American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Africa, Mozambique, Sphinx Rock, Various Ascents, Previously Unreported

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

Sphinx Rock, Various Ascents, Previously Unreported. One hundred kilometers south of the island of Mozambique, along some of the prettiest and most remote coastline in the world, you will find the small town of Liupo. Besides being the site of a major crossroads that sees the occasional U.N. Landrover zooming by, it is the point of approach to an impressive, 200- meter high dome that looks very much like the Sphinx.

Alard Hüfner and I opened four very worthy routes in July, 1998. Gone Batty (5.11a A0, 5 pitches) is the most spectacular and involves an exposed line through the prominent roof, the climber swinging from bolts high above the Mozambican plains. It still needs a free ascent. Cherry in a Minefield (5.8) follows a beautiful, clean crack up the back of the Sphinx. It has two pitches of fine jamming, the stance being a wild fig tree growing from the crack. Lizards in the Leaves (5.9, 4 pitches) follows the crack and chimney system to the left of the large pillar on the east face of the rock. Its second pitch is only 5.8 but involves exposed climbing on good jugs up a 40-meter face with few options for good gear placements. The Spirit of Totonto (5.11a, 3 pitches), named after the alcohol locally distilled in large metal drums from sugarcane, is probably the finest climb there. It follows a steep and perfect crack, the crux being the second pitch, as it heads through a small bulge and then follows a long offwidth.

We have climbed the most obvious and traditionally protectable lines. There is a vast scope for bolted routes on steep and well-featured granite.

Mark Seuring, Mountain Club of South Africa

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