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The Tsaranoro massif in Madagascar. Still taken from the film Tough Enough by Laurent Triay
Photo by Laurent Triay
Tough Enough (380m, 8b+), Tsaranoro, Madagascar
Photo by Pierre Lesne
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Adam Ondra is Tough Enough on Tsaranoro in Madagascar

16.10.2010 by Nicholas Hobley

Adam Ondra has carried out the first free ascent in a single day of Tough Enough (8c, 380m) on the East Face of Karambony in Tsaranoro Valley, Madagascar. He concluded his trip by repeating Bravo les Filles (8b, 600m) and making the first free ascent of Mora Mora (8c, 700m).

"Climbing all pitches free in a single day is one of the most beautiful challenges in sport climbing at the moment, the quality of the rock is exceptional and the variety of pitches is definitely as good as the difficulties." These weren't our words in 2008, but those of Frenchman Arnaud Petit who had just returned home from a fantastic climbing trip to Madagascar along with Stéphanie Bodet, Sylvain Millet and Laurent Triay to attempt to free Tough Enough up the East Face of Karambony in Tsaranoro Valley.

The route had originally been started by a German team in 2005 comprised of Daniel Gebel, Ari Steinel, Uschi Beer and Joachim Seitz. The name was provocative, the gaunlet had been thrown and international interest arose two years later when François Legrand, Giovanni Quirici, Greg Sobzack and Evrard Wendenbaum set about freeing half the route and completing the line to the summit. In 2008 the aforementioned franch team took up the challenge, managing to free all the remaining pitches over different days. Yet despite strong British interest by the likes James McHaffie and David Pickford a few months later, a single-day redpoint was left outstanding. One of sport climbing's biggest prizes was still up for grabs.

That is, until Adam Ondra stepped in on the last day of September. After having rewritten the parameters with which multi-pitches have been judged - read the first one day ascent of Silbergeier and the first free ascent of Wogü in the Rätikon, as well as the first on-sight of Hotel Supramonte - the 17-year-old travelled to Madagascar with habitual climbing partner Pietro dal Prà, one of Italy's most talented alpinists. Ondra climbed the relentless and 380 meters in outstanding style, sending all the pitches straight off bar two - pitches 7 and 9 - stating succinctly "what extraordinary piece of rock!". Unperturbed, four days later he returned and climbed the route once again, this time with the original 8th pitch, which settles in at 8c. As such, the single pitches of one the world's hardest and most sustained sport route read as follows: P1 7b+, P2 7c+, P3 8a+, P4 7c, P5 8a+, P6 8a+, P7 8b+, P8 8b+ (8c original), P9 8b+, P10 8b. Yes, this is certainly tough enough!

With time to spare, Ondra then turned his attention to some other "classics", and redpointed Bravo les Filles on Tsaranoro Nord, first ascended in 1999 by Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden, Nancy Faegan and Kath Pike and freed by the Spanish Pou brothers in 2004 at 8b. On 10 October Ondra carried out the first free ascent of nearby Mora Mora, established by the Spaniards Francisco Blanco and Toti Vales in September 1999. The 700m line now goes free at 8c, possibly slightly easier, and Ondra estimates the individual pitches as follows: P1 6a+, P2 6b, P3 7b, P4 7b+, P5 7b+, P6 7c+/8a, P7 8b+/8c, P8 6c+, P9 7a+, P10 7c+, P11 7b+, P12 4.

Once again it is the speed with which Ondra has dispatched these routes that is unparallelled. As he had previously seen the video, he now told us "To be honest, there had been small hope in my mind that I could flash it, but generally I had thought I would have to stay on the wall for two days to check out all the moves and then send it. In any case, I hadn't expected to do it all the first day with some falls on some pitches. Luckily, I fell only twice." And as to his first serious climbing trip abroad? "Madagascar is beautiful country" Adam replied "and we had tremendous time there with Pietro Dal Pra. It's hard to imagine a more perfect wall than Karambony and I'm super happy that I managed to climb not only an extremely difficult route, but also one of the most beautiful routes ever. Thanks to all those who had the vision to make this route and special thanks to Pietro."

>> Tough Enough route details

Tough Enough - Madagascar Big Wall from Worklessclimbmore.

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