Honeymoon in Madagascar

„Merci!“ – Their shining white teeth even seem to outshine the sun. Vroni and I are about to say good bye to our tropical paradise, full of friendly people, nice weather and hot temperatures. We especially brought over some sweets to share them with the local kids, but we run out too quickly. There would be so many more kids on the streets of Diego.
Walking along totally relaxed and full of impressions, our stressed European world seems a lifetime away.

Montagnes des Français

After quite a busy episode of our lives only a few weeks ago we departed for the North of Madagascar – the place we choose to spend our honeymoon. And we found a totally different world. “mora, mora!” – everything going slow and without any stress – that’s how time goes bye on this huge island. These vibes caught us pretty soon and only a few days after our arrival we already felt really relaxed and our habitual way of living felt miles away. After getting used to the hot we started exploring the climbing area of Diego, the Montagnes des Français, named after the French and Malagasy who fought against the Vichy regime in Second World War. With quite scarce information about the site – we managed to get a small topo of Michel Piola – we made our way up to the sprawled wall at the end of October. To be honest, from a distance the rock didn’t look very spectacular, but as soon as we got closer we got really flashed – sinters shining in all different colours and huge stalactites everywhere we looked – it felt like being in Thailand again, just with two huge differences: a lot of friction and not even one other climber! Climbing on this huge various formations it felt even more like paradise. We want to give a big thank you to Michel and his friends who did a fantastic job in bolting about 120 gorgeous lines graded from 4 to 7c, most of them between 6a and 7a. We could hardly believe being in climbing paradise like this without anyone else! Only a few traces of chalk testified that there must have been someone else before. Even in our lodge at the base of the Montagnes, the King’s Lodge, we were the only guests. A climbing area and a hotel all by ourselves – what else would you expect in your honeymoon?

Honeymoon - in the truest sense of the word

One week later two of our friends arrived at Diego. Invigorated by the unbelievably sweet mangos, ananas and bananas we started to make our contribution to the development of this seminal climbing area and I started bolting a pillar that caught my eye right on the first day. With over 30 meters long, sinters and holes on perfect non-slippery limestone it became one of the most beautiful first ascents ever. I named the line honeymoon with which I wanted to express the uniqueness of our vacation, the line and the whole magic place. With 7c+ honeymoon became the hardest route of the Montagnes des Français so far. Time flew and Vroni opened the second line – Omesberger Marillenmarmelade (6c) – a short but interesting line on small concretions. With Michl sauf! (7b) I urged on our first calf that was born on the night before we left to finally drink from its mother’s udder.

Island trip like Robinson Crusoe

After climbing in the Montagnes des Français  for more than a week we made our way to Nosy Andantsara, a small island to the west of the mainland. Mathieu Delacroix, a “stranded” Frenchman and his team of New Sea Roc organize unique trips to the sacred group of small islands called Nosy Hara. On board of a huge Unimog four wheel drive the four of us, Mathieu, two local cooks and four local fishermen drove through the jungle first and then jumped on a small boat to get to the island. You feel like Robinson Crusoe when you get there – living in caves and eating the fish they succeed to catch during the day. It’s an amazing feeling. What makes it even more special is that New Sea Roc respects nature in a way that almost no signs of civilisation become obvious. They have a special contract with the local government and strictly follow and make the guests follow the rules of these sacred islands: pointing out things with your finger and making noise are strictly forbidden, and the only place to get rid of your personal needs is the ocean. Besides this perfect organisation, the amazing corals and gorgeous fish for snorklers you find about 40 bolted lines graded from 3 to 8b on perfect limestone with huge karst formations. Nosy Anjombavola, the closest of the other sacred islands (about 5 min boat ride), offers another 40 bolted routes between 5 and 8a which are only accessible for New Sea Roc with their special permission.

Paradisiac rock

Back from this one week of adventure on the sacred islands we spent another week on the Montagnes des Français. Not only to climb but to equip some more new lines of course! Klaus didn’t only do a fantastic job in taking pictures, he as well succeeded in opening Salut vazaha (6c+), a hard and bouldery line on small finger holes, before he and Uli departed to do some diving at Nosy Be. Being left on our own again Vroni and I started exploring the farthest sectors of the Montagnes, which are only accessible by a little adventure walk through the jungle and a few stalactite caves. On one of our last days I finished bolting our sector honeymoon with the present final route Reste chez moi (7a+). In the end we both agreed unisonous: Paradise, we will return!

Topo sector honeymoon - pdf (700 KB)

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