Friday, June 03, 2011
World’s Hardest Climb?
This kid, who just turned 18, has turned the climbing world on its head this year. Today’s Friday Psyche is Ondra on Chaxi Raxi, a long standing Chris Sharma project and one of the hardest routes in the world. If it’s not the hardest than that title goes to one of the other 9bs he’s established this year, which we know because he’s climbed pretty much all of the other hard sport climbs on the planet.
Ondra is doing what most people thought was impossible in today’s climbing world, where the sport has been divided up into specialized arenas: climbing the hardest rock routes in every style. He’s been traveling around the world to grab the second ascent of pretty much anything on the “world’s hardest” radar (he’s yet to come to America but when he does Jumbo Love will likely have a grade confirmation)—even multi-pitch climbs in remote locations, as well as onsighting routes on a completely different plane. He recently nabbed the second of the almost-mythical line Chilam Bilam. Its first ascent had always been debated and some of the world’s strongest climbers, such as Sharma and Dani Andrada, had failed on it. It took Ondra four tries and then, while in the neighborhood, he established an even harder route on the same cliff.
He calls himself ‘weak’, which simply means power is not his forte. But this hasn’t stopped him from doing the hardest boulder problems or winning world cups, even though he mainly focuses on long hard ‘endurance’-style climbs. He is simply on another level from every other climber right now. The scary thing is that he seems to be getting much better each year and probably has another decade to physically improve.
physiology lesson: the quick hand shakes ondra does between movements near the top of the climb are to help recharge CP (creatine phosphate) stores, which fires ATP (to keep you attached to the rock). CP stores run out quickly, 3-8 seconds, but also can recharge very quickly. subtle and effective.