He doesn’t show it, but answering the same questions over and over again must be quite uncomfortable for him.
“When did you start climbing?“
“Why do you have the nickname Harry Potter?“
“Why do you scream so much while you climb?“
“How did it feel to became the world champion?“
Search engines give you 502,000 results for Adam Ondra, which is quite a lot of information. We already know a lot about his astounding climbing; that much is obvious. Confusing his ascents of the routes Dawn Wall and Change 9b+ would be a real embarrassment in front of your friends. So, you already know everything about Adam’s climbing…
Let’s prohibit the word “climbing” for today.
Oh? Seriously? (laugh) Let’s try it.
How did you get to Prague today, do you have a car?
I came by car, I’ve had my own since I was 19. But it’s a bit complicated – my own car is quite small and I use it only in the city. When we go to some trips, I use a bigger family car.
How often do you do trips with your parents?
Nowadays not so often, I would say about five percent. I used to go with them much more often in the past, but I think it’s normal to single yourself eventually.
Do you remember, how many points did you score on your driving test?
One hundred percent.
How many languages do you know?
The level of languages at my school wasn’t really high, but I’m lucky that because of climbing – dammit! (laugh) – I could travel a lot because of that and I think I would have to be really stupid not to learn english – that is a must. I also wanted to learn Italian so I wished an Italian textbook for Christmas and thanks to some travels with my Italian friends I even learnt something in Italian. I know Spanish as well.
I saw a documentary with you learning German.
I know something from the school, but since all the Germans can speak english quite well, I never really had a chance to learn this language properly.
What do you hate about people?
(laugh) I think that I can get along with pretty much everyone. There are of course qualities I don’t like. Falseness, dishonesty. I like being with people, who are honest in general and also honest about what they do – they really mean it. I also think that I have some sort of a gift – I can get along with people with issues. If they are acting in a bad way, they should know it. If this person isn’t close to me, I don’t have a chance to change it.
Which question do you hate most?
Why I scream so much… (laugh) The most common question is: „Why did I start climbing?“ But I understand, that it interests people… I think there isn’t a question I hate or wouldn’t like to hear.
Do you have any guru outside of… the subject we aren’t talking about today?
If so, it would be a writer or a person close to this area. I like the book Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and also the book Collapse. I admire that writer. If you want to write a book like that, you must have a huge amount knowledge about so many things in so many different fields. But I don’t know him personally.
What do you like about this book?
It’s not just about the story, I like to read things and to learn something new at the same time. It helps me see the world from another perspective, differently… Jared Diamond writes for example about why Europeans are so advanced, on such a high level and people in Africa are completely someplace else. Even though Homo sapiens originate in Africa.
Do you think that the life standard in Europe is really better? Aren’t we just too dehumanized, cut from the nature?
I’m not saying whether it’s better or worse, but we are for sure on some kind of a „higher level“ of civilization.
What is your favorite fairytale?
Asterix and Obelix.
And a Czech one?
Look, when I was younger I basically didn’t like fairytales, since I was influenced by my older sister who was listening to modern music all the time. So it seemed something completely childish and degrading to enjoy fairytales. (laugh) Fairytales were definitely out for me when I was just four years old. I wasn’t singing child songs, I simply sang Lucie. (Czech music band, alternative rock, author’s note) (laugh)
“When I was four years old, fairytales were too childish for me.”
What is your favorite landscape, where would you like to live one day?
For landscapes I like Norway or Northern Alps the most – the greener part. Southern Alps in the Italian and the French part are beautiful, but I’m more of a green meadows fan.
Is there a place you wouldn’t return to?
Look, I don’t like it in China, where we went for a competition. But that’s because I saw China only from one perspective – dirty cities, smog and a shitty hotel. I’ve never seen the nature over there. I would also love to see the countryside or the mountains in China one day. But there are cities I could live without revisiting.
What attributes should a perfect girl have?
I don’t have a particular pattern of how she should look. It’s just like… When I see her and it feels good, she does her magic, I go for it.
So you are happy.
I’m the happiest.
Should the girls do the activity we are not talking about today?
(laugh) For sure. I think, that otherwise it wouldn’t work. When two people don’t have any common interest, there are only a few things that could hold them together. If I had a city girl, I wouldn’t spend much time with her.
If you could be a woman for 24 hours, what would you like to try?
(huge laugh) Next question, I don’t know! (laugh) Hmmmmm. I don’t know, sex from the other side must be interesting. I can’t think of anything else. Other female things don’t seem that interesting for me… (laugh)
Do you use a curler or is it natural?
It’s just happening. It depends mainly on humidity. (laugh) The more humid in the air, the bigger the curls.
“It depends on the humidity.”
What was your longest injury?
It was always only from five days to a week maximum. I had a small outgrowth from a special kind of handgrip, then once a strained knee or a tendon, which made it all the way up to my forearm.
Do you have a physiotherapist, with whom are you consulting about training?
I went to Dr. Kolář a few times, but I don’t visit him every month. He pointed out some medical problems I have and I should be aware of. We worked that out. He also showed me an exercise I try to do as much as possible. I know that when the problem comes, I can fix it with some compensational training. I sometimes go for massage.
Do you think that a human body is capable of “evolution“ during one life?
