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DiGiulian, Marin make second free ascent of Mora Mora (5.14b, 700m) in Madagascar

Posted on: August 22, 2017


[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool

Sasha DiGiulian and Edu Marin recently made the second free ascent of Mora Mora (8c or 5.14b, 700m) in Madagascar, which was first freed by Adam Ondra in 2010.

Spanish climbers Francisco Blanco and Toti Vales established the 12-pitch, bolt-protected climb ground up over six days in 1999, free climbing all except the crux Pitch 7. Ondra then freed the entire route in October 2010, rating the pitches as follows: 6a+ (5.10c), 6b (5.10d), 7b (5.12b), 7b+ (5.12c), 7b+ (5.12c), 7c+/8a (5.13a/b), 8b+/8c (5.14a/b), 6c+ (5.11c), 7a+ (5.12a), 7c+ (5.13a), 7b+ (5.12c), 4 (5.7).

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DiGiulian has freed other big routes—including Bellavista (5.14b, 10 pitches) on Cima Ovest di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites; Viaje de los Locos (5.14a, ca. 300m) in Sardinia, Italy (both with Marin); Magic Mushroom (5.13a, 600m) on the Eiger; and The Misty Wall (5.13a, 1,700') in Yosemite—but she said this route was particularly significant for her because it represents a return from a back injury.

[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool

"Just over one year ago I injured my back really badly," she said. "I was dealing with it for about eight months. This climb has been a personally gratifying achievement in that it is the hardest big wall that I have achieved yet in my career, but also, it feels like this flag for me that I am fully recovered and experiencing the change that has come with having time again to fully dedicate to training and climbing, also having just graduated from University last May."

Starting in early July, DiGiulian and Marin spent 26 days in the Tsaranoro Valley to work the project. The airline lost their portaledge, so the pair made do without until it arrived later in the trip. They fixed ropes from the top of Pitch 7 and each day they made the 90-minute hike to the wall and spent another 90 minutes jumaring to reach the crux section. After each of them had redpointed the individual crux pitch, they climbed the route from the ground up in a three-day push, swinging leads except for Pitch 7, which they took turns leading for the final send.

[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool

DiGiulian described the route in an email:

The route is runout but fully bolted. The easier sections have more space between the bolts but the climbing is certainly pretty blank; it's a lot of delicate balancing and smearing on vertical to slab granite. There isn't a way that you could trad climb this line, thoug,h because it is all face climbing.

Skin was definitely an issue; the rock is super abrasive and when the sun was on the wall, the conditions would be quite hot. Though, we found our time windows—for instance, knowing when the crux pitch was in the shade—and we actually used a lot of the natural Aloe vera.

This line has a lot of hard climbing. Even the "7c/7c+" pitch just before the 8c pitch, we felt like it was more like an 8a+ (5.13c), for instance. The majority of the climb is...5.12 [or harder], all very technical and full-on. The climbing was much more technical than many of the walls I've done in the past—I guess the most relatable to Yosemite—but what was totally unique was that the second half of the climb was very physical. Water runoff from the top has created this tube-like formation in part of the climb in which you are stemming and pushing from the palms of your hands and smeared feet.

[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool[Photo] Francois Lebeau/Red Bull Content Pool

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