even if the clips at waist height. Many climbers, me included, often panic and just want to clip as quick as possible to feel safe, if your panicking about the clips, you're just not focusing on the route so you'll either be sticking to easy routes or messing up routes you'd breeze on top rope. Ondra has also got faith in himself, this is again clear if you read his recent interview for UKC. He says that because he'd done a few 8c+'s before hand he was confident he could do an 9a and why not, if you have the skill and the strength to do just 5 routes why shouldn't you be able to just work hard and do 1 route the next grade up!
  3. He's got one of the right builds - notice how I've said one of the right builds, there are many builds that're suitable for climbing. Ondra is a stick and his light weight and muscle means he is able to pull himself up routes with ease.
    However you don't need to be a stick with muscle to climb well, training hard to increase your upper body strength will also help push your grade, just look at climbers like Chris Sharma.
    What do you mean I forgot to tie in?
  4. He's got technique - He doesn't just thug up routes, he uses moves such as no hand rests (7:00) to recover, smearing, matching his hands and flagging to name just a few. learning these techniques will definitely help improve your technique, in fact smearing and flagging are often moves new climbers use without even realising! As well as this he uses beta from other climbers to help him do a route, even the best may need help to push it to the next level or repeat another hard route!
These are just some of the reasons why Ondra is so good, but if your willing to push you could easily be that good and even if you don't want to be that good and just want to improve your climbing, definitely take a leaf out of his and other pro's books.

N.B. As Stan pointed out to me and I said before going into detail, a lot of what I've said about Ondra applies to a lot of top climbers, he is just a comparable example.

Before I let you return to normal life, for anyone who read my previous post, they'll be glad to know that projecting does work as all my projects went down this Sunday! I took some massive falls and a big swing before getting all three, but unfortunately Stan wasn't around so I have no video...

Kiaran Away!

No comments:

Post a Comment