A few weeks back I posted a story about British adventurer Leo Houlding and a team of climbers heading to South America to attempt a new route on the Prow of Roraima. At the time, the group was just gathering in Guyana and faced a week-long march through snake-infested jungles just to reach their base camp. Today, we get word that they have successfully completed that climb having topped out on a difficult 600 meter (1968-foot) rock wall to stand on the tabletop summit.
The team that accompanied Houlding on this expedition included Anna Taylor, Wilson Cutbirth, Waldo Etherington, Dan Howard and Matt Pycroft. They were joined by two local guides by the name of Edward and Troy, who have become the first Amerindians to stand on top of the Roraima as well. It took the group two weeks to make a free climb up the rock face, dealing with tropical storms, poisonous spiders, snakes, and the occasional scorpion too.
Roraima, which served as the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, is a unique destination to say the least. The flat-topped mountain rises out of the steamy Amazon to a height of 2810 meters (9219 feet). It’s remote and rugged location required the team to have much of its equipment airdropped by helicopter, which resulted in some of the gear ending up in a jungle lake. Fortunately, they were able to recover all of the supplies they needed before setting out on the climb.
According to the preliminary report, the new route hasn’t been given a name or a grade as of yet. The challenges that come with the ascent go well beyond just how difficult the line is. The tropical setting, regular rain showers, remote location, and other variables have all conspired to make this a more difficult climb than it might first appear. That said, this was the first time that a route up Roraima has been done in a fully free fashion.
The photos that have come out of this expedition have been truly spectacular. I’ve shared a few here in this post, but hopefully we’ll get an online gallery in the near future. Better yet, I hope we get a video of the expedition, as Roraima has been a place I’ve been fascinated with for years.
Congrats to Leo, Anna, Wilson, Waldo, Dan, Matt, Edward, and Troy. Well done team!
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