Monday, 24 February 2014

First ascent of "Shark Bait" on the recently discovered "Shark Tooth"

A week ago I was hiking in the western part of the Zaghouan Mountains, around Sidi Medien (see Sidi Medien Loop). One object made my heart beat a little faster; a spiky limestone rock with the shape of a shark tooth (so we baptised the rock itself "Shark Tooth"). I got home and send my climbing buddies the pictures of this gem, urging them to climb it the week after. Sven, just back from Germany with a bag full of new trad kit, was eager to try his stuff out. Despite of rain forecast we went out early, to get up the crooked chunk of rock.

The Shark Tooth

After a 20-minute hiking in we reached the base. It looks daunting and Sven, eager to test his new gear, starts climbing the first pitch. Slightly nervous, as this is his very first trad climb, he shoves in some cams and nuts and gets up the first relais without any trouble. The line was not the most difficult one, but important to get to know the state of the rock (which luckily is solid).

Sven finding his way up, Michael belaying

The second pitch had a bit more vertical start (my guess is that the crux is a severe). I had to solo the first 4 metres before finding a good crack to shove in a nut. However, the hand holds were good and there's some good small ledges for the feet. Again, solid rock, beautiful little cracks for gear placements and ledges for hand and feet. What a joy to climb this!

Myself taking on the 2nd pitch

The first 25 metres are proper vertical rock climbing, after that the route to the summit is nothing more that a grade 3 scramble. The big block on the summit is too sharp for the rope to abseil from. The best place to abseil is about 15 metres below the top. On the edge of the drop is a big boulder which allows us to wrap the rope around, without having trouble pulling it out again. The 50m double rope is just enough to get down the way we climbed (with the stretch of the rope you actually still have to clip out a metre above the bottom). We're back at the little plateau between the first and second pitch. Getting the rope back proved harder than we though. Only when we both pull with our full weight we manage to pull the rope down (it had started raining already). From here we scrambled down unroped. What a magic climb!

Shark Bait: 90m, 1st pitch 40m vdiff, 2nd pitch 50m severe

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