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Onsight or Die

 Adam Ondra onsighting Il Domani (5.14d). Photo by Paxti Usobiaga.

Adam Ondra onsighting Il Domani (5.14d). Photo by Paxti Usobiaga.

Last week we had a bit of media attention back on onsighting with La Sportiva Athlete Adam Ondra climbing Il Domani 9a, a route he considered to be his hardest onsight ever. With himself and Alex Megos the only two climbers to achieve this, and the fact that the hardest route ever done (which was rehearsed for years) only 3 grades superior, this story deserves as much attention as the little climbing media machine can handle (regardless of whether you like/loathe the guy or press 'mute' on all his films).

Will we see a feature film about this next Banff film festival? Probably not.

At least for sport climbing/bouldering films, the makers have the story line given to themselves on a silver platter in the form of projecting. And it usually goes something like this...

- Sport Climber Bob sees an awesome line but thinks it's impossible

- Sport climber Bob tries some of the moves and dreams that it is possible

- Bob fails and fails and fails

- Bob takes time out from his project to reflect on why he actually wants to do this climb.

- He releases his mind from the fear of failure

- Sport Climber Bob returns with an empty mind free of expectation and sends his climb.

Let's not kid ourselves, this recipe usually works and the tear ducts do tend to swell as those chains are getting clipped.

But in rock climbings' 100 or so years of history, onsighting has been the pinicle of the game.

Only recently has the leader been able to fail, and fail, and fail...

However much you get into Ondra's climbing antics, it is good to see the weight both he and Megos are putting on onsighting. Leaving routes for years before they think their skills are up for an onsight, being careful whilst on youtube or vimeo not to watch anything containing routes they want to onsight, avoiding talking to ascentionists about the route.

Hopefully the sport climbing (sanitised climbing) scene can get back to the excitement of 'one chance', no room for error, discovery and problem solving running hand in hand with athletic ability. What climbing has been about for so long. 

Imagine a film about sport climbing/bouldering that explores the mental and physical preparation of that one chance mentality, decision making on the go, reversing mistakes and not just letting go. Being realistic however, the only way a feature is going to be made for Banff about the onsight is when Alex Honnald does his next epic onsight solo. Where there is actually no room for error. Now there is a storyline your average person will understand. Onsight or die.

 Alex Megos sending The Tube (5.14b) in the Red River Gorge. Photo by Peter Wurth. Alex Megos sending The Tube (5.14b) in the Red River Gorge. Photo by Peter Wurth.

 See Ondra's onsight here Read about Alex Megos's first 9a onsight here