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Iranian Team Climbs First Ascent on Karambony Tower, Madagascar

A three-man Iranian team has established the 11-pitch 5.13d The Change Experience (8b, A2, 442m) to the top of Madagascar’s Karambony Tower.

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The Iranian team waves goodbye before beginning their ascent of the Karambony Tower. Photo courtesy of Hamid Reza Shafaghi.
The Iranian team waves goodbye before beginning their ascent of the Karambony Tower. Photo: Courtesy of Hamid Reza Shafaghi.

A three-man Iranian team has established the 11-pitch 5.13d The Change Experience (8b, A2, 442m) to the top of Madagascar’s Karambony Tower.

“Everything was like a dream and a wish,” said Hamid Reza Shafaghi, whose idea it was to put up a route on the tower. Hassan Gerami and the 17-year-old climber Farshad Mijoji joined the effort, and the team completed the route April 6, after six days on the wall.

The team climbed the route ground-up. Pitches 1, 10 and 11 were originally climbed free, with the remaining pitches opened on aid, mostly using hooks. However, after the climbers added 100 bolts to the route, pitches 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 went free.

The path of Change Experience (8b/5.13d, A2, 442m) on the Karambony Tower. Photo courtesy of Hamid Reza Shafaghi.
The path of Change Experience (8b/5.13d, A2, 442m) on the Karambony Tower. Photo: Courtesy of Hamid Reza Shafaghi.

“Our slogan in this project was ‘Change,’” Shafaghi toldRock and Ice. “Change in many things: change in the number of climbers from crowded teams to fewer, but more effective, members…and [in] documenting.” Generating photos and videos, he said, “was considered our weakness in the past,” so on this trip the climbers spent several days gathering footage (see video below).

Though all of the team members had previous big-wall experience, they prepared for the trip together by climbing theSlovenian Route(7b/5.12b) on the Great Trango Tower in Pakistan; free-climbing theBonatti Routeon the GrandCapucin, Mont Blanc Massif;and establishing the alpine routeRajiaon theAlam Kooh wall in Iran.

The Karambony Tower is also home to Madagascar’s hardest big-wall route, Tough Enough (8c/5.14b, 380m), first freed in 2008 by the French climbersArnaud Petit, Stéphanie Bodet, Sylvain Millet and Laurent Triay. Two years later, Adam Ondra free-climbed the route in a single day.


The Iranian team on The Change Experience (8b/5.13b, A2, 442m):


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