Adam Ondra Makes Quick Progress on the Dawn Wall

During his first trip to Yosemite Valley, California, Adam Ondra wastes no time and for his first Valley bigwall he jumps right on the 32-pitch Dawn Wall—the hardest bigwall route in the world.

By Rock and Ice | October 19th, 2016

During his first trip to Yosemite Valley, California, Adam Ondra wastes no time and for his first Valley bigwall he jumps right on the 32-pitch El Cap route, the Dawn Wall—the hardest bigwall route in the world. The 23-year-old Czech climber has made quick progress so far, dispatching the lower pitches to reach the top of pitch 10, below the crux pitches of the climb.

“First day on the big wall in Yosemite, and straight onto the Dawn Wall! Foolishness, lack of respect or boldness?” Ondra told Black Diamond Equipment on Monday. “Well, not necessarily any of it. The Dawn Wall just dries up quickly after the huge rain on Sunday.”

Adam Ondra susses out the lower pitches of the <em>Dawn Wall</em> during his first day on the climb. Photo: Dustin Moore / <a target=@dustin.007.” title=”Adam Ondra susses out the lower pitches of the Dawn Wall during his first day on the climb. Photo: Dustin Moore / @dustin.007.” style=”float: right; margin: 0px 0px 10px 10px;”>Ondra has wanted to visit the Valley for years, but was never able to take enough time off from university to make the trip. Now that he’s completed his Bachelor’s degree, in business management, he plans to climb in the Valley for at least a month and a half.

In an earlier interview with Black Diamond, on his way to the Valley, Ondra said he planned to attempt a free ascent of the Nose (VI 5.14) and to onsight the Salathé (VI 5.13b) as a warmup for the Dawn Wall. But due to a rainstorm on Sunday, he skipped the “warmup.”

Ondra has climbed multi-pitch routes in the Alps and Madagascar, but admits that he doesn’t have much experience with placing gear or crack climbing. “And it went all right,” he told Black Diamond, in reference to his first day on the Dawn Wall. “Definitely scary and adventurous. Tiny footholds and insecure climbing, smearing my feet onto glassy footholds of Yosemite granite and all that with poor protection by copperheads, peckers, tiny cams and occasional bolts.”

On Monday, his first day on the wall, he reached the top of Pitch 7, although not without falling. Photographer and climber Dustin Moore reported to Rock and Ice that Ondra onsighted the first pitch (5.12b) and fell once and hung once on the second pitch (5.13a). See pitch breakdown below.

Dawn Wall (VI 5.14d) Topo

“I ripped some copperheads, took some falls but made it to the top of pitch 7 and fixed our ropes,” Ondra told Black Diamond. “Leading the pitches with all the fear definitely felt super hard, but once I had the rope from above, the moves felt OK.

“But grades on the Dawn Wall are definitely not overrated. Great success for today and five pitches to go tomorrow to have our ropes fixed under the crux pitches.”

After seven years and a final 19-day push, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson were first to climb the Dawn Wall. Their final push from December 27, 2014 to January 14, 2015 captured the attention of not only the climbing community, but also the world at large. The attempt generated over one billion impressions from all media, making it the most read about, seen and talked about climb, ever. The Dawn Wall has yet to be repeated.

“Super proud first day for Adam on the Dawn Wall!” Jorgeson wrote on Facebook. “Not surprised in the least and I’m super excited to see how he does with the rest of the route!”

Stay tuned for more updates.





Dawn Wall (VI 5.14d), El Capitan, Yosemite (TOPO)

Pitch 1 (5.12b)

Pitch 2 (5.13a)

Pitch 3 (5.13c)

Pitch 4 (5.12b)

Pitch 5 (5.12d) – Anchorage Ledge

Pitch 6 (5.13c)

Pitch 7 (5.14a)

Pitch 8 (5.13d)

Pitch 9 (5.13c)

Pitch 10 (5.14a)


Pitch 11 (5.13c)

Pitch 12 (5.14b) – Molar Traverse

Pitch 13 (5.13b)

Pitch 14 (5.14d)

Pitch 15 (5.14d)

Pitch 16 (5.14a) – The Loop Pitch


Pitch 17 (5.14c) – The Dyno Pitch (5.14c)

Pitch 18 (5.14a)

Pitch 19 (5.13c)

Pitch 20 (5.13b) – The Canoe

Pitch 21 (5.13d)

Pitch 22 (5.13d) – Wino Tower

Pitch 23 (5.10)

Pitch 24 (5.11)

Pitch 25 (5.11)

Pitch 26 (5.11d)

Pitch 27 (5.11c)

Pitch 28 (5.12c) – Ship’s Prow

Pitch 29 (5.12b)

Pitch 30 (5.12b)

Pitch 31 (5.13a)

Pitch 32 (5.12b)


Follow photographer Dustin Moore on Facebook and Instagram @dustin.007.

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