In case you haven’t already read the news on any number of climbing websites out there rehashing and linking back to one now utterly unknown and irrelevant original source, Adam Ondra has done the first ascent of Vasil Vasil in the Czech Republic. This is the third 5.15c in the world and, not coincidentally, the third 5.15c first ascent for Ondra.
Bjorn Pohl has the first interview on UKClimbing.com, and the thing I found most interesting in the interview was that Ondra himself called Vasil Vasil a “piece of shit,” and “not worth being hyped!” I love that.
The route is apparently located at a “local’s crag” called Sloup, which just kinda sounds crappy compared to “Ceuse,” a word that somehow for me conjures images of waterfalls and green fields filled with sex-crazed bare-breasted nymphs. By comparison, Sloup just kinda sounds … slumpy. Didn’t Salt-N-Peppa sing about Sloup? I can’t remember.
Anyway … it’s an interesting state of affairs in climbing when the cutting edge is being defined at a “local’s crag.” And we all know what that means, right? Last time I went to my “local’s crag,” bees took a shit right into my mouth—literally!
To what degree do aesthetics matter? Difficulty and aesthetics don’t always align in climbing—but you wouldn’t know it from listening to most pros talk about their projs. You always hear climbers rave about the beauty of the line, or how stunning and striking and obvious it is. You never hear them say, “This thing is a turd, but it’s hard and it’s right out my backdoor, so fuck it. I guess I’ll climb it.”
Difficulty and aesthetics don’t have to align, apparently, to attract a concerted effort in the form of a 25-day siege by the world’s best rock climber. Still, I can’t help but wonder why Ondra—who must be able to climb wherever and whenever he wants for however long he wants—isn’t spending his time seeking lines of greater beauty? I guess that’s just not what motivates him.
When a beautiful route gets climbed, it always feels a bit inelegant to “reduce” that line to a single number. But the case of Vasil Vasil, that’s really all it is: a number, and a really fucking big one.
My only question now is, which route will be repeated first: Vasil Vasil or Akira?