Hand of Fatima, Suri Tondo, Southeast Face, Black and White
Africa, Mali, Hombori Mountains
Black and White is a great new route on solid rock typical of the remarkable Hand of Fatima. The first time we studied the line from the desert below, it was around mid-day and the temperature felt like 60°C. Our eyes followed the shadow of Kaga Tondo as it bisected the yellow southeast face of its smaller brother, Suri Tondo. The line looked magic, and also impossible to climb. Some days later we were following black and red stripes on this wall. These ended at a headwall with obvious white “slabs” of guano, produced by the huge vultures that encircled the summit.
For the first 180m the route offers excellent, hard, exposed climbing on a steep, technical, yellow face. It is mainly bolt protected, though small and medium cams will prove useful. Above, the route follows a broken crack system, where a full rack is required. The last two pitches are shared with the Spanish route Txa-txa Punk (6c+, Miguel Alegre-Joan Olivé- Marta R-Edu Sanchez, 1996), which comes in from the right. Padlo Madl and I climbed our 420m line in nine pitches, from December 18-22. The first pitch is the crux at 7c+, the second is 7b+, and from then on it is sustained at 6b+ to 6c+ before reaching the easier final pitches. Obligatory difficulties are 6c, and all belay anchors are equipped, except on the last two pitches. Climbing on this face offers spectacular views toward the desert, and of huge vultures, which live in close proximity. Future parties will see many bats, falcons, and maybe snakes, and should carry plenty of chalk and water.
Jens Richter, Germany