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A Guide to Rock Climbing and Bouldering in Ethiopia (2014)

For Inspiration and Information

Ethiopia Climbing
Contents
Ethiopia Rock Climbing and Bouldering Guide (2014) ............................................................................................ 1
For Inspiration and Information.................................................................................................................................... 1
Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................ 9
Basic Maps of Climbing in Ethiopia ..................................................................................................................... 10
General Information For Planning Climbing Trips in Ethiopia ............................................................................... 11
Logistics ....................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Water .......................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Climbing Equipment .................................................................................................................................................... 12
General Kit .................................................................................................................................................................. 12
General Medical .......................................................................................................................................................... 12
Wildlife ........................................................................................................................................................................ 12
Weather ...................................................................................................................................................................... 12
Security ....................................................................................................................................................................... 12
Bale Mountains, Southern Ethiopia, Between Rafu and Rira, ............................................................................... 14
General Information about Climbing in Bale Mountains ............................................................................................ 14
Bouldering in Bale .............................................................................................................................................. 15
Rock Climbing in Bale ......................................................................................................................................... 17
Near Mount Zuqualla, South of Addis Ababa, ..................................................................................................... 19
Abelti Hill, South West of Addis Ababa: .............................................................................................................. 20
Asela (South East Of Addis Ababa) ...................................................................................................................... 21
Boro Crag, Hawassa ........................................................................................................................................... 22
6a/b and 5* 6c/7b ....................................................................................................................................................... 22
Shashamene (South of Addis Ababa, North of Awassa) ....................................................................................... 23
Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa), Overview.............................................................................................................. 24
Poroto Gringo.............................................................................................................................................................. 26
Wendem.................................................................................................................................................................... 27
Austerity Measures ..................................................................................................................................................... 28
2

Wei-Nei Gudei ............................................................................................................................................................. 29


Enkefet ........................................................................................................................................................................ 30
A Supposedly Fun Climb I'll Never Climb Again .......................................................................................................... 31
Tara Gaga .................................................................................................................................................................... 32
Jegna Almotem ........................................................................................................................................................... 33
Oysters Balls ................................................................................................................................................................ 34
Oysters Nuts ................................................................................................................................................................ 35
Cracked Wheat ............................................................................................................................................................ 36
Dihedral 5.12 on the Upper Wall ................................................................................................................................ 37
Climbing through the black streak. P1 5.10 and P2 5.11. ........................................................................................... 37
Amora Gedel article by Nico Parkinson: .............................................................................................................. 38
Menegesha, West of Addis Ababa (2014):........................................................................................................... 41
Wuchacha Mountain, East of Addis Ababa, (2014): ............................................................................................. 42
New 'on sight' first ascent in Wuchacha, May 5th 2014............................................................................................. 42
Maybe E2, 6a or 5.10b? .............................................................................................................................................. 42
Wuchacha Mountain, New Route Potential: .............................................................................................................. 43
Gulelle Botanical Gardens, North of Addis Ababa (closer than Entoto):................................................................ 44
ENTOTO, North of Addis Ababa, Overview .......................................................................................................... 45
Dave's Fall & Hyena's Secret (Hyena Point) 2014 ....................................................................................................... 45
Hyena's Secret............................................................................................................................................................. 46
Homebase, Babu Hills, East of Mekelle, .............................................................................................................. 47
Haweza Tower, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia ...................................................................................................... 48
Quala Yohannes, near Addis Zemen, (Bewteen Gondar and Bahir Dar (2012)): .................................................... 48
Southern Gondar Mountains: ............................................................................................................................. 49
Massif Au Sud De Gondar, Topo Number 1 ......................................................................................................... 50
Molalit Face ESE, Aferan, D Sup, 200m, (2012): ...................................................................................................... 50
Massif Au Sud De Gondar, Topo Number 2 ......................................................................................................... 51
Molalit Face ESE, Aferan, D Sup, 200m, (2012): ...................................................................................................... 51
Simien Mountains .............................................................................................................................................. 52
Simiens, (Shewa Region) near the Village of Lemi ............................................................................................... 53
3

Lasta Mountains, Lalibela, (1/2way between Addis & Adigrat) ............................................................................ 54


Adwa Logistics Recommendations ...................................................................................................................... 55
From Nico Parkinson based on his Horizon Ethiopique Exped (2011):....................................................................... 55
Campsite and directions to it: ................................................................................................................................. 55
Where is the climbing in relation to the campsite? ................................................................................................ 55
Food and Water? .................................................................................................................................................... 55
Camp guard? ........................................................................................................................................................... 55
Adwa Area, Rock Climbing Map and General Info 2 (French): .............................................................................. 57
Adwa Mountains by Ethiopia Rocks 2014............................................................................................................ 58
Synopsis of Climbing ................................................................................................................................................... 58
Abba Girima Area General Information and Satellite Map......................................................................................... 58
Nursery Corner Crag ........................................................................................................................................... 59
1. Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men, Severe, 20m ...................................................................................................... 59
2. Danger Mouse, HVS 4b, 25m .................................................................................................................................. 59
3. Poddington Peas, 4b, 25m ...................................................................................................................................... 59
4. Button Moon, E1 5a, 25m ....................................................................................................................................... 59
5. Trapdoor, HVS 5a, 25m ........................................................................................................................................... 59
6. Finger Mouse, E1 5b, 25m ...................................................................................................................................... 60
South East Buttress- Melaikt .............................................................................................................................. 60
1. Welcome to the Jungle ,E3 5c, 30m ........................................................................................................................ 60
2. Stairway to Heaven, E1 5b, 30m ............................................................................................................................. 60
Central Buttress- Backside of Semeyata .............................................................................................................. 61
1. Good things.......small packages E2/3 5b, 15m ..................................................................................................... 61
2. The Corner E1 5b, 35m............................................................................................................................................ 61
Tahatai Logumte ................................................................................................................................................ 62
1. Pets Corner, VS 4c, 100m ........................................................................................................................................ 62
1. Jelly Shoe Heroes, E1 5a, 150m............................................................................................................................... 63
Mont Tihous, Adwa, Topo Number 1 .................................................................................................................. 64
Relais Sur Le Euphorbias, TD Inf, 300m (2012): ....................................................................................................... 64
Mont Tihous, Adwa, Topo Number 2 .................................................................................................................. 65
4

Vive Adwa, TD, 190m, (2012): ................................................................................................................................. 65


Mont Otowodiko, Adwa, Topo Number 1 ........................................................................................................... 66
Timkat, TD/TD Sup, 180m, (2012): .......................................................................................................................... 66
Mont Otowodiko Topo Number 2, Adwa ............................................................................................................ 67
Si Gentils, D, 120m, (2012) ...................................................................................................................................... 67
Mount Otowodiko, Adwa, Topo Number 3 ......................................................................................................... 68
Presque 50 ans et presque toutes mes dentsor Depuis hier soir jai 2 dents creuses! TD, 180m, (2012): ........... 68
Samayata, Adwa Mountains, .............................................................................................................................. 69
Costa Brava, 8a, 850m, (2012):................................................................................................................................ 69
Samayata, Adwa, Pat Little John: ........................................................................................................................ 69
South Crest of lower tower near left side of the main face: 11-pitch E1, (2008) ....................................................... 69
Adwa- Debre Gundo and Samayata, Adwa, by John Collis................................................................................... 70
Samayata, Adwa, by John Collis ......................................................................................................................... 70
Mount Aftera, Adwa, by Mark Richey ................................................................................................................. 71
West Face of Mount Aftera, 5.10 R, 6-7 pitches, 2008, .......................................................................................... 71
The Samayata Valley, Adwa, Topo ...................................................................................................................... 72
La Direct Des Vertaco, Topo,............................................................................................................................... 73
la Directe des Vertacos, 7a.......................................................................................................................................... 73
Parvi Des Anges, Adwa, Topo ............................................................................................................................. 74
Give me money or go home, TD Sup, 200m, (2011)................................................................................................ 74
JAine Un Copain And Give Me Money or Go Home, Topo ................................................................................... 75
Give me money or go back home!" TD ..................................................................................................................... 75
Cochacho, Adwa ................................................................................................................................................ 76
le Fissure Fioresse, A2 ou 7b+ ..................................................................................................................................... 76
Montagne des Anges .................................................................................................................................................. 77
Southern Adwa Mountains Umba Gwal Atse .................................................................................................... 78
E2, wanders up shorter southwest side, Six-pitch, (200m), Littlejohn-Sustad, (2007)............................................... 78
Yeha General Information ............................................................................................................................... 79
Yeha Area Maps .......................................................................................................................................................... 79
Monkey Rock ..................................................................................................................................................... 81
5

1. Through the Eye of a Needle, HS 4b, 145m ............................................................................................................ 81


2. Monkey Say, Monkey Do, HVS 4c , 120m ............................................................................................................... 81
The Crowds, The Crowds .................................................................................................................................... 82
1. The Guns of Ye Ha, E2 5c, (120m) ........................................................................................................................... 82
1. Touching the Snake, HVS 5a, 155m ........................................................................................................................ 83
R&R Crag ........................................................................................................................................................... 84
1. Good Night Mr Tom, HVS 5b, 90m.......................................................................................................................... 84
Farenji Boulder .................................................................................................................................................. 85
Yeha Area, East of Adwa, Tigray ......................................................................................................................... 86
South West Crack of Tower (10), Bat Cave, E1, 5a, 4b, 4a, 150m, .......................................................................... 86
West Ridge of Tower (11), E1 5a,6a, 110m, (2002), ................................................................................................... 87
East Face of Tower (1): Ethiopian Garden, III+, 100m; So Strong and Brave, E4 6a, 45m; Tree Nut, HVS 5a, 35m ... 87
Hawzien ............................................................................................................................................................ 88
Logistics ....................................................................................................................................................................... 88
Climbing ...................................................................................................................................................................... 88
Maps for Sheba and Horsetooth Towers, Gheralta, Tigray ................................................................................... 90
Koraro Spires, Gheralta Range Overview ............................................................................................................ 91
Description .............................................................................................................................................................. 91
Koraro Towers, Gheralta .................................................................................................................................... 92
Tewlihe ("The Sharp One"), 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII E4 6a, 375m, (2012), ......................................................................... 92
Description .............................................................................................................................................................. 92
Koraro Towers (previously reported as Nevulet Towers), Gheralta Massif by Pat Little John ................................ 94
Sheba Tower, 5.10/5c, 500m, (2005 and 2006) ...................................................................................................... 94
Nico Parkinsons Story of the Koraro Tower, Gheralta Region.............................................................................. 95
Scared Hamster Tube Party, 5.10- R/X, 4 pitches, (2012) ....................................................................................... 95
Neblet (AKA Koraro) Towers, Gheralta Massif, Majke Buurhardt ......................................................................... 97
Tewadros: Learning the Hard Way, III, 5.10, 5 Pitches, (2007) ............................................................................... 97
GUHE TOWERS, Gheralta, Tigray......................................................................................................................... 98
Magic Smelly Poodle, 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c PG13, 300m, (2012) ......................................................................... 98
Description .............................................................................................................................................................. 98
6

Nico Parkinsons Story of the Guhe Tower, Gheralta Region, 2012 ......................................................................... 100
Abune Yemata Guh, 5.11, Guhe Towers, Gheralta, Pat Little Johns Account: ....................................................... 101
Tower of Frida (next to Abuna Yemata), ........................................................................................................... 102
Sound of Frida, 300m .............................................................................................................................................. 102
Sandstone turns to sand in Gheralta - Espen Fadnes returns to Ethiopia ............................................................ 102
Nebelet, Near Hawzien, Tigray, Mark Richey..................................................................................................... 104
5.10R, 6 pitches, (2008) ............................................................................................................................................ 104
Gheralta Topos And General Info, by Alain Bruzy (2012).................................................................................... 105
Massif De La Gheralta, Tigray ........................................................................................................................... 106
Pilier Des Americuines, TD Sup, 4 pitches, (2012), ................................................................................................ 106
Mont Essamba, Massif De La Gheralta, Tigray ................................................................................................... 107
Suebre (Notre Chauffeur Patient Et Sympat), TD, 140m, (2012), ......................................................................... 107
Gudele Towers, Amba Dasen Bet, Gheralta....................................................................................................... 108
"Buzzards Can't be Choosers," P1 5.10 +, P2. 5.8 X, P3 5.11+ R, (150m), (2012), .................................................... 108
Nicos Write up of Gudele Tower, Gheralta Region............................................................................................ 109
KorKor, Gheralta Massif, Tigray ........................................................................................................................ 110
Coma La Vista, 5.8; Deuce of Hardts, 5.7; Reading Corner, 5.4; Free Dance, 5.9; Mollys Reach, 5.6; The Fall Back,
5.6 ............................................................................................................................................................................. 110
Kimir, Gheralta Massif, Tigray, by Edu Marin .................................................................................................... 111
Arenas Movedizas, 7b+/c, 350m, (2012) ............................................................................................................... 111
The Koraro Sandstone Towers, Gheralta, 150m, (2012) ..................................................................................... 112
Gheralta, Tigray, 2012, by John Collis AAC ........................................................................................................ 113
Great Cornholio, 5.10-, 3 pitch, (2012) .................................................................................................................. 113
Near Hawzien, Gheralta, Tigray, 2008, Indight by Mark Richey .......................................................................... 113
AGAME MASSIF: Gheralta Climbing, Near Muzety and Hawzen ........................................................................ 114
Near Gohgot Guesthouse, Tigray ...................................................................................................................... 116
East Face Horse Tooth Tower, Near Digum, Tigray ............................................................................................ 117
Mega Crack, HXS, 5.10/ 5.11, 5 Pitches, (2005+6) by Pat Little John .................................................................... 117
Dedum, Tigray, (Perhaps Horseshoe Towers) .................................................................................................... 118
We Lauigh at Danger, HVS, 5a,4b, *, 100m, and Somewhere Else, HVS 4c,4c**, 100m, (2001), By Bookham
Crag Rats ................................................................................................................................................................... 118
7

Dabrazeit Peak, Dudua, Near Axum, By Bookham Crag Rats ............................................................................. 119
Green Mamba, E2 (5c)****, 300m and Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds, E2 (5b), 300m, (2001) ...................... 119
Damo Gela, Near Axum .................................................................................................................................... 122
North Buttress, E1, 10 Pitch, 400m, (2006), by Pat Little John/Steve Sustad........................................................... 122
Bouldering in Axum Quarries and Near Hawzien: 2007, Mark Richey, AAC ......................................................... 123
Harrar, 2007, Mark Richey, AAC........................................................................................................................ 123
Mount Wehni Ethiopia, Near Axum, (Hotrock Report)....................................................................................... 124
Beneath the Path of Princes, E1 5a ....................................................................................................................... 124
The prison of Mt Wehni Ethiopia ........................................................................................................................... 124
From Mount Wehni To Kentish Town, Account 2 .............................................................................................. 127
Tigray And Adwa Regions, Nebelet Round Up Of Routes, 2008 .......................................................................... 129
Gobo Dura ................................................................................................................................................................. 129
Mai Gundi.................................................................................................................................................................. 129
Abba Gerima Cliff ...................................................................................................................................................... 129
Dabba Guba............................................................................................................................................................... 129
Ganderta (Jordan):................................................................................................................................................. 129
Tahatai Logumte ....................................................................................................................................................... 129
Rayu........................................................................................................................................................................... 129
Waseya Cracks, Tembien Mountains, near Hagere Selam, Tigray ....................................................................... 130
Waseya Cracks, Hagere Selam, Account of Crag Development ........................................................................... 134
Waseya Cracks, 14/08/2004 ..................................................................................................................................... 134
Waseya Cracks, 28-29/08/2004 ................................................................................................................................ 134
Waseya Cracks, 9-10/10/2004 .................................................................................................................................. 136
Waseya Boulder Field Topo/Map ............................................................................................................................. 138
How We Had to Dodge Rocks at Waseya Cracks in order to Climb Them ............................................................ 139
by Nico Parkinson,..................................................................................................................................................... 139
Mai Ba'ati, Between Hagere Selam and Mekelle ............................................................................................... 142
The Arch, Kola Tembien, Near Anu Adi ............................................................................................................. 143
Mekelle Quarry, Mekelle.................................................................................................................................. 143
Other Ethiopia Climbing Webpages And Blogs: ................................................................................................. 144
8

Introduction
The rock climbing venues in this document are arranged in a rough South to North order.

The purpose of this document is to encourage and promote rock climbing development
within Ethiopia. In turn, we hope these increased opportunities for rock climbing and
bouldering will help to create sustainable tourism within Ethiopia.

As some of the information is hard to decipher, I have simply compiled it all, for people to
do as they wish with it, rather than edit it, and risk losing some of the detail. The aim was to
produce one document, including all of the Ethiopia Rock climbing and bouldering
information, eliminating the hours of research that were required before this existed. There
are as many photos as I could find, to inspire people into visiting, and route and logistical
information that may prove useful once you get there, which may make more sense when
stood in front of it!
Nothing in this document is original material; it has all been lifted and copied from other
people websites (especially Rock Climbers, Ethiopia Facebook page), blogs and booklets.
Wherever possible, I have included the links to the relevant authors, both within the text,
and in the references at the end of the booklet. Apologies if I have missed your link out, or
you are not happy with your content being used in this manner. Please get in touch and I
shall make the necessary adjustments. Alternatively, if there is any other content that you
would like to see added, please get in contact and I shall do my best to add it asap.

Compiled by Mandy Tee


Ethiopia Rocks 2014 Expedition
Expedition Sponsors were:

Document last updated on the 02/12/2014


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Basic Maps of Climbing in Ethiopia

10

General Information For Planning Climbing Trips in Ethiopia


Ethiopia is part of the Horn of Africa, it is the oldest African independent country and it is 4.6 times larger than the
UK . It covers 1.13 million Km, and has the second largest population of any African country.
Ethiopia is a country of extremes, with the fertile Omo Valley in the South, which has an average annual rainfall of
1134mm, (the Uks 2013 average annual rainfall was 1091mm). The Danakil Depression in the North is 125m below
sea level and one of the hottest places on earth, while Ras Dashen (the highest mountain in Ethiopia), is 4550m
above sea level (just 260m below Mont Blanc).
Addis Ababa, the capital is abuzz with new investment, expensive hotels and lots of foreign workers, while the rural
villagers tend to be poor subsistence farmers. The average male life expectancy is 58 years of age.
The national food (eaten daily by most Ethiopians) is Injera, and its Ethiopias answer to marmite: tourists (known
locally as Farenji) either love it or hate it! At times, members of the Ethiopia Rocks team could be overheard
comparing it to sour carpet underlay, I however, quite liked it!
In the past 10 years there has been an increase in the number of Ethiopian based rock climbers, and a growing
number of climbing and bouldering expeditions to Ethiopia by British, American, French, Swedish, and Spanish
teams. As a result many new routes and boulder problems are being put up all over Ethiopia each year. Despite
much hard work and effort by a few dedicated climbers, the amount of information available about Ethiopian
climbing on the internet is still very time consuming to research.

Logistics
All members of the team flew into Addis Ababa airport. We pre-arranged a vehicle (4x4) and driver (doubled as a
camp guard/translator, who spoke Amharic and Tigrayan), for the three weeks of our expedition, at a (returning
customers) rate of $150 per day, paying 90% in advance, all inclusive of fuel and drivers expenses, with
http://www.festethiopia.com/. At the time of our trip, non-nationals were not permitted to drive in Ethiopia. Cars
are bought at western prices plus 100% tax, so car hire is not cheap. If you have plenty of time (and some local
language), then travelling by public transport (buses) is plausible and cheap, but on a limited time schedule, with
return flights to catch, we decided it was not a good use of our time.
We spent one day and night in Addis getting supplies together (food, fuel, etc), as we planned to camp for all three
weeks, as we were unsure what goods would be available once in Adwa. However it transpired that most basic
supplies; rice, fruit, vegetables etc... were available in the regions larger market towns (although the quantity and
variety were sometimes limited).
Fest booked the Hotel in Addis, it cost $40/night for big double ensuite rooms with a table, fridge and sofa.
It takes two days to drive from Addis to Adwa, therefore one night in either Dessie or Kombolcha is required, one
night was also spent in Adwa before driving to our base camp. It is possible to fly to Aksum and hire a driver form
there. Flights are cheaper if bought once in country.

Water
Most villages had local wells, but these were locked most of the time and only open for a few hours each day, in
addition, these wells can get cut off (even in towns) requiring longer trips to other wells or, if available, purchasing
bottled water. We purified water with iodine or a Steripen, however it seemed generally clean and safe to drink,
and no filtering was required.
11

Climbing Equipment
No climbing equipment is available in country, but the types of climbing available are so varied and plentiful, that
you can pick and choose the routes you do and the amount of kit you need to take. During our trip as a group we lost
only a few nuts, and a small amount of tat, as we chose routes we could mainly walk off, and luckily didnt retreat off
many routes. A boulder mat proved very useful.

General Kit
We took biodegradable toiletries and washing up/clothes wash liquids with us, as well as all toiletries such as sun tan
lotion and mosquito repellent (which would have been very difficult to get hold of), and a solar shower from the UK
which proved very effective.
We purchased pans, washing up bowls, buckets to collect water (invaluable) and cutlery (very expensive) in Addis,
but could have bought pans in the larger market towns. We took multi-fuel stoves out, and bought a plastic
container of fuel once there. The fuel was dirty and didnt burn well.

General Medical
Advice varied about whether anti malarial drugs were required or not, most of the group took them and wore doses
of DEET, but the reality was we only saw mosquitoes on the journey from Addis to the North, but not really in the
climbing areas, and between us got only a few bites.
It would definitely be worth having a full expedition first aid kit with you at base camp including antibiotics,
painkillers etc. As a hospital may be a long way away, and ill-equipped. For example, it was the case that (out of the
whole country) there was only one embassy in Addis which held rabies medication for those who had been bitten.
Be aware, that the locals may come up and ask you for medical supplies while you are there. In general our view was
that it was best to offer basic advice that they could use again in the future., A common complaint was conjunctivitis,
we suggested they bathe their eye in (cooled) boiled water and salt, and advise them not to rub or touch their eyes,
or others if they had been in contact with the infected area, before washing their hands. Giving out drugs (as nontrained people) may cause more problems and perpetuate the issues of stone throwing in the future etc.

Wildlife
While in Ethiopia we did come across scorpions and very large spiders in the campsite, and some evidence of snakes
and monkeys en-route. It is worth making sure you are making enough noise to scare away the snakes on crags
before you arrive, as there are poisonous varieties. There are dogs in the cities and countryside, we did come across
a number of dogs running wild when getting to and from climbing areas, most looked quite healthy though.

Weather
Whilst in Northern Ethiopia we experienced just one afternoon of rain, luckily it started on our return from the crag.
Temperature-wise, we were wearing light fleeces and windproofs early mornings, evenings and nights (and
sometimes at shady crags in the day). During the day temperatures generally rose quite high, and shorts and t shirts
were all that were needed. Often it was too hot to climb in the midday sun, so we went to crags in the shade, or left
at first light to climb in the cooler morning temperatures. It was chilly at night, and most people were glad of their 3
season sleeping bags while camping.

Security
It is worth having a camp guard, although you are sure to be able to pick one up/acquire a self-appointed one locally.
There are greater security fears (by locals) in Yeha, as it is closer to the Eritrean border, although we personally saw
12

no tangible evidence of any difference. It was advised that women not walk around alone at night in the towns. Be
aware it is frowned upon for women to show their shoulders/too much flesh, or to drink beer.
The greatest annoyance we encountered was children throwing rocks at us, normally after they realised we would
not give them pens, sweets or money (although they would continue to ask for said items even once theyd started
throwing rocks!). There seemed not a lot we could do to avoid this, although parents and village elders would
occasional give some respite through disciplining the children. Hopefully better education of tourists to stop
encouraging begging may eventually elevate this issue. The idea of giving children educational materials such as pens
and books is on the surface a noble one. However it should be stressed that this can lead to the children believing
that all westerners are an infinite supply of these items, and the idea that they may not have them or are unwilling
to give them away is unconceivable. Our thoughts on this complex moral issue it that giving gifts to village elders or
school teachers to distribute as required may be a better solution. Hiring a local guide to accompany you to and
from the crag may help, although we did not test this theory.

