Dawn Wall Update: Progress Slows, But Adam Ondra Continues to Climb

1280px Yosemite El Capitan

Last week I posted an update from Yosemite, where Czech climber Adam Ondra is working on the toughest challenge imaginable. The 23-year old has been plugging away at the Dawn Wall, the massive rock face that sits on the southeast face of El Capitan. When last we checked in, Ondra was quickly zipping up the tough climb, having knocked off 10 pitches in just a couple of days. But now, progress has slowed as he hits the tougher sections of the climb, forcing him to spend a bit more time figuring out these problems.

As of this past weekend, Ondra has successfully completed the first 13 pitches of the Dawn Wall, and was working on pitch 14, 15, and 16. Those are amongst the three toughest sections of the entire climb, and he reports that it will take colder weather and more skin on his fingertips to finish those three pitches. He says both are on the way, but in the meantime he’s been gathering intel on the moves he’ll have to make – some of them very tough – to get through this next series of challenges.

Once he’s above pitch 16 things get a bit easier and he should have few problems finishing off the Dawn Wall. If he does complete the climb, it’ll be only the second time it has been scaled. You probably recall that Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson knocked it off in January of 2015, but they spent years planning their ascent. Ondra is currently making his first visit to Yosemite Valley.

The Czech climber hasn’t been only focused on the Dawn Wall. Last week he took some time off to climb The Nose with his father, hoping to complete that iconic route in a single day. While they did manage to finish around midnight, it wasn’t completely free climbed. They also got hit by a storm near the summit and were forced to camp out on top until the following morning.

After his foray on The Nose, Ondra has now returned to the Dawn Wall and is working on figuring out that challenge. We’ll continue to bring you news of his progress as we hear more.

Kraig Becker