Adam Ondra has climbed the Dawn Wall (VI 5.14d)! The 23-year-old Czech climber topped out El Cap today, November 21 after an eight-day push for the route's second free ascent.
“Totally badass,” Kevin Jorgeson wrote in an e-mail to Rock and Ice. “For Tommy and I, the question was whether it was even possible. We left
lots of room to improve the style and Adam did just that! Super impressive that he was able to adapt to the DW's unique style and sort out
so many complex sequences so quickly.”
Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell made the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall from December 27, 2014 to January 14, 2015, over a 19-day final push,
and seven years of searching for the line and working the route’s 32 pitches.
Adam Ondra – Dawn Wall Interview
The Dawn Wall, which sits looker’s right of the Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite, consists of seven pitches of 5.14, 12 pitches of 5.13,
eight pitches of 5.12, four pitches of 5.11, and one pitch of 5.10.
Ondra, who is being supported by fellow Czech climber Pavel Blazek, began sussing out the climb on October 17—for first Yosemite big wall.By a mix
of free- and aid-climbing techniques, they fixed ropes as they went to be able to work the crux pitches at a later time, and to be able to move up
and down the wall more easily. In the weeks following, Ondra and Blazek would spend two to three days on the wall, sleeping in a portaledge, and then
return to the valley floor to rest before heading back up for another round.
Since day one on the wall, Ondra has been humble about his attempt and has given constant praise to Caldwell
and Jorgeson for their visionary first ascent. Ondra described the first seven pitches of the climb as “scary and adventurous,” and pitches 8, 9 and
10 as “quite intense.” “These pitches are not only bold, but freaking hard too!” he said in an interview with Black Diamond Equipment. “Definitely
no easy grades for these ones—Tommy and Kevin are tough guys!”
In another update, Onda said: “Hats off to Tommy and Kevin, who believed that the whole climb was possible before they free climbed. Without having the
beta, some of the sections look just impossible. I have the advantage that I know that the climb is possible and that helps me to keep the faith that
I might be able to do it as well. I am humbled and impressed by what Tommy and Kevin did!”
Ondra and Blazek climbed the route’s last pitches to the summit of El Cap on November 11, 18 days after they began. But also in that time, Ondra made a side jaunt up Mid-Cathedral and came close to onsighting the
Nose with his father. Even though Ondra had seen every pitch of the climb, he knew it would require more and he returned to work the kinks
out of his beta on a few of the more difficult pitches before he was ready for a final, ground-up free push.
On November 14, day one of the final push, Ondra and Blazek began at 3 a.m., and before 9 a.m., they had blasted up the route’s first nine pitches
(5.12b, 5.13a, 5.13c, 5.12b, 5.12d, 5.13c, 5.14a, 5.13d, 5.13c). On Day two, Ondra dispatched pitches 10, 11, 12 and 13 (5.14a, 5.13c, 5.14b, 5.13b), which brought him to the bottom of the crux
pitches. He rested for a day, before attempting pitch 14, the first 5.14d crux traverse, on Thursday, November 17. Pitch 14 shut him down that day, and after eight failed attempts, Ondra began to have doubts about the climb.
He described Thursday, his fourth day on the wall, as a "complete disaster" and told Black Diamond that he “still felt a lot of pressure as I knew that
sending pitch 14 is almost a must." But on Friday, "my mindset was different,” he said. “I tried to make jokes, being relaxed and focused only just
before the climbing.”
After warming up, Ondra fired pitch 14 (5.14d) on his first attempt of the day and jumped on pitch 15, the second 5.14d traverse pitch, right after. He
took one “heartbreaking fall” a few moves below the “jug of glory,” he reported, but sent the pitch on his second go.
Despite having climbed two back-to-back 5.14d’s on razor-sharp holds, Ondra took no rest day and cranked through Caldwell’s cryptic 5.14a “Loop Pitch”
variation the next morning, his sixth day on the wall. He kept the momentum charging and that afternoon, completedpitch 18 (5.13c), 19 (5.13c/b), 20
(5.13c), and 21 (5.13d) to the top of Wino Tower.
“Hard to find the words to describe how I feel,” Ondra said in an interview with Black Diamond. “We made it up to the Wino Tower and no more hard pitches
guard my way to the top. I could not have asked for a better day.”
He took a “forced rest day” on Sunday, he reported—only his second out of eight days on the wall—to wait out the rain. Today, November 21,
he tackled the route’s last 11 pitches to the summit of the big stone.
Adam Ondra’s Dawn Wall Final Push Timeline:
Day 1 (Nov. 14):
Pitch 1 (5.12b)
Pitch 2 (5.13a)
Pitch 3 (5.13c)
Pitch 4 (5.12b)
Pitch 5 (5.12d)
Pitch 6 (5.13c)
Pitch 7 (5.14a)
Pitch 8 (5.13d)
Pitch 9 (5.13c)
Day 2 (Nov. 15):
Pitch 10 (5.14a)
Pitch 11 (5.13c)
Pitch 12 (5.14b)
Pitch 13 (5.13b)
Day 3 (Nov. 16):
Day 4 (Nov. 17):
Pitch 14 (5.14d), eight attempts, unsuccessful
Day 5 (Nov. 18):
Pitch 14 (5.14d), first go
Pitch 15 (5.14d), second go
Day 6 (Nov. 19):
Pitch 16 (5.14a) - Loop Pitch
Pitch 17 (5.14a), from no-hands rest*
Pitch 18 (5.13c)
Pitch 19 (5.13b)
Pitch 20 (5.13c/d), "One of the best pitches on the wall"
Pitch 21 (5.13d) - Wino Tower
Day 7 (Nov. 20):
Day 8 (Nov. 21):
Pitch 22 (5.10)
Pitch 23 (5.11)
Pitch 24 (5.11)
Pitch 25 (5.11d)
Pitch 26 (5.11c)
Pitch 27 (5.12c) - Ship's Bow
Pitch 28 (5.12b)
Pitch 29 (5.12b)
Pitch 30 (5.13a)
Pitch 31 (5.12b)
*After pitch 16, Ondra's pitch numbers are one off from topo map on right, i.e. Ondra's pitch 21 is pitch 22 on topo. His personal grades also vary for a few pitches.
Final Push – Day 6: Ondra Sends Crux Pitches, Reaches Wino Tower
Final Push – Day 4: Adam Ondra Hits First Hurdle
Final Push – Day 2: Ondra Completes Pitches 10 Through 13 on Dawn Wall
Final Push: Adam Ondra Blasts Up First Nine Pitches of the Dawn Wall
Dawn Wall Update: Adam Ondra Prepares for Final Push
Adam Ondra Makes Quick Progress on the Dawn Wall