13

Bale Mountains, Southern Ethiopia, Between Rafu and Rira,


General Information about Climbing in Bale Mountains
Entry Fees:
The rules for the Bale National Park are that you must hire a guide in order to enter the park and you must pay the
park entry fees. Ther prices for Entry to Bale Nation Park are as follows (as per 04/2014):
20 birr per day per vehicle
40 birr per day for a tent
90 birr per person
300 - 350 birr per day for a guide (although it may cost more if you want the guide to stay overnight, as you may
have to pay more for horses, assistants to look after the horses and maybe even a camp cook to provide food for
the guide? These are things you may be able to negotiate on the day.)
Weather:
Rain falls most days from May until September and the mountains are dramatically cloaked in mist and cloud.
However, May through July is a pleasant time to visit and despite the frequent afternoon showers, the days are
warm and sunny.
From October to April, days are sunny and night skies are filled with stars.
June is the best time for spring flowers; red-hot pokers cover the hillside with their flame-coloured vegetation.
The best time for trekking is from October to April. There are often frosts at night, and one website suggests that the
average temperature is 5 degrees C.
Here is a guidebook to Bale:
http://balemountains.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/bale-travel-guidebook-web.pdf
http://bradtethiopiaupdate.wordpress.com/category/bale-mountains/

TiBen Thollins Resume of the rock climbing and bouldering in Bale:


Quick resume of a short exploring trip in Bale Mountain National park. Two of us have a 6 days walking trip in Bale
Mountain. We didn't take any horses but a lazy guide and a backpack (The guide is compulsory inside the park). We
walked from Dinsho to the Sanetti Campsite with overnight campsite in Rafu at 4000 meter high (3 days walk in
impressive landscape from Dinsho. Nevertheless a 4 hours walk is possible from the sanetti campsite which could be
reach by car (hitchhiking is possible). Here is the most impressive boulder chaos, but there are boulder problems all
over the entire park, including huge potential for single pitch trad climbing routes all over the park too. In fact, all the
way from Dinsho you follow 20-50m high cliffs, and most over valleys have similar, easily reached crags. There is also
abundant wildlife and astounding views.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319634663390&set=pcb.10152338710251271&type=1&theater

Bernde Emmerich on Bale:


On the other hand, there is a ton more high quality climbing outside the parks. In fact from what I've seen so far
(which isn't too much) the rock is much more accessible and has better quality outside the Bale Park at least.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/119822356270/10152340612471271/?notif_t=group_comment_reply
https://www.facebook.com/bernde.emmerich?fref=ufi

14

Bouldering in Bale
Carl Granland, 2013
Bale bouldering video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbI0rMHbWIs
bouldering part way between Rafu and Rira: http://27crags.com/crags/balemountains-rafu
Topos: http://27crags.com/crags/balemountains-rafu/topos/paradox-of-accessability
Bale Mountains webpage: http://balemountains.org/
http://carlgranlund.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/ethiopia.html or http://carlgranlund.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/theclimbingguide-to-ethiopia-in-pdf.html
http://climbing.ilooove.it/spot/bale-mountains-national-park-7587?image=34196
https://www.facebook.com/groups/119822356270/permalink/10151379151021271/ photos
One week has past since I came back to the order in sweden. I've been to Ethiopia for 2,5 weeks on a climbing
expedition with Adam Herring and my brother Johannes. Our plan was to explore the Sanetti plateau in bale
mountain national park for potential bouldering but also trad-climbing.
The Sanetti plateau has a section called Rafu which is a big lava flow that has swept over the Sanetti plateau and this
was also the area were we stayed for 12 days and climbed and brushed boulders non stop.
The area is at least a 2x3 square kilometer ocean of blocks between 1-30m high. And alot of the taller blocks has the
potential to house some very spectacular sport climbing pitches :).
Adam was the initiative holder of this trip in the first place since he had been to Ethiopia many times before. Three
years prior to our expedition, Adam made his first trip to Bale mountains to trek in the Harrena forests. During this
trek he stubbled upon a boulder and as all climbers know you can't just wlk by a boulder without making sure that
there is no potential way up. It's not a hindrance for a true climbing pioneer even though the boulder might be small
and the potential line so contrived that you need to dig a big hole in the ground only to find a defined low sit start.
Of course you need to dig this hole because establishing a pure mantle problem is an evil invention of the devil and
those who advocates those typs of boulders are non reliable and minions of the evil powers.
However, In Adams head the seed was planted and he went home with the optimistic thought that "if there is one
boulder there must be more". He started searching on the internet and on google earth and soon found pictures on
big lava flows that swept along the Sanetti plateu that seemd to be housing boulders in unimaginable quantities.
In the autumn of 2012 Adam showed me some pictures of the area and it didn't take me long time to decide to tag
along. Emil had already decided to come and soon my brother also jumped on the train.
The result after the trip was about 60 new boulders between 5a and 7c, and considering the trad climbing we are
still very optimistic even though we didn't anything stunning. The main reason for this was that the rock quality
tended too differ quite a bit. Our scouting with binoculars kept us with an optimistic felling for trad climbing on som
big walls in the distance, but all those FAs are still up or grabs :).

15

https://www.facebook.com/groups/119822356270/permalink/10151379151021271/ photos

https://www.facebook.com/temame.mohammed

Photos of Bale bouldeing from TiBen Thollin, 2014:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319634348390&set=gm.10152338710251271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319634728390&set=gm.10152338710251271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319633018390&set=gm.10152338710251271&type=1&theater

16

Rock Climbing in Bale

About 3 pitches, 4000 meters above sea level, potential of routes, more than 50
Some routes have already been completed here.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202872175996275&set=gm.10152159563251271&type=1&theater

Not Lots of Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential

Photo by J H Ibsen: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/66172398?source=wapi&referrer=kh.google.com


Other photos with Bale crags in the background!
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/18050965?source=wapi&referrer=kh.google.com
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/50107777?source=wapi&referrer=kh.google.com
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/50107734?source=wapi&referrer=kh.google.com
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/45682777?source=wapi&referrer=kh.google.com

17

Photos of Bale Climbing Potential from TiBen Thollin, 2014:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319634663390&set=pcb.10152338710251271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319634728390&set=pcb.10152338710251271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319633018390&set=pcb.10152338710251271&type=1&theater

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319639023390&set=pcb.10152338710251271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152319647383390&set=pcb.10152338710251271&type=1&theater

A nice guide to the Bale Mountains:


http://balemountains.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/bale-travel-guidebook-web.pdf

18

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


Near Mount Zuqualla, South of Addis Ababa,

This looked like a pretty cool crag to check out sometime if we are up for an adventure. It is located on the
way to Mt. Zuqualla (8.68913 N 38.92366 E). The google earth image is looking southwest.

19

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


Abelti Hill, South West of Addis Ababa:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152657132113957&set=gm.10152238603286271&type=1&theater

This place was a famous Italian army outpost overlooking the Gibe river bridge. After the Italians left, the art of
roasting chicken remained (arrosto). The place is a favorite lunchtime pit-stop for many lorry drivers going to
Djimmah from Addis Ababa. A whole chicken comes with spicy 'awaze' sauce and injera bread, costs you anywhere
between 50 and 80 birr. My favorite is the garlic roasted one, so crisp it melts in your mouth... .
If you don't mind going down a little further past Welkite on the Djimmah road, you cross the Gibe river and get to a
town called Abelti. There is a pointy hill with the same name that hasn't been explored yet. Abelti also has the best
arrosto chicken in the world!

20

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


Asela (South East Of Addis Ababa)
I went to a cool place last weekend which would be a fun place to camp and climb. This area is east just outside of Asela. It
takes about 7 hour hike to get up around 3700m where Simien Wolves live and the rock is abundant. The rock is basalt and
quite featured, the place is suited for sport or bouldering. The cliff are short around 15m with steep featured faces. For the
bouldering there is a ton from short two-three move wonders to high balls. Te scenery completely awesome and devoid
people, though they come up seasonally to the pastures. Anyways I thought I would share this. Enjoy

Photo and description by Ken Ford.


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152446979240966&set=pcb.10152855297476271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152446979345966&set=pcb.10152855297476271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152446979450966&set=pcb.10152855297476271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152446979545966&set=pcb.10152855297476271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152446979740966&set=pcb.10152855297476271&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152446979965966&set=pcb.10152855297476271&type=1&theater

21

Boro Crag, Hawassa


6a/b and 5* 6c/7b
Basalt. Pretty good stuff. Feels very similar to granite. Grey compact basalt with sharp crimps and slopes requiring
strong fingers and good technique?
We bolted two lines, both start very fingery in the lower section/angle. The right one goes through the vertical
headwall on amazingly good but sparsed jugs.
Super clean and excellent rock! This gem has (as for now) one and half bolted routes (Bernard will finish the second
soon, right??): A great short 6a/b and a five-star 31m 6c/7b, and this is only the beginning! In the picture- local girl
inspecting our work while being lowered. A new sport introduced to the villagers at Boro!

Words and photos from Bernede Emmerich


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204808131753959&set=pcb.10204808137074092&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204808128913888&set=pcb.10204808137074092&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204808121713708&set=pcb.10204808137074092&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204808115073542&set=pcb.10204808137074092&type=1&theater

22

Shashamene (South of Addis Ababa, North of Awassa)


Some nice boulders out near Shashamene. Complete with monkeys, hyraxes and bemused locals.

Photo and words by Andy M Gra


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154346901365567&set=pcb.10152577467571271&type=1&theater

23

www.mountainproject.com

Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa), Overview


International : Africa : Ethiopia
Elevation: 8000
Description
Ethiopia's first Sport Climbing Crag is nearly 500 meters wide and 60 meters high and has very easy access from
Addis Ababa. The rock is basalt and offers sport climbs, mixed climbs and some trad climbs as well. All routes
published here have bolted anchors. Please see the route descriptions for more info.
The entire cliff is in the shade after midday, and the quality of the rock is high with few broken pieces and weak
flakes. There are some plants growing on the rock, but as the rock sees more traffic, the plants will disappear.
There is a small village called Kile above the cliff where climbers can camp with a local family for 40 birr per tent. The
village has access to clean water from a nearby well and pump. In Kile, climbers can also purchase local bread
(injera), bottled beer, and other delights.
Please respect the local community, and stay on the trails as the farmers are growing wheat in the field at the foot of
the wall. As more and more people visit this crag, the locals will become more in tune with rock climbing. Donating
old equipment is a fine way to support their interest to safely climbg their own walls, however please donate
equipment that is secure, especially when it comes to harnesses & ropes.
For more info about this wall and other climbing spots around Ethiopia, contact me at nico.parco@gmail.com.
Getting There
Go to the Farensay neighborhood in the northeast quadrant of Addis Ababa. Take the Farensay road all the way to
the end, where minibuses, mid-sized buses and taxis are waiting in a dirt plaza. (This is your last chance to buy fruit,
bread, etc.) Turn left and begin driving up the mountain. After a few hundred meters, you will go beyond the houses
of the city on a windy dirt road and be surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Stay left when the road forks at a small rock
quarry/gravel production. Continue up the road that will meet up with a large work site with enormous trucks are
moving earth back and forth throughout the city. You can park here or continue straight through the work site on a
road with really bad cobbles. If you continue, park at the big bend in front of a small creek.
(If you take a taxi you may have to walk from the bus and taxi dirt plaza below. If so, expect about 15 minutes extra
walking to get to the above described parking)
On foot, continue walking up the road. As you gain elevation, you will see what appears to be a very big cliff straight
in front of you. This is Armora Gedel. There are two trails, one that goes to the top of the cliff up to the village Kile,
and the other to the bottom. Please walk around farmers' plots and respect the locals' animals.
In 2013, taxi prices from the Bole Airport area are some 200 birr to the bus/taxi plaza and you can usually negotiate
about 150 birr back to Bole.

24

NB: recently, children have been throwing large rocks off the top of this crag at the climbers. It may be best to avoid
this crag until some local climbers have had some talks with the local village elders.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151690555189617&set=gm.10151720326711271&type=1&theater

Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa) : Crimpin on the basalt!


25

Poroto Gringo
5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b PG13

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

Nicojah

New Route: Yes


Type:

Sport

Consensus: 5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b


Length:

1 pitch, 75'

Description
Climb starts directly under the first bolt. Climb up to a ledge and reach for positive slopers. Clip the first bolt from
the ledge if you can. Pull on the left hand sloper to the jugs above. The second bolt is far from the first bolt with
possible TCU (cam 0.5-1) placement in between the two bolts. The middle of the route is the most fun and the
reason you want to try this climb. The vertical basalt is a wavy lava flow with shallow and deep pockets as well as
horizontal and vertical ledges. Green and yellow lichen paints much of the wall making it a psychedelic pump!
Location
Look for a series of finger cracks with lots of grassy plants growing out of them on a slab to the far left of Armora
Gedel. Poroto Gringo starts a bit to the left of these cracks. You can't miss the first bolt on a lip above a small alcove.
Protection
5 bolts and 1 possible TCU placement.
2 bolt anchor with chains

Poroto Gringo : Poroto Gringo

26

Wendem
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

Nicojah

Type:

Sport

Consensus: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b


Length:

1 pitch, 75'

Description
Wendeme (meaning My Brother in Amharic) starts to the right of Poroto Gringo and is similar in style, though a bit
easier. The first bolt is up on a lip above an obvious alcove. Climb bast the bolt on the right up a series of big holds
far up to the 2nd bolt. The head wall is fun and lichen encrusted jugs will get you to the crux at the top of the head
wall. Here, pull a series of small holds to get over and to the final bolt before the anchor.
Location
This climb is located on Poroto Wall to the right of Poroto Gringo. There are 5 bolts to the anchors (shared with
Poroto Gringo).
Protection
5 quickdraws
2 bolt anchor with chains (shared with Poroto Gringo)

Wendem : The first bolt of Wendeme.

27

Austerity Measures
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:
Type:

Sport

Consensus: 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a


Length:

90'

Description
Climbers wanting to take on Austerity Measures must first climb Poroto Gringo or Wendeme.
The climb covers nearly 30m of delicate climbing on quality basalt to the top of the cliff. The burnt orange rock
provides edges, buckets and the all too frustrating shallow, sloper pockets! There are two cruxes on the wall. The
second crux near the top under a glassy roof. Climbers can aid over the crux if stuck. The first crux is after the second
bolt above the big blocks. There seems to be enough holds but the slight overhang makes pulling it somewhat
difficult.
This climb is exposed the entire time and rewarding in every aspect!
The climb's name comes from a group of Spanish aid workers who donated money to the Armora Gedel bolt fund.

Location
Austerity Measures starts at the anchors of Poroto Gringo/Wendeme and follows a prow up the head wall to the top
of the cliff.
Protection
10 bolts. 2 bolt Anchors with quicklinks.

28

Wei-Nei Gudei
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

Nicojah

Type:

Trad, Sport

Consensus: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c


Length:

1 pitch, 90'

Description
This route was born out of frustration when I couldn't get up the left side of this magnificent pillar. I then tried the
right side and Wei-Nei Gu-Dei was born! There is another 2 bolt anchor in the middle of the pillar that could be
another route if somebody were interested in trying to get up the left side of the pillar.
Wei-Nei Gude starts in the middle of the pillar. There are some easy moves of balance through the first two bolts.
The 3rd and 4th bolt go over a part of the wall that is a bit chossy but with enough solid holds to get you to the next
head wall.
Place a .75 cam above the fourth bolt in a horizontal crack.Then move up and slightly right towards the nose above.
Try the nose direct or move around to the right into the large dihedral and step out on the nose. The final 2-3 moves
are tiring and perhaps the most difficult, but well protected.
Weinei GuDei is a common expression in Amharic that means something like 'jumpin' jesus on a pogostick'
Location
The route is located to the left of Enkefet and to the right of the Poroto Gringo wall.
Protection
9 bolts, 1 gear placement (.75 - 1 tcu)
2 bolt anchor with quicklinks

29

Enkefet
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII E4 6a

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

Darrel Sommerlatt

Type:

Sport

Consensus: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII E4 6a


Length:

1 pitch, 90'

Description
Face climbing up the center of a robust column of varied basalt textures. Ten bolts protect the leader and are spaced
out while protecting the wall's hardest moves. The first two-thirds of climbing is sustained 5.10+/.11 climbing while
the last section before the last bolt features hard 5.11+ moves over 5-6 meters of sloping, small side pulls and
crimpers on hard basalt. Fun climbing with two ledges for natural rests to attack the Enkefet with Ethiopian power!
Enkefet means 'obstacle' in Amharic.
Location
This climb goes up the middle of the face of a large column to the left of Tara Gaga (the obvious and fun corner
crack). The first bolt is about 4 meters off the ground below a dicey roof.
Protection
10 quickdraws and two bolt anchors at the top with quicklinks.
Note: Climbers can reach the anchors of Enkefet from Tara Gara by climbing a small 3 meter section of 5.7 to set up
a top rope.

Enkefet : In the second section of Enkefet.

30

A Supposedly Fun Climb I'll Never Climb Again


5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

??

Type:

TR

Consensus: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c


Length:

80'

Description
This line runs directly up the face below hte Tara Gaga chains and doesnt use the corner crack. Unfortunately, the
second section of the climb is hard and very fragile making it difficult to find solid holds. There is a small pocket that
you can reach by standing on the ledge of grass and crank from there!
The middle section gets easier and the top section is 5.10+, but mostly because of dirty holds and sloping pockets.
One day, somebody may want to bolt this line. But hopefully the name will not change!
Location
This line is located to the left of Taragaga and to the right of Enkefet. Use the grassy ramp to get a good position for
the first section of climbing.
Protection
Toprope only. Uses the same anchors as the trad line 'Taragaga' next door.

31

Tara Gaga
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

Nicojah

Type:

Trad

Consensus: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c


Length:

1 pitch, 75'

Description
The line climbs an obvious ramp up to the right some 3 or 4 meters above the ground. There is a flake to place
protection. Then climb through the crux (which has thin protection) to a perfect fist-crack above and then to a large
ledge with lots of grass and dirt. Here the corner starts and protection is abundant for all sizes of material.
There are still a couple big grass clumps hanging on the cliff that will hopefully one day disappear providing a superb
crack for beginner and intermediate trad climbers.
Location
This classic route starts to the left of the big tree in the middle of the crag and goes up to an obvious corner.
Protection
Carry a full rack.
2 bolt anchors with chains.

Tara Gaga : Tara Gaga Toproper

32

Jegna Almotem
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ E3 5b

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

Nicojah

Type:

Trad, Sport

Consensus: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ E3 5b


Length:

90'

Description
This climb starts to the right of the big tree at the base of Tara Gaga. There is an obvious finger crack (your first piece
of pro) in a sea of orange lichen. Gain a ledge and you will see the climb's first bolt. Place 2 or 3 pieces throughout
the next 15-20 feet goes over steep, darker basalt with awesome formations and horizontal edges. There are some
bolts and then the roof crux. Pull over the roof onto the harder, smoother orange basalt column. Three more bolts
and then the anchors.
Jegna Almotem means "heroes don't die" in local Amharic, and was often heard when the last primer minister Meles
Zenawi passed away.
Location
Left of Oysters Balls, Right of the tree below the Tara Gaga crack.
Protection
Carry 9 quickdraws, small cams and nuts.
Two bolt anchors with quicklinks.

Jegna Almotem : Leading, a few feet below crux roof.

33

Oysters Balls
5.10 6b 20 VII- E2 5b

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

??

Type:

TR

Consensus: 5.10 6b 20 VII- E2 5b


Length:

1 pitch, 90'

Description
After leading Oysters Nuts which starts a bit to the right of Oysters Balls, climbers can toprope this line which goes
direct to the first pitch anchors of Oysters Nuts. The line goes over a simple boulder problem, then through popcorn
texture basalt, and finally to steeper-than-vertical wall with big holds.
Location
This line runs direct to the first pitch anchors of Oysters Nuts. Climbers can then continue to the 2nd pitch of Oysters
Nuts if they want.
Protection
Toprope only.
Shares the chains with Oysters Nuts.

34

Oysters Nuts
5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a
International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)
FA:

Nicojah

Type:

Trad

Consensus: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a
Length:

2 pitches, 180'

Season:

All year except rainy season (May to September)

Description
Armora Gedel's most populat climb. Climbers need a full rack for Oyster Nuts. The climb starts 2 meters left of
Cracked Wheat and angles diagonal left through a series of vertical crack systems. Though the foto shows a lot of
plants, there really aren't any plans on the climbing line itself. It has been cleaned by the people who put up the line.
After a small bulge, nearly 20m from the ground, the climber pulls over the last bulge to two bolts and quicklinks on
the upper headwall. It may seem like there isn't enough pro, but there is!
The first pitch is sustained 5.9 climbing with no serious crux move. It is sustained and has plenty of protection on
high quality basalt.
The second pitch follows an obvious finger crack on climber's right that leads to a even more obvious, crescentshaped crack that is sometimes flaring, sometimes perfect hand crack.
Don't miss the 2nd pitch as it's much better than the 1st and very straight forward, crack-delightful climbing. There
are face holds, crack holds and varies sizes of pro throughout.
The name comes from a Norwegian climber who first attempted this line onsight. At some point below the first
anchors, he left a couple nuts and came down. Before being cleaned, the line was very hairy with plants and dirt.
Location
Look for a right-facing crack that angles up and to the left. At the base of the route to the left, there is a small tree.
Protection: Full rack.

2 bolt anchors with chains.

Oysters Nuts : From the top of the 2nd pitch!

35

Cracked Wheat
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ E3 5b

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Armora Gedel (Addis Ababa)


FA:

Nicojah

Type:

Trad, Sport

Consensus: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ E3 5b


Length:

2 pitches, 180'

Description
Cracked Wheat is the first mixed route bolted on Armora Gedel and called thus due to the farmer's wheat stalks that
were growing at the base of the and lightly stomped over on the route's first ascent (by toprope).
This route, from a climbing perspective, may be considered the most complete route at Armora Gedel due to its
many styles of climbing over high quality rock. Here you will try all types of moves, power, balance and stretch.
P1: This pitch is harder than the next pitch and requires pulling on slopers, small edges and careful balance. The first
pitch is a sustained 5.10 and 5.10+ climbing with several cruxes throughout. There are two places for gear between
bolts 1 & 2 & 3. After climbing the main face, after the 3rd bolt, traverse right on the pillar face and go straight up
from there.
P2: Continue climbing the face of the pillar until reaching the top. Here you will see the 2nd bolt on the main face of
the wall which requires stepping from the pillar onto the face and climbing over a tricky roof. Afterwards, the
climbing is easy and there is a long crack for gear, then a couple bolts until the next crux where small edges and
hidden sidepulls get you to the top.
Location
This route is to the right of Oysters Nuts and starts on an orange face with several cracks. This climb is left of a large
gully with lots of trees and plant life. You can't miss the first bolt 3 meters off the ground.
Protection
P1: 7 bolts. P2: 6 bolts.
10 quickdraws and mixed rack. TCUs size 1 - 2 are especially useful on the first pitch.
There are two bolt anchors with quicklinks at the top of each pitch.

Cracked Wheat : Cracked Wheat on lead. http://www.mountainproject.com/v/ethiopia/108133738


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151894243559617&set=gm.10151911293841271&type=1&theater

36

Dihedral 5.12 on the Upper Wall

With Elad Omer and Nico Parkinson

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152906704134617&set=pcb.10152851184851271&type=1
&theater

Climbing through the black streak. P1 5.10 and P2 5.11.

With Elad Omer and Nico Parkinson

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152906704449617&set=pcb.10152851184851271&type=1
&theater

37

Amora Gedel article by Nico Parkinson:


In Ethiopia, there is a lot of rock. Aside from the priests, not many people have climbed it. For most, the
history of modern sport climbing starts in 2008 with Vertical Ethiopia, a picture book about a group of
women jamming their way up cracks in the Gheralta Valley. However, before that, in 2005 Belgian climbers
had developed a trad limestone crag called Waseya in the Tembien Mountains. And before the Belgians, in
the 90s, an American climber had bolted a couple mixed sport climbs in the Entoto Mountains near Addis
Ababa.
Add in a few dozen climbing expeditions, and you have catalogued almost everyone who has rock climbed
in Ethiopia. Although the list is short, the climbing potential in Africas most mountainous country is
enormous. Many factors have kept Ethiopia out of the minds of climbers and tourists, but images of
drought and famine have been perhaps the most devastating. For too many, Ethiopia is the face of African
poverty and for a generation of children, it is the reason that you should finish your dinner. Nothing could
be further from reality.
Rock is central to Ethiopias past. Much of the countrys history has been etched into rock. Ancient
dynasties chiseled 30m tall stele from granite walls in Tigray. Ethiopian Christians sculpted subterranean
churches into the basalt bedrock and carved monasteries high up in the craggy mountains. Ethiopia is both
where the Nile is born and the Roof of Africa. According to local legend, the worlds mountain ranges once
gathered in Ethiopia, and when the meeting ended, none of them went home.
I can relate. Thats what happened to me. I spent the better part of three years traveling around the
country, roping up with phenomenal climbers and searching for the least visited mountain ranges and
unclimbed towers. However, I didnt realize that in my own backyardright outside of the capital Addis
AbabaI would find and establish Ethiopias first complete sport climbing crag.

