Climbers: Mayan Smith-Gobat, Ben Rueck
Route: Solar Fusion (5.13b; 14 pitches)
FFA: Ben Rueck, Mayan Smith-Gobat (2014)
FA: Gérard Thomas, Marc Gamio (2013)
Location: Tsaranoro Massif, Madagascar
What, for a climber, could be better than a new pair of rock shoes under the Christmas tree? How about a new 2,600-foot route, bolted, cleaned, gift-wrapped, and ready to send? Such was the case for Solar Fusion, freed in September–October 2014 by Ben Rueck and Mayan Smith-Gobat (shown here on P8, 5.12b/c). The pair worked the slabbier first half using fixed lines, then pulled their ropes and set up a midway portaledge to address the difficulties on the vertical upper reaches, including the P12 crux. “The black-and-orange granite is nearly featureless, broken only by the odd tufts of tussock,” says Smith-
Gobat. Down low, they weaved upward on non-holds, but found to their delight that as the wall steepened the grips got bigger. For company, the climbers had lemurs frolicking on the walls around them and the massive afternoon thunderstorms that built off over the arid basin below the massif.
Photo: Andrew Burr