The year 2006 marked the 60th anniversary of the formation of the famous Italian climbing club, Ragni di Lecco (Lecco Spiders). Five members visited the Hombori region in December as part of the celebrations. In three weeks of climbing Cesare Bugada, Giovanni Ongaro, Simone Pedeferri, Adriano Selva, and Marco Vago repeated a number of existing routes in the region, before going on to put up three of their own. On the south face of Débéré in the Grimari, Bugada and Ongaro teamed with regular Belgian visitor B. Marnette, Salvador Campillo, and his 16-year-old son Yaye to produce Erosion Solare (270m, 6 pitches, 6b, 6a obl). Descent is by 60m rappels down the route. Campillo is a Spanish-Catalan who has lived in Mali for more than 20 years with his locally born wife and son. They stay there during the six “winter” months; in summer they move back to Spain.
In the last 24 years Campillo has put up a number of routes on the Hand of Fatima and surrounding walls. He is undoubtedly the person with the greatest knowledge of this area, and there is no one better to show you the innumerable possibilities for climbing, and the dangers that hide behind its great charm.
Ongaro and Selva made the first ascent of Passaggio Dogon on Yéyéné (300m, eight pitches, 7b, run-out 6b obl) and equipped a bolted rappel route. On the northeast face of the north summit of Suri Tondo, all five Italians put up Danza Tribale (500m, 13 pitches, 7b, 6b+ obl). From the top they descended by making one rappel down the Polish route, Royaume de Vautour [reported above], after which they traversed a ledge and rappelled their own route with 60m ropes. One notable repeat of an established route was Selva’s free solo of Kaga Tondos north pillar (600m, 5+, Desveaux-Girard-Pujos-Tugaye, 1979). He completed this great West African classic in three hours, carrying ropes in a rucksack so that he could rappel the far side.
The team also spent three days traveling in a 4WD, examining numerous walls 200m- 500m high, all beautiful and composed of compact sandstone. Dehydration and intestinal disease are common afflictions, and Vago noted that climbing in this region is as severe and harsh as Patagonia, though for different reasons.
Fabio Palma, Italy