A Wall is Born

In March 2013, I began placing routes on Armora Gedel, a cliff-face high above the Farensay neighborhood
in Addis Ababa. The 60-meter vertical basalt wall is a symphony of brown, black, and orange rock spotted
with green and yellow lichen. Lines vary from cracks to pockets to edges and slopers. The rock is alive,
yearning to be discovered, and by that I mean climbed. Most Ethiopians find it difficult to reconcile
climbing rock faces and human nature, and equate our actions with those of monkeys. Why climb a rock
face when there is an easy-to-follow path leading to the top of the cliff? My plan was to change the focus
from why climb to how to climb.
Armora Gedelmeaning Hawks Cliff in Amhariclies in the Entoto Mountains, 2800 meters above the
hazy cityscape. Local farmers from Kile, the village perched above the cliff, cultivate wheat and teff in the
valley. Here, like most of rural Ethiopia, farmers use oxen to plow the fields, depend on the rainy season,
and integrate their children into the cycle of agriculture at an early age, producing shepherds instead of
students.
38

On that day in March, the small rains were late, the sun baked dung while crowded clotheslines swayed in
the cool breeze. Following the smell of roasting coffee, we found ourselves in the hut of a woman named
Werke. She welcomed us by sweeping the yard while her daughter began preparing coffee, intrinsic to
hospitality in Ethiopia.
We represented what cosmopolitan Addis Ababa had become. A half dozen farenjisas were
euphemistically referred toin possession of modernitys latest and greatest wonders, like houses made
of magic fibers that repelled rain, small hi-tech cook stoves, and lightweight beds of air. In addition, we
came with heavy bags of climbing gear. We were foreign and mysterious, and it was very likely that this
climbing project would change the village of Kile in one way or another.
Immediately the villagers who werent out preparing fields for seed gathered around Werkes hut. The
neighbors, the uncles drunk on homemade liquor, idling children out of school, and an old man who was
either blind or deaf or both, came around to hear what the visitors had to say. How could I convince the
village that we were not drilling the rock to extract hidden riches? I showed the villagers a climbing
magazine, explaining there were professionals who do what we do, but are so good at it, they get paid.
Although the name Chris Sharma meant nothing, the glossy photos surely impressed them.
You have a cliff here in your village that we will try to climb like they do in these photos, I explained in
Amharic, Ethiopias unifying language. We will not die, and if anybody wants to learn to climb rocks, we
are here to teach you. The Ethiopians seemed dubious.

2nd pitch of Cracked Wheat.

Werke (left) and Kiles neighbors

I would never get close to the cliff. My blood pressure is very high, one neighbor said. Armora Gedel is where the
birds live. Its not a place for humans.

I put on a harness and shoes and handed climbing equipment to the neighbors. I tried to show that rock
climbing was a sport: their children play soccer, we climb rocks, simple. None of the villagers visibly
opposed our ideas, but they were clearly having trouble with the idea of climbing as sport. Several villagers
asked me if it was gold I was after. Another assured me that people have come to drill for oil, but to no
avail. Talking wasnt going to convince anyone.
Come with me. We will no longer stand on the ground. We will stand in the air, I declared, raising the
Bosch to the sky.
Small Climbers, Big Steps

The same day we set up rappel from the top of the wall and drilled anchors on the first and second pitches
of the first climbs. The work had barely begun, and villagers were perplexed. And if these ropes suddenly
break, their bodies will be buried in the fields, a neighbor said over and over.

39

Every day, village youngsters gathered around our dusty rope bags and watched as we climbed up and
came down, climbed and lowered. Their interest grew each time we appeared on the ground alive. They
clearly wanted to learn to climb their cliff.
Then one day, we produced a harness and shoes small enough for the children and tied 12-year-old
Wubalem into the end of the rope. He climbed just three meters before fear surpassed his courage. The
same happened with the next climber, Wondessen. And the same thing happened to Hailu. They were
scared, but what had been a wild idea, a home for the birds, slowly turned into a playground.
I visited the cliff frequently over the next four months, mapping out sport, trad, and mixed routes. I gave
most of the routes names in Amharic like Taragaga (Take it Easy) and Jegna Almotem (Heroes Never Die).
The kids came to appreciate my presence and tried their hardest to keep an eye on their herds from the
base of the wall. Soon, Wubalem was belaying Wondessen and Hailu and tying the figure eight knot and
they were taking turns on the wall. Their donkeys and sheep wandered unwatched up and down the valley.
The kids and I grew closer, while the adults quit paying attention to us. For the kids, the moments on the
wall were perhaps the first time they had ever disconnected themselves from the life of farming and the
village.

A few weeks later, on their second and third attempts, one by one, each boy reached the top of the walls
easiest climb, Oysters Nuts. We searched out harder routes on Armora Gedel, and the boys of Kile were
just beginning to understand the sports beauty.
On every approach, I passed a familiar face from Kile. We greeted each other in Oromifa (their preferred
language), and they asked if I was going to sleep in the village, and if I would stay at Werkes hut. I asked
about their babies and siblings. They smiled and we hugged. We shared more than just the cliff below their
homes, we shared vitality.
In June 2013, I campaigned to raise harness and shoe donations for the children of Kile and sent flyers to
climbing gyms around the world. In less than two weeks, the mountaineering club in Pamplona, Spain had
scraped together the campaigns most significant donation: five harnesses, three pairs of shoes, five figure
eights, and several chalk bags.
Then one day, I met Wubalems mother on the road. I had never met her before and immediately saw the
resemblance she shared with her rock climber son. Days before, I had given her son the gear donated by
the Spaniards. She introduced herself and with tears in her eyes embraced me.
Your son is the future of the project, I explained to her. When the climbers come to Armora Gedel, he
will show them the way.
My son has never had anything like this before, she said and thanked me repeatedly.
The children of Kile can be added to the list of rock climbers in Ethiopia. As they brace for the big rains, I
can only hope that my climbing project has changed Armora Gedel for good. The history of the country was
yet again etched in rock, and Im positive my connection with the boys of Kile will outlive it all.
http://www.nicoparco.com/category/climbing/
40

Menegesha, West of Addis Ababa (2014):

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


In other news beside terminating and scaring, I was up on Menegesha from the forest preserve side
looking off to NW summit there was a good looking 2 pitch wall (see picture). The South summit from
where I was looked like it had a steep overhanging sports type wall. On the NE point seemed to have some
short walls and short spire, but was hard to see from where I was. It summit 'plateau' up there. We
definitely need a to make a weekend trip up there and do some exploring. Sharp Granite.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151774940910966&set=gm.10152059547496271&type=1&theater
41

Wuchacha Mountain, East of Addis Ababa, (2014):


New 'on sight' first ascent in Wuchacha, May 5th 2014
Just managed to squeeze this one in folks! Good solid crystalized rock here and is the beginning stage of a 100m wall
which flattens out (70 degrees) after the first 20-30 meters of verticalness.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152868891898957&set=gm.10152415349681271&type=1&theater

Maybe E2, 6a or 5.10b?

I had a wire brush and a nut tool that did the cleaning relatively easy. I placed mostly medium-large sized nuts, and
the cams I placed were from .5, .75, 1 and 2.

42

Wuchacha Mountain, New Route Potential:


Some Existing Routes/Problems, and Has New Route Potential
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10152203728131271&type=1

43

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


Gulelle Botanical Gardens, North of Addis Ababa (closer than
Entoto):

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=pcb.10152273903311271&type=1

ystein Kostl had suggested going and checking out a crag over in the Gullele Botanical Gardens. Well I
finally got around checking it out myself yesterday. Not much there, maybe a couple of the rock ribs that
would have an easy climb (5.6) or two on it. The rest is too low angle and too many ledges. Here is some
photos.

44

www.mountainproject.com

ENTOTO, North of Addis Ababa, Overview


Dave's Fall & Hyena's Secret (Hyena Point) 2014
International : Africa : Ethiopia
Elevation: 8000

Description
These walls are located on the north side of the Entoto Mountain Chain near Addis Ababa and have exceptional
views of the Sululta Valley and the Bahir Dar road below. This area is perhaps most famous for Hyena Point, which
attracts some tourist during the day who are on the hunt for hyenas. This area was first developed by a pioneer of
US sport climber back in the 90s. The Rock Climbing Ethiopia group has added some bolts to the anchors and climbs
to complete what he set out to achieve. The rock is basalt like Armora Gedel, high quality and worth the visit (if not
for the view and the chance to leave Addis Ababa).
Getting There
Take the Entoto Road that goes north from Siddist Kilo past the US Embassy. Follow this road up to the mountain
top, and take the dirt road north and then east. Follow the road for another 5km and park on the left among the
eucalyptis trees. It's definitely not an easy crag to find, so you can contact me or one of the members of our group
for better directions. nico.parco@gmail.com.
The Crag
You can access both walls from a hard to find dirt road on the south side of the wall and then take a trail hiker's left
of Hyena Point, a green and wooded area where dozens of hyenas live that attracts hikers and tourists on the
weekend.
Hyena's Secret is a one route wall west of Hyena Point. The wall is burnt orange and leads up to a darker, lichencovered basalt. There are 5 bolts, and it's mixed climbing with three places for gear in between bolts.
Dave's Fall is east of the Hyena Den. There is a huge flake to the right of Dave's Fall (that can also be climbed on
toprope). There is some potential for more routes on Dave's Fall and in the area in general.

Hanging out at Hyena's Secret (foto by George the Austrian)

45

Hyena's Secret
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c

International : Africa : Ethiopia : Dave's Fall & Hyena's Secret (Hyena Point)
FA:

??

Type:

Trad, Sport

Consensus: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c


Length:

1 pitch, 75'

Description
This is awesome, sustained climbing with several careful, technical moves over vertical rock. The route follows the
bolts until the third or fourth bolt when climbers are forced over a small bulge. There is one more bolt and then a
final bolt anchor. We are currently looking to install a 2nd bolt on the anchor.
This is truly a classic Entoto climb that shouldn't be missed if you are in the are for more than one day.
Location
This is the only route on the wall.
Protection
Bolts and gear. Place TCUs throughout between the bolts.

[hide] Hyena's Secret : Notice the pillar to the left of the wall. Climbers may have to do some gardening at the base.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10152242908926271&type=1

46

Homebase, Babu Hills, East of Mekelle,

Name: Homebase
Location: Enderta
Altitude: 2250 m
Nearest city: Mekelle
Rock type: basalt
Route lengths: 50 meter
Number of routes today: 1 + 5 boulder routes
First route opened: 13/08/2004 by R. Aerts (Direct, 4b)
Equipped with: nothing
Other: boulders near rock base

Info at: https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/trc-news.html

BABU HILLS, Homebase, 13/08/2004:


The Bubu Hills cliff or Homebase as we like to call it, is a long basalt cliff east of Mekelle, our home town. It is located behind the
Bubu Hills Hotel (now the Hilltops Hotel) and is easily accessible by car or by foot. Although the overall quality of the rock is
rather poor due to onion-peel weathering of the basalt, extensive parts of compact rock with cracks can be found here. At the
foot of the cliff, some large basalt blocks make good boulder fun.
We opened 5 boulder routes (3 to 5c) and one easy chimney today. The chimney was named "LaTrine" (4a) since rock hyraxes
were using the crack as a communal toilet.

Davide on a 5c
boulder route in
Bubu

Raffa on an
easy 4b
boulder route
in Bubu

Davide opening
LaTrine (4a) on the
south section of the
Bubu Hills cliff
47

Haweza Tower, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia


Travelling through Ethiopia is a big adventure in itself, with maps out of date, roads washed away, and villages which
haven't seen a vehicle for years. It was a hot dusty trip over 3 days to the northern ramparts of the Simien
Mountains where Haweza Tower is situated. The region here is arid and desperately poor. We stopped in a village
where the best hotel had one light bulb, and half a bucket of water per day was the ration for all your needs. The
walk-in to the tower was long and the heat withering, but after a recce day and a 'rest' day when we had to travel
miles to get permits for the Simien National Park, we were ready to attempt our climb. Up close, the tower looked
rather impregnable, being composed of very compact volcanic rock. We circled the base looking for a weakness then
to my amazement spotted a piton 20m up the only feasible-looking line. I led off and reached the peg, an ancient
mild steel specimen. I climbed further; the rock became more and more compact till suddenly I was confronted with
- a bolt! Not the modern 8mm Petzl variety but an ancient 'golo' staple such as Dolomite climbers were using in the
1930's and 40's. I worked out that there must have been Italian climbers here during Mussolini's brief 'conquest' and
occupation of the country in 1936! The bolt marked their high point and I could only get a few moves higher, lack of
protection and exfoliating rock being the problem. So another failure - was this to be the theme for this trip?
http://www.alpin-ism.com/FullNews.cfm?newsID=36

Quala Yohannes, near Addis Zemen, (Bewteen Gondar and


Bahir Dar (2012)):

Climbed by Niels Tietze and Aylwyn Bromhead on December 9th 2012. Victory celebration shortly followed by film
interview, Police interrogation and shoulder dancing!
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150281469183957&set=gm.10150245737976271&type=1&theater
48

Southern Gondar Mountains:


Quatrime et dernier stop les montagnes au sud de Gondar
Javais bien vu quelques ombres sur google map mais franchement je ne m'attendais
pas trouver autant de si belles montagnes....
Nous n'avons gravi que deux voies par manque de temps, une pourrie et une superbe,
mais le potentiel est vraiment norme..
Seul inconvnient les montagnes sont assez loin les unes de autres
Pour Molalit, Gondar peut tre une bonne base(15 minutes de voiture)
Pour les autres Addis Zemen peut aussi tre utilise comme base surtout qu' l'Est de
cette ville nous avons encore aperu des sommets magnifiques,
Je n'ai aucune ide de la faon de les approcher mais ce sera srement l'objet d'un
prochain voyage.
Le rocher est trs bon et ressemble celui de Aoukenet dans le hoggar
Sur Molalit notre voie fait presque 200m et il y a de quoi en ouvrir 15 autres...
Pour les autres montagnes entre Meksenit et Addis Zemen l'accs est estim ou 2h
suivant les faces avec des hauteurs de faces suprieures 300m par endroit.
La zone est assez pastorale et donc il y a assez peu de jungle au pied
Un accompagnant local est vivement recommand,
Hotel Amabarras
Gondar(11 euros la chambre double) super propre et trs dispo pour nous trouver un
minibus un 4X4 etc
restau de l'hotel
accompagnant Voir Aferan
il porte le gros sac, accompagne, surveille et gre les conflits avec les locaux...
de plus il sait ce que grimper veut dire avec les contraintes de timming, d'incertitudes et
autres que cela implique.
Plus gnralement
il faut tre trs clair dans la faon de contractualiser avec un guide, un propritaire de
minibus car la moindre faille de traduction ou autre sera exploite en votre dfaveur...
Il vaut mieux toujours tre accompagn d'un local qui portera le gros sac mais aussi
expliquera, grera les hordes de gamins hurlants...
Ceci vous vitera les caillassages que nous avons subis...
Nous avions choisi de d'tablir nos bases en ville dans des htels afin de nous reposer
vraiment et de nous soustraire la pression.
Vous pouvez aussi le faire plus root mais ce ne sera pas moins cher car vous devrez
embaucher une personne pour surveiller votre camp nuit et jour et vous devrez grer par
vous mme les problme d'eau et autres.
Nos voies sont quipes minima
trois ou quatre pitons stratgiques pas plus.
Nous n'avons plant qu'un seul spit la descente de Molalit
Mais la protection est souvent bonne et facile lexception de qqs passages mentionns
dans les topos
Budget
600 euros avion Toulouse Addis
1000 euros chacun pour presque 5 semaines sur place
http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Alain-Bruzy-escalade-en-Ethiopie.pdf

49

Massif Au Sud De Gondar, Topo Number 1


Molalit Face ESE, Aferan, D Sup, 200m, (2012):

50

Massif Au Sud De Gondar, Topo Number 2


Molalit Face ESE, Aferan, D Sup, 200m, (2012):

51

Simien Mountains
Troisime stop les Siemen mountains
Nous n'avons pas grimp mais notre balade de 6 jours nous a donn voir des possibilities d'escalade trs
intressantes :
1)En contrebas du massif les tours situes l'ouest du village de Adi Arkay (route de Axum Gondar) sont
impressionnantes mais compte tenu de la distance nous n'avons aucune ide de la nature de la roche,
Au regard de la carte 1/100 000 il semble que une journe d'approche soit ncessaire pour installer un camp de
base non loin du pied des parois. Mais il s'agit l d'une veritable expdition car mon avis il faut faire venir les
muletiers, scouts et guides depuis Debarek 40 km au sud.
2)Dans le massif mme le rocher est couverte d'herbes lexception de deux parois situes sur la face Est sur le pic
Buayit. Elle sont raides pas trs hautes(200m maxi) et superbes.
Il faut pour les gravir installer un camp de base Chennek(4X4 depuis Debareck) 3700m d'altitude, Les parois sont
entre 3900 et 4400m d'altitude. Attention il fait trs froid la nuit mais ds que le soleil apparat il fait trs bon(15
20) Il faut obligatoirement pour ces zones un guide et un scout arm...
Il faut aussi mon avis ngocier longtemps l'avance avec l'administration du parc national, Hotel Siemen par'c
Hotel le manager est sympa et connat bien de ficelles pour trouver voiture guide muletier etc 12 euros la
chambre double.
Restau de l'hotel Guide Aferan notre ami guide porteur etc 0918065844 il a t form par des Autrichiens.
Connat parfaitement la flore la faune et sait maintenant ce que grimper veut dire...ce qui est d'une grande utilit
pour nous parc national du Siemen Debarek
http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Alain-Bruzy-escalade-en-Ethiopie.pdf

52

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


Simiens, (Shewa Region) near the Village of Lemi

Bouldering and routes potential

53

Lasta Mountains, Lalibela, (1/2way between Addis & Adigrat)

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151602839274617&set=gm.10151636345861271&type=1&theater

Matt Roberts and Catherine and Nico Demus made a possible first ever climbing ascent on Asheten mountain above
Lalibela. 70m, 2 pitches, 5.9. First pitch is the best climbing. Quality basalt, perfect cracks, lots of plants light rain and
lightning threats at 3300m above sea level. A world of rock awaits in the Lasta Mountains.

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


Potential in the Lasta Mountains! Note the wall on the left. 100m of lovely vertical basalt!

54

Adwa Logistics Recommendations


From Nico Parkinson based on his Horizon Ethiopique Exped (2011):

Fly from Addis to Axum. You have to buy the tickets in country and they are about 65$ USD each
way. If you buy them out of country they are much more expensive. Ethiopian Air policy. Take a 30 minute
bus from Axum to Adwa. Another 20 minutes from Adwa to the campsite.
How did you organise with the village elders where you would camp? did you do this prior to arriving or
upon arriving? Did you have a translator? Did you have to Ok your climbs/climbing with the village
elders as well?
You probably need somebody who can speak some of the local language. I speak enough Amharic to get
by, my friend did as well. The French expedition hired a guard and cook.

Campsite and directions to it:

Before you camp anywhere around the villages in the Adwa mountains, always always speak to village
elders beforehand. We did not camp at Girima itself rather at a small village down the path. There is a
small municipal building and a statue in the village square. Ive camped there a couple times. You can
actually get to the village by car. Follow the Adwa-Aby ady road south, go through some serious S curves
and about 1-2 kilometers you should see a big white metal sign for a school. Turn left and this dirt track will
lead you into the valley below Samayata. The road basically ends at the village where we camped.

Where is the climbing in relation to the campsite?

Its a good 30-40 minute hike to get to the towers of Samayata and about 20 minute hike to get to the
walls featured in the topos you sent (give me money or go home, etc.)

Food and Water?

You should bring most of your food. It may be possible to buy bread, perhaps some pasta, but thats about
it. You can pay villagers to make coffee, but again to do these things you need language skills. You could
possibly hike from the village to the main road over girima monastery and hitchhike into adwa. In adwa
theres a market and you can get basic supplies including oranges and some vegetables. For water you
have a couple of choices. There are two pumps nearby where you can fetch water from a well. There is also
an amazing spring on the trail to Samayata, which has the best water in the valley but is a bit far from the
campsite. A couple of the French guys got sick, but not sure if its from the water or the food or what.

Camp guard?

A campguard is not a must but somehow you will want one. Nobody will rob you here, the people are very
kind and respectful. But eventually somebody will guard your stuff, its your job to pay him at the end. 100
birr per day might be a good amount. No we didnt have a scout. There are no scouts that can help you
55

interms of rock climbing. There are only guides who can be a community liaison. That might be something
to think about, but depends on your budget and how much you want to get out of the experience.
Obviously the more you understand nd interact with the locals, the richer the experience. If you go and just
try with hand signals, you might end up frustrated and regret not having a connection. I was the
frenchmens connection and we drank coffee with the locals in their homes, broke bread with them, and
had real conversations about who we are and what we do. Theres a woman named Latay who was my
favorite community member. She lives right in front of the camping area and makes amazing coffee. You
can always tell her that Nicodemus spoke to you. She will probably remember me and my dog. I have one
friend in Axum who knows the road to the village. His name is Benjamin he could also be yoru fixer if you
were willing to pay him. Hes a very good friend of mine and can be helpful. He also knows the trail to the
top of Samayata in case youre interested. I can look for his number later and send it. When you are
supposed to be in Adwa?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvRNAl4VME4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaYf--gJnJc
http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://groupe-espoir-isere-2011.over-blog.com/articlehorizon-ethiopique-74257937.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dhorizon%2Bethiopique%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:enGB:IE-Address
http://groupe-espoir-isere-2011.over-blog.com/article-horizon-ethiopique-74257937.html
https://www.facebook.com/HorizonEtiopique?filter=3
I think they ended up doing all of their climbing in Adwa!

Samayata

56

Adwa Area, Rock Climbing Map and General Info 2 (French):

Italian Map of Adwa Mountains from 1890s


Deuxime stop les massifs autour de Adwa
Ce
massif est situ autour de la ville d'Adwa elle mme positionne 20 km l'Est de Axum. C'est une ville
poussireuse, agite, pas belle du tout mais terriblement sympatique, Pas de touristes et du coup prix
raisonnables(1/4 de Axum) et rapports avec la population extrmement cordiaux et faciles, La roche est partout une
roche volcanique(Andsite trachyte et autres basaltes) souvent trs bonne, Les formes de montagnes ne sont pas
sans rappeler le hoggar mais il y a souvent la jungle et les babouins au pied et de l'herbe, des arbres(oliviers
majestueux) aux sommets, Les vois que nous avons ouvertes font entre 140 et 300m mais il y a des faces de 400
voire 500m magnifiques et pas difficiles d'accs.
A notre avis le mieux est d'installer le camp de base Adwa(hotel samayata) d'o en 15 30 minutes de minibus ou
voiture on atteint le dbut des approches.
Il y a des montagnes partout comme au dessus de Yeha, au dessus de la route d'Adigrat, mais aussi au nord d'Axum
et plus loin 10 km au sud de Shire.
L'escalade se pratique sur un rocher presque toujours excellent le long de fissures, colonnes basaltiques perons et
dalles. C'est vraiment un des plus gros potentiels que j'ai vu dans le monde, comme Rum ou Taghia mais plus
parpill.
Hotel et restaurant: Hotel Smayata(7,5 euros la nuit chambre double) la sortie d'Adwa vers Axum(proche
du croisement de la route d'Asmara) 0347712153 vraiment propre sympat, le propritaire et le manager (Teskay)
sont de vraies bonnes ressources pour trouver un accompagnant, un minibus ou un 4X4, Bouffe excellente(5euros
pour deux) ; ne pas oublier de goter les Chacla toussis(viande de chvre grille en lamelles avec des oignons)
Minibus demander Mabr 0910333168, Accompagnat Alexander 0914764445
Eviter les agences et les hotels restau Axum....Rfrence les jeunes Grenoblois voir le site CAF Grenoble
http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Alain-Bruzy-escalade-en-Ethiopie.pdf
http://ogdenoutdooradventure.com/2012/02/08/adventure-climbing-in-ethiopia/

Girima monastery, Horizon Ethiopique, camped not too close not too far.
57

Adwa Mountains by Ethiopia Rocks 2014


Synopsis of Climbing
Large rock towers made up of quartzite, basalts, andesites and marble abound the area as well as numerous smaller
crags. The rock is generally solid and compact which can in places lead to long run outs when not following natural
crack lines. There is lots of potential for new adventurous trad routes on the towers and smaller crags. Due to the
compact nature of the rock on many of the smaller crags there is a vast amount of potential for bolted sport climbsthough the development of bolted routes would need to be done in consultation and with permission of the village
elders in the given area. If the bolts are accessible from easier climbing terrain, they are likely to be vandalised or
removed by the locals. There is also scope for much bouldering especially on the outskirts of Abba Girima village.

