posted by dpm on 10/04/2012
This morning, Adam Ondra finished his project in Norway's Flatanger Cave and is proposing the grade of 5.15c for the route. If the grade holds, and it likely will as Adam has climbed more 5.15b's than anyone else, his route The Change is the hardest sport route on the planet.
It's been ten weeks since Ondra sent the first half of the route, a 20-meter pitch that weighs in at 5.15a/b on its own. The full route continues past the first anchor for another 30 meters of 5.14d climbing. Presumably to minimize rope drag on the monster pitch, Adam uses an interesting technique before heading out the second part of the climb. While at the rest between the two sections of climbing, he hangs by one arm and a poor knee. He ties a knot in the rope and clips it loosely to a quickdraw as a backup, then calls off belay. His belayer repositions beneath him and Adam pulls the rope through all the quicks so that it drops directly down to his belayer.
Despite Adam's slick tactics and determined efforts, it looked like he was going to come away empty-handed for this year. A few days ago via Facebook, filmmaker Petr Pavlíček described what they thought would be Adam's last efforts on the route due to wet rock. "The weather during our second 2012 Norwegian trip to this incredibly beautiful "end of the world" does not allow Adam to finish his ultimate 9b(+) project called The Change. Sometimes it is more swimming than climbing, especially in the second pitch."
Petr went on to describe Adam's effort two days ago. He'd made it all the way through the first pitch and linked through the crux of the second pitch only to fall off some wet crimps near the finish. After giving up for this trip and deciding to return one more time before the winter set in, the rock dried up and Adam was able to send what is quite likely the hardest sport route in the world. Just one day before the send Petr wrote, " After long denial, after long doubts, Adam finally and unwillingly admits it is 9b+ (5.15c). Yesterday he made great try again, and despite being in a really good shape, strong like probably never before, he fell again at the end of the second pitch crux, totally pumped and said "I need to get stronger..." After so many weeks on the route, he says now that it is at least as hard as Dura Dura project in Spain."