The great return of Sasha DiGiulian: second ascent of Mora Mora in Madagascar

8c route opened by Adam Ondra

09 August 2017

American becomes first woman in history to free climb notorious Mora Mora. Sasha DiGiulian has become the first woman to free climb the 700-metre Mora Mora and only the second person in history to do so.

The professional climber, along with Edu Marin, ascended the peak last month after three days of climbing in the remote wilderness of Madagascar. Using handholds of crystals smaller than shelled peanuts at times to pull themselves up, it was a treacherous task to tackle. Mora Mora was first tackled in 1999 by the pairing of Francisco Blanco and Toti Vales but the duo were unable to free climb it, and it took until 2010 for Adam Ondra, of the Czech Republic, to become the first person to free climb the route.

DiGiulian’s ascent with Marin was not without its complications, with them spending 26 days in the area working out the individual pitches of the route and achieving the feat after three days of upward work, all done hauling their gear, food and water with them. DiGiulian described the climb thus: “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.”

For her, the successful effort was a dream come true. She added: “I’ve wanted to go to Madagascar for the last few years. Finally, I felt ready and with enough time to go and try it.”

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