Friday, August 7, 2009

Busy Week Climbing

As my elbow has improved, I have spent more time climbing and less time focused on running. A pretty hard run on Sanitas aggravated the muscle at the top of my right hip so I am letting that settle down before going up high again. Tuesday I had a good session at the Spot doing about 17 problems most in the 4/4+ range. Wednesday I had a guiding day of sorts, taking a father and son out to the Sport Park for an introduction to climbing. I had put this up as a fundraising item where I teach and fortunately it was bid on. The Sport Park, which sadly was chipped into submission on a number of routes, is a really good hassle free way to introduce beginning climbers to a good variety of climbing styles and techniques. Especially nice was the absence of crowds of people and surprisingly moderate temperatures. All told I probably climbed about 400 feet of rock that day. Thursday, Caolan and I were going to go and try some of the climbing at the new area in Boulder Canyon, Tonnere Tower, but gray skies soon turned to rain and lightning so it was back to the Boulder Rock Club. I warmed up on a slew of autobelay runs and led a few routes in the 5.10 and easy 11 range before doing two 12- routes, the first serious endurance-style roped climbs I had done in many months. A couple top-rope goes on a crimpy 13 showed promise as well.

On the bigger news front, it is clear that a new generation and a new geographical emphasis has emerged. The exploits of Nalle Hukkataival and Adam Ondra are the defining standard in the world. After dispatching Jade in RMNP in a handful of tries over several days, Nalle has climbed a striking 8c arete, Livin Large, taking 12 days according to Chuck Fryberger. Meanwhile Adam Ondra has cleaned house in Rocklands flashing two confirmed V13s in a day and ticking too many other hard problems to list here. South Africa(make sure to visit B3 Bouldering) and Switzerland clearly have become must-visit locations on the international circuit and the new standard of performance represented by Ondra in particular is incredible as he is seemingly equally adept at every aspect of high-level rock climbing. I can't think of any other climber besides Chris Sharma who can boulder V13 or 14 easily and also quickly redpoint 5.15 endurance routes. Even Sharma cannot match Ondra's relentless pursuit of hard climbs of every style everywhere. There is no doubt in my mind that Ondra is ready to take it to another level both on a rope and off.


Anonymous said...

I really wonder how long we'll have to wait to see some repeats on Sharmas more desperate lines. Until then, it seems premature to make comparisons between Sharma and Ondra, except to say they are both incredible prodigies of the highest degree, on or off rope.

Peter Beal said...

The reason I think Ondra is so impressive is that he has searched out virtually every sport climbing testpiece in Europe, old school and new school, and demolished it in very few attempts. Among other examples, his ascents of Open Air, the Huber 5.15 which remained unrepeated for over a decade, Wogu, a runout multi-pitch alpine 14b, and Action Direct show a willingness to go anywhere and try (and usually succeed very quickly) on anything. Looking at his scorecard at it is hard to believe he is only 16!

Chris has not had the same track record in repeats since an initial wave when he was younger and following his record is difficult since he doesn't lay things out in a forum like 8a. His FAs like Biographie/Realization and Jumbo Love have been his greatest contribution and made his reputation. However outside of Spain, he hasn't shown much interest in repeating the hardest local testpieces. To me, repeats of other people's hard FAs shows a willingness to tackle climbs that may not suit your style or abilities, a problem which Ondra by the way seems to lack.

I have no doubt that when Ondra is out of school and has more free time,he will start doing hard FAs. Most of his travels are quick visits from home. Chris's newer routes in Spain look right up Ondra's alley and I have little doubt they will go down quickly.

On a semi-related note, I find it interesting that Tommy Caldwell's 2003 route Flex Luthor has more or less disappeared from view. This is a shame as it is likely solid 5.15 and definitely deserving of more attention.

Anonymous said...

Sharma actually bolts routes, Ondra does not. Ondra has also failed on at least one of Chris's hard routes at Margalef. Also its interesting to see you give more credit to someone for actually doing things than the person who tried them first - surely the vision to see something as being possible counts more than actually doing it - or does that only apply when you say it does?

Peter Beal said...

"Sharma actually bolts routes, Ondra does not."

Ondra is 16 years old. Give him time. Chris made his reputation initially climbing other people's routes and projects such as Necessary Evil.

Ondra has also failed on at least one of Chris's hard routes at Margalef.

So what? So have a bunch of good climbers. Ondra has repeated literally dozens of confirmed 8c+ and harder routes in a handful of tries, a number for the first time. Sharma has failed on a number of well-known hard climbs in Europe that Ondra has done.

"Also its interesting to see you give more credit to someone for actually doing things than the person who tried them first - surely the vision to see something as being possible counts more than actually doing it - or does that only apply when you say it does?"

When you see a young man of 16 literally hiking long-established testpieces you have to see that a new generation is coming on. So is Ondra a pioneer like Chris? Not yet but I would say his foundation has been exceptional, literally like no other climber has had before, including Chris.

Anonymous said...

When you say "literally hiking," are we to take it that he was wearing a knapsack and hobnail boots?

But seriously ... why try to decide whether Adam or Chris is the best thing on a rope since soap?

Chris has been an incredibly influential climber for well over a decade now. Adam is blazing through the highest grades at a pace unmatched since, well, Chris.

Once PB's elbow heals completely, he will show both these young bloods what hard climbing is all about. You heard it here first.

Keep the posts coming!

-- Mark

Peter Beal said...

Good pint about the "literally" part, though I wouldn't be surprised if Ondra could do 14a in hobnail boots. No danger of my showing these guys what they could be doing if they just tried hard though.