Abba Girima Area General Information and Satellite Map


We camped and based ourselves in Abba Girima village, in consultation with the village elders, for the first week.
They have had previous climbing parties there so are not totally unaccustomed to climbers, however it is still far
from normal life and so be prepared to feel like a circus animal. The elders requested that the village guard keep an
eye on our equipment at nights. They also instructed the children not to bother us and requested an adult to watch
over our base camp. It should be noted that it was common to have groups of children surrounding our tent. In order
not to exacerbate the issue we made sure not to give anything away until we left to village and to make sure that we
were as discrete with our food and belongings as possible. Upon leaving the village we made a small cash donation
to the village elders and suggested that it was used to purchase some desks for the local school.
There is a small shop where it is possible to buy a few soft drinks or bottles of beer and a few packets of biscuits.
There is a local lady who is able to make you bread (if she can get hold of the supplies for it). It is possible to get
enough food stuffs to prepare basic camp foods from Adwa market.

Semeyata
Adwa

South East
Buttress, Melaikt

Carls
Crag

North

Base
Camp

Nursery
Corner
Crag

Tahatai
Logumte

Written by Ethiopia Rocks 2014


58

Nursery Corner Crag

1. Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men, Severe, 20m


Start below ledge and climb up to the ledge and then climb direct to the top.
Mandy Tee. 23/04/2014

2. Danger Mouse, HVS 4b, 25m


Start left of the large chimney/pod and arc up and left to gain the obvious thin crack, follow crack for 8m and
finish by trending up rightwards up a shallow scoop.
Jacob Phillips. 23/04/2014

3. Poddington Peas, 4b, 25m


Climb directly up just to left of the obvious chimney/pod.
Jacob Phillips, Solo, 23/04/2014

4. Button Moon, E1 5a, 25m


Start just right of the chimney/pod and climb directly up linking small slots for gear.
Carl Reilly. 23/04/2014

5. Trapdoor, HVS 5a, 25m


Climb the left hand of the two cracks up to an obvious tree and follow the large groove above to the top.
Tom Bide. 23/04/2014
59

6. Finger Mouse, E1 5b, 25m


Climb up the corner to gain the start of the right hand crack which is followed to the obvious tree, finish as
for Trapdoor.
Jacob Phillips. 23/04/2014

Written by Ethiopia Rocks 2014

South East Buttress- Melaikt

1. Welcome to the Jungle ,E3 5c, 30m


The hand crack in the centre of the face left of Stairway to Heaven. Climb the crack to where a pull up and
left over protruding blocks and flakes leads to a niche. A large swinging Ivy bush low down if being blown
towards you can make the crux feel harder!
Tom Bide, 24/04/14 (lots of aid)

2. Stairway to Heaven, E1 5b, 30m


Climb the corner crack up to the roof and traverse right delicately on smooth rock to a step down to gain the
obvious ledge.
Jacob Phillips, 24/04/14

Written by Ethiopia Rocks 2014


60

Central Buttress- Backside of Semeyata

1. Good things.......small packages E2/3 5b, 15m


Abseil to the small ledge at the base of the hand crack, there is potential for a first pitch to gain the ledge at
a very high grade and on poor rock for those inclined.
Climb the hand crack by steep jams, until the angle eases and a rest is gained, finish up the fist crack above.
Tape recommended.
Jacob Phillips, Abseil Inspection/cleaning, 25/04/14

2. The Corner E1 5b, 35m


Start below the obvious right facing corner where a ledge at 3m is gained from the right. Traverse left along
the ledge for 2m and climb up into a small niche which requires an interesting move to exit. Climb the corner
above to gain a ledge via a traverse right for 2m. Finish up the wide crack above either by getting into it or
staying on the outside. A move left and up at the top of the crack gains the belay.
Carl Reilly, Abseil Inspection/cleaning, 25/04/14

Written by Ethiopia Rocks 2014


61

Tahatai Logumte

1. Pets Corner, VS 4c, 100m


Pitch1, 40m, 4c. Climb up the corner crack. There is a very large block wedged into the gully, which sounds
hollow, pull onto it. Climb the short steep wall above to pull onto a ledge of animal droppings, belay.
Pitch 2,40m, 4b, Climb left and up ledges to a large ledge with small tree and cave.
Pitch 3. Climb then scramble to the top.
Carl Reilly & Martin Lane. 25/04/14

62

1. Jelly Shoe Heroes, E1 5a, 150m


Pitch 1, 60m, 4a. Up the right hand rib to gain the higher terrace.
Pitch2, 30m. Walk to the back of the terrace to the base of pitch 3.
Pitch 3, 50m, 5a. Start left of the obvious massive left facing flake and climb direct up the face and finish via
the top 3m of the flake crack.
Pitch 4, 10m. Scramble up through the cleft to the top.
Jacob Phillips & Mandy Tee. 25/04/14

Written by Ethiopia Rocks 2014

63

Mont Tihous, Adwa, Topo Number 1


Relais Sur Le Euphorbias, TD Inf, 300m (2012):

64

Mont Tihous, Adwa, Topo Number 2


Vive Adwa, TD, 190m, (2012):

65

Mont Otowodiko, Adwa, Topo Number 1


Timkat, TD/TD Sup, 180m, (2012):

66

Mont Otowodiko Topo Number 2, Adwa


Si Gentils, D, 120m, (2012)

http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Alain-Bruzy-escalade-en-Ethiopie.pdf

67

Mount Otowodiko, Adwa, Topo Number 3


Presque 50 ans et presque toutes mes dentsor Depuis hier soir jai 2 dents
creuses! TD, 180m, (2012):

68

Samayata, Adwa Mountains,


Costa Brava, 8a, 850m, (2012):
In January 2012, the Spanish team of Marco Jubes, Edu Marin, and Toti Vales established route on Kimir, in Gheralta. They
then moved to the Adwa Mountains, where Jubes and Marin found a long, difficult line on Samayata. Costa Brava (850m,
8a) climbs nine pitches up a steep lower tower, followed by two rappels and traverses to reach the upper wall. This
brought five more pitches and scrambling, with the crux on the 60m 12th pitch, which Marin led at 8a with only three or
four pieces of protection. They spent a cold night without food or water after this pitch, and then summited the following
morning. Dougald MacDonald, from information at Desnivel.com and Edumarin.blogspot.com
http://edumarin.blogspot.com.es/2012/02/etiopia_08.html
http://arepaclimbing.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/etiopia-cronologia/ In Spanish
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCrcHMid-xM#t=10 Video Footage

Samayata 3300m, near Adwa

Costa Brava 850m, 8a.


http://www.planetmountain.com/webtv/eng/scheda.php?idFilm=262&bck=1

Samayata, Adwa, Pat Little John:


South Crest of lower tower near left side of the main face: 11-pitch E1, (2008)
At almost 10,000 feet, the highest of the Adwa peaks. 1.5-hour walk-in to base of south face, which is probably the highest
in the area at ca 600m. Only route so far climbs south crest of lower of two towers near left side of the main face: 11-pitch
El, nice classic climbing on great rock. Littlejohn-Sustad, 2008.
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200828502/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-and-Adwa-Regions-Nebelet-Summary-of-New-Routes-2006Winter2008

69

Adwa- Debre Gundo and Samayata, Adwa, by John Collis


North Face of Debre Gundo, Burrs in My Shu-Ho, 5.8 R/X, 800m, (2012),
Our second destination in Tigray was Adwa, a town most famous for being the site of the final battle in the First EthioItalian War, in which Ethiopia successfully defended itself against imperial forces. Our interest in the city was piqued
mainly by the Adwa Mountains, in which the town lies at the center. These striking domes are composed mostly of
trachyandesite; the rock is generally excellent and well featured, but protection is sparse. Pitches routinely featured
runouts of 30' or more over sections of non-trivial climbing. Though we brought a hand-drill and a small set of bolts, these
were never used, as we found the rock too hard to make hand-drilling practical; however, pitons came in handy.
We first did a warm-up climb on the central ramp on the north face of Debre Gundo, with two pitches of easy but runout
roped climbing and 500 of fifth-class brushy scrambling and fun, easy soloing: Burrs in My Shu-Ho (800, 5.8 R/X), an
homage to the abundant polyester-gripping seeds of the routes native foliage.

Samayata, Adwa, by John Collis


11 Pitches to Nowhere, 5.10 R/X, 11 pitches,
From this first summit, we gained a clear view of the lower southeast buttress of Samayata, the ranges highest peak.
After a daylong reconnaissance hike, we picked a line up the right side. We hiked back the next day with our gear and
made sleeping arrangements in the house of a friendly Tigrinya man, unaware that a wedding celebration would occur the
next morning in his house. Our climb was delayed by a breakfast of injera and the blood and intestines from a freshly
slaughtered goat, which provided some excellent sending energy.
Our line followed 11 pitches of discontinuous face features and ledges, with long runouts. Extended gardening sessions on
lead and our late start left us climbing the last two pitches by moonlight. We stopped upon reaching a ridge one to two
pitches beneath the lower buttress summit, where the climbing became steeper and more runout than we were prepared
to handle. We made eight long rappels down the chossy gully on the other side of the ridge and named our partial new
route 11 Pitches to Nowhere (5.10 R/X).
In our travels, Dan and I learned that climbing in Tigray requires extreme patience and a willingness to venture into the
unknown. There is absolutely good climbing to be had in this region, but youll have to work to find it. Climbing really
becomes a secondary pursuit, as this region will take you through places few others ever travel, where youll meet some
of the friendliest and most hospitable people anywhere. John Collis, AAC

A view of the lower buttress on Samayata's east face with the line of 11 Pitches to Nowhere (5.10 R/X).
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212129/Gheralta-Massif-and-Adwa-Mountains-new-routes

70

Mount Aftera, Adwa, by Mark Richey


West Face of Mount Aftera, 5.10 R, 6-7 pitches, 2008,
November 30 2008, Mark Wilford, my wife Teresa, and I flew from Addis Ababa to Mekele. We traveled to Adwa, where
we found a different type of rock, probably basalt and much harder and more featured than the Tigray sandstone. There
are many cliffs, escarpments, and great boulders here with tremendous potential for exploration and new routes.
On December 5 we made the first ascent of the west face of Mt. Aftera (6-7 pitches, 5.10R), which takes the prominent
right-leaning ramp and crack system in the middle of the wall. We descended in the dark by a steep goat path on the east
face, something we would never have found had it not been for a local guide who showed up at the top. On the climb we
saw patches of an almost glass-like surface of bullet-hard rock, and gigantic Ruppels griffon vultures nesting on the route
and landing a few meters from our belays.
Mark Richey, AAC

http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200829000/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-Adwa-Nebelet-and-Harrar-NewRoutes-and-Exploration
http://aac-publications.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/aaj/2008/PDF/AAJ_2008_50_82_290.pdf

71

The Samayata Valley, Adwa, Topo

Independence

Day, (first pitch) 6a

Tatouffemtouffe,"

6a
72

La Direct Des Vertaco, Topo,

la Directe des Vertacos, 7a

73

Parvi Des Anges, Adwa, Topo


Give me money or go home, TD Sup, 200m, (2011)

http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Alain-Bruzy-escalade-en-Ethiopie.pdf

74

JAine Un Copain And Give Me Money or Go Home, Topo

Give me money or go back home!" TD

J'ai une copine qui disait a.." L2 5+/6a


http://groupe-espoir-isere-2011.over-blog.com/album-2007220.html

75

Cochacho, Adwa

I believe these routes are in Adwa (but I am not sure):

le Fissure Fioresse, A2 ou 7b+

76

Ylar Romance, 6b+

Montagne des Anges

(final run out pitch past tree!)

http://groupe-espoir-isere-2011.over-blog.com/album-2007220.html

77

Southern Adwa Mountains Umba Gwal Atse

http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/horizon-ethiopique.pdf

Umba Gwal Atse:


E2, wanders up shorter southwest side, Six-pitch, (200m), Littlejohn-Sustad,
(2007).
Remarkable isolated tower of marble standing on the south side of the range. Two-hour walk-in.
The 300m northeast face is unclimbed and very challenging.
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200828502/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-and-Adwa-Regions-Nebelet-Summaryof-New-Routes-2006Winter-2008

78

Yeha General Information


We based ourselves in Ye Ha village for 5 days based at a basic caf/guesthouse built to service German
archeologically works in the village. This was on one edge of the main square outside the temple. There was the
option of renting very basic rooms at the time we stayed as there were currently no German archaeologists working,
but we chose to camp in the grounds and use the toilet and bathroom facilities on site.
There is a weekly market where it is possible to buy limited fresh fruit and veg. There is a butchers in the village and
a number of local restaurants/bars and small shops, the choice will be very limited though.

Yeha Area Maps

79

80

Monkey Rock
Beware of rockfall at base of the crag caused by monkeys above.

1. Through the Eye of a Needle, HS 4b, 145m


Pitch 1, 55m, 4b. Start at the tree and climb up to gain the large corner crack and follow it to where the
angle eases. Belay below the next steepening.
Pitch 2, 40m, 4b. Climb direct up scoops until it steepens then step left onto a pedestal and gain the easier
ground above. Belay just to the right of the base of the very large crack.
Pitch 3, 50m, 4a/b. Traverse left for 3m to gain the very large corner crack. Climb slabs just to its left until it
is possible to move back right and head through the through cave.
Mandy Tee, Tom Bide & Jacob Phillips. 27/04/14.

2. Monkey Say, Monkey Do, HVS 4c , 120m


Pitch 1, 40m, 4c. Start up easy slabs on a diagonal leftwards line up to a ledge to belay.
Pitch 2, 40m, 4c. Climb a grove onto a rib.
Pitch 3, 40m, 4c. Climb further slabs to a ledge of rocks and scree. Scramble to the top.

Carl Reilly, Martin Lane & Rachel Bell. 27/04/14.

81

The Crowds, The Crowds

1. The Guns of Ye Ha, E2 5c, (120m)


Pitch 1, 30m, 4b. Climb up the centre of the slabs linking shallow grooves to gain a large cave belay.
Pitch 2, 20m, 5c. traverse a sloping slab right from the belay until a corner is reached, step up and left out of
this on small holds onto the face (short sharp crux), once better holds are reached mantle onto the top of
the corner and step back right around the arte and follow vegetated cracks to a large set back cave belay.
Pitch 3, 30m, 5b, climb out of the cave on the left up a wall to steep cracks follow these until a bulge and
then make a rising traverse back right until a large broken crack climb this steeply to the next belay ledge
Pitch 4, 40m, 5b, climb out on to the hanging arte on the left of the belay ledge steeply on positive holds
onto the face, climb easer ground the angle eases.
Tom Bide, Carl Reilly & Martin Lane. 29/04/14.

82

1. Touching the Snake, HVS 5a, 155m


Pitch 1, 30m, 4a/b. Climb diagonally up the centre of the slabs.
Pitch 2, 20m. Climb up through large tufts of grass to gain the cave belay.
Pitch 3, 30m, 5a. At the left side of the cave belay a tough move gains the wall above which is climbed to a
ledge at the start of the wide crack. Climb the wide crack on the inside or outside until the angle eases.
Pitch 4, 40m, 4b. Traverse left for 5m to gain a clean rib of rock which is followed for 40m to a large ledge.
Spaced Gear.
Pitch 5, 35m. Scramble/climb direct to gain the summit.
Mandy Tee & Jacob Phillips. 29/04/2014

83

R&R Crag

1. Good Night Mr Tom, HVS 5b, 90m.


Pitch 1, 45m, 5a. Climb the leftwards facing giant flake crack until a large ledge is gained.
Pitch2, 15m. Scramble leftwards along the ledge to belay at the foot of a finger crack.
Pitch 3, 30, 5b. Traverse leftwards following the undercut flake crack. Awkward moves down and across a
small gully leads to easier ground.
Jacob Phillips and Mandy Tee. 30/04/14

84

Farenji Boulder
On the outskirts of the village, on the leftside of the path up to lion rock is a large flat topped boulder. A handful of
good problems were climbed by the team.

Tom Bide, Farenji Boulder

Jake Phillips, Farenji Boulder

Written by Ethiopia Rocks 2014

85

Yeha Area, East of Adwa, Tigray


South West Crack of Tower (10), Bat Cave, E1, 5a, 4b, 4a, 150m,

h
ttp://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/2013/09/ethiopia-rock-climbing-climb-expedition-travel-information/

86

West Ridge of Tower (11), E1 5a,6a, 110m, (2002),


East Face of Tower (1): Ethiopian Garden, III+, 100m; So Strong and Brave, E4
6a, 45m; Tree Nut, HVS 5a, 35m

16/03/2002 Rough camp on the intersection of the Tekeze river and the road, about 200m up from the end of the village.
People passed us but did not bother us.
The drive from Rough Camp to Aksum was a further 3.5 hours and a further 2hours to the Yeha area. Roads are faster but
with more obstacles. The rough camp used was 200m past the turning to Yeha on the left hand side. The area of the
mountains is called the Yeha area. The tallest mountain to the SE is called Mbatagala. The tooth of rock to the right is
called Tirs and its west ridge is 105m high. Topos for climbing are above.
Rain here is due at the beginning of June to the end of July. The hottest month is March. The height of the area is 2200m.
Climbing in this area is a thing that can go on forever. Axsum touring hotel (04 750205 , 750248). Naod. One tent costs
25bir pn and 73.2bir pn. This would make a good place to stay if staying in Aksum.

87

Hawzien

Carl Reilly

Logistics
We stayed at a nice guest house in the centre of Hawzien (which is not normally used by Forengi, and is off the main
roundabout, next to the town hall), from where we drove out each day to the towers to climb.

Climbing
Three days were spent searching for climbing on the Megab & Horsetooth towers just outside of Hawzien. Several
routes were attempted and abandoned mid pitch or at the top of their first pitches due to poor rock quality. There is
no shortage of lines to climb if youre a proficient crack and/or offwidth/chimney climber who likes an adventure. It
should be noted that a significant rack of large extremely large gear is required for the majority of the climbing in
this area. The rock is in general soft and feels friable under touch, flakes are commonly loose and the surface of the
holds seem to erode upon touch which does not inspire confidence. As expected, the chimneys are always much
larger than inspection through binoculars from the road would lead you to believe.
A couple of bouldering sessions were spent on the round granite boulders at Gobbo Dura. These boulders are on the
outskirts of Megab- just a short 15 minute walk from the road that leads back to Hawzien. There is scope for lots of
high quality problems, we found the bouldering to be far better than the climbing in the area. We found that visiting
the boulders during school hours helped to reduce the number of spectators, and renting a local guide to look after
your kit and to help dissuade the local spectators from getting too boisterous could be of benefit.

88

Jake Phillips
Written by Ethiopia Rocks 2014

89

Maps for Sheba and Horsetooth Towers, Gheralta, Tigray

http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/horizon-ethiopique.pdf

90

www.mountainproject.com

Koraro Spires, Gheralta Range Overview


International : Africa : Ethiopia
Latitude: 38.62321 Longitude: -87.14659 Elevation: 6000

Description
The climbing history is relatively recent with Pat Littlejohn and party from the UK making some of the earliest till
then unclimbed tower first ascents after the new millenium. The tallest one on the northern end was named Sheba.
They also did the FA of Abu Yemata. Local names can sometimes be frustrating to research. Geoff Tabin and Timmy
O'Neill climbed another wide horror fest on the middle one. Niels Tietze from Utah also climbed a number of the
spires. Italian and Spanish climbing history has also been reported. In terms of first ascent history, this area with its
plethora of still unclimbed free standing desert sandstone spires is probably similar to Utah's Canyon Country in the
late 60's or early 70s!In other words, it is a gold mine of unclimbed spires.
November through February may be the driest and best climbing months. The featured sandstone seems a cross
between Wadi Rum in Jordan, Red Rocks in the USA (NV), and Castle Valley Utah sandstone, though it is definitely
not Wingate hardness.

The Koraro towers are often called the Nebelet towers (mistakenly) by other climbers.
Getting There
About 3 hours north west of Mekele. To put it in proper perspective, the Gheralta region is the Ethiopian equivalent
of Canyonlands, Castle Valley, and the Moab area of Utah USA with its sandstone walls and towers. It is smaller and
more compact than Utah's vast Canyon Country.
Approaches to the Koraro Spires (often referred to as the Nebelet Spires, but the town of Nebelet has its own set of
spires) take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on conditions and how close you can drive. The Tourist Lodge in
Hawzien (3 hours from Mekele) is the cheapest option at about 7 USD night but for a few dollars more you can stay
at the luxurious Gheralta Lodge (with views of the Gheralta) run by expat Italian Silvio and serving gourmet Italian
cuisine.
All driving approach times are relevant and current road conditions must be taken into account. The 15km drive to
the spires from Hawzien for example can take about an hour to drive

91

Koraro Towers, Gheralta


Tewlihe ("The Sharp One"), 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII E4 6a, 375m, (2012),
International : Africa : Ethiopia : Gheralta Range Koraro Spires
FA:

James Garrett, Peter Vintoniv, and Erik Kelly, 24 August 2013

New Route: Yes


Type:

Sport

Consensus: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII E4 6a


Length:

3 pitches, 375', Grade III

Season:

When dry

Description
This is spectacular and aesthetic bolt protected face climbing up a free standing sandstone spire. Local names in the
Tigray seemed vague, but most villagers referred to this slender tipped tower just to the side of Sheba as "The Sharp
One".
Pitch #1: Climb up sustained and steep face moves following the fixed protection to a very good ledge and three bolt
belay. 5.11d or A0, 45m, 19 bolts.
Pitch #2: Continue straight up and trend slightly right to a grassy ledge. Traverse right on the grassy ledge to another
steep but easy step to another ledge with a three bolt belay. 5.10c, 25m.
Pitch #3: Continue up to a short bulge and head wall (bolt protected) to lower angle climbing up a crack and then
easier run out climbing to the tower top. 5.10a, 35m.
Rappel x 2 with 2 x 70m ropes.
Location
Drive from Hawzien and to as close to the towers as you can. Park just east of the town of Koraro and hike toward
the spires and to the sunny side of "The Sharp One". It is the only obvious pointy slender spire in the group.
Protection
A rack of QDs will be sufficient for most climbers though a set of Camalots to #3 and Nuts can really zip it up.
Equipped with Hilti HLC 1/2" x 3" sleeve anchors. Please consider carrying a wrench to tighten any loose heads.
Some drilled and natural threads requiring webbing and cordage.

92

Gheralta Range Koraro Spires : The Koraro Spires with the tallest Sheba
on the far right and the obvious pointy one to its left being The Sharp One.

Tewlihe ("The Sharp One") : P1.

("The Sharp One") : The Sharp One.

- South Face of The Sharp one

At bottom of sharp nose I think!

