International Climbing Team Establishes New Multi-Pitch Route During “The Reunion Expedition”
The North Face , the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear celebrates the return from “The Reunion Expedition” of The North Face athletes Caroline Ciavaldini (FRA), Sam Elias (USA), Yuji Hirayama (JAP), Jacopo Larcher (ITA) and James Pearson (UK) and their successful opening and freeing of “Zembrocal”, a new multi pitch route on the Basalt of Reunion Island.
Protected mostly by traditional gear (friends and nuts) but with bolt protection when necessary, the route was opened ground-up over several days. The name Zembrocal refers to a famous Creole dish made from mixed varied ingredients that still maintain their original identities.
ReunionIslandin the middle ofIndian Oceanis the childhood home of climber Caroline Ciavaldini and the place she first learnt to climb. Following the typical path of sport climbing and competitions, for 15 years she devoted her life to the sport, becoming one of the most accomplished competition climbers in the world. After retiring from competitions, Caroline discovered an exciting new side of rock climbing in the shape of Traditional climbing and Alpine Multi-pitch, and now has a new focus in life. The idea of returning to Reunion to attempt to open a hard new multi-pitch came not only from a desire to show Reunion to the world, but also, to show this new world toReunion.
A versatile team from around the world was assembled for their varied knowledge and skill. The dream was simple; to open a new multi-pitch route on a virgin wall, ground-up, and for this the team focused on the previously unclimbed wall of La Chapelle, Cilaos. On first inspection the potential seemed promising, yet the climbers would quickly discover that the rock here would not be conquered easily. Blank un-protectable sections and large loose boulders made upwards progress both difficult and dangerous, and on more than a few occasions, days ended with uncertainty of how they were to continue.
Caroline comments, “We wanted to show to the island a “new” pure style of climbing, opening from the ground, instead of rappel, and using a minimal amount of bolts, preferring to use the splitter cracks for natural protection. The opening of the route has been a tough challenge, and demanded a full week. Basaltic rock makes here huge blocs of a fridge size that can fall as soon as you touch them, and we often had to pass over questionable rock to succeed to open the route, and clean once above. We were most of the time opening with 2 lead ropes and a backup rope for fear of cutting.
With a total of seven pitches, 7a, 8a, 8a, 8a, 8c+, 6c, 7a, 140m, Zembrocal now stands as one of the hardest multi-pitch routes in the world. All of the pitches have been free-climbed, the most notable being the outrageous 5th pitch (8c+), freed by Yuji Hirayama on his final try of the final day after the team had extended their flights to pursue this demanding goal.
A short edit of “The Reunion Expedition” will be released shortly. Please stay tune on www.TheNorthFace.com
“The Reunion Expedition” was supported by The North Face, Edelrid supplied all ropes and cooking technology and Wild Country supplied the Friends.
For more information on “The Reunion Expedition” and The North Face athletes please visit The North Face Journal: www.thenorthfacejournal.com/category/climbing/la-reunion
Instagram: @thenorthface #TheReunion13