“It was 2nd day on, my forearms felt sore in the morning. I was thinking of calling it a rest day... But I was less nervous and battled through the bottom and got very pumped to the 2nd crux, where I didn't fall despite no expectations. Sticking the jug, I felt like having a heat attack but I kept it together. ”

The New Face of Climbing

Miles/March 03, 2013

Let us tell you a quick story. To some, this story could be comparable to that of David and Goliath, except in this case, Goliath is one of, if not the most humble, respected, and strongest rock climbers ever to walk this earth. The story starts with Goliath (Chris Sharma) who for more than a decade now has remained and been considered the best climber in the world. With no pun intended, he is the rock star of the climbing world, and at the moment, lives in Spain with his rock star girlfriend Daila Ojeda – where our story takes place. And then there is David (Adam Ondra, pictured above), the Czech giant killer, who, with some hard work and a strong friendship with Goliath, took him down.

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Like we said, Chris Sharma is on top, and for most of his professional life, has been on top. In a climbing world split between indoor competition climbers and outdoor purists, Sharma leads the pure path, simply looking for the cleanest line (or best route up the rock face) that he can find. His career started when he won the Bouldering Nationals at age 14 and completed the hardest climb in America at the time (5.14c) just a year later. He holds claim to the hardest climb in America, a route called “Jumbo Love” at Clark Mountain in California which required a special rope, nearly double the length of most climbing ropes.

What does climbing a 5.14 grade climb feel like? Not too many people know, or will ever know. If you were to look up at the rock face of a 5.14 rated climb, believing this feat was humanly possible would be difficult. But what’s even crazier than climbing a 5.14 grade climb is climbing a 5.15 grade climb, especially a 5.15c* grade climb. And for the past year, both Sharma and Ondra together have been working on “La Dura Dura” (the hard hard), a sport route in Oliana, Spain.

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Ondra would make the long trip from the Czech Republic with his mom on his breaks from school just to work on the climb. Memorizing every move his body needed to make to complete the finish. Chris on the other hand, would just make short trip with his girlfriend from his nearby house. Two completely different people working on the same route.

And after nearly a year, on February 7, 2013, La Dura Dura went down. The hardest rock route in the world, rated at 5.15c, was completed by Adam, who is just 20 years of age. It just so happened that the previous day, Sharma, just a few miles down the road in Santa Linya, sent another project route of his, called “Stoking the Fire”, which he rated as a 5.15b, just one grade lower than La Dura Dura.

So there you have it. Two friends in the same sport, climbing as hard as they physically and mentally can on the same rock, using the same small handholds, and one got it before the other. But does that really matter? Just the fact that these two humans are able to use their body against gravity and reach the top of a climb like this is pretty amazing.

In a sense, Sharma is probably glad to be pulled out of the spotlight a bit. After years of holding every single expectation the sport could produce, Goliath can now hand David the crown and keep doing what he loves to do: living the simple life in Spain.

Now incase someone ever wants to talk rock climbing with you, you’ve got something to talk about.

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