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201572231802790&set=a.10201572229642736.10737418
29.1087557759&type=1&theater

93

Koraro Towers (previously reported as Nevulet Towers),


Gheralta Massif by Pat Little John
Sheba Tower, 5.10/5c, 500m, (2005 and 2006)
http://www.alpin-ism.com/news.cfm
http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2008_files/AJ%202008%20298301%20Ethiopia.pdfhttp://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2006_files/AJ%202006%20129137%20Littlejohn%20Tgray%20Borkdy.pdf
Tigray
From a climbing point of view Tigray was like being pitched back into the early days of climbing desert towers in the
States - a golden age if ever there was one. We explored a fairly limited area, climbing three big towers during an 8day stay. Our style of climbing - start at the bottom with a rack of nuts and cams, and do your best. Adventure
guaranteed.
Sheba Tower
The queen of all towers we discovered was Sheba Tower, a 500' monolith of beautifully sculpted sandstone in the
Koraro (not Nevelet) group, just 15 minutes drive along the track from Abune Yemata. The fissures on the north side
looked smooth and scary, so we chose the south face, where a more featured chimney, leading to a massive bulge,
looked like it might be a bit of a problem. Four pitches of enjoyable and atmospheric climbing led to a great chamber
in the heart of the tower. The only way onwards was an unprotected section of wide bridging. It was either commit
to it or give up, and I hesitated for a long time before I was mentally ready to go for it. We belayed on a huge
jammed block at the level of the bulge, and Steve led upward and outward through a bottomless slot that cut
through the giant overhang. When I asked how it was he replied 'Fing mind-blowing!' so I decided to keep quiet.
There were scrapings, there were expletives, but the rope inched out steadily and eventually the shout of 'Safe!'
echoed down to me. On following I discovered he had done 60ft of unprotected squeeze chimney in an incredibly
exposed position, truly the Sustad Slot. 'Your mates lead', as they say. From here a relatively normal pitch, featuring
a 5.10 / 5c bulge at the end, led to the summit. This was a fantastic spot, with the whole of Tigray province spread
below us, and very interesting-looking rock peaks shimmering in the distance.

Final chimney of Sheba - Initial crack on Sheba tower climb

- Sheba Tower is the one on the Left.

94

Nico Parkinsons Story of the Koraro Tower, Gheralta Region


Scared Hamster Tube Party, 5.10- R/X, 4 pitches, (2012)
These words set a dusty voyage in motion and me on a journey to reach the summit of several desert
towers in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.
Visionary
Utah climber Niels Tietze contacted me back in March. He and others would take part in a high-volume
cataract surgical intervention in northern Ethiopia as part of the Himalayan Cataract Project. In a matter of
ten days, international and local surgeons operated on 1200 patients and now plan to spend a year
studying the economic impacts of sight restoration on some of the patients.
Virtually all Objectives
Instead of climbing basalt walls around the holy city of Lalibela, we changed our tickets to climb
notoriously brittle sandstone in the Gheralta Mountains in central Tigray, less than 100km from Ethiopias
northern border with Eritrea.
Canyon + Mesa
Theres a small family living on a hill outside of Koraro town not far from the main road. Beyond a dry river
bed, five sandstone towers rise from the desert landscape and lure the visitors eye to scan the base to its
tip in wonderment. The Koraro towers rise and fall like pistons of a car engine and pose like a lineup of
disfigured criminals. Its hot, we see few climbable cracks, a series of bolts aiding halfway up the middle
tower and He-Man chooses a chimney on the east face of the largest tower. Nobody knows where the
chimney will lead, but a deep layer of bird shit tells us that if you are squeezed out of a vultures ass, you
will probably hit the ground.
Koraro Towers, (wrongly called Nebelet Towers by some climbers)
1st Pitch Poop
Niels: Theres a hellofalota birdshit boys. Close your mouths and open your hearts.
In the Heart Valve
Mino remained at the base of the climb while Captain Habesha and Spiderman and I follow He-Man into
the dark crevice using just our feet, hands, shoulders, butts, heads and any other body part that will gain
traction against the birdshit papered wall. The Captain fights off a near-seizure after the first 40 meters of
wedging his body between the two walls. Spiderman and I pass the Captain swapping Pakistani death
loops connecting our harnesses. We meet He-Man in the heart valve of the towers core. During 65
meters of climbing, He-Man placed 4 pieces of protection in bird shit layered sediment on the aptly named
pillar of fecal fortitude. As a team, we pulled the Captain over the final roof in the chimney and
contemplated our life forms breathing on a ledge deep in the center of the massive pillar.
Watching the Watch
It was 4pm but in Ethiopian time it was actually 10 hours past the dawn, and that means there was just 2
hours until dusk. He-Man flew up the second pitch, placed no protection but we put him on belay anyway.
Belay Station Talk

95

The Captain reached the top of the next pitch while Im belaying He-Man to the summit. He-Man crawled
through a tunnel, exited the flaring chimney and reached the top. Somebody said: The only way anybody
will ever repeat this route is if somebody as courageous as Niels happens to come to Ethiopia, find the
tower and choose the same chimney, or somebody places bolts to protect the leader. As we spin away from
the suns glory, we all summit our first desert tower in Ethiopia.
The Dark Horse
In 2006, famed British adventure-climber Pat Littlejohn published photos of the same tower asserting: Four
pitches of enjoyable and very atmospheric climbing led to a great chamber in the heart of the tower. The
only way onwards was an unprotected section of wide bridging. It was either commit to it or give up, and I
hesitated for a long time before I was mentally ready to go for it.
By the Power of Grayskull
Four pitches to the valve? He-Man must have ridden his fearless cat to the top.
Summit Comfort
On the tip, we knew that Tigrays farmers were turning in. Smoke billowed over the valley as dung-fed
ovens were fanned for a dinner of bread, injera and possibly spicy pepper sauce. Captain Habesha forgot
his belay device and was lowered back into the towers inner abyss. We followed rappelling into the main
artery while vultures, masters of soaring flight, returned from another day of infinite circles lingering
thousands of feet above the valley without ever moving a feather. We finally landed with a thump onto the
pillows of bird shit.
He-Man names the climb Scared Hamster Tube Party. 5.10- R/X, but we dont know if Littlejohn climbed
through the same hamster tube and we may never know.
A Stones Throw
A gang of young farmers quickly rose to meet us at the base of the tower. Our voices disturbed the
peaceful night and their pleas for us to be silent quickly turned to threats. One boy carried an axe and
another a cane. They hurried us off the mountain and when my calls for Mino my lost dog,
continued, they began to huck fist-sized rocks into our vicinity. He-Man wondered why they would try to
stone us. Its part of their culture, an oft cited justification for any and all Ethiopian customs, beliefs and
traditions. We turned off our headlamps to move unseen through the night. But that plan backfired when a
panicked He-Man stepped into a wash and fell more than 5 meters.
http://www.nicoparco.com/ethiopia-rock-climbing-tigray-towers/

96

Neblet (AKA Koraro) Towers, Gheralta Massif, Majke Buurhardt


Tewadros: Learning the Hard Way, III, 5.10, 5 Pitches, (2007)
Nebelet (I believe this might actually be the Koraro Towers, from Nico Parkinsons reports) tower group, new routes.
Ethiopia: the birthplace of humanity, coffee, Emperor Haile Selassie, and climbing? Maybe. The people of northern
Ethiopia understand getting vertical: they have churches carved into sandstone pinnacles. To get to one church, Abune
Yemata, you have to climb 5.2 up a 150-foot face to get to the final three- foot wide gangplank walkway to the entrance.
The country is covered with rock. On my first trip to Ethiopia, in October of 2006, I optimistically brought along a pair of
rock shoes and a chalk bag; I returned three months later with a quadruple set of cams.
My March 2007 expedition was inspired in part by Pat Littlejohn and Steve Sustads trip (AAJ 2006, p. 305-307). Pat and
Steve had spent time in the Gheralta, in the Tigray province of northern Ethiopia. Theyd done a few impressive lines, and
Pat sent me tantalizing photos of unclimbed massifs up to 1,500 feet tall and 1.5 miles long. Kristie Arend, Helen Dudley,
Caroline George, Gabe Rogel, and I spent three weeks climbing around the area.
Scouting for continuous crack systems is the trick to climbing in Ethiopia. Pat and Steve had shot up a major chimney on
Sheeba Tower, the primary tower in the Koraro tower group northwest of Megab. We sought out other options, and
ended up on a five-pitch route on a tower we called Tewadros: Learning The Hard Way (III, 5.10). The route ascends a leftleaning crack on the south face, through a section of face climbing, to another wider crack to a large ledge on top of the
second pitch. From here, scramble up and around to the west to the higher vertical wall; two pitches of exciting face
climbing with intermittent cracks take you to the final summit mushroom, which we climbed on the west face.
Other climbs of note include two routes on the Gheralta proper, both two to three pitches long. Our routes ended where
the rock quality became suspect (read: friable, chunky, loose, unstable). Gheralta has potential throughout her flanks,
though there is a persistent horizontal band at about 300 feet that tends to change rock composition. Many corners and
cracks abound, the majority being wide (420 inches).
The volume of rock in Ethiopia is immense. There are towers, ridges, buttresses, canyonseverywhere. It is exploration at
its greatest, with all of the perks and challenges along the way. The sandstone is quite soft and the face climbing is thus
difficult. Because so little climbing exploration has happened to this point, its hard to predict what all is possible for rock
climbing in the area. One thing is for certain, however: you would be hard pressed to find a place with as balanced an
offering of climbing and cultural experience. If you go to northern Ethiopia, you are climbing in the part of the country that
was hit hardest by the famines of the 1980s and inspired We Are The World. This is where the Derg dropped a napalm
bomb on a market in 1988 and killed 2,500 people. Where endless terrace systems fight the ongoing battle against
drought, rain, and short-harvests. This is not climbing to get away from it all. Its climbing within it all.
Majka Burhardt, AAC

http://aac-publications.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/aaj/2008/PDF/AAJ_2008_50_82_288.pdf
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200828800/Africa-Ethiopia-Nebelet-Tower-Group-New-Routes

97

GUHE TOWERS, Gheralta, Tigray


Magic Smelly Poodle, 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c PG13, 300m, (2012)
International : Africa : Ethiopia : Gheralta Range Koraro Spires
FA:

Niels Tietze, Nicodemus, Mathiue Spiderman, Captain Habesha

Type:

Trad

Consensus: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c


Length:

4 pitches, 300'

Description
Abuna's Ugly Twin: If it's not raining in June, the sandstone should be compact.
Hike up the gully going up the right side of the tower.
After scrambling, you reach P1, the first section of vertical rock, here rope-up is recommended but not completely
necessary. Climb 15-20m and you reach a long obvious chimney with a dead end.
P2: 5.10, Starts at the end of the chimney. Climb up the chimney and to an superb obvious handcrack up to an
alcove.
P3: 5.7(traversing), Climbs out of the alcove up and to climber's right until you reach a big ledge. Short pitch.
P4: 5.11, The crux pitch. Follows face and crack climbing to the top of the tower. The rock is less reliable on this
pitch... crux at the top below the tower's summit.
Should be some gear on the tower to rap off.
Location
These towers are located about 10km before the Koraro Spires on the same road out of Megab leading to Koraro
and beyond in the heart of Tigray ahd the Gheralta Massif.

The Abuna Yemata rock hewn Church is possibly the most visited church in the valley, it dates back to the
4th century. The church is sacred but accessible for tourists and pilgrims by a somewhat challenging
scramble up a brittle yet polished sandstone wall. The church is in the bigger tower to your right. Known
locally as the Guhe Towers, we climbed the twin Pillars to the left of the flat on May 17th 2012.
Magic Smelly Poodle is located on the backside (relative to your approach) of the smaller (on the left) of
the two towers at Abuna Yemata Guh.
Have a local to negotiate with priests who will want to charge you to climb the tower the same price as visiting the
church (100 birr per person). In theory you shouldn't pay... but if you do, make sure you go visit the church next
door. It's worth it.
Stay in Hawzien in the Adulis Hotel, it's pink. Rooms we had were 50 Birr a night, but we were a bunch of scruffy so
and so's. Food and water buy locally in Hawzien.
98

Protection
Gear: singles of .3-.5 , doubles to #3. Nuts.
Bring lots of cams 1<6 and a set of nuts, though I think our largest cam was a 4, and the approach is around the
back of the left tower as you are facing A.Y.G. church. The climbing dangers are brittle sandstone rock as you reach
the last section towards the top. We did leave two nuts and a cord at the top but you should check it first before
going down, they may have shifted. Some one tied nylon rope to a rock about half way up, so that is where you'll
rap off to first before continuing to the foot of the climb.

Magic Smelly Poodle : This line goes up around to the back (right) of smaller tower (left tower). Local priests won't
allow climbers to attempt the largest tower.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150934876279617&set=oa.10150991707741271&type=1&theater

2nd Scramble, 1st pitch!

P1 5.10. Chimney to hand crack

5.10 Hand Crack for jamming, a much


needed change from the chimney express!

99

There is a short 2nd pitch


(5.8 ) that leads to this
ledge belay station at the
bottom of the final pitch

The 3rd and Final Pitch


(5.11): flaky rock, unreliably
heady around flaring cracks.

The view from the backside of the tower (Magic Poodle)!

The abseil off.

ab line and maybe the crack PLJ team have taken?

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10150991707741271&type=1

Nico Parkinsons Story of the Guhe Tower, Gheralta Region, 2012


These words set a dusty voyage in motion and me on a journey to reach the summit of several desert
towers in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.
Bareknuckled Brawn
He-Man led another incredible line first up a chimney, then a handjamming crack and finally a flaring hand
and arm crack to the top of the tower. The four of us climbed more efficient than in the Hamster Tube
and reached the summit of the smaller of the Guhe Towers above the church. The church-key master told
us that the larger tower is kil-kil (forbidden) becuase the saintly namesake Abuna Yemata is buried on the
towers summit.
http://www.nicoparco.com/ethiopia-rock-climbing-tigray-towers/

100

Abune Yemata Guh, 5.11, Guhe Towers, Gheralta, Pat Little Johns Account:
One of the most remarkable rock-hewn churches in Tigray is carved into the base of a great castle of rock, which
appears impregnable on every side. Beside it is a slender tower called Abune Yemata, which we climbed via a line of
chimneys on the west face to a saddle, then up a crack line on the south face till about 80' from the top, where it
became a repulsive overhanging off-width. We then squirmed through the tower to the corresponding crack on the
north face, which gave some very exposed climbing to our first virgin Tigray summit. The grade was about 5.11.
Site of one of the most remarkable rock-hewn churches in Tigray, carved into the base of a great castle of rock which
is seemingly impregnable on every side. Beside it is a slender tower with an enticing crack line running down its
north face - but not quite reaching the base. It's our first venture on to Tigray sandstone, the point where dreams
meet reality.
We get to the base; Steve takes one look and announces that it's my lead - he's like that in the mornings. I manage
about ten metres, thrash around for 20 minutes then give up, put off by the rock, the runners and the deceptive
steepness. Plan B is to climb the right edge of the face for a pitch then traverse in to the crack. This keeps us busy for
the next couple of hours but fails too, for all the same reasons. So it's on to plan C, following cracks and chimneys to
gain the dreaded the South Face, the sunny side. We'd planned to climb as much as possible in the shade, fearing
that to climb in full sun in Ethiopia would be unbearable, but Steve had a theory that the rock would be better on the
South side, baked hard in the sun or something, so off he went into a chimney system heading in the right direction.
My lead is a horrid off-width but above this it looks beautiful, a perfect hand crack leading to a promising weakness
going all the way to the summit.
Steve makes short work of the crack, putting to use his misspent youth climbing the cracks of Squamish Chief, then I
get another nice pitch to a point where the top looks within reach if it weren't for two intervening off-widths, both
overhanging and rounded. I should say at this point that our rack was all wrong for climbing in Tigray. Our biggest
cam was a Camelot 3 - a grave mistake we would pay for time and time again - which made any off-width look even
more frightening than it usually would. Ah well, Americans are off-width experts, I thought as I snuggled into my
overhang-protected stance and passed over the lead.
Steve went up for a bit, then to my surprise didn't go up any further, he went inwards. Muffled cries of 'You're gonna
love this' followed by 'Fing Hell!' played havoc with the imagination till after what seemed a long, long time it was
my turn to follow. I climbed 10 metres then looked into the crag and saw daylight. A narrow slot, and I mean narrow,
went straight through to the North Face. Skinny Steve had just about made it, but being more muscular around the
midriff I had to exhale and wriggle like a snake before popping out into a position of stomach-churning exposure,
500ft off the ground with overhanging rock above and below us. Steve was tied to a cluster of dodgy belays out to
the left, trying to look cheerful.
For the next two hours I tried everything but the obvious, traversing out left, then right, then back into the tower to
squeeze through to the upper of the rounded off-widths. In the end there was nothing for it but to attack the
overhang directly. With just one runner between me and Steve I had visions of stripping both of us off the face if I
fell, but eventually I passed the first bulge, only to be confronted by another. With time and energy exhausted we
abseiled off and walked back as the sun set.
After a day to recover we were back, and with Steve belayed more securely in the middle of the tower I had the
confidence to push on up the final crack and get us to our first virgin summit in Tigray.

Summit of Abune Yemata


http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2006_files/AJ%202006%20129137%20Littlejohn%20Tgray%20Borkdy.pdf
101

Tower of Frida (next to Abuna Yemata),


Sound of Frida, 300m
Sandstone turns to sand in Gheralta - Espen Fadnes returns to Ethiopia

13 11 2014

I need to go to the toilet says my 65 year old father, Iver Gjelstenli. We are sitting doing research in a
comfortable house in Addis Abeba the capital of Ethiopia . The multi pitch line we are aiming for in Gheralta,
makes him nervous. That makes two of us!
This is our own adventure, as so are so many we have done together in the past. The first trip we had abroad we
went to Chamonix in 1990. I ended the Mont Blanc attempt puking outside the Goutier Hut. A year later, at the
age of 11, I joined him and many of my climbing heroes to Ahaggar Mountains, Algeria.

Now, 23 years later, it is time for one more climbing adventure on the African continent. For us, father and son,
its so much more than just finding some fine lines. It becomes an arena to hang out, bond and together cope
with all the challenges a climbing trip far far away puts upon you.
Our 20 days in Ethiopia will be divided in two parts. First we are going to the northern region Tigray, and the
stunning Gheralta Massif. Here, you find several 100 400 meter walls, containing inviting variable trad climbing
lines.The second part is to find boulders on top of the 4200 Bale Mountain Platau. But lets get back to that
slightly overambitious altitude sickness potential idea later.
The climb we want to do in Gheralta has been done several times before. 4 pitches ranging from 5.8 5.11. The
climbing itself may for sure be hard enough for a base jumping junkie as myself, and my way more experienced,
but not that strong anymore, father. There are other uncertainties as well. Language and cultural boundaries,
many of the mountains are sacred (the neighbouring peak is the famous Abuna Yemata Church) and just the
challenge of finding the route.

102

Gheralta is a a steep 1200 feet sandstone formation raising up from the flat farmers land in the Tigray region, not
far from the more famous National Park Simien Mountains. Gheralta, 25 years ago hurt by the Ethiopian
Ertitrean war, now popular for tourists seeking churches made in the 400s, shaped straight into the mountains
itself.
The whole idea of this journey was to find a climbable line. Well, a climbable line for a father and son, exiting, but
at the same time doable for a rather medium skilled climbing duo. The Gheralta mountains may offer vertical off
width cracks, where camelot 4-6 in massive amounts are mandatory, telling us the climbing itself, is painful,
heavy and serious. So, in most ways, it was out of our league.
We had read about a route on a tower nearby the more famous peak and church, Abu Neiamata. Together with
our guide Gabriel, and smiling, positive, fluent in English young local man, we went up to the chimney where we
believed the route started. We quickly felt the whole project was too hard. I started the 1st pitch feeling
uncomfortable about rather hard climbing without safety. After all, we were in Ethiopia to challenge ourself
without broken ankles or worse. I decided to go my own way. It was hard to tell where it would end, but a slightly
less challenging chimney on the right hand side seemed inviting.

Our day ended on top of a tower 4 hours later. The scenery was breathtaking looking out on the farmers land
and the nearby walls as high as 300 meters vertical. The sounds of pigeons never stopped. Wohoo, wohoo,
wohoo. We were surrounded by African sounds and scenery. Below us was one dirty chimney pitch and two
pitches of cracks that gave us a solid climbing experience. No, it was not as clean and solid as we hoped, but
yes, we had our moments.
The adventurous feeling of taking the next move into an unknown climbing route in a land far from home is an
exiting feeling. My father named the route after his grandchild Frida. She often mirrors the sound of pigeons;
wohoo, wohoo, wohoo. The route now goes by the name Sound of Frida. If you go to Gheralta and repeat the
route, you will put on a smile, after a few pitches among the birds.
As far as we understand the tower had its first ascent when we topped out. The description can be found in the
Lodge book at Gheralta Lodge, where you meet the welcoming owner from Italy, Silvio. He may also mention
Sound of Frida will lead you up to Fridas Tower.

http://community.berghaus.com/athletes/sandstone-turns-sand-gheralta-new-route/

103

Nebelet, Near Hawzien, Tigray, Mark Richey


5.10R, 6 pitches, (2008)
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200829000/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-Adwa-Nebelet-and-Harrar-NewRoutes-and-Exploration
November 30 2008, Mark Wilford, my wife Teresa, and I flew from Addis Ababa to Mekele. Next we traveled to Adwa, where we
found a different type of rock, probably basalt and much harder and more featured than the Tigray sandstone. There are many
cliffs, escarpments, and great boulders here with tremendous potential for exploration and new routes.
After traveling around the Axum area and doing some great bouldering in the Axum quarries, on December 10 we made the first
ascent of a spectacular sandstone tower that rises about 400 meters above the small town of Nebelet, which is about 1.5 hours
drive on a dirt road northwest of Hawzien.

Our route (6 pitches, 5.10R) followed a steep line of chimneys and cracks on the southeast side to a huge ledge between the two
highest summits, where we made a long traverse right to a steep unprotected passage to the final summit. On top we were
rewarded with spectacular views of the desert and the cheers of dozens of local villagers whod turned out to watch the
entertainment. After a long rappel from the summit block, we found a 3rd class descent that got us most of the way down the
tower without ropes.
After the tower climb we discovered superb granite bouldering only a few kilometers from the Italian hotel in Hawzien, where
hundreds of huge round and very featured boulders formed a long train in a lovely setting of small villages and cultivated fields.
The local children where delighted to give us a tour and eager to impress us with their own climbing prowess. Next time I would
bring some shoes and watch them really climb!

Mark Richey, AAC

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/107558286

This spectacular twin-summited sandstone tower rises above the town of Nebelet (1.5 hours drive north of Hawzien).
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200828502/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-and-Adwa-Regions-Nebelet-Summaryof-New-Routes-2006Winter-2008

104

Gheralta Topos And General Info, by Alain Bruzy (2012)


Premier stop le massif de la Geralta dans le Tigray
Ce massif est situ au Nord Ouest de Mekele 2heures environ de cette grande et
sympathique cit,
C'est un grand massif de grs colors, C'est immense et une escapade au sud nous a
permis d'entrevoir des possibilits infinies pour l'escalade, Par contre le rocher n'est pas
toujours au niveau de nos envies;il y a parfois des sections sableuses et verticales comme
j'en avais rarement voire jamais vu en grs ; il faudrait pour les franchir forer des trous de
40cm et mettre un peg bolt et ceci tous les 40 cm,,,C'est le massif o ont grimp les
quatre belles amricaines qui ont ralis le livre vertical Ethiopia et o avant cela Patt
litlleJohn avait ouvert trois voies.
Nous avons ouvert deux voies(cf. Topos)
Il reste beaucoup de zones prospecter notamment les faces de grs noir qui laissent
penser que le rocher sera meilleur mais qui demandent un peu de temps pour l'approche.
Nous avons lou un minibus avec chauffeur Mekel pour tout le temps de notre sjour
ce qui, compte tenu de l'loignement des parois, est je pense la bonne solution pour tre
mobile et indpendant.
Hotels
Mekele Atse Yohannes hotel 10 euros chambre double petit djeuner inclus
Hauzien(au pied du massif) Adulis Hotel 8 euros la chambre de 2
Restau
Mekele restau de l'hotel
Hauzien Ethiopia restaurant(bon et pas cher) en face du Lalibella hotel
Minibus
Guebre 0914032760 ou agence abyh93@yahoo.com tel 00251914027893
40 euros par jour + essence
rfrence
vertical Ethiopia
article de patt Little john dans l'american alpine journal

http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Alain-Bruzy-escalade-en-Ethiopie.pdf

105

Massif De La Gheralta, Tigray


Pilier Des Americuines, TD Sup, 4 pitches, (2012),

106

Mont Essamba, Massif De La Gheralta, Tigray


Suebre (Notre Chauffeur Patient Et Sympat), TD, 140m, (2012),

107

Gudele Towers, Amba Dasen Bet, Gheralta


"Buzzards Can't be Choosers," P1 5.10 +, P2. 5.8 X, P3 5.11+ R, (150m), (2012),

Gudele from the North side

1st pitch

No pro for first 30m!

