World-Class Performance in Madagascar

World-Class Performance in Madagascar During April, a British team consisting of Jack Geldard, James McHaffie, Stephen Horne and Dave Pickford established an excellent new route on the Tsaranoro Massif in the Andringitra National Park in southern Madagascar. In addition, McHaffie and Pickford spent a week working on the 10-pitch project line on the 450 metre monolith of Karimbony known as Tough Enough?, which is based on the 2005 aid line (established by Germans A. Steinel and D. Gebel) up the centre of the West Face. This route was the scene of a major free-climbing attempt in 2007 by Francois Legrand, Greg Sobczak, Giovanni Quirici, Toni Arbones and Leire Agirre, who accomplished a series of very impressive redpoints on a total of six pitches. Pitch 3 was originally redpointed by Daniel Gebel (who established the original aid line) back in 2005 at 8b. However, during Greg Sobczak?s attempts in 2007, it shed many holds, and Greg estimated it to have become 8c. James McHaffie redpointed the pitch after two days of effort, confirming Greg?s suggested grade of 8c and making the first free ascent of this extremely demanding slab pitch in its new condition. James also made the second free ascent of the existing10th pitch (8c/8c+) after three days of effort. This pitch, first redpointed by Francois Legrand in 2007, involves almost 40 metres of outrageously sustained technical climbing. McHaffie commented afterwards that it was ?a whole grade harder? than Johnny Dawes?s masterpiece The Very Big And The Very Small (8b+/c) on Dinorwig slate. McHaffie also redpointed the 9th pitch below it (8b) very quickly. Francois Legrand did not report his redpoints of these two pitches in the follow-up article in Grimpeur magazine, since it was his intention to climb both pitches as one, monumental 60-metre pitch. Francois almost accomplished this in 2007, taking a massive fall whilst making an exhausted clip at 55 metres. This was a truly Herculean effort from the Frenchman, who later said it was his ?biggest battle ever?. Once this pitch is finally realised, it is likely that it will be the world?s hardest slab climb in its own right at 8c+/9a! James also made the second free ascent of the existing10th pitch (8c/8c+) after three days of effort. This pitch, first redpointed by Francois Legrand in 2007, involves almost 40 metres of outrageously sustained technical climbing. McHaffie commented afterwards that it was ?a whole grade harder? than Johnny Dawes?s masterpiece The Very Big And The Very Small (8b+/c) on Dinorwig slate. McHaffie also redpointed the 9th pitch below it (8b) very quickly. Francois Legrand did not report his redpoints of these two pitches in the follow-up article in Grimpeur magazine, since it was his intention to climb both pitches as one, monumental 60-metre pitch. Francois almost accomplished this in 2007, taking a massive fall whilst making an exhausted clip at 55 metres. This was a truly Herculean effort from the Frenchman, who later said it was his ?biggest battle ever?. Once this pitch is finally realised, it is likely that it will be the world?s hardest slab climb in its own right at 8c+/9a! Dave Pickford redpointed the brilliant second pitch after breaking off a crucial foothold on the crux. This changed the grade from the original 7c/7c+ (as it was when the pitch was first redpointed by Daniel Gebel in 2005 and then Giovanni Quirici in 2007) to 8a. Pickford also onsighted the first pitch (7b/7b+) making the first free ascent, and McHaffie onsighted the 4th pitch (7b+/c) making the second free ascent. The only pitches on the line now left to be free climbed are pitch 7 (a roof traverse thought to be 8c), pitch 8 (estimated to be somewhere between 8b+ and 8c+), pitch 9 as a 60-metre combination of the existing pitches 9 and 10 (8c+/9a?), and pitch 11 (thought to be 8c). The complete list of pitch grades on Tough Enough? is likely to make even the most accomplished big-wall climber?s fingers sweat: 7b+, 8a, 8c, 7b+/c, 8a+, 8a+, 8c?, 8c?, 8c+/9a?, 8c? (none of the four pitches highlighted with question marks have yet been redpointed). It is hardly necessary to point out that when free climbed in its entirety, this route will be unquestionably the hardest big-wall free climb in the world. The British team of Jack Geldard, Dave Pickford, Stephen Horne and James McHaffie also climbed a superb new 4-pitch line on the right hand section of Lemur Wall, the long black cliff to the right of Karimbony. Yellow Fever (160 metres, 7a+ obl. / 7c max) climbs the striking yellow-gold streak on the steep wall to the right of Ebola. The first ?Tarzan? pitch climbs a chimney with a remarkable hanging vine to gain a belay, from where the second pitch (7b, redpointed by Pickford) makes a wild body-bridge out to gain a leftwards traverse across the wall. The crux pitch (7c) is a 50-metre, super-sustained and run-out monster, redpointed by Geldard and named the ?Thunder Bird II? pitch. The final pitch is a 6a+ and features some interesting run-outs. The team also bolted a direct start to the route up a rightward-trending line towards the second belay. Dubbed ?The Sand Paper Simulator?, the finger-shredding pitch (roughly 8b+/c) was not redpointed by the Brits and remains an exacting challenge for aspirant Tsaranoro experts, preferably with a large supply of Aloe Vera! For full size photographs of the 2008 British expedition to Tsaranoro, see Climber magazine (www.climber.co.uk) next month Climb magazine (www.climbmagazine.com) next month will feature an exclusive photo-essay on Tough Enough? For a complete report and photographs of the 2008 British expedition to Tsaranoro, including details of the new route Yellow Fever, see Climber magazine next month (www.climber.co.uk)