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Africa, Mali, Hand of Fatima, Suri Tondo, South Summit, North Face

Hand of Fatima, Suri Tondo, south summit, north face. It was mid- March and necessary to climb in the shade. Any wall facing the sun was too extreme. There were only two existing lines on the section of the north face of Suri Tondos south summit, where we fancied putting up a new route: Black Mamba (320m, 7a+, 6c+ obl, Faucheur- Pellissier-Petit, 2005) and Le Cri (320m, 7a+, 6b obl, Baillargé-Pel- lissier-Savary, 2005). Our initial idea had been to establish a new route on the 400m north face of Hombori Tondo 10km away, where in its almost 1km length there are few routes and only one big route in the center of the wall, Futuroscope (400m, 12 pitches, 7c+, Albrieuz-Faucheur-Pellissier-Perrillat-Petit, 2005). Other parts of the wall have beautiful lines that connect faces, dihedrals, and roofs. But first we concentrated on Suri Tondo.

The lower half of our new route, Lunar Eclipse, took longer to open than the rest, since there was little protection, slowing our ascent. The excellent compact rock was like nothing we had seen, though the climbing was similar to the Ordesa in northern Spain but with older rock. The rock was sharp, with many features for handholds and footholds.

Our route combines technical face-climbing with arĂȘtes, dihedrals, roofs, and a short but stout offwidth. Pitch one climbs a 7a face and short technical corners to a good belay (7b). Pitch two, which forms the long crux, features two cracks leading to a strenuous and technical overhang. There are 7c+ moves between bolts, but this pitch can be climbed at 7b+ and C2 (two moves). We were unable to complete the whole pitch without rest points. On pitch three are great moves but also a run-out section between the second and third bolts (7a). Pitch four is 6a and involves climbing on top of a moving gendarme, while pitch five presents another long crux section: a 7a+ slab and a roof crack, followed by an offwidth, layback, and final section of 7a+. A redpoint of this pitch is 7b+. Pitches six and seven are 6b+ and 6c+, respectively, while pitch eight is another memorable ropelength on good rock at 7a+. A shorter but equally memorable ninth pitch (6c) leads to a big ledge, where, just to the right, we joined the second-to-last pitch of Le Cri. We rappelled from here using 8mm bolts, back-clipping when descending pitch five, which is overhanging.

Lunar Eclipse is equipped with 35 8mm bolts but also requires a set or a set and a half of camming devices up to Camalot 4, with 4.5 or 5 useful for the offwidth. We highly recommend Lunar Eclipse (the name comes from the total eclipse that occurred during early March). Pitches two and five were done with rest points, so it still awaits a truly free ascent.

It is now the fifth route on this side of the formation. In addition to the two mentioned above, there are Grains of Time, near the left edge of the wall (toward the north summit) and BMW, around toward the west face.

Oriol Anglada and Marisol Monterrubio, Spain (translated by Chris Barlow)