2nd pitch

The view!

Gudele Towers, Amba Dasen Bet, "Buzzards Can't be Choosers" (150m)P1 5.10 +, P2. 5.8 X, P3 5.11+ R(choss
reasons)

Gear. Singles .2- .5 camalot. Doubles .75 -4. You'd be happy if you had a #5.

108

Nicos Write up of Gudele Tower, Gheralta Region


Gudele Tower
We never returned to the holy towers. Instead, we gravitated southeast of Megab to the Gudele towers,
an island of rock spires leaning on each other. On the southwest face, He-Man shot up another crack in the
wide world of unprotected offwidth climbing. The obvious body crack rises nearly 100 meters to top of the
2nd pitch. The 3rd and final pitch is a left trending hand crack through some of the most brittle sandstone
in the Gheralta Mountains, a veritable vertical beach. We reached the summit of the highest tower before
sundown and left evidence in the way of a cairn.
Numerology Redux
I spent just 144 of these precious life-hours in the Gheralta Mountains on the heels of an exceptional
climber with a strong head for adventure. We crowned 3 free-standing desert towers in 6 days. All climbs
we conquered with no prior knowledge of the tower or the route, and we left a total of 1 bolt, 3 nuts, a
half dozen slings and some carabineers among the vultures.
Market Wednesday
Every Wednesday, thousands of villagers walk varying distances to the market in Hawzen, the major town
in the Gheralta Mountains. On June 22, 1988, the Ethiopian Air Force executed an air raid on the town that
laid waste to the village market. Over 2,500 farmers, women and children (almost the entire population of
the town) perished. Today, in the center of town stands a 12-meter obelisk commemorating the victims.
On a steady supply of Ethiopian beer, our adventurer, Niels Tietze, AKA He-Man, climbed his final tower
and laid claim to yet another first ascent, barefoot. Villagers rejoiced and declared the sunburned and dirty
farenjis legends, for they have truly lived their adventures, with purpose and determination.

http://www.nicoparco.com/ethiopia-rock-climbing-tigray-towers/
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150937256674617&set=oa.10150994075271271&type=1&
theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150937257564617&set=oa.10150994075271271&type=1&
theater

109

KorKor, Gheralta Massif, Tigray


Coma La Vista, 5.8; Deuce of Hardts, 5.7; Reading Corner, 5.4; Free Dance, 5.9;
Mollys Reach, 5.6; The Fall Back, 5.6

http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/horizon-ethiopique.pdf
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7675306&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=
1

110

Kimir, Gheralta Massif, Tigray, by Edu Marin


Arenas Movedizas, 7b+/c, 350m, (2012)
In January 2012, the Spanish team of Marco Jubes, Edu Marin, and Toti Vales established two long, difficult free climbs in
Ethiopias mountains. The first, Arenas Movedizas (350m, 7b+/c), ascends a wall above the village of Hawzen in the Tigray
area. Corners and poorly protected chimney climbing were highlights, along with meeting a 76-year-old monk sitting on
top with his feet over the edge.
Dougald MacDonald, from information at Desnivel.com and Edumarin.blogspot.com
http://edumarin.blogspot.com.es/2012/02/etiopia_08.html
http://arepaclimbing.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/etiopia-cronologia/
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212130/Gheralta-Massif-and-Samayata-new-routes

Kimir, Gheralta

Arenas Movidizas 7c

http://www.planetmountain.com/webtv/eng/scheda.php?idFilm=262&bck=1

111

The Koraro Sandstone Towers, Gheralta, 150m, (2012)

Koraro Summit Setting up an abseil


150 meters high, climbed in 4 pitches, on very little protection and our 'rope gun' Niels Tietze, followed by Nico Demus, Mathieu
Thermes, and myself, May 15th 2012. We reached the summit at 6:30pm.
Near a town called Hawzen, northern Ethiopia (Tigray region). Fly from Addis Ababa to Mekele, rent a minibus, drive 80km north
to Hawzen, drive on to the Gheralta sandstone massif, turn right, continue 30 minutes...until you reach the village of Koraro.

http://www.rockclimbing.com/photos/Trad/Mother_of_all_Towers_120618.html
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151134652538957&set=oa.10150979889776271&type=1&theater

112

Gheralta, Tigray, 2012, by John Collis AAC


Great Cornholio, 5.10-, 3 pitch, (2012)
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212129/Gheralta-Massif-and-Adwa-Mountains-new-routes
Inspired by previous trips to Ethiopia by climbers such as Pat Littlejohn and Majka Burhardt, Dan Rothberg and I spent two
weeks in the countrys northern Tigray region in search of serious rock adventures. We first visited the Gheralta Massif, an
imposing group of soft-rock buttresses near the small town of Hawzen. One cant help but be reminded of Zion National
Park when gazing upon the areas fin-like towers or the main formations 1,000' walls. However, these impressions begin
to fade once on the rock. Quality varies greatly from bomber jugs of hematite to crumbly shale layers and sand with the
cohesiveness of compressed brown sugar. Our routes tended to favor crack systems, most of which were offwidth, though
faces definitely offer some interesting if friable textures, which we felt comfortable only toproping, as most rock was too
soft to accept our 2 expansion bolts.
Our most prominent Gheralta route was a three-pitch climb ascending one of the middle pillars of the main buttress, by
way of a moderately strenuous offwidth and chimney system. We named our route the Great Cornholio (5.10-) as a
tribute to both the quality of the rock and our highly sophisticated senses of humor. Climbers who dare to make future
ascents are advised to bring sturdy pants, tape, a rope that wont get nearly sawed in half by the soft yet somehow sharp
Gheralta edges, and goggles to prevent their pupils from being coated in a fine layer of dirt. John Collis.

Main buttress of the Gheralta massif with the line of the Great Cornholio (5.10-, 3 pitches).

Near Hawzien, Gheralta, Tigray, 2008, Indight by Mark Richey


November 30 2008, Mark Wilford, my wife Teresa, and I flew from Addis Ababa to Mekele to explore the rock
climbing of the Tigray region. We had learned of its climbing potential from Pat Littlejohn, who has made several
successful trips to Ethiopia and was very helpful in
supplying information on where and what to climb. In Mekele, we hired a four-wheel-drive vehicle and driver and
headed north to the town of Hawzien, where spectacular sandstone towers and walls, reminiscent of the American
Southwest, stretch for miles. In addition to the climbable rock here, ancient churches and temples, some dating back
to the 4th century, are found throughout the region. A few of these churches are located high on cliff walls and
require moderate climbing to visit. Although very little tourist infrastructure exists in the Tigray region, we found in
general the roads to be good, the food excellent, and the people incredibly helpful and friendly. The rock quality was
another matter. The sandstone around Tigray turned out to be soft and at times scary to climb. I started off the trip
with a bad fall when a handhold broke on the first pitch of an unclimbed tower just outside of Hawzien. I landed
directly on my tailbone, but besides a severely bruised butt (and ego), I was generally OK.

Mark Richey, AAC


http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200829000/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-Adwa-Nebelet-and-Harrar-NewRoutes-and-Exploration

113

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


AGAME MASSIF: Gheralta Climbing, Near Muzety and Hawzen
A view down East of Shimbretty guesthouse.
There is freestanding pillar out on the end not
visible and moderate looking 6-8 pich lines.

Can see the free standing tower at the end of the valley in this view

Shimbrety is the furthest south, nearest to Gheralta, and on the western ridge of the Agame massif. It can be
reached by walking from either Muzety a short but bumpy drive north from Hawzen, or from Idega Arbi, a further
20 minutes drive north. The guesthouse is on the top of the ridge with wonderful views in different directions. There
are a few scattered farmsteads on the top here, from where the Shimbrety community staff come. We were amazed
to find Gelada Baboons along this ridge too!
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151423531165966&set=oa.10151636805981271&type=1&theater

Agame Massif - Gheralta Region


The Erar Guesthouse can be barely seen on top
of these massive buttresses.

Erar is further north along the same ridge, again with great views west, here some of the odd shaped peaks from
Adwa and the Pillars of Nebulat can be seen in the evening sun. This guesthouse is more remote, as there are no
farm houses on this part of the massif. From Erar its a short walk to the trail head for guests who want to head for
the Axum/Adwa/Adigrat road, but its worth making a detour to see the lovely rock church under the escarpment at
Mariam Kiat , where water gushes out of the cliffs and there are green fields and gardens around the houses..
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151423530485966&set=oa.10151636805981271&type=1&theater

114

No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


South of Adwa-Adigrat Road And West Of Idaga Hamus
(Between Erar + Shimbretu Guest Houses On Agame Massive)
I spent a few days with the family doing a Tesfa trek, while I was out trekking I was also reconning the area with the idea of doing a climbing trip to this
region. It was amazing and the guesthouses are in prime locations with easy access to the cliffs. I heard bad stories about poor quality sandstone, but
IMO it was pretty decent looking stuff, a little gritty, but for the most part solid.

The 1000ft thin crack line and some butresses with finger, hand and fist cracks. This was on a trek I was on in Tigray region.

Although someone else said- Judging from the size of the trees, that thing is much smaller than 1000 ft., no? Looks a
bit flaky higher up. Have you checked the quality of the rock? And where is that finger crack?
Here is the coordinates: 14 7'15.06"N, 3926'15.10"E

South of Adigrat..

Map of location:
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/14%C2%B007'15.1%22N+39%C2%B026'15.1%22E/@14.140826,39.2940189,11z/data=!4
m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10151636805981271&type=1

Nice butress with 6 pitch lines with continuous crack systems

These lines across the valley looked a little more


moderate, still 6-8 pitches in length.

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No Existing Routes/Problems, But Has New Route Potential


Near Gohgot Guesthouse, Tigray
I (Ken Ford) dub this the Towers Area, there is quite a few towers here it is hard to distinguish how many, but there
is at least 4 distinct towers maybe more.
The most southerly site to the east is Gohgot. Gohgot is set at the foot of a cliff at around 2,600m, but still on higher
ground with views into the valleys. It is close to a number of rock-hewn churches including Gohgot Eyesus and
Mariam Bahara, and not too far from a very old built up wooden church two thirds of the way up a cliff called Debri
Giyorgis.

3
A view from the south. You can actually make out one of the tower
from the Mekele road, but only if you know what you are looking for.

3. The easiest line up the biggest and hardest


looking tower.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151423533910966&set=oa.10151636805981271&type=1&theater

116

East Face Horse Tooth Tower, Near Digum, Tigray


Mega Crack, HXS, 5.10/ 5.11, 5 Pitches, (2005+6) by Pat Little John
Horsetooth Tower was the first wed investigated, and it hadnt excited us as much as the others, being a bit smaller
(400') and less striking. We left it till the end, for an easier day. What a joke! With the usual group of children in tow,
we slogged up to the base and chose our line, again, unfortunately, on the sunny side. Steve took the first pitch,
which looked straightforward but had a mean bulge. I took over and got some great 5.10 climbing up grooves in the
crest of the tower. An intermittent crack took Steve to a hanging belay. It then got steep and required 5.11 climbing
to pass a bulge and reach a long, narrow shelf. I thought wed cracked it, till I looked at the face ahead, which was
lower-angle but essentially devoid of cracks. Traversing back and forth revealed neither easier ground nor
protection. This was one of those situations where you have to commit yourself into unknown hostile territory,
risking a huge fall if it doesnt pay off. Why always on my pitch? I thought, till I remembered Steves lead on Sheba
Tower. Delicate climbing, which I would have hated to reverse, brought a thin bendy flake within reach. The RP
placed behind it was purely psychological but still important, helping me press on across a precarious traverse, the
odd foothold snapping for that extra buzz. Finally, I sank hands and runners into a decent crack. This was British HXS
territory, and the toughest climbing of the trip.
http://www.alpin-ism.com/FullNews.cfm?newsID=18
http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2006_files/AJ%202006%20129137%20Littlejohn%20Tgray%20Borkdy.pdf

Megacrack on East Face of Hoursetooth Tower

Pitch 2 of megacrack on horsetooth

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Dedum, Tigray, (Perhaps Horseshoe Towers)


We Lauigh at Danger, HVS, 5a,4b, *, 100m, and Somewhere Else, HVS
4c,4c**, 100m, (2001), By Bookham Crag Rats
http://bookhamcragrats.co.uk/index.php/2011/02/climbing-in-ethiopia/

We had arrived after an initially bumpy internal flight, after setting off from Addis Ababa some 500km to
the south. Fortunately, our representative had managed to talk the airline out of charging for our 73kg
excess baggage! Here we met our first support team which included our guide Hailu and a large bus.
Within minutes, we were passing a camel train snaking slowly up from the notoriously hot (+60C) Danakil
Depression, before settling into a 6-hour journey which ended near Dedum at a perfect campsite beside a
bend in a small stream. The evening sun reflected golden off a high and steep mountain backdrop, which
positively invited climbing.
However, this was not to be, for next morning, we headed towards a nearby, and even more impressive,
isolated mountain rising some 300m above, and dominating the centre of, the vast high plain. After parking
in the middle of a lava field, we set off by foot across the open fertile ground. All to soon it seemed like a
walkers version of the M25 in rush hour. Though not appearing to lead anywhere in particular, we were
continually being overtaken by group after group of nimble men and women, as we laboured uphill.
Where are all these people going we asked Hailu. Somewhere else, he replied, and we laughed at his
impeccable logic.

Pitch 1 we laugh at danger.


Finally, at the base of the eastern pillar, we split into two parties. Around to our left, hidden in a gully, was
the church of St. Mary of Gulsha. Andre, Andy and Richard attacked the obvious chimney line towards
the right hand side of the initial face, whilst Tony, Dave and myself moved right around the arete to find
another route on the south face. The chimney line proved exciting, with steep and overhanging sandstone,
and involved Richard backing off after feeling sick again on the first pitch. With marginal protection, it was
reminiscent of Swanage back home, and topped out after two pitches onto the top of the pillar. On a
previous expedition to Socotra, our guide had tried to put us off a hike across the island claiming it was
dangerous, and in the sunshine we had told him We Laugh at Danger !. Somehow, it seemed an
appropriate name for this climb (HVS, (5a,4b) * 100m).
Tony began leading the other route some 20m round to the right to the Eastern flank, where a wall of red
and yellow sandstone towered above a large, flat-topped at its base. He set off up the wall of uncertain
quality rock, until the holds ran out and his own desire to be somewhere else became more urgent.
Then, as he continued up an inviting but ever steepening crack, I could just make out the tiny figures of
locals watching curiously from the fields many hundred feet below. They were gathered under some large
acacia trees, shaded from the fierce midday sun. Patience and absolute concentration was required for
Tony to reach the relative safety of the summit from this great second pitch (Somewhere Else, HVS
(4c,4c**) 100m.)

118

The view across the plain was now spectacular, with numerous similar and larger peaks in the far distance
around us, and Eagles circling. Even so, nearer at hand, we could see a further buttress still rising
majestically above us. We had only climbed a subsiduary summit, and there was no time to climb higher.
Then, just prior to abseilling we were unexpectedly rewarded by a rare sighting of two Rock Hyrax (similar
in appearance to large coypu) with young, lazily and unconcernedly basking in the sunshine on a wide rock
ledge some 15m below. Upon our return, our guide and driver warmly met and hugged each of us. The
clients were still alive! A perfect end to a great day !

Dabrazeit Peak, Dudua, Near Axum, By Bookham Crag Rats


Green Mamba, E2 (5c)****, 300m and Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds, E2
(5b), 300m, (2001)
http://www.iotaclimbing.co.uk/ethiopia1.html
http://bookhamcragrats.co.uk/index.php/2011/02/climbing-in-ethiopia/
We selected another riverside campsite, this time near the village of Dudua, within a short drive of our selected climb, a
peak called Dabrazeit. We estimated the peak at about 1100ft above the plain with about 900ft of climbing. We were
dropped off about a one hour walk from the base of the climb. We divided into two groups of four; Andre, myself, Katie
and Andy. and Richard, Tony, Rob and Dave.
The rock was fantastic, very hard and good friction. Our first few pitches led to
a major ledge, where an alpine style traverse led to the start of the serious part
of the climb. A long vertical crack led to the start of a thin fault line running up
diagonally left to the left edge of the face, from there another fault line led to
the top of the face.
Andre led off, while the three of us huddled under the bushes to keep out of
the hot sun. Although we were very close to the equator, the air temperature
at 8,000ft meant the climbing conditions were very comfortable.
This pitch, rated a 5c E2, depending on the use or not of a critical bush, was the crux pitch of the climb, although for Andy,
probably not the most scary. At the end of his lead, while setting up the belay, he watched mesmerised as a green
mamba, one of the most poisonous snakes in Africa, emerged from a crevice in the rock above him. It slithered across the
rock just feet from where he was tied in, completely unable to move should the reptile loose its fragile grip on the nearly
vertical rock surface and drop into his lap.

After nine pitches we finally made the summit a few minutes before the second team arrived triumphant. The view from
the top was awesome, around us scattered across the plain were countless massive rock pinnacles stretching north to the
border with Eritrea, nearby, the golden brown of valley floor was dotted with bright diamonds of light where the evening
sun glinted on new corrugated iron roofs. For Katie and I it was our first true first ascent. A new route on a new crag in a
new country on a new continent, now that takes some beating. We named our route Green Mamba E2 (5c) 300m. It
definitely rates *** in the Ethiopia Climbing Guide Book.
The other party had their own *** climb taking a route some 50 metre right of Green Mamba. Lucy In The Sky with
Diamonds. E2 (5b) 300m

119

The abseil descent was another story. The tropical night shut off the light like a switch as Andre, dangling at the end of the
first rope length, was forced to pendulum back and forth looking for a stance for the second rope. A meagre flake was
found and the second rope set up, Andy dropped down the first rope and Andre down the second. Again he found
nothing, more desperate searching until, at last a minor crack was found. Katie dropped to be with Andy on the first
stance. There was no ledge, Katie and Andy tied into the thin flake and hung patiently in their harnesses. In response to a
request for more rope, Tony took a pair of ropes down to the second stance By now the summit party had been waiting
for nearly two hours, in the dark and increasing cold, anticipating a night on the top. Finally, when I dropped over the
edge in complete darkness, the only light visible was the flickering of Tony's head torch 450ft below. The two tiny radios
we carried made the difference between a dramatic but controlled decent and a cold night on the summit for all of us.
Safely off the rock face, we had an awkward scramble descent for over five hundred feet to the village below.
An epic climb and epic descent in an epic location. A day that will, for me, always encapsulate why climbing is the best
sport in the world.

Account number 2 of same climbs:


Andre, Andy, David & Katie attempted the obvious left hand route, which began with an interesting VS
traverse across a detached flake, leading to a large terrace covered by cactus and scrub. Fortunately the
rock here was much more solid, like a hard granite. An alpine style traverse for some 200 metres then led
to the foot of an obvious groove, which we still naively thought was a matter of only 70 metres or so to the
summit, and apparently in view. In fact it took us 7 pitches in all ! Also, the groove pitch turned out to be
much harder than its anticipated VS level and turned out to be E1 5c or 5b depending on whether help was
accepted from a nearby bush. This well protected and truly 4 star pitch then continued from its hanging
belay until a small delay ensued whilst Andy attempted to photograph an attractive but deadly green
mamba approaching him along a ledge. The summit was then achieved only after a further full rope then of
totally unprotected 4c climbing, and further easier ground for this unexpectly fine climb ( Mamba E1(4b,,5c/5b,5a?,4c) 300m) .
To find an alternative route Richard, Dave and I scrambled round the first arete to the right, to discover a
broad gully rising upwards for some 50m which we followed to a concave bay of black rock below a grey
pillar some fifteen metres high. Here we roped up, and climbed its centre and then leftwards to awkward
grooves above, and a short wall, to a long ledge. The climbing proved absorbing and harder than it had
appeared from below. The sun was now high in the sky as Richard then took the lead with spectacular
moves over a large and overhanging loose block above, before disappearing left across a steep, brown
wall. Exposed, and even more absorbing climbing up an impending crack then brought him sweatily to the
top of the broad ramp shared by the other party.
A short scramble then led to the upper face, before heading rightwards above a deep chasm which could
be seen dropping many hundreds of feet down onto a church roof. From here, Tony traversed right to a
position on the arte below a compact, black slab which unfortunately appeared to have no protection.
This indeed proved to be true and required a bold, delicate lead which ultimately offered only 3 pieces of
gear. Just as the rope was about to run out, a cactus ledge was reached with relief, and some belay
possibilities. A green mamba slithered past just above, and the remains of eggshells lay in a cavity in the
rock.
From here, an overlap curved up and left, requiring delicate moves on small, sharp holds for about 10
metres, until the rock steepened and it was necessary to step right across the overlap onto a shield of rock,
yellow with sun-dried lichen. Then, steep, uncertain moves up the wall above using blocky edges, again
with poor protection, gave access to a slab, and a short corner through a steeper band of coarse granite, to
a belay niche, apparently just below the summit. What a brilliant set of pitches ! Totally absorbing and
varied climbing. However, we still had two more rope lengths to climb and time was pressing. Dave quickly
led up a short wall and long, broad rib to a larger terrace below the final rock tier, and this was followed by
easier climbing diagonally left up a wide ramp to the top. What relief ! The others were already here.
120

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,E2( 5a, 5b, 5b, 5b, 4c, 4b) 300m **) seemed an very appropriate name for
this brilliant route, partly because of the sparkles of sunlight glinting off the tin roofs of the houses far
below, and not much later, from the stars from between the peaks as we abseiled into the black depths on
our descent ! Also, as old sixties survivors of the famous Beatle song about the girl with kaleidoscope
eyes, and from Lucy, whos 3.2 million year old bones we had seen in the National Museum in Addis
only days before.
We were now on a perfect summit with a small rounded top covered in long grass, where the evening light
on the plains below enhanced the pure, quiet beauty of the place. But our elation was tempered, as we all
knew we still had to descend. Also, perhaps the long grass was not so perfect with mambas about.
Unfortunately, as retreat down the routes we had just climbed did not seem possible, it was decided to
abseil into the col and then scramble down the boulder-choked gully visible below. However, the cliff
proved very hostile to descent, with minimal gear placement possibilities, and very hard rock resistant to
driving in pitons. Finally, after a lot of time consuming searching, involving long pendulums, some tiny
sloping abseil ledges were found, which in one case involved slings on small flakes, backed up a inch
alien. Then, our only two headtorches between the eight of us, were saved for the abeil stations.
Consequently, most of the descent was undertaken in complete darkness via three consecutive abseils,
down vertical and overhanging rock faces. Sometimes the only indicator of movement were the stars
gently spirally around as we descended into the blackness. Furthermore, the ropes on the top abseil
jammed and had to be cut and abandoned, together with the alien. At least our walkie-talkies helped cut
through the growing cold, and fear-inducing silence, between the little groups stranded at each abseil
station.
It was not until 10:30pm that we managed to return to the road and an even warmer welcome from our
support team ! We were wrecked ! Bottoms had been worn out of trousers descending the boulder choked
gully, and feet crippled by miles of stumbling in the dark in rock boots, after failing to find our rucksacks. A
further mamba discovered under our tent and a water scorpion whilst washing were followed by some
welcome glasses of Scotch, and quite soon, oblivion.

