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Madagascar 1998 climbing expedition

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Never the same, a new rock climb up the granite Tsaranoro Be in Madagascar.

The expedition "Madagascar 98", comprised of Rolando Larcher, 33, from Trento, Marco Sterni, 33 and Erik Svab, 27, both from Trieste, has carried out a successful ascent on the steep rock faces in Madagascar.

In the SE of the island, in an almost completely unexplored area in the heart of the Andringitra massif that reaches an altitude of 2600m, there is a valley with high compact granite peaks. The most impressive is the east face of Mt. Tsaranoro, 2 km wide and up to 800m high, on a plateau isolated from the rest if the world. After five days the members if this mini expedition completed a new route up the vertical and at times slightly overhanging compact granite face. The summit of this virgin peak was reached on 16 September 1998 and, in agreement with the local population, this has now been called “Tsaranoro Atsimo” (Sud), 2.000 m.

The new route was established ground-up, using bolts only where necessary for protection and not progression, freeing all the pitches while they were being established.

670 m, 13 pitches from 35 to 60 m
Max difficulties 8a+
Obligatory difficulties 7b
96 bolts + 26 bolts at the belays abseil down the route.
The individual pitches: 6a+, 45 m, 6 bolts; 6a, 55m, 6 s.; 6c+/7a, 45 m, 7 s.; 6c+, 40 m, 9 s.; 7b, 45 m, 9 s.; 7c, 45 m, 11 s.; 7b+, 40 m, 9 s.; 8a+, 50 m, 11 s.; 7a+,35 m, 7 s.; 6c+, 60 m, 7 s.; 6c, 35 m, 5 s.; 6c+/7a, 45 m, 5 s.; 6a, 60 m, 4 s.; III, 70 m.
Take 11 quickdraws and two 60m ropes.

The granite rock is almost always extremely steep with flakes, crimps and small cysts that need pinching with two fingers on the crux pitches. The rock is extremely compact and devoid of cracks, hence it accepts no traditional means of protection. Bolts where indispensable therefore, placed with the help of the drill while hanging off sky hooks. The number of bolts indicates that they were placed circa 6m apart, meaning that this is not a sport climb like those at crags, but a psychologically demanding outing. 15m falls are possible on the 8a+ crux pitch, 25m falls are not uncommon on other pitches while on the remaining ones falls should be avoided at all costs as they are simply too dangerous.

The three climbers chose this area because it is still unknown and provided the opportunity to climb a new route adopting the tactics and style they have used for many years on their home mountains, namely ground-up and as much free as possible. The first ascentionists also made the first redpoint of the route, excluding the crux pitch, climbed with one rest.

The route was called "Never the same" (Mai più così).

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