Watch Adam Ondra Scream His Way Up the Second-Hardest Climb of His Life

I’d think I would have gotten tired of watching Adam Ondra climb by now. He makes enough headlines in my line of work that I almost always expect to be nonplussed when I spool up one of his videos.

Then I watch him on rock, and I’m transfixed.

That’s not because of how good I think he is (even though I would argue that he is far more productive than anyone currently active). It’s because of how hard he tries.

Ondra’s urgent pacing and hyper-distilled grunt led him to a first ascent he called the “second-hardest” climb of his life last November. At the time, he promised a video of Menagerie (9b+) early this year.

Starting today, you can watch it. Since there’s no one with nearly as much ninth-grade climbing experience as Ondra, you can bet his assessment of the gently overhanging limestone route’s difficulty is rock solid.

And the effort he cranks out while redpointing it leaves even less room for doubt.

Look at the “hold” he places his left hand on here, off a wildly high step and a deep flag — plus a marginal sidepull for the right hand.

adam ondra on menagerie

Photo: Screenshot


Watch him ping off this fingerstack pocket pinch (what does that even mean??), then doggedly grab back on.

adam ondra grabbing a bad pinch

Photo: Screenshot


And peep the extension on the next move, a deadpoint he needs every groove in each fingertip print to catch and hold.

adam ondra deadpointing

Photo: Screenshot


Sound and fury

And that’s just the first couple minutes. We haven’t even gotten to the loud part yet.

As someone who frequently makes mad dashes through climbing videos in a desperate search for entertainment value, Ondra’s content stands distinctly separate from the pack. One big audience draw is his fury within, which appears to be significan. It tends to produce a texture in his climbing that borders on violence.

But as I’ve pointed out before, it’s also clear that part of what makes Ondra intense is his uncommon focus. Ondra’s a committed student, and mental technique and carefully programmed training play important roles in his success.

What makes Adam Ondra care so much may be the million-dollar question. But ask the same thing of yourself, and you’ll probably get an answer stated in terms more primal than words alone.

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.