Sasha DiGiulian has become the first woman to free the 700-meter Mora Mora (12 pitches, 5.14b/8c) in Madagascar and only the second person in history to do so.
Mora Mora—a tech-y route of minuscule holds on abrasive granite—was first attempted in 1999 by Francisco Blanco and Toti Vales, but the duo was unable to free it. It wasn’t until 2010 that Adam Ondra became the first person to free this challenging line.
Sasha, along with partner Edu Marin, achieved the second ascent of this committing route last month after spending 26 days in the area’s remote wilderness working out the individual pitches.
Adapting to the rugged position of the wall and solving the crux was not without its challenges:
“It took us a few days to unlock all the sequences [of the crux pitch] and our port-a-ledge had been lost by the airline, so each day we were hiking about 90 minutes up the mountain, jumaring 1,400 feet of static line, to then try the 8c, rappel down to the ground and hike out,” said DiGiulian.
The pair finally pulled off the feat during a three-day push up the wall; hauling their gear, food, and water with them along the way. DiGiulian described the climb as such:
It’s like a dance. Every foot placement needs to be laser precise. Light breaths and slow movements, body positioning and trusting negligible little crystals smaller than shelled peanuts … This route is very technical. You need to have patience in unlocking sequences and reading the rock, learning the style and trusting yourself.
Mora Mora literally translates to “slowly, slowly,” a fitting description for the two athletes who first met on the World Cup circuit eight years ago and have become regular climbing partners since—tackling other big wall endeavors, including Bellavista (5.14b) in the Italian Dolomites in 2013 and Viaje de los Locos (5.14a) in Sardinia in 2014.
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