To start the month of February, we had the special privilege of interviewing Adam Ondra in anticipation of his upcoming trip to Canada. Adam’s first stop will be at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) on Monday, February 16th, followed by Adam coaching at the IFSC World Cup Camp at The Boulders in Central Saanich, BC, from February 20-22nd. Squamish Climbing Magazine thought this would be a great opportunity to check in with Adam and see how things are going this year. Adam is an absolute legend, with first ascents of some of the toughest routes and boulders in world. Here is what he had to say.
Hi Adam, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How are things going?
Things are going just great! The start of 2015 was a bit hectic for sure as I had some exams to do at university but they are finally all done and I have a nice one month of holiday ahead. I took three weeks of rest during Christmas time, did some snowboarding and cross-country skiing, and started train again around January 2nd. It is always hard to get into the real business of climbing after a long rest but I am starting to feel a quite strong again.
You are heading to Canada next month to speak at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIMFF) and then coach at the IFSC climbing camp. Is this your first time to Canada?
Yes, it is my first time in Canada and my second time in North America. So far, I have only been to Red River Gorge in Kentucky.
Your first scheduled stop is the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIMFF). What will you be talking about Monday evening and How often do you speak at these types of events around the world?
I will be talking about my life in general. How I got into climbing, where I started climbing and why I started climbing. Then, I will talk about my favorite place on the Earth – the immense cave of Flatanger in Norway, where I made the first ascent of Change 9b+ in October 2012. The end of the presentation will be dedicated to the path to attain world champion titles in 2014. I like these kinds of slideshows because it is the only way I can give something to society. I consider myself being a little bastard in a certain way, because I just climb and get paid for it but I don’t give anything to society, I don’t produce anything or offer a service. All I can do is to inspire the people, to change their mind and live a better life.
At the end of the week, you will be a part of the IFSC World Climbing Camp in Central Saanich, BC. How did this event come together?
I was invited by Kimanda (Jarzebiak) and it sounded like a great idea to (visit) Canada, along with other great climbers, to climb together and share our knowledge with hungry youngsters. It is exciting concept and I can’t wait to see it.
Is this the first time you have been in a ‘coaching’ role for other competitors?
Yes, it is my first time I will be coaching. I have always been individualist and I always hated being told what to do, and I always felt bad in the other position – to tell the others what to do. But since I now have a coach (Patxi Usobiaga since last year), I feel that coaching is not about being imperative, (it is about being) cooperative and sharing your knowledge, passion and motivating others. And that is why I am looking forward to it.
What have you learned about training from Patxi over the past year?
It is fully different concept of training, including periodization. Changing periods when I train harder than ever, despite enormous fatigue, and then just climbing a little bit before competition or any other important goal. It is interesting concept and I have to trust it, no matter painful and hard the tough training period is. But it worked last year and I imagine it is the only way how to make a further progress in climbing for me.
Is there any specific training technique that you think is most important when getting ready for the World Cup season or training for an outdoor project?
Training well is important thing, but then you have be able to give everything you have at that certain moment, which could be difficult. That is why I try to be very serious in the last training before the comp and try to create almost comp-like atmosphere. Nevertheless, the real comps are different and everybody has its own approach how to cope with the pressure.
Recently, you had said you were going to compete in more world cup competitions this year after focusing your efforts outdoors for the last couple of years. How has your idea of climbing, and it’s importance in your life, changed over the past five years?
Climbing has always been very important. But that doesn’t mean I would quit school and just climb. Education is equally important and I can do it like this because no matter what you do, in my opinion, it is impossible to train more than 4 hours a day, because your skin doesn’t allow you to do more. Then, in the rest of your day, you can do something else that keeps you busy.
In climbing itself, I have always liked the variety of it. You can do so many different things and still call it climbing as it is all based on one single rule – to keep moving upwards. And that is great! As an all-around climber, I can enjoy many aspects of climbing. It gets so fresh when I switch the focus in climbing. Rocks have always been important for me and they always will be, but comp is a different, and equally exciting, challenge! I just feel in need of being in the nature from time to time, and that is why I can’t do comps every single season. My image of climbing hasn’t changed since 5 years ago, all disciplines are important for me. I just follow my heart and do what I want to do next!
What are you studying at University?
Economics, Business management in my hometown Brno, Czech Republic.
How has it been returning to university after climbing full-time?
It was great, because it made me go back into daily routine and being more organized about the day, which enables to train harder and more efficiently.
Why did you choose to continue with university rather than stay on the road and climb full-time?
To have something as a back up in my life, to have distraction in my life (thinking 24/7 about climbing is harmful and doesn’t make you climb harder), and to have a duty at home, so I stay at home and train harder than ever.
How do you manage to maintain your study and training schedule?
It is busy, but it all goes. At 6am getting up, going training, then school, then training and lunch, going to school, training again and then I get back home at 7 or 8pm.
A few questions I just have to ask. You just completed your 100th 9a in December, what is the next step for you in terms of progression?
Of course I have been thinking about 9c and it is definitely doable at a certain point but that is also a reason why I switched the focus. I have been doing comps and training harder than ever with the idea that it will make me stronger and a better climber for my outdoor 9c projects.
Are there any projects that you will return to this year?
Rocks are not the most important thing this year for me. My main focus is the World Cup in lead and boulder. I just have minor side goals outdoors.
The Dawn Wall has taken North American media by storm over the past three weeks. Is that something that appeals to you and would ever consider trying a big wall project like this?
Yes, I feel ashamed that I have never been to Yosemite, and this climb is something that make my fingers sweaty! I don’t say this year, but in the future I would like to take a look at it.
Your time here is relatively short. Any chance you will visit to Squamish?
In case the weather allows, we are heading to Squamish for sure!
Thanks Adam for taking the time to answer our questions. We are looking forward to your visit here.
Squamish Climbing Magazine will be covering the IFSC climbing camp with a daily summary each night of the camp. For those interested in seeing Adam in Vancouver, he will be speaking on Monday. February 16th at VIMFF. He will then be travelling to Central Saanich, BC to coach at the IFSC World Climbing Camp, hosted by The Boulders Climbing Gym. At last count, there are still about 10 spots still available for this event. To register, please click here.