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Change 9b+ by Adam Ondra

Adam Ondra, taking advantage of optimal weather conditions (meaning that the holds were a little bit less wet than usual), has finally managed to send his long-term project in the Flatanger cave, Norway. The grade of 9b+ that Ondra has proposed for the entire line is kind of impressive and if it’s confirmed by other athletes, Change is going to be probably the most difficult sport route in the world.


Adam Ondra in Flatanger (photo: Miroslav Minarik)

What we already know about the line itself is that it is definitely very special in terms of the character of climbing. It consists of two distinct parts with a rest in between. Altogether, it offers 55 meters of climbing divided into two pitches: the first one, 20-meter long that Ondra sent already in July this year, was graded 9a+/b and it includes an 8B+ boulder section. What comes afterwards is a not very good no hand rest and another 25 meters of climbing, 9a “only”.


Adam in the most difficult sequence of the route (photo: Magne Ribsskog)

Ondra had to fight not only with the difficulty of the route but also with wet holds and, as it is said, climbers visiting Flatanger often saw the Czech trying to dry the holds by means of toilet paper. The conditions have got better only recently, which enabled Ondra to send the route that, as he reports, pushed him to his very limits. The whole ascent took 29 minutes, including 5-minute rest.


The upper crux of Change (photo: Petr Pavlíèek)

When it comes to the grade of Change, the Czech, known for giving hard personal grades, hesitated a lot before he finally and almost unwillingly admitted that indeed it might be a 9b+. Still, who is more entitled to decide about the grading of the very top of sport climbing if not the 19-year old? Apart from Ondra, only Chris Sharma can boast of having five 9b routes on his account.

On Adam’s 9b list there are:
  • Chilam Balam, Villanueva del Rosario, Spain (2011)
  • Chaxi Raxi (first ascent), Oliana, Spain (2011)
  • La Planta de Shiva (first ascent), Villanueva del Rosario, Spain (2011)
  • La Capella (first ascent), Siurana, Spain (2011)
  • Golpe de estado, Siurana, Spain (2010)

The 19-year old said that Norway would be his main goal for the following summer periods not only in terms of rope climbing but also bouldering.

And just for the sheer fun, here’s the calendar of the most difficult sport climbing ascents:

1979 – American Tony Yaniro makes the ascent of incredible Grand Illusion in Lake Tahoe, the  world’s first 8a route
1983 - The first route graded 8a+: The Face by Jerry Moffatta
1984 - world’s first 8b/+: Kanal im Rücken, Wolfgang Güllich
1985 - Punks in the Gym 8b+, Mount Arapiles by Wolfgang Güllich
1987Wall Street 8c by Wolfgang Güllich,
1989 - Ben Moon raises the bar even higher. His Hubble 8c+ in Raven Tor, Great Britain becomes the most difficult sport route both in the UK and in the world
1991 - Wolfgang Güllich sets mythical Action Direct which becomes the model of the 9a difficulty
1996 - Alex Huber makes the first ascent of Open Air. The route was repeated more than 10 years later on, in 2008 by Adam Ondra who simultaneously raised its grade to 9a+
2008 - Chris Sharma completes his project in Clark Mountain (USA) Jumbo Love 9b. To date, the route has no second ascent and considering the fact that it is located far from the civilization it will probably have to wait for the next conquerors longer than other extreme lines.


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