In 1999, I led a team of women to climb a new route on a big wall in a remote region of southern Madagascar along with Beth Rodden, Nancy Feagin, and Kath Pike. At the time, there weren’t very many routes on the Tsaranaro Massif, but now there are plenty of routes done by climbers from all over the world, including an extremely difficult route by done by Adam Ondra called “Mora Mora.”
It was challenging to be the leader of such a trip since I felt responsible for Beth Rodden, who was only nineteen-years-old at the time and had done only one short multi-pitch climb in Smith Rocks, Oregon before this trip. I had limited experience bolting routes from the ground up (I had bolted a few routes in Vietnam from the water up), and the type of granite in Madagascar was much more difficult due to the lack of cracks or in-cut features to hang sky-hooks from in order to let go with both hands to drill a bolt. By the end of our two-and-a-half week trip, we had completed the first ascent of |”Bravo Les Filles” (5.13d/AO). I still don’t know of a more difficult first ascent ever established by a team of women.