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Lowlander

[TR] Nosy Hara, Madagascar - Various routes on beach side 4/11/2009

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Trip: Nosy Hara, Madagascar - Various routes on beach side

 

Date: 4/11/2009

 

Trip Report:

Throwing the recent coup d'etat in Madagascar to the wind and thinking it was a good time to visit the country, my wife and I made a month long trip to the California size island off the coast of Mozambique before heading to the main land for 2 months. A new 32 year old D.J. was in power, the world economy was in crisis, and we just quit our jobs. Why not try a new climbing destination?

 

Well, that was my wife's question. The only reason to get me to another country. She goes to see the birds, flora and fauna on the 8th continent, and myself for the climbing. Sweet right? Except when you get there and your wife redpoints your projects.

 

Our destination was not the huge inland 5.13 walls of Tsaranoro but the beach side of Nosy Hara achipelago. The northern most town is Diego Suarez, the climbing meca of the north were we met the only person to take us to our destination, Mathieu. We were headed to a small chain of islands with incredible limestone similar to Tonsai but much more secluded. With our lack of French and Malagasy, and the locals lack of English we eventually found our jumping off point. A 2 hour 4WD east of Diego on the coast to a boat. We hitched a ride with 3 French late 20's ex-pats who constantly passed the j's around. All roads are dirt in Madagascar and everyone needs a 4WD car there. Four wheeling and an hour boat ride was a great way to get to our climbing destination.

 

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The boat ride in

 

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Mozambique Wall

 

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Our Camp

 

To climb here you need permission from the government and the locals. The rock formations are considered holy, old burials sites, and therefore there are many taboos. No alcohol on the rocks, no sex outside of the tent, no whistling, and no pointing, plus others that I have forgotten. The one that was the most difficult was pointing. No pointing on these islands which made signaling to my wife where to place hands and feet very difficult.

"There is a foot hold 2 inches higher and 7 inches to the left" "No a little more" "Next to that other smaller foot hold"

 

But the climbing was incredible. We spent our days climbing in the shade on overhanging limestone sport climbs that felt similar to Tonsai, but without boatmen yelling "Au Nang! Au Nang!" as you walked by. Infact, there were only a few other people on the island and no permanent structures. We slept in a small tent, huts are optional as well, and all food and drinks are taken care of by Mathieu.

 

Basically we would wake up from our warm tent tucked away in the brush in the middle of the islands and start the morning with a great french style breakfast. Our life blood consisted of coffee, and I still cant get my wife up for anything unless I get up first and brew some coffee. But here, they had coffee, tea, bread, cheese, jam, butter and fruit. Hard not to lounge in the bungalow as they cooked in the cave.

 

We would chase the shade throughout the day, often spent between climbing, snorkling, siting on the beach and eating.

 

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While we were out climbing the local fisherman would catch us our dinner with a spear and a snorkel. He would spend hours fishing through the coral reefs or out on a boat with a line and some bait as we enjoyed ourselves on the rock. Never dissapointing, this man would come home with lobster, squid, and all types of fish.

 

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You have to be careful where you put your plate when you are done, or you have to watch were you walk at night for that matter because the hermit crabs would attack any plate left unattended. After a few glasses of the local rhum punch that we drank on the beach our evening entertainment were these lonesome fighting creatures. They could climb rocks, logs, and porcelain dishes better than I can climb limestone. And it seemed they would fight to the death for the last morsel on my plate.

 

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The afternoons we would take the boat out to another island to try ourselves at some new crags.

 

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Occasionally we would find ourselves at belay stations that needed quick escapes. Tides coming in fast here.

 

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The afternoons often meant the most shade, this is when we tried to climb our hardest. The heat and sun are pretty unbearable in April but the shade is acceptable. Besides, the beach is always there to jump into.

 

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After the climbing was over and we had taken our solar shower, the beer started to flow. We would proceed to enjoy ourselves slightly alcoholically induced and slightly visually. Either sitting in the bungalow listening to music played on a small radio that is solar powered or sitting on the beach watching the sunset.

 

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Although the sunsets were gorgeous, I often spent the evening on the beach reading a book sipping on the local rhum as I waited for my lobster to cook on the grill.

 

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We had only one evening of rain on our 8 day trip on these small islands. But this brought out the best part of the trip. As it rainded hard warm rain, a nest of sea turle eggs hatched underneath a bush and began migrating to the sea. We jumped out of the beach bungalow and watched, drenched from rain as these tiny little sea creatures made their way to the water. This was better than any day of climbing. My wife had a larger smile on her face than the time earlier in the day when she onsighted my project. We stood there in the rain with the local malagasy helping the disoriented sea turtles find their way to the ocean and as the warm evening rain drenched us through.

 

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After 8 days we still didn't want to leave, but had to continue our trip to the rest of Madagascar. Close to the town of Diego we climbed at Montagne de Francais which has over 50 routes as well. Plenty of climbs to keep you busy. If you are curious at all, check out www.newsearoc.com but i hope that your french is better than mine, i needed a translator.

 

Gear Notes:

More alcohol. Maybe some chocolate. And a few good books.

 

Approach Notes:

No work, just smoke, drink, climb and enjoy.

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Damn sounds like a great trip. I really hope someday I make it to Madagascar, it place I have always wanted to visit.

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