Posted on: February 16, 2007

The five "fingers"—Kaga Pamari, Kaga Tondo, Wangel, Debridu and Suri Tondo—of the Hand of Fatima Group, Hombori Region, Mali, from left (south) to right (north). In December, five Lecco Spiders established three new routes in the area, including Danza Tribale (7b, 6c+ obl., 500m, 13 pitches), marked in red, on the northeast cliff of Suri Tondo. According to the Spiders, there is untapped potential throughout the Hombori region. [Photo] Courtesy of Lecco Spiders

Overcoming intestinal distress and dehydration, Giovanni Ongaro, Marco Vago, Adriano Selva, Cece Bugada and Simone Pedeferri, from the legendary Italian climbing club, the Lecco Spiders, established three new routes in the Hombori region of Mali throughout December. In three consecutive weeks of climbing in the Hombori, the climbers repeated easier lines and established three new ascents in the Hand of Fatima Group: Erosione Solare (6b, 6a obl., 270m, 6 pitches), Passaggio Dogon (7b, 6b obl., 300m, 8 pitches) and Danza Tribale (7b, 6c+ obl., 500m, 13 pitches). Despite the guidance of Salvador Campillo, a local who has climbed in the region for more than twenty years, the Italians suffered bouts with dysentery, a common affliction from drinking the desert water. The region, located in the desolate southwest corner of the Sahara Desert, is as "severe and harsh as Patagonia," noted Marco Vago.

Marco Vago working up Danza Tribale (7b, 6c+ obl., 500m, 13 pitches) on Suri Tondo, one of the Spidersís new routes in the Hand of Fatima Group. [Photo] Courtesy of Lecco Spiders

Catherine Destivelle put Mali climbing on the western map twenty years ago with a film, Seo!, about the area (her accomplishments are also featured in Alpinist Issue 7's Faces department). Since then legends such as Paul Plain, Arnaud Petit, Kurt Albert and Todd Skinner (see the October 24 NewsWire about his tragic death) have established new climbs in the area. According to the Spiders, there is untapped potential throughout the Hombori region, which houses "hundreds of walls, 200-500 meters high, all [of] beautiful compact sandstone," said Vago. "And there are definitely many more which we didn't even see."


Sources: Fabio Palma, Marco Vago, Lecco Spiders,

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