Begining of 2018, the Czech National TV decided to make a series about climbing and lifestyle in eastern Europe. The main character would be Adam Ondra, considered by many the best climber in the world. And they asked him to choose the climbing destinations.
After 16 years of continuous development, mainly by the Alternative Club from Timisoara, Baile Herculane became the biggest and best known climbing destination in Romania. It was still an unknown destination until the Petzl Roctrip from 2014, which put Herculane on the list of world class climbing destinations.
So it was no surprise, that searching for climbing destinations is eastern Europe, Herculane was the first that attracted Adam’s attention. Two days before his arrival, Adam called the One Move climbing gym and asked for a guide for his 4 days in Herculane.
It was hard to believe and it was incredible that the strongest guy in the world would come to climb in Herculane. The Romanian climbing community would have the biggest gain from his visit, if he could climb some hard projects, set some benchmarks and one day come back. This meant he had to find something special about Herculane and a reason to return. The decision was made not to announce his visit, so that he could have more “space”, concentrate more on climbing, and feel Herculane as a quiet world class crag which you can’t find in Europe anymore.
He didn’t came alone, but together with Pavel his manager, Bernardo this photographer and a 4 men filming crew. Even if he climbed what he wanted, first he put up the fixed ropes, and asked for the OK from the filming crew, the OK from the photographer, and everybody was asked to be quiet for the shooting. Adam made his homework before coming to Herculane, watched the Roctrip video, checked the online information, the 8a database and he already had a tick list for Vanturatoarea (Waterfall) sector. Stone Butterfly project got his attention and he jumped on in. Very fast he figured out the strange and complex beta and made all the moves of the 9a+ project. He gave it a go but failed at the 8A crux.
After climbing he joined us in the campsite at the fire. He was very relaxed and open, talked a lot about climbing, training, competitions and about the things you don’t see in the life of a professional athlete.
On the second day he seemed very motivated and excited to climb. After a while we realized that this was his general state of mind, always positive, excited and motivated to climb, no mater what. After a god try, he was feeling “weak” and decided to leave the project for the last day and try something else.
He wanted to try Black cobra extension. He did the first 8b part onsight, and checked the second part that feeled more like a 9b+ project. He proposed to put a chain at the last jug, that would be the finish of a 9a route, accessible to more climbers and let the last 9b+ extension for the next visit 🙂 On his first go he fell on the last move and after one hour of rest he did it! It was a great deal for the romanian climbing community, the first 9a in Romania, a benchmark for the strong climbers who want to break the 9a level.
The 3-rd day was a break day and we visited the rural part of the region, a travel in time to the remote areas of Caras county. After a traditional meal we ended the day relaxing in the hot springs.
The 4-th and last day started with heavy rain that lasted for hours. The news that Adam was in Herculane went viral across Romania, and many wanted to come to see him, but the bad weather discouraged most of them. After the rain almost stopped, Adam decided to make the 40 min walk on the muddy trail to finish the 9a+ project. The conditions where far from decent, it was quite warm, very humid, foggy and a few showers followed.
He was climbing fast and controlled on the first 8c+ part. After that he turned into a fine tuned climbing machine. You could hear his breathing, grunting while being at the limit and the whole valley heard when he was falling. You could feel a strange energy and the experience was more intense then expected. After every failed attempt, he rested, recharged his physical and mental energy and tried again. His persistence payed off and he did it 4-th go, raising the bar, and setting the first Romanian 9a+.
It was the last day, almost dark. The project was done and probably everybody would have called it a day. Adam repeated the crux a few more times for some photos, removed the quickdraws, didn’t even take off his climbing shoes and went for the on-sight of the route to the left, Rusty Nail(8b+). And he did it!
On the 5-th day he had a plane to catch in Timisoara, but he could still force 2-3 hours of climbing in the morning. Over-motivated like nobody else, he tried 2 dry projects. He on-sighted Catch-up(8b) and climbed 2-go the short Airamana project(8c+). He untied and ran to the car to catch his flight.
Many strong 9a climbers visited Herculane, but non of them was so inspiring. Strong and humble, motivated and passionate, relaxed and with a powerful mind, this is Adam Ondra.
PS: He told us that he had a great time and he will return. Vanturatoarea wall is amazing and there are too many projects waiting to be climbed 🙂