In the last few years the tiny world of elite rock climbing has fixated on a giant windswept granite cave in Norway, and the potential for one climber, Adam Ondra, to set a new benchmark in the sport.
Now, after over 40 days of efforts spread across two years and seven visits to Norway, Czech climber Ondra has completed what is being claimed as the world’s hardest single rope-length climb, both in terms of physical effort and technical difficulty.
Ondra bolted the route in the Hanshelleren Cave in Flatanger, Norway in 2013 and spent months there training for the 20-minute climb to stretch the broadly used French numerical system for grading climb difficulty to 9c from a previous 9b+.
“At the end of the route when I knew I did it, I had one of the strangest emotions ever,” Ondra said. “I clipped the anchor and I could not even scream. All I could do was just hang on the rope, feeling tears in my eyes. It was too much joy, relief and excitement all mixed together.”
Last November, he became the third man in the world to climb the Dawn Wall in the Yosemite Valley, considered the world’s toughest multi-pitch route.
Ondra, a three-time world champion, spent eight days on the 914-metre (yard) climb, beating the previous record by 11 days.
Last year, the International Olympic Committee approved climbing as a sport for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.