5.13 Big Walls in Madagascar

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Typical Tsaranoro climbing on Short Cut: Delicate moves on small, often fragile holds, sparsely protected by bolts.

A Czech-Austrian team put up Short Cut (5.13a, 16 pitches) on the big granite walls of southern Madagascar and repeated two other hard free climbs. The new route takes a direct line up the center of the 2,400-foot Tsaranoro Be wall. Hari Berger and Florian Scheimpflug of Austria and Ondra Benes and Tom Sobotka of the Czech Republic worked on the line for about a week, and then the two Czechs redpointed it in a long day on September 30, with the Austrians repeating it the next day. Nine of the route’s 16 pitches are 5.12 or harder.

Berger and Benes also made the second and third free ascents of Bravo les Filles (5.13d, 14 pitches), and Scheimpflug and Sobotka onsighted Always the Sun (5.13a).

Meanwhile, other parties made very strong repeats on the big cliffs of Andringitra National Park. After a group effort to replace rusty bolts, Frenchman Denis Roy onsighted Gondwanaland (5.12d), leading all of the pitches, in a remarkable eight-hour effort. Roy and Pierre Muller onsighted four shorter routes—up to 2,000 feet, that is—ranging from 5.11d to 5.13a, each in a single day. The British couple John and Anne Arran redpointed Gondwanaland in a two-day effort.

The line of Short Cut (5.13a, 16 pitches) on Tsaranoro Be in Madagascar.

Dates of Ascents: Late September-early October

Sources: Hari Berger, Florian Scheimpflug, www.climbandmore.com

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