Can Adam Ondra Onsight This 9a Sport Climb? Find Out

The games we play as climbers proliferate well beyond “human on rock versus moves”. For any game, you need rules — and the strictest rules in climbing could be those that govern the onsight.

For a true onsight, you must walk up to the climb from below and start climbing. You cannot arrive with any other information except the route name and difficulty. No one who’s been on it can tell you about a single hold or a single move. Real purists say you can’t even touch the start holds until you begin climbing.

Many components must coalesce for an onsight near the limit of a climber’s ability to come together. Preparation, confidence, decisions, and luck — oh yes, luck — all play critical roles.

Ready to watch Adam Ondra play the game on a short, wicked 9a/5.14d sport route?

I don’t think I’d rather watch any other pro climber onsight. Ondra’s studious but psyched approach to the craft of climbing is refreshing and silly by turns. His climbing style is vicious, contortional, and loud — you’d almost say he was uninhibited if he wasn’t so damn good.

And then, of course, there’s his charming accent and his unflinchingly pleasant attitude.

I forgot to mention: If you’re getting ready to try a hard onsight, you’d better not come at it from a negative head space. Climbing 9a is hard enough — climbing it according to the strict rules of onsighting has rarely been done.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.