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Africa, Mali, Hombori Tondo, General Overview

Hombori Tondo, General Overview. Le Main de Fatima is the best-known feature of the many huge sandstone “mesas” that populate the arid interior of Mali. Much of the development of the five colossal weathered sandstone towers, which rise up to 600 meters from base to summit, has been under the influence of Spaniard Salvador Campillo, who first visited the area in 1978, returned to climb his first route (solo) in 1982, and in 1988 married a local woman from the village of Daari very close to the towers’ base. The couple now splits time between Mali during the winter (the climbable months in the area are November to February) and Spain during the summer. Campillo has gained the trust and respect of the indigenous peoples and remains the sole person able to negotiate access to the various cliffs of the area with the village chiefs on whose land they lie. It should be noted that it is customary to bring gifts for the village chiefs in exchange for permission to climb on the formations.

Teams from both France and Spain visited the Hombori Mountains in the winter of 1995-’96 and again in '96-'97, creating a number of new routes. A large group of Spanish climbers in the company of Campillo put up a number of routes in the region of Le Main de Fatima the first winter. On Kaga Tondo, these included Complicado Burocratico (F5, 250m), and Primera Instancia (7c+, 200m) on the walls immediately right of the big couloir separating the east faces of Kaga Pamari and Kaga Tondo. On Suri Tondo, routes included Con la Izquierda Cuesta Más (6c+ A3+, 500m), Txatxaponk (6c+, 470m), a route that follows a series of cracks and comers on the east pillar, and Verga Dura (6c+, 400m). On the Grimari Dagana Massif, above the village of Grimari Dagana, the towers of the Wambe Ballo are an area of extensive area of rock with potential for great number of new, if somewhat shorter, climbs. Routes established included Pilla que Vomito (6b, 220m); Monica (5c, 130m); and Nouvel An (5c, 130m) on the Bicéphale Tower. (High Mountain Sports 184)