In January of 2015 the world was transfixed by one of the most difficult and audacious rock climbing expeditions ever. That’s when Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Joregeson spent nearly three weeks climbing the Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park, widely considered the toughest big wall in the world. At the time, millions of people followed their ascent, including a large portion of the population who normally doesn’t care about what happens in the rock climbing world. It was a pivotal moment for the sport, and an inspiring challenge to say the least. Now, another climbing star is hoping to repeat that epic feat, even as he climbs in Yosemite for the very first time.
Czech climber Adam Ondra has already made a name for himself as one of the best sport climbers in the world. But, he recently admitted in an interview with Black Diamond that he has never been to Yosemite Valley to go climbing before – something that he is about to change. Ondra arrived in the U.S. last week and is currently en route to the national park, where the has already announced plans to take on two of its most iconic routes – The Nose and the Salathé Wall. Both are considered to be extremely challenging, and and are amongst the most well known routes in the entire world.
But, Ondra has also told Black Diamond that he is considering an attempt on the Dawn Wall as well. He admits that he doesn’t want to reveal too much about those ambitious plans since he hasn’t even seen the route in person yet, but he would like to give the famous climb a go should the opportunity present itself.
For most climbers, attempting a massive climb like the Dawn Wall without first setting eyes on it would seem like a silly proposition. But as National Geographic Adventure points out, Ondra has already climbed similar routes on his first attempt, something that is known in rock climbing circles as “onsighting.” Nat Geo further points out that the Dawn Wall carries a Yosemite Decimal System rating of 5.14d, which is incredibly tough for sure. But, there are three sport climbs rated 5.15c in the entire world, and Ondra is the only person to complete all of them. That is the most difficult rating in the entire sport.
Will he be able to complete the Dawn Wall? Only time will tell. Personally, I think he’ll need to scout the route a bit and consider his options closely. Climbing the Dawn Wall isn’t just about its difficulty rating. It is a long, grueling ascent that takes days to complete. Caldwell and Joregeson spent years in preparation, and both have a great deal of experience in Yosemite. Can Ondra make he climb? Of course he can. But, I think he’ll need a bit more seasoning in the Valley before he does so.
If he proves me wrong, it will indeed be one of the greatest feats in the history of climbing. For now, we’ll just have to wait to see if that is the case.
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