Evolution no, it’s possible to adapt to something, but the parts of your body don’t change. Your body learns all kinds of movements, your tendon can for example strengthen up so it’s not that vulnerable to an injury, but that’s it…
What wouldn’t you like to lose – sight, hearing or touch?
What about food and your favorite cuisine?
Indian cuisine, Japanese cuisine and my own. (laugh) I like to taste new cuisines when traveling and always try something new. If not, it’s usually possible to buy these things in the healthy food store anyway. I care about food a lot, to be honest. I tend to eat more raw food these days – nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit.
Is there something that you would like to eat, but you can’t?
In general, I don’t like junk food. When I walk around McDonald’s, I never give it a single thought to eat something there. I think that when you eat healthily long enough, avoiding some specific unhealthy foods and processed sugar, you lose an appetite for this kind of food. I think that things like white sugar are addictive. If you don’t eat it often, you don’t have a need to eat a whole chocolate bar.
Can you cook something special?
(laugh) I usually cook without a recipe. I decide whether to have buckwheat, millet, barley or rice for a lunch. Then I open the fridge and see, what vegetables I can add to it. It always tastes different.
Alex Honnold told me once in an interview: “I don’t drink, but I’m quite sure that one day I will.“ What about you and alcohol? Do you drink beer?
(laugh) I used to hate beer few years ago, but now that’s slowly changing. I prefer wheat beers, which are less bitter and the best is in Brno and it is the lager beer in Pegas. My appetite for alcohol changes with age. I used to like only wine, now I like a bit of everything. When you train hard, though, you can’t have a beer in the evening – you would wake up in the morning and feel the difference. Speaking of beer specifically, I only drink it two or three times a year with a friend from high school. Wine is on the other hand is connected with trips. One glass is a good thing during the evening for red wine supports corpuscles and therefore it’s good for endurance:
Is there a book you would like to read again?
I guess the only book I had ever read twice was Asterix. (laugh) And yeah, I could read it once again. Apart from that, all the educational books from Diamond can be read again, because you forget some details after time, so it would be interesting to re-read them. Books like this are hard to understand when you read them for the first time, you just can’t absorb everything.
What about music, what did you listen to today?
I don’t enjoy music that much. When I drive a car I listen to some radio – usually Český Rozhlas (public radio broadcaster of the Czech Republic). But if I’d have to choose, I would pick The XX. I also enjoy spoken word and care about what is going on in the world.
I didn’t want to bother you with politics…
Let’s talk about it.
Ok. What do you think about the situation in Czech Republic or Europe? (audio in Czech bellow)
I can feel that people are way too much pessimist. It seems to me that this attitude is generally accepted, and according to me this is the worst thing for our society. From my point of view, reality is what you believe in. If you believe that the next 20 years will be shitty, it will probably end up that way. When you believe the years will be good, you have a big chance to achieve it. I suppose it is hard to avoid this skeptical view because politicians and the media support it as well. I think the biggest danger is when politicians claim that everything is bad and make a messiahs out of themselves. That means people are losing their trust in the democratic system and are starting to accept some autocratic elements in the politics.
In the Czech Republic people often prefer to stay in the job they cuss about. The job bothers them but they have at least some money from it so they are afraid of any change. But I think that the ability to make a change and attain freedom is the most valuable thing that human beeing can have. And again, it is connected with the fear – when people lose their job, they think they are falling into the spiral of death… But everything bad is good for you in some way. Fore some years, they may have worse job than before but they can learn something new and later get a job of their dreams and become satisfied.
What do you like to do when you have some free time?
I like for example cross-country skiing, sometimes snowboarding, but only for about three weeks during the year, when I’m resting…
Do you run regularly?
When I train hard, I go running like once a month, there’s simply no chance to do it more often. When I train less, running is an excellent method of active regeneration.
Do you have some sins or bad habits, you don’t want to give up?
I can’t think of anything right now.
Wait a moment, that would make you a saint.
I am! (laugh) Maybe the screaming…
When was the last time you screamed outside of climbing?
When I was lifting something, something really heavy.
How about when you are angry with someone?
I try not to scream. I don’t like arguing with people, I try to avoid that. One is not thinking clearly during an argument and nothing good can come out of that. It’s always better to back off in that moment and solve it later, maybe the next day, when the other person is calm. I don’t have a problem to be the defeated one in these kinds of situations.
Do you dance?
(laugh) I don’t know how to, but I do. I have attended dancing classes, but I don’t remember anything. When there is a party after a competition, I like to dance. I admit, that I don’t know how, that I jump like a goat, but who cares. I like it.
What about dancing in the mountains, is it the right time?
(laugh) Not yet, I guess, but that time will come. I can’t get distracted from my interests that much.
What is the highest hill you’ve ever been to?
Speaking of altitude, I’ve been to four thousand meters in Ecuador, but we went there by car. (laugh)
What about 4000m peak in the Alps or somewhere like that?
No, I haven’t gone to any yet. Maybe when we went skiing, but we for sure used a cable car. (laugh)
Come on, think about it. Ropeways and cars don’t count. (laugh)
I really don’t know, maybe Céüse. (sports area in France with an altitude of about 1800 meters). Or maybe the world championship in China in Chongqing, which was at 2300 meters altitude, therefore higher than Céüse. I flew there by plane, though. (laugh)
“Climbing is not about the grades and life is not about the money.”
He loves to write about inspiring people.
Addicted to situations when he does not care about the time – in the mountains or sandstone crags.