After five days of travel from Ecuador, Felipe Guarderas, Nicolas Navaraette, and I reached Antananarivo, Madagascar. We were exhausted and could hardly complete our grocery shopping for the next month of climbing in this exotic place. After several hours of travel by road, accompanied by searing heat, we arrived at the Tsaranoro Valley in southern Madagascar. The village below the walls was much like in Ecuador, where people live quiet agricultural lives.
Our aim was to open a new route on these beautiful walls. First, we decided to become familiar with the area’s climbing, which is characterized by granite patina and face climbing on small, fragile holds, mainly with bolts for protection. We chose two routes on the sprawling Tsaranoro Massif: Out of Africa (600m, 7a, Motto-Pellizzari-Piola-Robert, AAJ 1999), on Tsaranoro Kely, and Life in a Fairy Tale (500m, 5.11+, Luebben-Luebben, AAJ 2000), on Tsaranoro Atsimo. These climbs were enough to motivate us and help us decide on our own line.
We chose a path up the sheer wall of Tsaranoro Be, between Old Master and Short Cut. After a problem charging batteries for our drill (the voltage here is 220V and we had a 110V charger), essential for a new route here, we began our journey up the wall. Our line begins on a slab washed smooth by years of African rains and then continues on vertical ground for most of the way—usually up patina flakes. We occasionally crossed a huge black vein in the rock, and the final 100m of our route climbs it directly. We called the route Cuento de Habas (750m, 7b+/c).
In total the route required six days. We often hooked and aided ground-up to add bolts to the route, but we also utilized bolts from the nearby routes to assess the best line. In all, we placed about 250 bolts. We free climbed all the pitches but not in a single push. No cams or nuts are needed.
After our climb we decided we wanted to know more about this country, and we ventured north to where the warm Indian Ocean drenches the beaches and limestone greets the sea.
[Editor’s note: Some past AAJ reports contain inaccurate descriptions or illustrations of routes on the four walls of the Tsaranoro Massif. In particular, AAJ 2001 shows a very inaccurate route-line overlay for the Tsaranoro Massif. Please see Roberto Morales’ PDF for the most up to date and accurate route lines on the Tsaranoro Massif.]
– Roberto Morales, Ecuador