After writing my semi-flippant report on Adam Ondra’s new 5.15c first ascent Vasil Vasil, which he himself called a “piece of shit,” I remained intrigued about this route—in particular, this one extremely low-percentage move that had given Ondra so much trouble.

Ondra Vasil

Ondra on Vasil Vasil (c) Ondra Collection. Source: UK Climbing

He called the crux of the route V14, but described one move as being at least V13 by itself.

In this interview with Bjorn Pohl, Ondra described Vasil Vasil as “a short route which starts with a 7-meter burly 8b [5.13d] section that leads straight into an 8B+ [V14] boulder section. It’s more or less a ‘one-move route,’ as the key move is at least 8B [V13] in its own right.”

A one-move 5.15c!? Jeee-sus!

I started wondering if this single move could actually be the elusive single move of V14? The Moby Dick of bouldering moves! In other words, could Vasil Vasil contain the hardest single move of rock climbing in the world?

As many climbers have speculated, no one has done a single V14 move. That is to say that V14, as a single move, doesn’t yet exist and what it would even look like baffles the mind. Daniel Woods once said in an interview I did with him that a V14 move would “extremely hard to find” on real rock.

So, I contacted that rather understated Ondra to see if I could push him into saying that he has done the hardest single move of rock climbing in the world, which would be a great headline to a blog and would subsequently titillate all us Internet climbing dweebs and give us something to talk about in this cold month.

Unfortunately for us, Ondra keeps it real and doesn’t over-state his achievements, even when the climbing media throws him softballs like this. Oh, well.

It would seem the V14 single move remains as elusive as the great white whale herself.


Adam, congrats on your new route! I really enjoyed the interview you gave with Bjorn. It’s an interesting aspect of climbing media that we feel the need to “hype” stuff up like that, no? Anyway ….I’m wondering if you think that that Vasil Vasil’s crux move single might be the first single move of V14 ever done? 

There is an 8B+ (V14) boulder problem, but it involves four moves. And out of these four moves, there is one that could 8B (V13) in itself. It is definitely the hardest move I have ever done with harness and rope. And even in bouldering, I can think of moves of similar difficulty, but can’t think of anything harder. It is true that difficulty even in bouldering is made by linking the moves.


Do you think that Vasil Vasil might contain the hardest single move in the world?

I don’t think so. There are moves of similar difficulty for sure in bouldering, not on a route though. And there might be even harder moves in bouldering, even though I can’t tell you any example of such a move.  I haven’t done that many problems to claim that there is no harder move than the crux of Vasil Vasil.


What are your climbing goals right now? Do you have any projects?  

The season is almost over for me. I will take three weeks off during Christmas time. I hope I will make all the exams at school and I am going to Spain for two and half weeks. I don’t want to project anything there, but I feel in good shape. I would like to finish off First Round, First Minute. I tried for two days this autumn (unfortunately didn’t have more time) and got surprisingly close after merely two days of work. After this trip to Spain, I will start rigorous training for the competitions.


What are your plans for 2014?

Next year my plan is to do well in comps, everything [comes second to that]. If I climb next year outdoors, I will focus on onsighting as it is easier to combine with indoor training and comps. At the same time, I would definitely like to confirm the 9a onsight, as I don’t think the one I did is very hard for the grade.

I had a secret plan for this autumn, but the only time I could go it was completely wet.


When will you be coming back to the United States?

As I said, next year is question of comps and I want to sacrifice everything for that. But in 2015, I will definitely climb outdoors again, I will travel more and the U.S. is definitely on the list!


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