Tsaranoro Atsimo, Fire In The Belly

Africa, Madagascar, Tsaranoro Valley
Author: Sean Villanueva. Climb Year: 2015. Publication Year: 2016.

After having climbed some of the classics in the Tsaranoro Valley with Argyro Papathanasiou (Greece) in July, I was joined by Siebe Vanhee (Belgium) in August. He had spotted a major unclimbed line on Tsaranoro Atsimo. The route is located right of Mora Mora (Blanco-Vales, 1999, redpointed by Adam Ondra in 2010 at 8c) and another, unknown route.

Armed with a drill, skyhooks, and thirst for exploration, we tackled the face ground-up. With much uncertainty, it took us six days to reach the summit. The route involved 700m of face climbing on black and green granite, with a very blank headwall at the top. We were convinced the route was out of our reach to free climb and thought we would have to leave it for future generations. However, we decided to give it a proper hard battle anyway, just for the fight.

We returned and, to our own surprise, managed to free climb the line after a three-day effort on the wall. We called it Fire in the Belly (700m, 8a+). It’s a great line, and even the easier pitches are demanding. The 11 pitches are as follows: 5c, 6c, 7b+, 6b+, 6c, 7c, 8a+, 6b, 7a, 8a++, 7b.

– Sean Villanueva, Belgium

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