Thursday, October 16, 2008

Climbing The World's Toughest Big Wall


When one thinks about the top climbing meccas around the world, Madagascar doesn't readily spring to mind. The small, island country is better known for it's vast amounts of plant and animal life, and tropical conditions. But, it also happens to the home of the Tsaranoro Massif, the site of some incredibly challenging rock climbing routes, and quite possibly the toughest big wall in the world.

PlanetFear has a great article about a team of top French climbers who managed to successfully climb every pitch on Tough Enough, spread out over two different expeditions this past summer.

Tough Enough was first completed by two Germans, Daniel Gebel and Ari Steinel, who finished the route with the use of aids. In 2007, the first attempts at free climbing the face were conducted by several European climbers, but the daunting wall turned back all challengers. Since then, there have been others, but they all went home in defeat. Until now.

In June of this year, Stephanie Bodet, Sylvain Millet, Laurent Triay, and Arnaud Petit went to Madagascar to give the route a go, and managed to successfully free climb all but one pitch. That one pitch left a glaring hole in their accomplishments, so in September, Petit and Bodet went back with a new group of climbers, and finished what they had started.

The article I linked to above has more details, including the ratings for the different pitches, and details on the climb itself. The face is certainly a daunting one, and I have a feeling it'll be seeing more traffic soon.