121

Damo Gela, Near Axum


North Buttress, E1, 10 Pitch, 400m, (2006), by Pat Little John/Steve Sustad
In March this year Steve Sustad and I made another trip to explore the vast climbing potential of northern Ethiopia.
In 2005 we had seen a truly amazing crack line which we hadn't been able to attempt because of a lack of big cams,
and another was to explore the area of volcanic towers near Adwa in the far north, a unique landscape which seems
to feature in so many older paintings of Ethiopia.
Tigray region. Soon we were gazing up at the crack once again, me thinking it looked a lot harder now that we'd
actually come to climb it! We had both been training hard for the trip, but after 2 days of desperate climbing we only
managed to get halfway up the line. As far as we got the climbing was probably E6 or American 5.12 'offwidth'. May
others come to finish the job.
The ancient town of Axum was our base for the next few days. Being higher and cooler it is a much more agreeable
place to stay and even has an embryonic tourist industry. The main attractions are the permanently guarded church
where the Arc of the Covenant is said to be kept, and the Stelae Park, a collection of granite monoliths including the
tallest standing stone in the world (22m high and carved from a single block of granite).
Driving to Axum we had spotted a massive volcanic tower to the south which we learned was called Damo Gela. We
were told that one man had climbed it, in the time of Mussolini and that it had been climbed in the time of Haile
Selassie, according to locals. The NW face was an imposing 350m vertical wall which looked very hard; the rib
forming its left edge looked more amenable and was the obvious route to attempt first. We made a pre-dawn start
to approach and were climbing soon after first light. The best discovery was that the rock was fantastic, hard and
solid and offering plenty of natural protection. The line we chose proved to be a 10-pitch E1 and got us to an airy
summit just as an afternoon storm was brewing. The descent on the opposite side of the mountain was another trip
into the unknown and we got down at nightfall.
Now that we knew the quality of rock in this area the possibilities seemed limitless. Over the next week we climbed a
number of 5-pitch routes up to E4 in the immediate area, then we drove eastwards towards Adigrat. The landscape
was breath-taking and the climbing potential. Suffice to say that we'll be back!

The superb west face awaits an ascent.

E1 Pitch on Damo Gela


http://www.alpin-ism.com/news.cfm

122

Bouldering in Axum Quarries and Near Hawzien: 2007, Mark


Richey, AAC
After traveling around the Axum area and doing some great bouldering in the Axum quarries. After the
tower climb we discovered superb granite bouldering only a few kilometres from the Italian hotel in
Hawzien, where hundreds of huge round and very featured boulders formed a long train in a lovely
setting of small villages and cultivated fields. The local children where delighted to give us a tour and
eager to impress us with their own climbing prowess. Next time I would bring some shoes and watch
them really climb!
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200829000/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-Adwa-Nebelet-and-Harrar-NewRoutes-and-Exploration

Harrar, 2007, Mark Richey, AAC


The last place we briefly visited was the region around Harrar in the extreme eastern corner of
Ethiopia near the border of Somalia. In a place called the Valley of Mysteries, just above the main road,
we found endless pinnacles and short, steep walls with many cracks. The rock appeared a kind of
granite and much harder than in Tigray. Many of the wild-looking pinnacles would be a real challenge
to surmount by even their easiest route. The intense heat and dust from major road construction in
process discouraged us from climbing, but it would be worth returning during a cooler season after the
road is complete.
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200829000/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-Adwa-Nebelet-and-Harrar-NewRoutes-and-Exploration

123

Mount Wehni Ethiopia, Near Axum, (Hotrock Report)


Beneath the Path of Princes, E1 5a

The prison of Mt Wehni Ethiopia


From the crest of the ridge the last half of the plateau was finally revealed. The vast natural forces that had thrown up
these regular downs had suddenly run wild. In the docile plain there opened a gorge perhaps half a mile wide, leading to a
bowl shaped valley. It was the valley of Wehni. From the centre rose the scoriae black thumb that was the mountain. It was
in fact twice the height that it first appeared and its sides perfectly sheer to the ground. Once again my stomach
contracted in fear. Thomas Pakenham, The Mountains of Rasselas.

View across to Mt Wehni.


The Hot Rock Global Challenge had been going for four months since that misty day when it left the docks of Dover to
start the epic world record breaking climbing expedition. It was to travel the length of six continents overland, the
objective to climb existing and new routes. The expedition has just been back from the first successful expedition to climb
to the summit of Mt Wehni, a basalt tower in Ethiopia. We are the first known people to be on the summit since it was the
prison to Ethiopian princes 300 years ago. The princes were held on the peak to protect the king from being over-thrown;
all 200 prisoners and inhabitants were kept on a summit 120m by 80m. The cut steps and wooden stakes that were used
to climb the peak had long gone and the closest you could get to see the visible ruins was by looking across from the hill
tops on the other side of the valley. Two helicopter missions failed to land on the summit, the British forces could not
climb the peak and numerous explorers were just left at its base imagining what treasure the summit still held.
I had been put in touch with a local boy who claimed to know the whereabouts of the peak from a contact in a village
further south. An unused road could get us 5km from the peak, but as the roads were so bad we would need to get a local
bus/tank to drive us in. That night the bags were packed along with 30kg of oranges, 150 loafs of bread, 250L of water,
10kg of the smallest onions in the world, and all the climbing kit we could collect into the bus. We left the next morning
at 6:00am.

Locals gather round to see our group.


The bus stopped 5 hours later at the town of Addis Zemmen. Our guide jumped out and spoke to a man (old and blind).
After a heated discussion they both came on to the bus and informed us the walk started here. The mountain had moved
again!! We were informed that it laid 20km that way (direction given by a throw of an arm). We had to trust this blind old
man, and go against the advice of the trusty contact. This was hard to do, as to walk 20km and find out he had directed
us to his hut for lunch would have been soul destroying. But we trusted the blind man and packed up the water and food
onto the backs of 11 very small donkeys and set off. The word had gone round the village that white people were here to
124

climb their hills, and a crowd of a couple of hundred kids screaming YOU YOU YOU escorted us for the first hour of the
walk.
The donkeys were useless. We were walking (pushing donkeys up hills) at an average speed of 1.5kmph, and with the
big pass still to come getting to base camp that night was out of the question. In fact we only managed to get halfway. The
last 100m to the top of the pass involved us carrying the water for the donkeys. We camped on the outskirts of a small
village. At this point we still had no idea if the peak we were walking towards to was the one we wanted!

local guard watches over base camp.

Ethiopian locals look on with interest.

Ruined church on Mt Wehni summit.

We left early the next morning. With their bellies full of straw, the donkeys trotted on at a happy pace. The hilltop opened
out to a flat plateau, rather like Salisbury plain but with monkeys. There at the edge of the plateau we received the same
view that Thomas Pakenham had had 50 years ago. Did my stomach contract in fear? No! Did I smile like a kid at Christmas
and almost cry with relief and for the joy of the others? Yes! There it was, only a couple of km away. We could make out
the ruins on the summit and the guardhouse built two thirds of the way up the cliff. An hour later we had made a base
camp under an enormous olive tree and in the shadow of the west face of Mt Wehni.
The audience had grown and the murmur of the crowd had risen to an excited roar. The forangis had come to climb the
prison of the princes. There was suddenly a mad cry from the hill overlooking the col on which we camped. A man had
stripped down naked and was running down the hill towards us. He reached a spot 20m away, stopped and started
whipping himself while dancing in a style of a religious stomp after one had just licked the cane toad. Our guide, Mike,
translated his cries and told us that he is upset, because we will steal the Ark of the Covenant that is on top of the peak!!!
The local priests took this seriously. After an hour or two they approached us and said that before we climb we had to
have our bags checked so when we returned they would know what treasures we had stolen from the summit. This gave
us a buzz, as they really had no idea of what was on the summit.
The route I climbed was good climbing but very unprotected (Placing only 4 bits of protection in 6 pitches of climbing). As
our route meandered along the original route up the mountain we came across several sections of very polished rock,
which would have been done by the hundreds of princes who had passed up and down the route. About 60m from the
summit we passed through the doorway of the guardhouse and from there I could see the rest was just a scramble.
The very last move was to squeeze past the enormous olive wood door that blocked the entrance to the prison. We had
done it. We had completed the dream of so many explorers and were about to join the vultures in knowing what secrets
lay on top. The top was covered in long grass hiding all the walls and potholes which we stumbled across. Our aim was to
map the summit and photograph everything. Most is just ruin but the church gave us a bit more interest. There were old
paintings on the wall and carved crosses and Amharic scripture in tablets partly hidden by the cracked plaster on the walls.
Sadly we found no gold or booby traps, and all skeletons must have been deeply buried. In fact the only interesting
artifacts that we found were two massive clay urns containing nothing but hyrax poo. We spent the night on the summit
and then descended the next day. We were on the floor in 3 long abseils and 2 hours later.
The priests were the first to greet us. They dipped their heads and kissed our hands. An English speaking man approached
us, We have so much respect for you, and such an incredible journey I have never seen! The rest of the day was spent
drawing the ruins and the carvings we had seen on the back of a box of tea bags, for the chief of the village to keep and
show the waiting crowd.

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We celebrated that night with a pit roast sheep. As it is Lent they would not kill the sheep, but were happy to let us do it.
This was an experience that was close to making me a vegetarian. But I soon forgot this when it was cooked, eaten and
was being slowly digested as I lay back and looked at the route we had just taken to the summit, absolutely perfect. The
next day I took the last of the 12 members in the team to the summit along a route that was graded E1 5a and named
Beneath the Path of Princes.

Sleeping on the summit of Mt Wehni.


On our descent that day we were greeted by a crazy-eyed man with equally bizarre hair and teeth. We tried to
communicate and then as we walked off we realised he wore a set of shackles around his ankles. We were told the
gruesome story later of how he used to be the village policeman until he had murdered a few too many friends and family.
His punishment is to stay shackled for the rest of his life, the theory being that he is too slow to catch and kill anyone else
(unless he gets his hands on a gun, they quietly added)!!!
We left the next day and walked 7 hours back to Addis Zemmen and based ourselves in a bar celebrating with ice cold
beer and chat (a small leaf when chewed has a similar effect to the coca leaf). Eventually the bus arrived and we traveled
south to Bahir Dar to meet up with friends. The whole experience is everything I could have hoped for: rumors of being
beaten to the top, donkeys, porter disputes, crazy locals screaming about legends of treasure, ruins, fine climbing and
every member of the team climbing to the top and safely coming down.

Abseiling off from Mt Wehni.


http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/2011/06/the-prison-of-mt-wehni-ethiopia/
Mt Wehni.
The guide we used was advised by Tony Hickey of Village Ethiopia. (Home: 002511 615930)
Habtesellassie 00251 (08) 110040 Habte put me in touch with Kinfe Michael Adera (PO Box 534 North Gondar, Ethiopia.
KINFEMICHAEL@yahoo.com. 00251 08 110 960.
Route from Addis Zemman (Agel Hana) to BC: The time for this depends greatly on the speed of the donkeys. The ones we
used were very weak, if you use mules the walk should take one day.
Matogera Stifanos was passed two hours in and it took a further 4 hours to reach the top of the pass at the village of
Glosca Michael. We spent the night there and had a large crowd, ropes were needed to keep our space. We left the next
day and walked north along the saddle to the plateaux and reached Derke Wonth (dry river bed) one hour later. From
there it is a further hour to the village of Asta Mariam. Asta Mariam is the name to the area around the mountain. The
chief of the police to this village is called Sendeku Tirunh (name of church is called Deber Sina). From here you see the
first view of Mt. Wehni. Crawling through the crowds and down to base Camp took a further hour. We based our camp
around the large olive tree on the col at the base of the west face.

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The return journey took 7 hours, with no donkeys and five porters.
Wehni Gorgis (Prison Of George) is the name of the church at the top of the hill overlooking Wehni. Amba Eger (Mt Food)
is the other name for Mt Wehni. Church on top top of Mt Wehni is called Wheni Amba Kidane Mhiret.
The surrounding peaks are Kurambit (bird shit), the pinnacle to the north of Wehni. The large hill to the north is Gorda
Amba. The area of this moutain is Egziar Ab. The hill to the south is called Doumi.
From Addis Zemman it is a 2.5 hour bus ride to Bahir Dar.
Bahir Dar The Ghion Hotel 00251 08 20 07 40. Camping costs 44 bir for one tent and food is good. And beer is cold and
cheap.
Gonder to Bahir Dar 190km 5 hous piste good and bad.

http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/2013/09/ethiopia-rock-climbing-climb-expedition-travel-information/

From Mount Wehni To Kentish Town, Account 2


They say you will all die! Mulus cries add a chill to the low afternoon sun.
The villagers had been on the hillside opposite the ambo, the basaltic stele that we were attempting to
scale, all day, laughing and shouting cries of encouragement. But now it was late, night was imminent and
they had begun to panic. If we spent the night on the mountain, the spirits would surely kill us.
We had started well. There was a clear diagonal line up the western face that must have marked the site of
the original steps. But this soon ended and we were forced to muscle our way up a greasy chimney to a
precarious ledge, occupied by bellicose baboon, who, after much lip curling and smacking, turned, and with
slow disdain, presented his rump and strolled back the way he had come.
It was too dangerous to reverse our route in the dark. We would have to bivouac on the narrow ledge. The
problem was that we only had the fly sheet to shelter under if it rained and just two sleeping bags between
the four of us. Mike and I wedged our legs into one and tied ourselves to the base of stunted tree, but in
the middle of the night I awoke to find our ties had worked loose and the entrapped bottom halves of our
conjoined bodies were suspended over a four hundred foot drop. I nudged Mike, who turned over,
propelling us further out of our centre of gravity. It looked as if the villagers prophecies were about to be
realised. But no. Gently I awoke him and moving very cautiously and hooking our arms around the tree
without uprooting it, we managed to pull ourselves up. Although we strengthened our ties, we had no
more sleep that night.
Mount Wehni was in the northern highlands of Ethiopia, not far from the ancient capital of Axum. It had
not been climbed for four hundred years. Then it was a prison. The Emperor kept any challengers to his
throne incarcerated in the huts on the top. The only way up and down the perilous pillar of rock was a
wood and rock staircase, but that had collapsed. Cut off from supplies in their inaccessible eyrie, the
prisoners and their guides perished.
In 1966, as a second year medical student with a yearning for adventure, I and a group of like-minded
friends organised The Cambridge Medical Expedition to Ethiopia to carry out a survey on the prevalence of
the debilitating parasitic illness, schistosomiasis, in areas of economic development. While we in Addis, we
met a climber, Dave Prentice, who was on a personal mission to climb Mount Wehni and needed a few
more foolhardy romantics to help him realise it.
127

We didnt succeed. By midday on the second day, we were still a long way from the top. Reluctant to
spend another sleepless night on the side of the mountain and concerned about our lack of water, we
abseiled down.
The villagers welcomed us like spirits returned from the dead and prepared a banquet. There were large
black glazed jugs of tej, a kind of honey mead, a bowl of wet, a spicy lamb curry and plates piled high with
injerra, a pancake made of the sourdough prepared from tef, a coase flour made from the seeds of a grass
that grew in the highlands. We tore off pieces of injerra and used it to scoop up the wet, sluicing it down
with an infinite supply of tej. As the night wore on the villagers entertained us with songs and dances. We
staggered back to our tent boisterous and happy at 3am. It was a feast, I shall never forget.
The Queen of Sheba is the one of a small number of Ethiopian restaurants in Britain. Situated on the
corner of Fortess Road in Kentish Town, it is not posh, but it has character and the food in delicious. A
strong aroma of incense greets you as you enter a dark candlelit interior. Plain wooden tables and chairs
are placed around the small corner room. Amharic crucifixes, spears, shields, black earthenware jugs and
lamps adorn the walls. A strange, haunting Ethiopian music is playing. This restaurant manages to recreate
in Kentish Town, the atmosphere of a hut on the road to Lalibela. Time Out calls it a funky juxtaposition of
ancient and modern.
The Queen of Sheba is is a family run business. Mother is the chef, father runs the accounts and the
daughters, beautiful dusky temptresses with wild curly hair and high boots, serve at tables.
The menu features traditional Ethiopian classics, spicy meat or vegetarian wets, served on injerra, which
has been cooked over steam and has the appearance and texture of a damp dish cloth but a delicious
slightly acidic taste that complements the salty richness of the wets. There is also Kitfo, the Ethiopian
equivalent of steak tartare, a delicious beetroot salad, spicy spinach and cottage cheese, and Kantegna,
injerra toasted in butter and hot spices.
Ethiopian meals are rich in ceremony. The main course, which is often shared by 2 to 4 guests, is served on
a large metal tray covered with a mesob, a conical rush cover, which is removed with a flourish to reveal a
large flat disc of injerra covered in a variety of meat and vegetarian wets. More rolls of injerra are stacked
up on the side. You eat with your hands, just as we did 40 years ago at the feast at Wehni. It is a pity they
do not serve tej in Kentish Town, but the strong Ethiopian lager, Castle, has a good back of the mouth
bitterness that works well with the acidic injerra.
There is no dessert, but it is essential to experience Ethiopian coffee.
Coffee is highly prized in Ethiopia. It was, according to legend, discovered in the highlands (see my blog,
Frisky goats and dirty cats; the serendipity of coffee, 8th August, 2008). It is served with elaborate ritual.
First the waitress arrives with freshly roasted coffee beans smoking on a metal spatula and presents it to
each of us to smell. These are then taken away to be ground with cardamom seeds and a small piece of
cinnamon bark and put in a glazed black coffee pot. Boiling water is added and the pot is placed on a rush
ring on a metal tray together with two small cups without handles, a bowl of sugar and a small clay
pedestal surmounted by a tablet of glowing charcoal upon which is smoking three small pieces of
frankincense.
I sip my spicy coffee, waft the incense into my nose, close my eyes, hear again the haunting melody of the
flute, the rhythm of the tabor, the excited chuckle of conversation and I am transported from north
London to a balabats tukul on a ridge in the remote highlands of Ethiopia, where I celebrate with friends
our miraculous deliverance from the spirits of Mount Wehni.
http://www.nickread.co.uk/articles/2009/02/from-mount-wehni-to-kentish-town/

128

Tigray And Adwa Regions, Nebelet Round Up Of Routes, 2008


Summary of new routes 2006winter 2008. Ethiopia is a hardcore adventure-climbing destination where you have to take
the rough with the smooth, and there can be more rough than smooth. The sandstone in southern Tigray is a bit soft,
except where it is well weathered. On some of the towers we did (e.g. Sheba), the rock was good. I love the climbing here
because its so challenging. It is at the adventurous extreme of rock climbing, and it wont appeal to the masses, thats for
sure. There has to be a place like this now that so many African climbing areas have been bolted.
Further north in the mountains of Adwa, east of Axum, lie the mountains of Adwa, a superb range of peaks composed
mainly of solid rock: basalt, quarzite, and, amazingly, marble. Many are technical peaks and towers with no easy route to
their summits. Most summits have now been climbed, but there is still huge scope for serious adventure/trad climbing on
many untouched faces. Protection is sparse, but so far this is a bolt-free and piton-free area, and long may it remain so!

See map for location of the climbing areas.

Gobo Dura: 4km west of Axum is the 100m cliff where the giant stele were quarried. This gives good climbing on
very hard rock and has now been visited by several climbing teams. Good for a shorter/more relaxing day.

Mai Gundi: 20 minutes from the road, with one route on the northwest face (5 pitches, E3, Littlejohn-Sustad, 2006)
and another attempted. Easy route to summit via northeast ridge.

Abba Gerima Cliff: Attractive and extensive crag overlooking the monastery (Ethiopias equivalent of the
Vatican). So far two five-pitch E4s climbed towards left side (Littlejohn-Sustad, 2006).

Dabba Guba: Striking dome set on a high mountain shelf and approached via gully bounding it on the west. Fourpitch E4 takes north ridge (Littlejohn-Sustad, 2008). Easy route to summit on S side.

Ganderta (Jordan): Superb and very accessible double-summited peak close to the road. Long E1 takes east
ridge to east summit (easy descent). Five-pitch E2 takes south face of west summit (abseil descent). Littlejohn-Sustad,
2007.

Tahatai Logumte: Twin towers rising 250m from the plains. One-hour walk-in. North summit climbed by threepitch HVS taking north ridge. South summit by five-pitch E5 starting from notch between towers. Abseil descents.
Littlejohn-Sustad, 2008.

Rayu: Egg-shaped formation with easy route to summit on north side and big walls to south and west. Only route so far
starts up southwest buttress, then veers left to a line of grooves and chimneys (8 pitches, XS, 6a, Littlejohn-Sustad, 2008).
Scope for more superb extreme adventure routes.
Bouldering can be found at Gobo

Dura and a few km from the Italian Hotel in Hawzien (hundreds of round but

featured boulders in pleasant setting, reputedly world class). Pat Littlejohn, Alpine Club.
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200828502/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-and-Adwa-Regions-Nebelet-Summary-of-NewRoutes-2006Winter-2008 and http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2008_files/AJ%202008%20298-301%20Ethiopia.pdf

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Waseya Cracks, Tembien Mountains, near Hagere Selam, Tigray


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Submitted By: nicojah on May 29, 2013
Youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH2pL__tALk&feature=youtu.be&t=2m14s

1. SITE DESCRIPTION AND FACTS FOR THE VISITOR


Location
The Waseya Cracks (1340N 3907E at 2400 m ASL) are a collection of limestone crags and blocks located near the
village of Waseya in the Doga Tembien district of Tigray, the northernmost National Regional State of Ethiopia. The
site is located 6 km northwest of Hagere Selam, which is a town 40 km northwest of the regional capital Mekelle.
Mekelle is situated some 500 km north of the capital Addis Ababa.
The site can roughly be subdivided in three main sites: Waseya East (unexplored), Waseya West and the Waseya
Boulder Field in front of Waseya West. The climbing possibilities include single-pitch sport climbing, bouldering and
some minor caving.
When to Go
The best period to visit the site is during the Ethiopian dry season (October to May), when there is little chance for
rain and the fields are free of crops. In September and early October the scenery is greenest and most stunning.
During the rainy season (June to September), climbing and camping can be difficult: rains are heavy and frequent,
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temperatures are extremely chilly during the night and crops and grasses hinder free movement and rope handling
along the cliffs.
Fees
At the time of writing, entrance to the site is free. We encourage the engagement of local people rather than guides
or translators brought in from Mekelle or Hagere Selam to ensure that the local community benefits from the
climbing activities in its village. You can hire a guard for your vehicle (20 ETB/night), porters for your equipment (10
ETB/bag downhill; 15 ETB/bag uphill) or assistants to keep all too enthusiastic spectators at a safe distance from the
cliffs (8 ETB/day). The local villagers are most eager to help (and watch). Ato Gebretsadik knows the routine.
Supplies
In Waseya, there are no shops, although you may be able to buy eggs, chickens, coffee, charcoal or other small
supplies from the villagers. The shop supplies in Hagere Selam are limited to tin cans, plus some fresh fruit and
vegetables from the market (Saturday) and fresh bread. Mekelle is a better place for stocking up. You can also find
fuel, car spare parts, meat (not on Wednesday and Friday), stoves, lanterns and kerosene and recently, specialised
items such as packet soups and imported tinned food in Mekelle. Water is available near the church forest of Enda
Maryam Waseya but should be treated and access to the spring should be granted by the priests. Tap water and
bottled spring water is available in Hagere Selam and Mekelle.
Places to Stay
Camping is possible near the cliffs on rocky outcrops or in small caves. Do not pitch your tent on seemingly unused
grassy patches. A cut-and-carry system is being used near the site and the farmers highly value the grasses which are
used as fodder for their livestock at the end of the rainy season.
Budget hotels can be found in Hagere Selam. Mekelle has all types of places to stay.
Electricity and Telecom
Mekelle has 220V AC with frequent power cuts during the rainy season. In Hagere Selam, some generators provide
AC power.
Hagere Selam has a telecommunications office for domestic calls. International calls and faxes are best made from
the telecom office or any major hotel in Mekelle (when calling abroad from Ethiopia, use 00 followed by the
country code). Mobile phones might or might not work in a range of 20 km around Mekelle. The internet can be
accessed in various small shops in Mekelle and it is fairly reasonably priced (10 ETB/hr) although the connection is
rather slow and erratic during business hours.
Health and Emergencies
There is no such thing as an emergency rescue service in Ethiopia. The nearest health post is in Hagere Selam.
Serious problems should be treated in Mekelle, which has a public hospital and some private clinics. The Emmanuel
Higher Clinic (04-404692) near the Axum Hotel is safe and clean but has no surgeons. For serious accidents which
require surgery, one has to rely on the public hospital or the goodwill of Ethiopian Airlines to be air-lifted to Addis
Ababa. Giardiasis and amoebic dysentery are common in the area. Bedbugs, lice and ticks are quite common. The
limestone cliffs are fossilized coral banks. Coral cuts and scratches are notoriously slow to heal and should be
washed and treated with an antiseptic, in particular since some parts of the cliffs are covered with animal faeces
(birds, rock hyrax) a tetanus vaccination is particularly important. Malaria is generally absent in the district but
mosquitoes are annoying.
Dangerous Animals
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Beware of vervet monkeys and baboons. The spotted hyena is common. Rocky crevices are the favoured habitat of
Africas most dangerous snake, the puff adder, but apart from some small and harmless species, snakes are not often
seen. Scorpions are often found under stones some are aggressive.
Begging and Giving
Do not hand out pens or sweets to children. You can tip your assistants with empty spring water bottles for their
services. It is traditional to give donations to the churches, especially on special holidays and church saint days.
These include Ethiopian Christmas (Leddet) (6-7 January), Epiphany (Timkat) (19-21 January), Orthodox Easter
(March/April), Ethiopian New Year (Hadush hamet) (11 September), the Finding of the True Cross (Meskel) (27-28
September) and all holidays for St. Mary (Maryam), since the church in Waseya is dedicated to her (ask the local
people).
Other Climbing Possibilities
Larger crags are found within a few hours trekking from the Waseya site, which are unexplored but believed to be
suitable for multi-pitch climbs. The area around Agbi, well reachable by car or public transport from Hagere Selam,
features some nice iron-sandstone cliffs, again unexplored but very attractive for serious climbing. Further away, you
have the massive volcanic cones of Adwa, the limestone cliffs of Debre Damo and the sandstone mountains of
Geralta, the Monument Valley of Ethiopia. See Getting There & Away for directions and our website
www.tigrayrockclimbing.tk for more information
2. GETTING THERE & AWAY
Several buses run daily between Mekelle and Adigrat, Axum and Addis Ababa.
A large fleet of buses, vans and trucks connects Mekelle to Hagere Selam. There is no public transport from Hagere
Selam to Waseya. Donkeys and drovers can be hired to transport your equipment from Hagere Selam to the site and
back.
Drive to Hagere Selam in the Tembien highlands 2 hours west of Mekele. Here ask locals for the road to Waseya
village. The road veers north by northwest for a few kilometers. Be ready to veer right to reach the top of the village,
which sits in a small valley nestled between two bands of limestone cliff. It should takes at 40 minutes to walk from
your car to the crag below, the climbing is on the cliffband on your left as you walk from your car to the campsite.
Those with a decent four-wheel drive vehicle can reach the top of Waseya village over an old gravel road from
Hagere Selam. Park your car near utility pole Nr. 126. A 30 downhill hike will bring you to the foot of the cliffs, just
before the Enda Maryam church.

