Ondra Establishes World's Hardest Rock Route

An impossible route? Maybe for mere mortals.

While Adam Ondra may be a gangly teenager, at 19 he's also a climbing prodigy and arguably the best athlete the sport has ever known. And that argument  has just gotten a lot stronger. Earlier this week, Ondra finished a project called The Change, a 180-foot route up nearly horizontal overhanging rock that sits inside Hanschelleren Cave in Flatager, Norway, that he's calling a 5.15c. If that rating holds through other climbers' input (and, as Ondra has climbed more 5.15bs than anyone else, it likely will)—the route will be the hardest ever established. 

It's been 10 weeks since the teen began the lower, 65-foot portion of the wall—a 5.15a/b in its own right. And up until last week, it didn't look like he'd be able to tackle the second pitch. Filmmaker Peter Pavlicek, who had been traveling with Ondra, had said on Facebook that because of the constant rain, the route was sometimes "more swimming than climbing."

But it shoudln't really be too surprising that Ondra's the guy who would be able to pull off this kind of stunt. In 2010, he became the first climber to win both lead and bouldering competitions at the indoor IFSC Bouldering World Cup. And in March 2011, while on a climbing trip to Spain, Ondra became the second person ever to onsight an 8c+/5.14c route. (That is, he climbed it without prior inspection.) In total, the climbing legend-in-the-making has crushed 959 routes between 8a/5.13b and 9b/5.15b.