posted by dpm on 10/29/2012
Today at the Red River Gorge, sheltered from the pouring rain by the massive overhang of the Bob Marley crag, Adam Ondra flashed Southern Smoke Direct (given 5.15a.) "Apparently, he walked up to it and just went into beast mode. He flashed the boulder problem and went to the top," said Nick Duttle citing a conversation with Daniel Woods who witnessed the ascent. This is the 2nd ascent of the route established by Adam Taylor in November of 2011 and tentatively given the grade of 5.15a. The original route climbs an easy slab then traverses left onto the steep face before tackling 70 feet of 40 degree overhang that checks in at 5.14c. The 'direct' version, done by Taylor, starts on the ground and adds a vicious boulder problem (somewhere in the V11 to V13 range) to start off the route.
All in all, a hard bouldery start into a 5.14c route makes for possibly the most flashable 5.15 in the world and Adam Ondra cashed in. This is the hardest flash ascent yet done in the history of climbing. In fact, it surpasses the previous hardest flash or onsight ascent by a letter grade. Until today, no one had ever flashed a 5.14d route. Rumor has it, of course, that Ondra is hesitant to take the grade of 5.15a and is suggesting 5.14d. Daniel Woods and Jon Cardwell have both been working the route and reportedly confirm that the grade is at least 5.14d.
Ondra's trip to the Red has been talked about quite a bit on the internet but most of it is speculation. I have heard from multiple sources however, that on his first day he visited the Motherlode where he was able to onsight Omaha Beach, Transworld Depravity (both 5.14a) and many of the other Madness Cave routes. A few days later he reportedly completed the first ascent of a project left of Take That Katie Brown at the Motherlode that is likely in the 5.14b/c range. I'm sure he's done much more but we'll have to wait for word from the man himself.
Still up for grabs are his onsight efforts on Pure Imagination and Golden Ticket (both 5.14d). We'll keep you posted.