|Before first ascent, the route was known as Project Hard|
Adam Ondra at the second crux of Silence, in 2017
|Route Type||Sport climb|
|Vertical Gain||45 metres (148 ft)|
|Bolted by||Adam Ondra|
|First free ascent||Adam Ondra, September 3, 2017|
Silence (formerly known as Project Hard) is a notoriously difficult climbing route located in the Hanshelleren Cave in Flatanger, Norway. As of August 2020, it is considered to be one of the hardest routes ever climbed, and one of only two routes in the world to have a proposed rating of 9c (5.15d). It was bolted in 2012 or 2013 by Adam Ondra, who first ascended it on September 3, 2017. Ondra described it as "much harder than anything else" he had previously done, and cautiously suggested the 9c rating. The route was originally named Project Hard by Ondra because it appeared harder than any other route previously climbed. A few days after completion, Ondra renamed it Silence, stating that when climbing, he felt a sense of inner quiet, and also that on completion he felt unable to scream in exhilaration, which was his more usual reaction on completing a climb.
Climbing Silence took Ondra more than 4 years of practice and training visits, and long-term dedicated preparation, including extensive mental and physical training for the specific difficulties posed by the route.
Silence is about 45 m long, curving up the cave wall and along part of the underside of its roof. The first 20 m are about 8b (5.13d) along the beginning of the established routes Nordic Flower and Change, before branching off into a 5 move 7A+ (V7). It then transitions into a hard sequence of three distinct boulder problems (also called "cruxes" by Ondra): an extremely hard 8C (V15), a "burly 4-move" 8B (V13) and a 7C+ (V10) with slippery feet. The first one was described by Ondra as the hardest 8C (V15) he ever climbed. It consists of 10 incredibly hard and unusual moves, including single-finger locks, climbing upside down and a variation of a figure four move ending with an extremely bad kneebar rest. After the third boulder, a huge jug leads to the anchor, through a relatively easy 6C (V5) boulder consisting of five moves.
In a 2017 interview, Ondra was asked about specific difficulties in climbing Silence. He stated that:
- "The strangest moves are on the V15 crux 1, which is very physical, but the most precision-demanding climbing I have ever seen in my life. It is very hard to turn upside down, “stab” my left foot super high into the crack, doing it 100-percent precisely, finish the sequence with this foot jam, doing the last move while doing the most extreme drop-knee I have ever done, which feel like it would tear my knee and back apart."
Working the route required Ondra to take seven trips to Flatanger, four in 2016 and three in 2017. Just linking the 10 moves in the first boulder problem required four weeks of trials. After completing the first boulder problem he practiced linking it through to the chains, then practiced starting the climb from progressively lower. He linked the whole thing together on his second attempt from the ground.
Ondra trained specifically for the route. For instance, he completed multiple hard bouldering moves with very short rests between them, and visualised the most difficult moves while doing specific exercises with his physiotherapist. He also trained his calf muscles to be able to hold as long as necessary on the extremely bad kneebar rests which he used during the ascent.
On completion, Ondra commented:
- "At the end of the route when I knew I did it, I had one of the strangest emotions ever."
- "I clipped the anchor and I could not even scream. All I could do was just hang in the rope, feeling tears in my eyes. It was too much joy, relief and excitement all mixed together."
Adam Ondra toe-hooking at the beginning of the first crux, in July 2017.
Adam Ondra practicing the second crux, July 2017.
Adam Ondra on the final jug, after the third crux, in July 2017.
- Adam Ondra. "Silence 9c, Flatanger, Norway". Instagram.
- Nicholas Hobley (June 26, 2017). planetmountain.com (ed.). "Interview: Adam Ondra climbing toward the world's first 9C". Planet Mountain. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- planetmountain.com, ed. (September 4, 2017). "Interview: Adam Ondra climbs world's first 9c at Flatanger in Norway". Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- Hayden Carpenter. "Adam Ondra – Silence (9c/5.15d), a.k.a. "Project Hard", Interview". Rock and Ice. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- Chris Noble (June 7, 2016). climbing.com (ed.). "Adam Ondra: the future of climbing". Climbing Magazine. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- "Adam Ondra climbs world's first 9c - Project Hard". UKClimbing. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- Youtube, ed. (September 14, 2016). "Adam Ondra: incredible moves in possible 9c". TENDON. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- Youtube, ed. (September 14, 2016). "Adam Ondra trying the first crux of Project Hard". TENDON. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- Youtube, ed. (September 14, 2016). "Adam Ondra on the second crux of Project Hard". TENDON. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- Youtube, ed. (July 8, 2019). "Adam Ondra #21: The hardest route in the world". Adam Ondra. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
- Youtube, ed. (June 19, 2016). "Project Hard (Silence) Teaser". Adam Ondra. Retrieved August 1, 2017.