Worlds First 5.15?

Did you ever hear the great story about the two French climbers who traveled to a remote monastery in Europe to investigate the legendary climbs of one particular (since disappeared) Monk? Well as it turned out this Monk back in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s ( I can’t recall now) really enjoyed climbing the rocks on the nearby property. This modest Monk even figured out how to set up an anchor on top and teach his comrades how to hold his rope should he fall. Each day the monk would go outside and practice his favorite art, the moving over of stone. He took well to the steeper climbs and began to work an overhanging prow that was too pretty to ignore, even if it was too hard. Eventually, the Monk solved it’s problem and with a hemp rope tied around his waist, with barefeet and no chalk for a thousand miles, he made the first “redpoint” of this line to the cheering crowd of onlookers.

FIFTY (or so) years later the two French super stars showed up to put to rest a rumor they had heard of a monk with legendary abilities. Like a monkey they say. It took them three very serious attempts each with all the training and technology of modern climbing brought and Marc (the first one to repeat the climb) declared it to be a SOLID 5.13c. Perhaps the first in the world.


“Alexander Huber’s Open Air has been waiting 12 long years for a second ascent; on November 17, Adam Ondra got the job done. The 15-year old sport climbing powerhouse completed the 9a (5.14d) route at Austria’s Schleier Waterfall after five days of work and nine attempts.

After the climb, Ondra noted that he thought the grade was more accurately 9a+ (5.15); if this sticks, the route, which was established by Huber in 1996, could be the world’s first 9a+ sport route to have been climbed.

“When Alex Huber did it, Action Directe (was) considered as 8c+ , then 9a for this one was OK.” Ondra commented on his scorecard. “Now when Action Directe is 9a, this should be 9a+.”

Ondra went on to say this is his hardest route yet. Earlier this summer Chris Sharma put his hands to the route and after a brief attempt thought that a handhold must’ve broken off since the FA.”

I remember this climb well.  1996 was the year I started pimpin in the gyms of Toronto as a 16 year old who desperately wanted to travel and see the worlds mountains. I recall skipping school and going downtown for a climbing session at Joe’s and a visit to the gear shops. Flipping through the magazines at Mountain Equipment Co-Op it read that Alex took months and months of work, trying to add up all the sections of this climb. A friend of ours thought “HOW RIDICULOUS – why would someone waste so much of their valuable time on this earth just to climb one section of silly rock”, well, the rest of us understood why and Open Air seemed like a very beautiful line, although too hard for us to comprehend back then. 12 years later….Ondra strikes again. He is not the future, he is the present.

  • Suzanne

    Now there’s a kick ass climber. I like his climbing style on that rock face.