Go back to Mali.
Go back to La Raison.
Salvador’s “bon jour monsieur, madame” woke us up at 4am and although there was some wind, we were not hearing the intimidating howling from above. A quick coffee, an extra two water bottles and we were off hiking through the darkness. Having wasted a bit of time at the base of the route (difficult to really see by the red LEDs of the headlamps), we were off the ground a bit later than planned, about 6:30. Climbing was fun and quite moderate, but with most pitches pushing 60 meters, we reached the top of pitch 5 at about 8:45. Here one is level with the notch that separates Kaga Tondo from Wamgel Debridou. Salvador, who’s climbed the route a few dozen times (and who was there at the far-side of the saddle taking long-range photos of us), mentioned that a pre 9am arrival at this point bode well for not sleeping on the route or summit. The next pitch offered the first noticeably harder climbing of the day – meandering around on the face of the tower’s prow with a few small roofs to pull.
The pitches were flowing and we were in a good mood despite the windy conditions. Salvador’s topo was proving invaluable – amazingly accurate and it was only my stupidity that caused us to waste an hour somewhere below the Second Gendarme. I missed an exit ramp and we ended up doing an exciting, steep and very exposed bonus pitch. We were in the notch behind the Second Gendarme in the early afternoon and facing the 6a (or +) crux pitch of the route. Again, Salvador’s beta proved spot-on and we were on the edge of the summit plateau, done with the technical climbing, by about 3pm. We switched to approach shoes and scrambled and hiked our way along the large and long summit ridge of Kaga Tondo to the south prow and the location of the rap line. With favorable wind direction, the series of double rope rappels went snag-free for us. Judging by the hung up rope sections in various stages of decomposition, not all had been so lucky. We made it back to our base camp before 6pm and darkness. Another water melon was inhaled in celebration as well as some more of Slavador’s excellent Catalan jamon. With the main objective of the trip in the bag, we were finally able to relax.
Starting up pitch 2 of Eperon Nord (Dec. 2015).
Pitch 3 (Dec. 2015).
Eperon Nord – 3 pitches up and I love it already!!
Shirley topping out on pitch 3 of Eperon Nord in the morning glow (Dec. 2015).
Starting up pitch 4 (Dec. 2015).
Shirley nearing the top of pitch 4 of Eperon Nord on Kaga Tondo (Dec. 2015).
At the belay atop the 5th pitch. This pitch is level with the notch on the “backside” (west) of the towers and the photo was taken from that vantage point by Salvador (Dec. 2015).
Shirley nearing the top of pitch five (Dec. 2015).
Looking back at Shirley from the start of the sixth pitch (Dec. 2015).
Shirley on pitch 6 – the first of the harder climbing on the route (Dec. 2015).
View west-ish from the sixth belay on Eperon Nord of Kaga Tondo (Dec. 2015).
Pitch 6 top out (Dec. 2015).
Shirley nearing the top of pitch 7. Photo by Salvador (who’s hiked around the towers since taking the previous photo of us topping out on pitch 5…lots of work!).
Pitch 7 top out (Dec. 2015).
Leading the short (one of few short ones) pitch 8 (Dec. 2015).
Looking back down at Shirley from pitch 8. A V2 boulder move was required to clean one of the anchor pieces that I placed just out of her reach (sorry!).
Shirley following the 8th pitch of Eperon Nord. Photo by Salvador – thank you again for the great photos Salvador!
The start of the looong (~75 meter) pitch 9 of Eperon Nord. We ran this all the way up to a little pinnacle belay with an old, fixed friend (Dec. 2015).
Shirley in the upper dihedral of pitch 9 (Dec. 2015).
Topping out on the very long pitch 9 (Dec. 2015).
Pitch 10 (Dec. 2015).
Somewhere on the screwed up version of pitch 11 (Dec. 2015).
Wider view – same (spectacular) location (Dec. 2015).
Nearing the top of the corrected pitch 11 after some lively sections below (our pitch 12).
Pitch 11 belay (Dec. 2015).
Starting up pitch 13 behind the Second Gendrame. This is supposedly the technical crux of the climb but with Salvador’s beta, it was fairly straightforward (in fact, a couple of pitches below seemed harder).
More pitch 13. This is the one that takes you out of the notch behind the Second Gendarme (in photo). Photo by Salvador taken from vicinity of our camp (Dec. 2015).
Yours truly on pitch 13 of Eperon Nord (behind the Second Gendarme). Click photo for full resolution version. Photo by Salvador (Dec. 2015).
Higher on pitch 13 (Dec. 2015).
Shirley in the notch behind the Second Gendarme as seen from the lead.
How the previous photo was taken (photo by Salvador).
Another view of Shirley in the notch – this is from near the end of pitch 13. Eperon Nord climbs the left profile of the rightmost shadow (Dec. 2015).
Shirley on pitch 13. Photo by Salvador (Dec. 2015).
Shirley following pitch 13 (Dec. 2015).
Shirley following pitch 13 with the Second Gendarme visible in all of its phallic glory. Wamgel Debridou is mostly out of sight; Wamderdou is the cow shit shaped formation and the proud looking Suri Tondo is in the background (Dec. 2015).
More pitch 13 action with the Second Gendarme on the right (Dec. 2015).
This is Shirley on pitch 15 and about to top out. Photo by Salvador (Dec. 2015).
Shirley topping out on pitch 15 with the shadows of four out of five Hand Of Fatima fingers showing on the Sahel below (Dec. 2015).
Shirley happy to be done with the technical climbing. This is the north edge of the summit plateau/ridge. All that separates us from the celebratory watermelon down at camp is a longish scramble and hike along the ridge and a series of stressful rappels (Dec. 2015).
View of Suri Tondo and Wamderdou from the summit ridge of Kaga Tondo (Dec. 2015).
The summit! Click photo for a quick video.
Kaga Pamari summit peeking out in the distance (Dec. 2015).
A shitty photo of a very happy moment. Summit of Kaga Tondo after a climb we’ve lusted over for the past 5 years (Dec. 2015).
Kaga Pamari as seen from the start of the rappels on Kaga Tondo (Dec. 2015).
The rappels from Kaga Tondo. Photo by Salvador (Dec. 2015).
View of our camp (yeah, the tent IS visible) and Salvador from the rappels on Kaga Tondo (Dec. 2015).
Making downward progress and thinking about that celebratory watermelon in camp. Photo by Salvador (Dec. 2015).
Happy to be on the way back home well before darkness…watermelons on our minds (Dec. 2015).
A bit of light reading in our high camp. The normal LEDs turned the tent into a lightbulb; red LEDs were more low key (Dec. 2015).
Go to Voie Guy Abert.
Go back to Mali.