Madagasikara, TD- 6a

Sometimes a post does not need a title, as the name of the climb is so cool! That’s the first thing that drew me to this climb, the second was its vicinity to the Index chair lift, only 20 minutes to walk in, and thirdly was the 6a pitch, as I’m hoping to climb bolts in the grade 6 range as often as possible, so all good! This climb was going to be saved for an average days weather, when it was neither here nor there, and today fitted the bill perfectly, as it was predicted to have a haze of cloud, with more cloud in the afternoon with potential rain and thunderstorms. This is the weather that has been threatened for the past couple of days, and over the next couple it does not seem to be getting any better, but we shall see! Either way, we were not going up the Mont Blanc Range, as I do not fancy being caught out in a thunderstorm up there wearing metal spikes on my feet and holding metal ice axe, whilst walking on frozen water, not a good combination!

 

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Not a bad view to climb in!

We got up early for this one, as we were predicting with the harder grades that the route would take a little longer and wanted to have some spare time in the bank to get the lift down. A 07.00 start, and we were both tired, even after a day off, and an easy day the day before. I was really tired as I had struggled to sleep the night before, so did not actually get to sleep till late, so I was extra tired! As well as this, I was just not feeling the enthusiasm for the day or the climb, I’m not sure if it was the daunting feeling of doing a multipath with a 6a pitch in the middle, or just the tiredness from a week or so of hard graft in the Alps, either way I was not enthused.

 

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Jess on an early pitch

We got up quickly and drove to La Praz for the cable car, we were able to get in the queue and ended up getting up the second cable car. As I had done a recce a couple of days before, we pretty much set straight off for the route, down a jeep trail, before cutting off up some scree and glissading across some snow, a little scramble more and we were at the foot of the climb where any worry from earlier in the morning had dissipated and I felt good and ready for the day ahead.

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I was leading the first pitch, graded at 5c and I was a little worried that it would be a tough start without much of a warm up, however it turned out to be easier than I thought, so this was the perfect warm up, Jess lead the next section over easy ground. We were the first onto the route and after being caught up on the last couple of routes, I was fearful that again, we would be slow and be caught up, although I needn’t have worried as we made really good time and strived ahead of other groups. Throughout the day we were only joined at the higher belays by a pair who had climbed offline, and had settled for the bolts we were climbing, they were meant to be on Asia, which was half way across the face, so they had truly diverted off route!

The next 5a pitch was great, slightly steeper than the previous sections, although more positive hand holds than you could possibly ask for. As for route finding it was pretty obvious, not only looking for the Petzl hanger bolts, but also either side of the route was greener, so following the ground most trodden was the call for the day. At the next belay Jess was quick to join me, and was ready for the next crux pitch, before I stopped her and asked if I could lead it, as it was one of my key reasons for choosing this climb.

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I had psyched myself up for this pitch and when it came to it, I felt uber focused on the task at hand. Each part of this pitch had holds for both hands and feet, and before I knew it I was at the next belay, thinking that it had felt a little easier than 6a, but was still an interesting pitch that was thinner and a bit more technical than the rest on the route. I thought I’d have more to write about this pitch, as it was the one that had me worried earlier, however I climbed well and never felt uneasy.

The next few pitches were all pretty low in the grade, and therefore enabled Jess and me to climb fast, with speedy changeovers at belays, before nearly running up some sections. On second I was coiling the rope whilst climbing, as Jess was struggling to take the rope in quick enough. We both realized later that we were getting out of breath, as we were moving so quick over the terrain it felt like we were on a CV session.

 

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Climbing with Mont Blanc in the far distance, and in the middle distance the Index and modern times routes that we had climbed already this trip

We descended the route by foot rather than using the abseils that were busy, which was a rather long path of loose scree, but it definitely got us to the foot of the cliff quicker than all the parties’ abseiling. We quickly got back to our bag and changed into our approach trainers before returning to the lift via the same route. We stopped for a spot of lunch at the top of the lift and sorted out our equipment for the ride down.

 

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Sheeping around!

Once we were in the valley, I think the busyness of the last few days caught up with us both, as we were both super tired. I reckon its time for a few days off to recuperate and reenergize, before heading off to tick off more routes on my ever-dwindling tick list that I set out at the start of the Chamonix part of the trip. Over the next few days I plan to have a flick through the guidebooks and add a few more routes to the list, which should round up the Chamonix chapter just nicely!

 

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Jess walking back to the lift with Grande Floria and the climb behind
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My list of climbs that I wanted to do

 

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