Description
A limestone crag located in the Tembien Mountains two hours west of Mekele near a highland village called Hagere
Selam. There are at least a dozen 1-pitch trad climbs up vertical and horizontal limestone cracks. The rock is
fossilized, expect to pull on small seashells incrusted in the rock!
The crag was developed by a group of Belgian climbers back in 2004 that went by the Tigray Rock Climbing Team.
They set up 2 bolt anchors with chains on all the climbs, but the local kids have taken rocks and destroyed all the
anchors that they could reach from the top of the cliff, so be ready to create your own anchors for top roping,
lowering, etc.
"The Tigray Rock Climbing Team is seeking to open new and challenging rock climbing routes in Tigray, Northern132

Ethiopia, to show the world that Ethiopia has more to offer than pictures of famine and war and to promote
ecotourism as an alternative to the staggering agricultural economy."
The crag is beautiful and makes for a fun expedition in Tigray that requires camping gear, food and water. There is a
giant fig tree below the cliff that is perfect for camping. It's best to pay a local teenager to guard your campsite while
you are climbing. They will also bring jerrycans of well water for washing and cooking. Some Amharic and/or Tigrinya
language skills are necessary to negotiate the expedition... but then again, we are all human, maybe you can get by
with your hands!
Remember to always respect the local farmers' fields.
You can download the Waseya Cracks topos here:
https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/TOPO/WaseyaTopo2004.pdf
Video about climbing the Waseya Cracks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBwriJP0_CE
2. EQUIPMENT
Visitors to the site can choose to top-rope or lead climb the different routes described in this topo depending on
their skills and/or equipment.
Our Efforts
We have installed 7 belay stations and 3 top anchors in Waseya West. All our belay stations are equipped with two
Petzl Autoforeuse 12 mm expansion bolt anchors fitted with 8 mm bolts supporting 15 kN Petzl Coeur hangers,
connected to each other by stainless steel chains and 8 mm (lower; rappel link) and 6 mm (upper; backup link) MCCE
maillon rapide screw links.
Your Gear
Those of you passing through and in the mood to climb some routes along the road only need a 65 m rope, some
carabiners, a belaying device, climbing shoes and common sense to enjoy most of our routes.
More serious climbers will want to lead climb our routes and should add the equipment listed below (or equivalent
equipment):
Monolithic protection
DMM Wallnuts 1-10 (tapered wedges)
Camp Hexentrics 1-9 (13 55 mm hexes)
Spring-loaded camming devices
Black Diamond Camalots 5, 75, 2 (35 64 mm)
Wild Country Friends 1, 2*, 2.5, 4* (33 100 mm)
Small prussiks, carabiners, 8 quick-draws
Single rope (65 m, 10.5 11 mm)

133

Waseya Cracks, Hagere Selam, Account of Crag Development


Waseya Cracks, 14/08/2004
https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/trc-crackx.html
https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/TOPO/WaseyaTopo2004.pdf
The Waseya Cracks are a limestone cliff located some 20' west of Hagere Selam. You can reach the site by foot directly over the hills
from Hagere Selam (through Haragua) or use a good 4x4 and approach the site over the old Abi Adi road. Park your car near pole 126
and walk down 3 terraces to the cliff in the direction of Enda Mariam Waseya, a church forest with plenty of birds, including the Blackheaded Forest Oriole (Oriolus monacha) and the magnificent White-cheecked Turaco (Tauraco leucotis).
The cliff is excellent limestone and features some nice cracks. The first route we opened on this cliff (in sector 1) is H2S, named after the
smelly gas produced by the BJ71's batteries on the way to the site. The first stage is a nice 5b crack which you can climb using hand
block or dulfer techniques. After a small plateau, the route goes straight up, through an overhang just left of the main chimney (6b). We
are going to install a Petzl plaquette in that section, since there are no spots to cram in a camalot up there. On top of the route, we will
also install a chain relais. One plaquette is already installed on the plateau above the route (belay point [B]).
The whole site is excellent for a multiple-day climbing trip. You can camp at the base of the cliff (which faces the Kola Tembien
lowlands) among some very nice limestone boulders.

On the classic route at Waseya. I don't remember t..

Waseya Cracks, 28-29/08/2004


Back in Waseya... for two days. We had quite a hard time getting all the gear down to the cliffs (the local men thought the bags were
too heavy to carry and all the donkeys were in Hagere Selam because it was market day). We set up camp at the base of the cliff and
did some really nice climbing this weekend. We opened 4 new routes and 1 alternative entry. We also installed two relais on the cliff
and one more belay point - Waseya is becoming a real climbing site now.
After scaling H2S to the top as an appetizer, we started looking for new stuff, and we found some:)
The first route we opened this weekend was some kind of a coincidence. We were looking for a rappel spot to install a top-rope on a
pillar in sector 4, but ended up with a top-rope installed on sector 5, next to a very nice crack. While rappelling down, we found out that
not only the crack but also the vertical wall was very climbable. Davide accepted the challenge and opened "Gelada" (6a+), a fairly
straight, vertical route that starts with an easy 5a entry and a total fun traversee. A hail storm kept us from more fun temporarily, but
some frozen water was not enough to stop our efforts to open new routes in Tigray. Raffa opened "Stella" just left of the Gelada route a wide, somewhat overhanging crack, provisionally graded 5c. Both Gelada and Stella end at the same relais Davide installed in this
sector.
Sunday we tackled a pillar in sector 4. Raffa opened the sector by free-climbing "Hawelti" (5b) on the western face of the pillar.
Although it is a dalle, free-climbing is somewhat tricky because the cracks on the rock face are too small to use friends - hexcentrics and
nuts do the job but it feels funny... Davide followed and we installed a relais in the cliff above the top of the pillar. Davide opened a
second route on the pillar, "Terra Nova" (6b), in the crack between sectors 3 and 4.
Another rain storm came in and we decided to bail out - this time our spectators were willing to help us carry the gear to the car - we
even have local sherpas now! We will be back later!

134

Raffa opening Stella,


dedicated to Joris and
Heidi, our friends
from Leuven that got
married Saturday

Davide leading
Gelada

Raffa opening
Hawelti, on the
Sector 4 pillar

D Waseya base camp

The best route


up to now:
Gelada (6a+)

Sector 4 belay

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Waseya Cracks, 9-10/10/2004


Again in Waseya... again for
two days and determined to
open new routes and install
new belay stations. We
brought reliable maillons with
us (sent to us from Belgium by
Koen, our team member in
Belgium) and some stainless
steel chains to install proper
belays.

After climbing Gelada and the two routes on the Sector 4 pillar, we worked on some new routes and drilled two
more belay stations and an anchor.
The first new route of the day (in Sector 2), which we initialy baptised as the Voie normale, turned our muscles
sour right away. After cleaning the face from loose rocks, to the great amazement and excitement of our local
spectators, the route turned out to be a nice succesion of various cracks and small roofs. This 6a climb, called
Belge-Ethique, put us in the right spirit for the hard work coming. We digged deep into our gearbags for the
hand-drill and hammer and set off for some more 3.2 mm drillholes in the limestone to add some shine and
glitter to the Sector 1 and 2 rockfaces.
Since we gave priority to travel somewhat lighter this weekend, we left our tents at home and went to look for
shelter in a rock crack after all the drilling when the night was falling. A great dinner was awaiting us: potatoes
boiled at home fried with some Addis Ababa sausages. It was a chilly night; the hard wind doesn't loose strenght
during the nighttime.
The only thing that could warm us up the next morning was another pan of baked potatoes and half a jar of
mayonnaise. Of course, this was only for the stomach, exploring the Waseya Boulder Field did the rest. There are
a lot of boulders but only a limited number of blocks are worth the stretch - then again it took us 3 hours to cope
with all the boulders. This potatoe-burning effort was the official inauguration of the Waseya Boulder Field
parcours.
We decided to put a hard time on ourselves after that rock-crunching morning and opened up a new route in
Sector 2, The Cloister (6b), using the belay station drilled the evening before. Davide used the rest of his potatoe
energy to open a second route on the western edge of the sector, El Viento (6c).
Rapping down from the chain on the new belay station of The Chimney, we found ourselves in between two
rockfaces, midway of a narrow crack leading from the face of Sector 1 deep into the mountain. Kids were
hanging over the ridge to see what was happening but Raffa already disappeared into the cavern which was
followed by a lot of scratching and panting noises; this route is more caving than climbing but fun is assured (for
nice pics, be sure to take a Petzl headlamp with you, but take care not to loose it on the way).
On the way back from the Boulder Field, we spotted some nice cracks in Sector 6, and with all the potatoes, we
decided to deal with them. Davide lead-climbed The Flux (6a+), a very challenging route with a lot of variation. As
if we were not tired enough (by now, the potatoe energy was used, but the mayo had some afterburn effect),
Davide drilled the first spit after a tough lead-climb and Raffa drilled the second spit after an equally tough climb,
getting rid of half a ton of boulders wedged in between the rock face and the two pillars in the lower half of the
route. We were accompanied by some fearless locals on top of the route, despite our instructions to keep at a
safe distance from the edge.
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A few days later, Davide went solo to the crag and drilled two more belay stations, above the Belge-Ethique and
his new routes in Sector 1, The Crux (6c+) and Amazon (7a+). He also used the belay station above The Flux to
open a variant of that route, The Sniff (6b) and a straight route just west to the latter, Lagaan (6b+).

Exploring The
Flux (6a+), which
crack will take
you to the next
one?

La Dalle offers great


opportunities to
practice '-plat' belay
approaches.

Waseya Boulder
Field

La Dalle [B2] is a
good warm up
for the lower
body parts.

Hanging in a black
hole and drilling for
the unknown below,
a Space Odyssee
2004

On friction - La
Petite Dalle [B3]

Raffa in the belay


station of The
Chimney

Caving in the
House of the
Hyena - Sharp
Cube [B7]

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Razor blades for holds


- Sharp Roof [B4]

Over the
edge/under the
edge - Little Cube
[B6]

Habeshas cheering
at the top not
knowing they get
the best view from
the bottom - La
Grande Dalle [B8]

The sky is
the limit
untill the
block
stops - La
Gruyre

Davide attacking Letwa Comsheswa [B5] in Waseya Boulder Field.


All numbers in square brackets refer to boulder blocks described in the Waseya Topo.

Waseya Boulder Field Topo/Map

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How We Had to Dodge Rocks at Waseya Cracks in order to


Climb Them
by Nico Parkinson, May 15, 2014, in Climbing, Ethiopia
Ive had so many experiences with dodging rocks in Ethiopia, you could say throwing rocks is the national sport.
In addition to dunking rocks aimed at my head, Ive slungshot them, cracked them, climbed them and collected
them. So much of Ethiopias history is recorded on rockgranite obelisks, entire churches made from rocks, and
sandstone caves carved in the name of Godinteraction with rock is inevitable, even if you arent passionate
about climbing them.
And perhaps most revealing of Ethiopias relationship to rock was the time I was assaulted at rockpoint at
Chelenka Falls, three kilometers south of Mekele. Not at gunpoint, not at knifepoint, but the old fashioned
shakedown, hey you, we have big rocks, give us all your money.
Before the pirates of the Caribbean, Butch Cassidy, the Spanish Conquistadores, and the Peloponnesian Wars,
mans weapon of choice was rock. To not be stoned cost me $15 dollars.
With the recent report of a couple kids throwing rocks at Armora Gedel, a crag near Addis Ababa, I thought it
relevant to give account to other tales of climbing in Ethiopia and my interaction with the countrys infinite
supply of rock.
As the country becomes a popular destination, new lines and crags will be developed while others remain
unclimbed. More and more, rock climbers will become a part of the everyday life of villages located at the foot of
Ethiopias largest and best walls, and these climbers will undoubtedly dodge rocks of their own.
The Waseya Cracks were first climbed in 2004 by Belgian climbers living in Mekele in the region of Tigray in
Northern Ethiopia. The part time climbers were really soil engineers and happened upon the village Waseya
close to Hagere Selam, where the limestone walls sit high on the escarpment above the desert floor. Few
climbers have visited Waseya Cracks since, and this could be one of few documented expeditions since they hand
drilled two bolt anchors on approximately 10 climbs.

Going up in Waseya

Whisper Djebena

Mathieu on a climb with smashed up anchors

The three of us and my dog, Mino, arrived after midnight and camped on the side of the dirt road. In the
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morning, wanderers gravitated to our tents. For the youngest, the overnight appearance of three tents (red,
yellow & blue) stoked their doubts of life in the universe. These strange houses more than likely held peculiar life
forms, and as our tej-powered flatulence took over, the tentwatchers began guessing whence these windy noises
were coming.
That was the yellow one, said one teenager in his native Tigrinya.
Are you sure? That sounded like the red one, said another.
Aware of the growing curiosity, I slowly unzipped the netted door on my tent and pushed my dog out and under
the rain fly into view. I timed Minos exit with a heroic blast of peptic might! As the laughter rippled through our
investigators, we slowly rose to greet the day of climbing and the relentless engagement with villagers.
If not following you around asking questions and holding your hand and vying for gifts and ultimately friendship
and the chance for something exotic and different, rural Ethiopians could just as easily spend the better part of a
day staring at you. Then suddenly, powered by necessity to leave quickly, he will disappear and return the next
day at the break of dawn and talk until you get out of your tent to properly greet him.

The First Morning on the Escarpment.

Aylwyn, AKA Captian Habesha, with the fan club


that may or may not have tried to kill us with rocks.

After suckin down some tea, we did all the necessary research to achieve the following: climb, have water, not
get lost and leave our vehicle without worry on the village road. We loaded a couple donkeys with gear and
water and trekked down the canyon to the base of the walls. After just 20 minutes, we came to a giant wild fig
with long sturdy branches that provide protection from the sun and make the kind of base camp you that draws
you in again and again.
Waseya village cascades down a shallow canyon high in the Tembien Mountains. On the northern flank, villagers
are privy to a vast window overlooking the sunburnt country of Tigray and the mountains and canyons reaching
into Eritrea and the Red Sea beyond.
For the next four days, we climbed the limestone routes that the Belgians had mapped out. At the top of the
20m routes were the remnants of the groups bolts, obliterated into a flat strips of metal pegged to the rock.
Each one reminded me of the penny smashing machine, and I half hoped to find shapes of Ethiopias national
monuments etched into the steel.
Most likely the children of the village smashed the anchors with rocks. Owning a piece of metal in a landscape so
overwhelmed with rock was seductive to a mischievous ten year old. Some hangers were completely missing,
others intact hidden from the childrens view.
As we prepared lunch, the first rock dropped into camp with a thud!!! And again, thraaaaaaap!!! As we ran for
cover behind the tree, another rock grenade crashed into an aluminum pot with a loaded din. We ran away from
base camp in pursuit of our attackers, standing on the cliff 60m above us. Running uphill after Ethiopian kids on
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their home turf is something like chasing camouflaged goats through tall grass.
A teenage girl promised it was Hagos who was trying to kill us. We found Hagos father in the village back from
the field.
Your child is Hagos?
Yes, I know Hagos.
He is throwing very big rocks at us from high above. This is very dangerous and can kill a man.
Hagos father mustered a blank stare and his next reaction was to offer suwa, the Tigrinya word for the yummy
fermented grain juice pressed and filtered through a basket. He tried to gouge the price, but we knew better.
After an afternoon climbing session, we drank the Ethiopian elixir around a small fire listening to the hyenas
across the valley intimidate the oxen.
The skirmish with Hagos wasnt enough to scare us away. We found boulders, climbed cracks and discovered the
secrets of Tembien limestone, a wall encrusted with thousands of shells and invertebrate fossils. We climbed
almost every route, Mathieu opened a new line, we drank coffee with villagers, gave the children a very useful
distracting ball, and a spider nibbled on Aylwyns foot.
In terms of climbing, Waseya cant compete with the Adwa Mountains or the towers of Gheralta, and Im sure
adventure climbers will continue to discover more and longer lines in Ethiopias unexplored mountains.
However, the destroyed anchors of Waseya should serve as a lesson about bringing climbing to Ethiopia.
And having rocks thrown at you is unavoidable.
Post dedicated to Aylwyn Bromhead, an Ethiopian hero and the creator of the Rock Climbers, Ethiopia Facebook
page. He also put together the following short film about the expedition to Waseya in which presents the spirit
of climbing in Tigray, Ethiopia.
http://www.nicoparco.com/waseya-cracks-tigray/

20 Minute video about climbing in Waseya:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBwriJP0_CE

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Mai Ba'ati, Between Hagere Selam and Mekelle


16/10/2004
https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/trc-crackx.html
Mai Ba'ati is a village with a church forest and an extensive limestone
cliff between Mekelle and Hagere Selam. Our mission was to find
fossilized wood, but we failed to find a single fragment although we
found two well preserved specimens at the same site in 2003. Despite
the lack of wood, the mission was a success: we returned with at least
20 kg of prehistoric stone tools - which we will submit to the
Ethnological Museum in Addis Ababa (located on Addis Ababa
University's campus in Haile Selassie's former palace). And of course,
we did some bouldering...
Mai Ba'ati offers spectacular rock formations with overhangs and long
traverses, but mind the undergrowth, it might sting places you don't
want to be stung (especially where the sun doesn't shine).

Shallow lateral cracks are a typical feature of the Mai Ba'ati crag.

1.

2.

1. Prehistoric stone tool in a grazing land in Mai Ba'ati (scale: 6 cm). The fields around Mai Ba'ati have a very distinct
stone cover, but those with an eye for detail will discover these old hammers and choppers.
2. Prehistoric stone tool from Mai Ba'ati (Tigray, Ethiopia); side chopper - bilaterally retouched inner flake with 3
dorsal faces and flattened tail (FI23-1; Collection R. Aerts & E. November; Artwork by F. Lerouge)
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The Arch, Kola Tembien, Near Anu Adi

Name: The Arch


Location: Kola Tembien
Altitude: 1800 m
Nearest city: Abi Adi
Rock type: sandy limestone
Route lengths: 50+ meter
Number of routes today: 0
First route opened: https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/trc-crackx.html

Mekelle Quarry, Mekelle


More Rock Climbing Opportunities
We headed out for some boulder fun today, but ended up climbing short top-rope routes near a limestone quarry
just north of Mekelle. We did some nice 5a to 6a routes until a hell of a rainstorm chased us out of the valley. The
longer cliffs downstream have more climbing opportunities.

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Other Ethiopia Climbing Webpages And Blogs:


Upto date Facebook page for Ethiopia Climbers well worth a look:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/119822356270/
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10150991707741271&type=1

Ethiopia Rocks 2014 trip facebook page:


https://www.facebook.com/ethiopiarocks2014

This is a website with some topos and information about climbing in Ethiopia:
http://www.mountainproject.com/v/ethiopia/108133738

This has interesting blogs about Ethiopian climbing from Nico Parkinson:
http://www.nicoparco.com/category/climbing/

Alain Bruxy's Ethiopia climbing expedition map and topos (Adwa, Gheralta and Gondar):
http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Alain-Bruzy-escalade-en-Ethiopie.pdf

Edu Marin and Maro Jubes climbing in Ethiopia (Adwa and Gheralta) in Spanish (2012):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCrcHMid-xM#t=10
http://arepaclimbing.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/etiopia-cronologia/
http://edumarin.blogspot.com.es/2012/02/etiopia_08.html

American Alpine Club Article by John Collis (Adwa and Gheralta):


http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212129/Gheralta-Massif-and-Adwa-Mountains-newroutes

American Alpine Club Article by Mark Richey (Tigray, 2008):


http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200829000/Africa-Ethiopia-Tigray-Adwa-Nebelet-and-HarrarNew-Routes-and-Exploration

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Horizon Ethiopique Expedition to Tigray and Gheralta (2011), film, topos and trip plan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvRNAl4VME4
http://groupe-espoir-isere-2011.over-blog.com/article-horizon-ethiopique-74257937.html
http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/horizon-ethiopique.pdf
https://www.facebook.com/HorizonEtiopique?filter=3

Pat Little John's Expeditions and Ethiopia routes round up forTigray and Gheralta in 2005- 2008:
http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2006_files/AJ%202006%20129137%20Littlejohn%20Tgray%20Borkdy.pdf
http://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2008_files/AJ%202008%20298-301%20Ethiopia.pdf

John Collis Expedition 2012 to Adwa and Gheralta, AAC article:


http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212129/Gheralta-Massif-and-Adwa-Mountains-newroutes

Koraro Sanstone Towers photo and route description, 2012:


http://www.rockclimbing.com/photos/Trad/Mother_of_all_Towers_120618.html

March Richey AAC Ethiopia 2008, Tigray, Adwa, Neblet and Harrar:
http://aac-publications.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/aaj/2008/PDF/AAJ_2008_50_82_290.pdf

Majka Burhardt on Gheralta, Also author of Vertical Ethiopia:


http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200828800/Africa-Ethiopia-Nebelet-Tower-Group-NewRoutes
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7675306&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portr
ait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Climbing around Axum, Bookham Crag Rats, 2001:


http://bookhamcragrats.co.uk/index.php/2011/02/climbing-in-ethiopia/

Waseya Cracks, Mai Ba'ati, The Arch, Homebase. Topos. The Tigray Rock Climbing Team, 2004
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https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/trc-crackx.html
https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/trc-news.html
https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0019879/trc/TOPO/WaseyaTopo2004.pdf

Bale Mountains bouldering and topos,


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbI0rMHbWIs
http://27crags.com/crags/balemountains-rafu
http://carlgranlund.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/ethiopia.html

Mount Wehni:
http://expeditionconsultancy.com/wp/2011/06/the-prison-of-mt-wehni-ethiopia/

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